Archive for the ‘1999’ Category

‘I Do Not Count The Time . . .’

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Autumn advances. The leaves on the oaks here are still mostly green, though a few have turned brown and made their ways to the ground, like an advance patrol checking out the terrain ahead. Those few pioneers crinkle some underfoot as we walk along the driveway; in a few weeks, they and their fellows will be more than ankle-deep across the lawn and will break like dry waves around our shins as we take our last walks to the garden.

In our eighth autumn here in the house, the rhythms of the seasons are ingrained. I no longer have to make lists of autumn’s chores. I know we must tear down the garden and clear the garage for the cars, we need to change the windows in the dining room and kitchen from screens to storms, we should clean the gutters, and more. Some of that will get done this weekend and some during the following week. I will find the time.

Similarly, I will find the time during this weekend, during next week, and during every succeeding day of October to embrace the season, to feel its rhythms of change, to sip its bittersweet wine, and to cherish the memories the season holds for me. And I’ll hope that many more autumns are yet to come.

I once described Eric Andersen’s “Blue River” as the most autumnal song I know. These days, I’d put it in a tie with Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes,” and I’d especially use that adjective – autumnal – for the version of Denny’s song that the late Charlie Louvin released in 1996, when he was in his early seventies. It’s from Louvin’s 1996 album The Longest Train.

Edited slightly since first posting.

Saturday Single No. 385

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

There are many curiosities that have taken up residence in my digital music files, a fact that delights Odd, my imaginary tunehead assistant who loves things unconventional, edgy and just plain weird. (His tunehead brother Pop, on the other hand, likes a more orderly musical universe, one in which a record makes the charts or, at worst, sounds like it could have.)

One series of CDs that Odd finds pleasing is the Pickin’ On . . . albums. As Tim Sendra of All Music Guide says, the idea is simple: “Get together some hot bluegrass pickers and let them loose on an album’s worth of songs by a huge rock band or artist.” A good share of the fun, Sendra says, comes from “hearing familiar AOR staples being deconstructed and rebuilt bluegrass style.”

Somehow, over the past few years, I’ve accumulated nine of the albums, featuring the songs of Creedence Clearwater Revival; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Neil Young; Pink Floyd; Bruce Springsteen; the Allman Brothers Band; the Doobie Brothers; the Eagles; and the Grateful Dead. At AMG, the discography of the Pickin’ On . . . series starts with the first of two albums of music of the Dead, released in 1997, and ends more than a hundred albums later – having expanded far beyond the limitations of rock – with a 2007 album of tunes from Cowboy Troy. In between, in addition to the artists that are covered in my collection, the pickers visit the music of Garth Brooks, Santana, Aerosmith, Sheryl Crow, Creed, Merle Haggard, U2, Brad Paisley, Rod Stewart and many, many more.

In his commentary at AMG, Sendra notes, “Bluegrass purists no doubt find this concept to be a sellout of the worst kind, but more easygoing fans of the style and fans of weird concepts in general will find much to enjoy.”

The phrase “weird concepts in general . . .” makes Odd grin here in the EITW studios.

Sendra also notes, “It must have been a daunting task to arrange Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” It sounds like it, but I like the result. So, of course does Odd. (Pop will get over it.)

So here, from the 1999 album Pickin’ on Springsteen, is bluegrass “Born to Run,” today’s Saturday Single.

Peaking At No. 2 . . .

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

One of the quirkier books on my music reference shelf is the Billboard Book of No. 2 Singles, a volume by Christopher G. Feldman that was published in 2000. It gathers together chart data and brief essays on the 400 or so records that peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart between 1955 and 1999.*

The singles thus highlighted go from “Melody of Love” by Billy Vaughn & His Orchestra, which was No. 2 for one week in March 1955 and was blocked from the top spot by the McGuire Sister’s “Sincerely” all the way to “Back At One” by Brian McKnight (and boy, that’s an unsettling video), which was No. 2 for eight weeks in late 1999 and early 2000 but was blocked from No. 1 by the Santana/Rob Thomas single “Smooth.”

