In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, in honor of Amanda And Jack Palmer’s covers album, we’re picking some of our favorite cover songs.
Paul Baribeau And Ginger Alford, “Thunder Road” (2006)
By this point, to say that I love Bruce Springsteen feels a bit overdone. What is important to note is that part of that love stems from how infinitely screamable his songs are. In 2006 two songwriters from Bloomington, Indiana, released Darkness On The Edge Of Your Town, a 15-track Springsteen covers album that captures the glee of singing along to The Boss’ songs. In fact, it’s an album that will forever feel tied to me doing exactly that with one of my best friends (Hi, Gabe!) while driving, fittingly enough, to Bloomington. As we barreled south on I-65, we cranked Darkness On The Edge Of Your Town, screaming along with every slightly off-key melody.
While I think every cover on the record is great, “Thunder Road” might be the most indicative of the album’s effervescent nature. Ginger Alford And Paul Baribeau raise their voices in unison, singing almost every line together with an urgency that’s downright infectious. It might not be polished, but that’s kind of the point. Springsteen’s songs are unifiers. It doesn’t matter if you can sing. It doesn’t matter if you’re hitting the notes. It’s about being there in that shared moment, when the music consumes you and makes you sing, dance, and throw your fist in the air without a hint of embarrassment or pretension. Just watch the pair’s live rendition of “Thunder Road” from the tour Alford and Baribeau did in support of the record. It’s loose, wild, and utterly joyful. It strips the Springsteen classic down to its base layer while also proving the song’s thesis: Life’s more fun when you let your hair down and live a little.