Cover Up!

This is a repost from the private blog for my Spring 2016 Digital History course. The students were assigned to make a digital mixtape & blog about it. I decided to participate as well. 

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A good cover (an artist performing another artist’s song) is a beautiful thing. The bands who do the best covers move beyond mere imitation and make the song their own. I remember a time when I just didn’t understand why folks would want to do things that had already been done. Then I heard The Fugees’ cover of “Killing Me Softly” and I understood. That song closes my mixtape.

“Killing Me Softly” wasn’t the first cover I heard–folks have been performing and recording other peoples’ songs as long as there has been music–but it was the first one where I remember recognizing how deeply a new take could change a song. This mix is made up of songs that are at least as good as the originals, if not better.

There are some very well known tracks that are considered better than the originals: Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” (Prince), Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” (Dolly Parton), and Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” (Bob Dylan). I didn’t include these, because I figure you’ve heard them. If you haven’t, drop what you’re doing and go listen to them now! But I just couldn’t resist including Jeff Buckley’s haunting cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Halelujah.”

I lead off with The Postal Service’s version of Phil Collins’ classic “Against All Odds,” because I think it represents what the rest of this playlist is about–quite different covers–while also not starting too loud or too quiet. Nico’s “These Days” (Jackson Browne) continues the indie feel. The following tracks take us up and down, but continue reimagining classics. I’m not sure that we can quite call Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” a classic, but Ryan Adams covers of her 1984 album just could not be left out of such a collection.

Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” is one of my all-time favorite songs, and I think few people’s covers do it justice, but First Aid Kit hits the right notes (#sorrynotsorry for that pun). Nirvana performed several amazing covers for their MTV Unplugged appearance, but David Bowie’s recent passing made the choice to use “The Man Who Sold The World” an easy one. In all, this mixtape was an opportunity for me to mix up some of my favorite songs and artists and put them in a new package to share.

Initially, I was going to use 8tracks to make my mix, as an opportunity to learn a new program, but they didn’t have many of the song versions that I was looking for. You can do easy itunes imports, but I’m working from a computer that doesn’t have access to most of that library. For those reasons, I went with spotify:

What are some of your favorite covers?

The Art of the Mixtape

Several months ago, my friend Lara Kelland and I (along with several others) discussed what we feared was the fading art of mixtape making. Inspired by that conversation, I decided that the first assignment in my upcoming digital history course would be to create a digital mixtape. I know, I know–folks these days call them “playlists.” I do too, much of the time. But I wanted students to consider their choices in a new way. Here are the guidelines I gave:

*mixes will be between 8 and 12 songs and in an intentional order (no “random” allowed).

*mixes must have a theme and some sort of cover art.

*mixes must be sharable for free (although registration could be required).

I asked the students to share their mixes in a blog post.* They were also required to explain their theme and their choice of format/platform. I left pretty much everything else open. The theme could be anything; I just wanted the songs to hang together. The mixes aren’t due until tomorrow, but several have already been shared. For what it is worth, the students have all used either spotify or 8tracks so far.

The mixtapes have to be posted before our first class meeting, and everyone is to review the other mixes before our second meeting.

This assignment should help us get to know one another and judge how familiar we all are with various digital technologies. I am particularly looking forward to discussing this with all of them in class tomorrow.


*I decided not to require public blogging from students this semester, so their posts are on our university moodle-based system. I will offer everyone the opportunity to export their blog posts to the platform of their choice at the end of the semester.

Things I did not blog about this fall…

…but considered writing about. This is a post to remind me to be more timely in the future.

Preservation NC Annual Conference

In September 2015, Preservation North Carolina held their annual conference in Salisbury, NC. This conference is a great opportunity to network with other preservationists in the state, and I always enjoy attending and learning more about a new town.

IMG_7257        Salisbury, NC DQ








Above are two of the photos I took while at the conference. Check out that Dairy Queen!

Wright Brothers National Memorial

In October 2015, my husband and I visited the Outer Banks for the first time and we checked out the Wright Brothers National Memorial. I also finally bought an NPS passport. Long overdue, I know. I guess now I’ll just have to visit all of those sites again. 😉

We were able to see a high quality interpretive program at the visitor center and museum. The Ranger was enthusiastic and worked to incorporate the kids in the audience into the program. The site itself extends over some acreage, and we rambled all over it to try and get an experiential feel for the Wright brothers and their assistants’ experiments. Visitors can hike up Big Kill Devil Hill and see the place from which several flight attempts were launched. I’d always heard that Kitty Hawk was the site of the first flight, but it was actually just the closest town with a telegraph office. The site is located in what is now the town of Kill Devil Hills.

Wright Bros Memorial

Confession? Perhaps my favorite part of the site is the fabulous mid-century visitor’s center. Just look at this architecture!

hello world

I recently learned that the “hello world” post has a long history, and so I thought it a fine way to begin my new professional website. If I’m honest, I don’t know how much blogging I will really do on this site, but I wanted to give it a shot. Who knows what may end up in this space? Welcome.