(The number “400” is an estimate; I was hoping that somewhere in the book Feldman would list the total, but if he did, I can’t spot it this morning. And yes, there’s been a lot of music out since 2000, and an update would be nice, but the book nevertheless covers the years in which I’m most interested.)

I wondered which years had the most records that peaked at No. 2, wondering as well if calculating that would show any sort of pattern. If there is a pattern, I imagine that finding it would take more time and analysis than I’ve going to devote to it this morning. But here are the years when there were more than ten records that peaked at No. 2.

1958: 12
1959: 13
1963: 11
1966: 13
1967: 13
1968: 14
1969: 16
1972: 12
1973: 12
1986: 11
1987: 11
1988: 11
1989: 14
1990: 14

I looked at the No. 1 records from 1969 to see if there were any juggernauts there, and there were: In the spring, the 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” was No. 1 for six weeks, followed immediately by the Beatles’ “Get Back,” which was No. 1 for five weeks. And that summer, Zager & Evans’ “In The Year 2525” took over the top spot for six weeks. Those three records blocked six other singles from the top spot.

It might be interesting to carefully scan Feldman’s book to see which No. 1 hit blocked more records from the top spot than any other. I’m not going to take the time to do that, at least not today, but I played some hunches: In 1960, Percy Faith’s “Theme From A Summer Place” was No. 1 for nine weeks and blocked five other records from the top spot. In 1977, Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” was No. 1 for ten weeks and blocked four other records from the top spot. In 1981, Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” and Diana Ross’ “Endless Love” were both No. 1 for nine weeks and both blocked three other records from No. 1. And in 1968, the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” was No. 1 for nine weeks and blocked three other singles from the top spot.

And as there are with most books of this ilk, there are lists in the back: Through 1999 (and these may have changed, of course), the artist with the most No. 2 hits was Madonna with six, and the honor of having the most No. 2 hits without ever reaching No. 1 went to Creedence Clearwater Revival, which hit No. 2 five times.

And three groups hit No. 2 with three consecutive records:

Blood, Sweat & Tears with “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel” and “And When I Die.”

The Carpenters with “Rainy Days & Mondays,” “Superstar” and “Hurting Each Other.”

CCR with “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Green River.”

To end this, I thought I’d go to the middle of the book and find a No. 2 single to highlight. The book is 288 pages, and the first entry on Page 144 is Eddie Kendricks’ “Boogie Down,” which was No. 2 for two weeks in March 1974. In a horrible miscarriage of radio justice, Kendricks’ record was blocked from the top spot by Terry Jacks’ “Seasons In The Sun.”

)

*At the time that the first twenty-nine entries in his book were charting, Feldman notes, Billboard issued a number of weekly charts; he used the Best Sellers in Stores chart for those entries, and for the entries from August 4, 1958 on, he used the Billboard Hot 100.

‘I’ll See You In My Dreams . . .’

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

As noted in a couple of recent posts, the lovely Isham Jones/Gus Kahn song “I’ll See You In My Dreams” first showed up in 1925, recorded by Jones with the Ray Miller Orchestra, with Frank Besinger handling the vocal. According to Joel Whitburn in A Century Of Pop Music, the record was No. 1 for seven weeks starting the first week of April and wound up as the No. 3 record for the year (behind “The Prisoner’s Song” by Vernon Dalhart and “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” by Gene Austin).

Covers naturally followed. While I don’t think that “I’ll See You In My Dreams” is necessarily one of the most-covered songs of all time, it’s nevertheless a song that’s stayed in the public ear: The list of covers at Second Hand Songs – a listing that’s not necessarily comprehensive but which probably provides a good cross-section and starting point – shows versions of the song from every decade since but the 1940s, and I’m not sure if there’s a reason for that gap or not. Add to those versions the other covers I’ve found at YouTube, and the song is clearly one that’s remained popular.

