Associate editor Duncan Cooper and art director Harry Gassel share a special fondness for amateur YouTube covers—songs sung solo in someone's bedroom, shot through their webcam and into the world. In their new column, Cover Art, Duncan and Harry each share a favorite recent find.
Keeping with the do-it-yourself spirit, we'd like your help.
Every week, we'll use a new version of the words "cover art." You too can illustrate the column by writing, illustrating, or just typing the words "cover art" in whatever style you'd like. We'll pick our favorites to use for the column art, and send the winners copies of our last three issues and link to their sites. Artwork must be black and white and at least 1000 pixels wide. If it's a vector graphic, send the original file. Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phil J. Grey, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol (Bob Dylan Cover)"
Bob Dylan wrote "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol" in 1963 after finding out the verdict of the William Zanzinger court case. Zanzinger, the white 24-year-old son of wealthy Baltimore tobacco farmers was on trial for the murder of Hattie Carrol, a black 51-year-old hotel maid. He was acquitted of everything except manslaughter and given a six month sentence.
I returned to this record sometime in the last several weeks, and it has been sort of a touchstone as I process the Zimmerman verdict and Mayor Bloomberg's continuing staunch defense of the NYPD's "Stop and Frisk" practice, even after the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. There are also echoes of this song in Cass McCombs's "Bradley Manning"—another narrative folk tune about American injustice.
Almost subconsciously, I keep pulling up versions of "Hattie Carrol" on iTunes and YouTube, and I really like this one by Phil J. Grey, the Music Man from Lincoln, England. With 265 views, Grey is performing this as much for himself as anyone else, but his delivery is steady and confident and surprisingly melodic through five minutes of Dylan's un-rhymed free verse. The levels peak and distort as his sound overwhelms the computer's mic, but his plodding down strum on the nylon string guitar keeps an insistent pace. HG
Rich Homie Quan's "Type of Way" (Nike Boyz Dance Cover)
There are rightfully multiple dance covers on Rich Homie Quan's serious grower "Type of Way," but this is my favorite, a collaboration between two members of Texas' Nike Boyz. Yung Check God does a lot of illustrative moves to the lyrics "make me/you feel some type of way," interpreting different meanings—once, he puts his hand on his chin to think, then bends over like he's sick; later he reaches for an invisible lover with one arm, touches his heart, than reaches more desperately. When Quan raps "move you far away, drop you off," Check just carries something and drops it off. Yung Love God takes the same approach, humping to "fucked her" and wiping his brow to "now he heated." Hehe. DC