“‘Introducing . . . the Beatles was, like, half covers,’ Calvin [Johnson] remembers.”

intro-beatles

“That was really exciting to look at them and realize, ‘Hey, they didn’t write this song. Who wrote this song?’ That’s how I found out about the Shirelles and Carl Perkins and Chuck Berry and Arthur Alexander and the Cookies. And it was just like, ‘Oh! I’ve got to hear these original versions.'”

– Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music (Mark Baumgarten, Sasquatch Books, 2012)


Introducing . . .  the Beatles
did for a teenaged Calvin Johnson (the founder of K Records and Beat Happening) what the White Stripes did for a teenaged me. Half of the White Stripes’ albums included at least one cover, and the band covered dozens more across a vast scattering of demos, B-sides, lost tapes, television appearances, and live bootlegs. I traced the White Stripes’ influences to discover Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, the Stooges, the Gun Club, Love, the Soledad Brothers, Captain Beefheart, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Robert Johnson, Son House, Leadbelly, and more roots bluesmen with “Blind” in their names than I can count. And those are just artists the White Stripes covered, never mind the ones the band praised in interviews. That list is even more expansive.

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