Since the middle of last week, I’ve been wandering through many versions of the song, and I’ve found quite a few I like. My pal Larry, who hangs his hat at the fine blog, Funky 16 Corners, recommended the 1930 cover by Ukulele Ike, otherwise known as Cliff Edwards. (Edwards, perhaps better known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s Pinnochio, covered the song again in 1956 on his album, Ukulele Ike Sings Again.) Another early cover that caught my ear was the 1937 version by Guy Lombardo. And jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt  gave the song a whirl in 1939.

Perhaps the most surprising of the covers I found was the nimble-fingered instrumental version by Jerry Lee Lewis, recorded during a session for Sun Records in 1958; the take was finally issued on a Sun collection LP in 1984 and since then on CD. Other versions I generally like from the 1950s and 1960s included covers by Henri René & His Orchestra (1956), the Mills Brothers (1960), The Ray Conniff Singers (1960), Cliff Richard (1961), the Lettermen (1963) and my man Al Hirt (1968).

The only version of the song to hit the modern charts was an unsurprisingly bland take from Pat Boone, whose 1962 cover went to No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 in and No. 9 on what is now called the Adult Contemporary chart.

Some versions baffle me (and you can easily find these – and others mentioned but not linked – at YouTube). I mean, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (1980)? Then there’s some very odd percussion and production in a 1965 effort by Vic Dana. And in 1975, the Pearls took the song to the disco.

There were some other interesting versions. I found a cover by the Paul Kuhn Orchestra that was released on LP in 1980, but it sounds very much like something Bert Kaempfert would have released in 1965 or so. (Kuhn passed on in September, and his death inspired one of the great headlines: “Paul Kuhn, German jazzman who lamented Hawaii’s lack of beer, has died.”) Chet Atkins, recording with Merle Travis, did a nice cover for the 1974 album, Atkins-Travis Traveling Show, although the linked video offers what seems to be a shorter version of the tune, as included on a later compilation.

Howard Alden did a very nice guitar version of “I’ll See You In My Dreams” ghosting for Sean Penn’s character Emmet Ray – a 1930s jazz guitar player – in Woody Allen’s 1999 film, Sweet and Lowdown.

And finally, one version that I like among the more recent covers is the faux-vintage and slightly rough-edged take from 2005 by folk singer Ingrid Michaelson along with singer (and ukulele player) Joan Moore.

‘Indigo’

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Back in August, when I shared “Orange,” the second portion of the series of posts we’re calling Floyd’s Prism, I noted my relief that there were enough songs in my files with “orange” in their titles for me to do a standard six-song post.

And I said in a parenthetical note: “I have my concerns about ‘indigo,’ but we’ll deal with that when we get there.”

Well, we are there. I was right to have concerns. And we’ll deal with them.

A search for “indigo” in the files brings up 209 mp3s, the vast majority of which are tunes by the Indigo Girls. There are a couple of singles from a 1960s folk-rock group called the Indigos. We find Duke Ellington’s “Solitude,” scavenged from an album called Ellington’s Indigos.

Then there is “Mood Indigo.” Oddly, I don’t have Ellington’s original version. I have covers of the song by Frank Sinatra, Henry Mancini, Jimmie Lunceford & His Orchestra and John Barry (from the soundtrack to the 1984 film The Cotton Club).

And I have a great, N’Awlins-infused version of the Big Band classic from Duke Elegant, Dr. John’s 1999 album celebrating Ellington’s birth a century earlier. That’s all the indigo I got, but it’s pretty damned good.

We’ll do a rare Wednesday post tomorrow, digging around in the Billboard Hot 100 from October 30, 1971.

Saturday Single No. 344

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

My eyes are watering and my head hurts. There is a type of pollen or two (or more) in the air during this late spring week that does not care at all for my well-being. Combine that with a long-time tendency toward sinus infections as spring turns to summer, and, well, you can guess the rest.

(My allergies have been harder to deal with year-by-year, and I’ve simply assumed for the last decade or so that aging was the reason; that could certainly play a part, but I saw a piece in the St. Cloud Times yesterday that offered what might be an additional reason.)

I had planned to use this space this morning to offer an appreciation of Andrew Greeley, the Catholic priest, sociologist and novelist who passed on earlier this week, but that will have to wait until I can think more clearly. So I went looking for some piece of music that could illustrate the way I feel today while still holding some entertainment value.

