Alicia Keys

Here is Alicia Keys’s cover of The Fray’s How to Save a Life.



If you know me or have ever read this site, you know I collect cover songs — preferably covers of crappy British pop songs by crappy British artists. I am passionate about my collection, as anyone who has ever sat next to me at a Genius Bar knows (when I lost almost my entire collection last fall in the great Mac Book Pro motherboard failure of 2006 and then had to rebuild it. Three times.)

Many of my favorite covers in my collection come from BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge, hosted by Jo Whiley. Bands come in, sing a couple of songs acoustically and then sing a cover or two. The covers are amazing: Charlotte Church covering Mario’s “Let Me Love You,” Corinne Bailey Rae covering Editor’s “Munich,” Jamie Cullum covering Pharrell’s “Frontin’,” Lemar covering The Darkness’s “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” Maximo Park covering Proclaimers “500 Miles.” Obviously, I could go on and on.

Unofficial Live Lounge has scores of tracks from 2004 until now including the new Alicia Keys cover of How to Save a Life. It also has two songs that I thought I’d lost forever: Willie Mason’s cover of Grandmaster Flash’s The Message and Franz Ferdinand’s cover of Pulp’s Mis-Shapes.

My family celebrates holidays by raiding each others’ music collections. (And drinking.)

When I look at iTunes, I can easily remember the holiday by looking at the music. We’re junkies, really. Almost of our childhood memories have very specific soundtracks (Poco, Doobie Brothers, Orleans, Bonnie Raitt). My father once told me that our family music education may not have been wide, but it was deep.

Last year, I was completely hooked on collecting British pop music covers by crappy British bands. This year, I took a six month hiatus from new music — two months listening to only a client’s new project while they work recording, and then, my post-break-up moratorium on any music.

Post-moritorium, I bought three cds:
Alicia Keys, As I Am
Kanye West, Graduation
Common, Finding Forever

I highly recommend all three. I listened to the Alicia Keys album non-stop from Austin to Florida and had to keep reminding myself not to sing aloud on the plane. Plus, D worked with Alicia Keys a few weeks ago and had only the best things to say about her after hearing her sing a cappella for 2 or 3 days.

I know that sort of thing shouldn’t matter, but it always does when I buy music. Heck, I had emotional and not musical reasons for buying what I bought:

  • I adore Alicia Keys and will buy anything she releases so she can keep making music, mostly in thanks for “If I Ain’t Got You,” a song I would have danced to at my wedding to A . . . dammit.
  • My friend C highly recommended the Kanye West cd, but I really bought it after he lost his mother out of solidarity for someone with an absurdly close maternal bond.
  • I’ve bought nearly every Common album for years and years, but it took my friend RH’s gentle reminder to make me pick the new one up. Like RH, I make my friends pick up my friends’ albums, too. Hell, I make them go to shows at Emo’s and Red-Eyed Fly to see bands they hate. (Love you guys!) The Common disc is really great though.

For this year’s music swap, I will be picking up some east coast indie stuff from D & S, more covers for my collection from mom, and sending them some of my more obscure indie stuff and some unreleased demos (that I have approval to share with D&S).

Currently playing:
Frosty the Snowman, Fats Domino.
Drums of Death Instrumental, DJ Shadow.
Roll On, Dntel feat. Jenny Lewis.
Angels We Have Heard on High, Duvall.
Orange Moon, Erykah Badu.
Liquid Street, Roy Hargrove.
Molly’s Chambers, Kings of Leon (from BBC’s Radio 1 Live Lounge).
Le Bien, Le Mal, GURU.
Little Girl Blue, Nina Simone (which repeats the melody from Angels We Have Heard On High).

A great live performance is transcendent.

Alicia Keys, If I Ain’t Got You.

Live at the 2005 Grammy Awards, being ably assisted by Jamie Foxx (in full on Ray Charles mode) and backed by a full orchestra, this is my favorite of the five versions we have of this song.

Listen: Alicia Keys, If I Ain’t Got You.
Buy: Alicia Keys, Unplugged

Ben Harper, In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel cover).

It’s a beautiful acoustic version of the song. About 4 minutes in, the audience starts singing the “missing part” and he thanks them. It’s a lovely, moving cover of a beautiful song.

Listen: Ben Harper, In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel cover).
Buy: Ben Harper, Live From Mars.

I thought Stephanie Edwards started the show very, very well.

A recognized the song immediately as How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore, a Prince song, which we have covered by Alicia Keys.

On iTunes, you can hear and buy Prince’s version here and Alicia Keys’ here.