Track of the Day: 'Penny Lane' by Elvis Costello

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

Reader Sam suggests a number of cover songs, but my favorite is a bit more fitting for our location series than our cover series:

The Toots and the Maytals version of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” you posted [along with a wistful Japanese-language version] is magnificent (and I love the substitution of “West Jamaica/mountain mama” in the lyrics). But I also find it hard to beat Mike Doughty’s version (with Rosanne Cash on backing vox) from his album The Flip Is Another Honey. That album also included his reinterpretation (can’t really call it a cover) “Sunshine,” with a great John Denver sample from “Sunshine On My Shoulders.”

Houses on Penny Lane in Liverpool, England (Wiki)

One of my other favorite cover songs is when Elvis Costello covered his friend, early producer and label-mate Nick Lowe’s song “When I Write The Book,” interpolating his own “Everyday I Write The Book.” The best version I’ve heard was his last appearance on Letterman, but I haven’t found it online anywhere. This version is almost as good.

Elvis does a wonderful job with cover songs; his version of “Penny Lane” at the White House is masterful, with a beautiful trumpet solo by MSgt Matthew Harding of the USMC band. [Embedded above]

The cover that's been occupying a lot of my attention lately has been Shearwater’s full-length cover of David Bowie’s Lodger album. They did it for the AV Club and have just released a very limited-edition vinyl copy. Really nice. They also did a covers album a few years ago, covering artists they’d toured with. Their version of Xiu Xiu's “I Luv The Valley OH!!” is great.

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