Searching the RealPlayer for “head,” I came across “Cabbage Head” by Dr. John, from his 1992 album, Goin’ Back to New Orleans. I listened to the tale of the suspicious husband, a song whose origins are – based on a little bit of bleary-eyed digging this morning – deeply buried in the traditions of New Orleans and the Appalachians. I liked very much both the song and Dr. John’s version of it, and I liked even more the fact that the title echoed how my head feels this morning. Then I went off to YouTube to look for the song on a video, and I found a treasure.

The legendary Ruth Brown recorded a gender-flipped version of “Cabbage Head” for her 1999 album, A Good Day For The Blues. The result was saucy, salty, and utterly delightful. I’m going to have to look for the album, and I most likely will dig into the history of “Cabbage Head” sometime soon, but all that will have to wait until my head feels less like a vegetable. For now, here’s Ruth Brown’s take on “Cabbage Head,” today’s Saturday Single.

‘Five’

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

We’re back to the March of the Integers this morning, looking at ‘Five,’ and the RealPlayer comes up with a list of 262 mp3s as a starting point.

Before we can get to work, though, we have to winnow out records by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama, the Original Memphis Five, the We Five, Louis Jordan and His Tympani Five, the Ben Folds Five and the Dave Clark Five as well as tracks by the Five Americans, Five Bells, Five Blazes, Five Breezes, Five Chavis Brothers, Five Delights, Five Empressions, Five Keys, Five Man Electrical Band, Five Stairsteps and Five For Fighting. We also need to set aside Nick Drake’s 1969 album Five Leaves Left, most of the 1969 Hawaii Five-O soundtrack by the Morton Stevens Orchestra and most of the similarly titled 1969 album by the Ventures.

Still – as has been the case in the previous four chapters of this exercise – we’re left with enough titles available so we can be a little picky. We’ll once again go chronologically.

With a nod to events in the eastern U.S. this week – and meaning no disrespect to anyone affected by Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath – we’ll start with a country tune about a flood from 1959. Johnny Cash chronicles the rising waters in “Five Feet High and Rising” in a dry and matter-of-fact tone that one can interpret as either comic or stoic. I’ll go with the latter. The record spent nine weeks in the country Top 40 as summer edged into autumn in 1959, peaking at No. 14.

The pleasantly trippy track “Five O’Clock in the Morning” by Wendy & Bonnie comes from one of the more interesting one-shot albums of the 1960s. Wendy and Bonnie Flowers were sisters from San Francisco who were seventeen and thirteen, respectively, when their album, Genesis, was released in 1969. It came out on the Skye label, which folded soon after the record came out, dooming any chances for the album to gain any attention. Was it interesting because it was good or because Wendy and Bonnie were so young? A little more the latter than the former, I think, but the album – re-released on the Sundazed label in 2001 with bonus tracks – is worth finding.

I noted that we’d have to ignore most of the Ventures’ 1969 album Hawaii Five-O, but there was really no way I could put together a selection of songs featuring the number “five” and not include the title track from that album. “Hawaii Five-O” is about as catchy as a television theme can be, and the Ventures’ recording of the theme went to No. 4 in 1969. The tune came from the pen of composer Morton Stevens, who recorded the version used for the show’s opening.

Jade was a British folk-rock group that released its only album, Fly on Strangewings, in 1970. It’s a pleasant album with a few very good pieces, but I think that Richie Unterberger of All-Music Guide got it right: “While Jade’s only album is decent early-’70s British folk-rock, its similarity to the material that Sandy Denny sang lead on with Fairport Convention is so evident that it’s rather unnerving.” Unterberger went on, however, to note several tracks on the album that could stand on their own without drawing comparisons to Denny and Fairport. “Five Of Us” is, sadly, not one of those tracks. Still, from the distance of more than forty years, it’s a decent piece of British folk-rock with impressive harmonies and a very eerie recurring “whooooooh” in the background.

