coverspam: (Adam Lambert sings a cover)
Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day. There's going to be a major march on Washington which I cannot attend, but it's for visibility and equal rights, both of which I want. Posting in a cover blog that nobody reads is not going to really help with that goal, but nonetheless: theme post!

I didn't come out because of Michael Stipe, but he certainly helped. I was in junior high during the peak of R.E.M.'s fame, and Stipe was this awkward, androgynous alien. Just like me, in that adolescent delusion of defiant individuality where nobody in your hometown understands you but your idols are Just Like You. Interviewers kept trying to get him to say he was gay - 15 years ago, when there was no Ellen DeGeneres or Adam Lambert to prove that you could be out and not kill your career. At some point, he started referring obliquely to relationships he'd had with both women and men, talking about disliking labels and and liking the idea of "queer." He always sounded like he was tired of people bringing it up, like his music was so much more interesting to him.

It was the first time I'd heard anyone express a sexual identity similar to the one I was experiencing. When you're a kid coming out to yourself, and especially when you don't fall within the neat lines of gay or straight and can't figure out what the hell you are, that's huge. I've loved R.E.M.'s music with inordinate passion since I was eleven, but they're my favorite band because Stipe gave me something to come out as.

Some people covering R.E.M.:

Bodies of Water - Everybody Hurts
A really good twee-rock reading of the song with a male-female duet and well-placed Phil-Spectorish lush pop touches.

The Observatory - Feeling Gravitys Pull
Raucous, insane, noisy version of an album track from R.E.M.'s indie days.

Scary Kids Scaring Kids - Losing My Religion
I have about four mediocre punk covers of R.E.M.'s big hit, of which this is the most listenable.

You Say Party! We Say Die! - Nightswimming
A couple years ago, the online magazine Stereogum compiled an album of modern indie bands covering all of the songs on Automatic for the People. This deadpan but heartfelt electro-pop reading of "Nightswimming" is my favorite.

Over the Rhine - The One I Love
I love Over the Rhine's chilling Ohio country-folk. Their style really brings out the melancholy, bitter edge of this song.

Redbird - You Are the Everything
The New England folk trio replace the original's spooky accordions with vocal harmonies and earnestness that actually suit the song well.

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