Track of the Day: 'Cortez the Killer' by The Church

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Sarah G. is a big fan of the cover series:

I’ve been following it intermittently for a while now, especially when I need a break from political coverage. It first caught my eye when you featured Richard Thompson, [who also sang] “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.” I had just shared that video, again, on Facebook, and friends were certain that I had suggested it. But I digress.

Covers of songs—sometimes they are great, sometimes they are terrible. Pearl Jam has covered so many songs that I could spend all day just talking about and listening to their covers. Scrolling through the archive, I thought first of Jeff Buckley, which of course led me to think about I’m Your Fan, a compilation of Leonard Cohen covers by various artists. [CB: There’s another compilation of Cohen covers, I’m Your Man, which I bought after seeing the 2005 documentary of the same name, and two of its best covers are Rufus Wainwright’s “Chelsea Hotel #2” and Antony Hegarty’s “If It Be Your Will.”]

But I think I’ll take this opportunity to show some love to The Church’s album of covers from 1999, A Box of Birds. They cover the Monkees, the Beatles, Ultravox, and Neil Young, among others. I enjoyed the eclectic song selection and the hints at the band’s sense of humor and fun. Some of the tracks are faithful to the originals, others are uniquely The Church. Here’s their cover of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” in all of its trippy glory.

(Submit a cover via hello@. Track of the Day archive here. Pre-Notes archive here.)