The country-rock group Cowboy released half-a-dozen albums on the Capricorn label during the 1970s and deservedly sold a fair number of records. I’d guess that most folks who went looking for Cowboy’s work, though, did so for the same reason I did: The track “Please Be With Me” was included on the first Duane Allman Anthology because of Allman’s Dobro work. And, like me, those who bought the 1971 album 5’ll Get You Ten just for that track discovered a lot of additional fine music from Scott Boyer, Tommy Talton, Chuck Leavell and the others who sat in. The track “5’ll Get You Ten” is as good as anything on the album.

In 1999, country-folk artist Nanci Griffith took some of her best songs from previous albums and re-recorded them with backing from the London Symphony Orchestra. Some of Griffith’s performances were overwhelmed by the orchestra, and some of them came out all right. To my ears, the best thing on the album was the duet on “Love at the Five and Dime” by Griffith and Darius Rucker, best known as lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish. The song, which had been affecting in its original version on Griffith’s 1986 album, The Last of the True Believers, became more powerful and poignant with the addition of Rucker’s unique voice.

‘Like A Circle In A Spiral . . .’

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

On one of the cable channels a while back, I caught the 1999 version of The Thomas Crown Affair, a remake of a 1968 film that starred Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. The remake placed Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo in those roles, and I have to say I was underwhelmed. Unfortunately, I’ve not seen the original film, so I can’t make a final judgment, but the original is currently at the top of my Netflix queue, and once it arrives, I expect the McQueen-Dunaway team to easily outpoint the Brosnan-Russo pairing.

One area in which the 1999 version will earn a victory, however, comes in the vocal performance of the very familiar theme. Titled “The Windmills of Your Mind,” the sinuous and lovely tune was – like “The Theme From The Summer of ’42” – a collaboration between French composer Michel Legrand and American lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman. (The song’s French lyrics, under the title of “Les Moulins de Mon Coeur,” were by Eddy Marnay.)

In the 1968 film (or at least on the soundtrack), the vocal version was performed by Noel Harrison, son of British actor Rex Harrison. The younger Harrison had reached the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965 with the overly dramatic “A Young Girl” (No. 51) and in 1967 with a cover of Leonard Cohen’s cryptic “Suzanne” (No. 56). In 1969, a year after The Thomas Crown Affair was released, Harrison’s rendition of “The Windmills of Your Mind” went to No. 9 on the British charts. I don’t know if it was released as a single here in the U.S., but if it was, it failed to make the charts.

Maybe I just don’t care for Noel Harrison’s voice, but – like his 1966 album that included “A Young Girl” and his 1967 version of “Suzanne” – I find his version of “The Windmills of Your Mind” to be thin and not all that interesting. The version used in the 1999 remake of the film had vocals from Sting, and although it’s altogether too easy to have too much of Sting, his version of the classic theme is better than Harrison’s, if only by a little bit.

We’ll close today’s exercise with Legrand’s instrumental version from the 1968 film. Later this week, I’ll offer the French version of the tune that seems to have been the most popular, and we’ll take a look at a few of the many, many covers through the years of “The Windmills of Your Mind.” Here’s the original instrumental from the 1968 soundtrack.

Jackson, Linda, Bonnie & Tom

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Well, thanks to reader and friend Yah Shure, we’re still digging around in Jackson Browne covers this morning. After Tuesday’s post about such covers, Yah Shure commented, “How about the cover of “Rock Me On The Water” by . . . Jackson Browne? He redid it from scratch for the 45. Much better than the cut from the self-titled album, IMO.”

Until then, I’d had no idea that the single version of “Rock Me On The Water” was a different beast. I plead unfamiliarity: “RMOTW” went only to No. 48 as the autumn of 1972 set in, and I evidently didn’t hear it much, if at all, on the radio. And by the time I was catching up to Browne’s music and got around to that first, self-titled album, it was 1978. Thus, the only version I’ve really known has been the one on the album.

So I went hunting. And I think that this (scratchy) video features the single version (although final judgment will be reserved for Yah Shure). And yes, I also think it’s a better version than the one that showed up on the album.

And we might as well listen to another version of “Rock Me On The Water” while we’re at it. Here’s Linda Ronstadt from her self-titled 1972 album. A single release of the track went to No. 85 in March of 1972. (I’ve seen 1971 listed as the issue date for the album, but I’m going with the date on the CD package The Best of Linda Ronstadt: The Capitol Years, which says the record came out in 1972. I’m open to correction, though.)

Moving up in time a bit, here’s Bonnie Raitt with her cover of Browne’s “Sleep’s Dark and Silent Gate” from her 1979 album The Glow. It’s not bad, maybe a little too forceful.

I was going to close today’s coverfest – and at least for a while, I think, the exploration of Jackson Browne covers – with one of my favorites: Joan Baez’ take on “Fountain of Sorrow,” which was the second track on Baez’ 1975 album Diamonds & Rust. But the video I put up was blocked in 237 countries, including the U.S. So I pulled it down, and we’ll instead close shop today with a tender cover of Browne’s “Jamacia Say You Will” by Tom Rush. Rush included the song on his 1972 album Merrimack County, but this version is a live performance – I don’t know the date – that was released on the 1999 collection The Very Best of Tom Rush: No Regrets.

‘One Last Chance To Make It Real . . .’

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Down on East St. Germain – the main street here on the East Side – there’s a pawnshop. It’s right around the corner from Tom’s Barbershop, and I pop in from time to time. Granite City Pawn Shop, it’s called. It’s kind of dusty, and it’s well-stocked with tools and outdoor sports equipment.

And in the middle of the shop, sometimes guarded by a gantlet of other merchandise – a telescope tripod the other day – is an alcove filled with CDs, all priced at $1 apiece. Over the past couple years, I’ve made a few interesting finds there – probably the best was Blue & Sentimental by 1950s sax player Ike Quebec – and filled some gaps, most of them in my country collection.

I stopped by there the other day and found three CDs from the 1990s by country singer John Berry, about whom I’d read a few nice things. They’re all pretty good, and it turns out that one of them – Saddle the Wind – was an album Berry recorded and released in 1990, before he was signed to Liberty Records. Liberty released it in 1994, and that’s the version I found. And when the CD got to the fifth track, here’s what I heard:

He sings it well, but to my ears, the track hews far too closely to Bruce Springsteen’s version to make it more than interesting. But for the last ten days or so, I’ve had “Thunder Road” running through my head as Berry’s cover inspired me to make my way through various versions of one of Springsteen’s greatest songs.

Along the way, I’ve been wondering if the harmonica and piano that lead off “Thunder Road” on Born to Run might not be the very first things that lots of folks ever heard from Bruce Springsteen. My reasoning: It was with Born to Run, of course, that Springsteen made the leap from regional favorite to national artist, and I figure a lot of folks picked up the album on the basis of the national noise without having heard anything from Springsteen before, even the single “Born to Run.” The album reached the Billboard chart on September 13, 1975, showing up at No. 84, a week before “Born to Run” jumped into the Hot 100 at No. 68. And “Thunder Road” leads off the album. So that introduction could have been the introduction to Springsteen for a lot of people.

Well, it’s an interesting thought (to me, anyway), but it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that “Thunder Road” is one of the sturdiest songs Springsteen’s ever put together. Wikipedia notes that in 2004, the song was ranked No. 86 in Rolling Stone magazine’s assessment of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” And, as Wikipedia notes, the song has shown up highly ranked on several similar lists.

Like all sturdy songs, it’s been covered fairly frequently. Among those who’ve tackled the song are Badly Drawn Boy, Frank Turner, Tori Amos, Mary Lou Lord and Bonnie “Prince” Bill with Tortoise. I’ve heard some of those, and I’ve come across a few more. Melissa Etheridge sang the song in concert at least once after Springsteen performed the song with her at an earlier show. (Her solo performance of the song is listed as being in 2009, but I don’t know when the duet took place.) I also found a few studio covers that I thought were interesting: Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners recorded the song for his 1999 album My Beauty, but – according to a comment at YouTube – the track was held back because Springsteen thought Rowland took too many liberties with the lyrics. I thought the Cowboy Junkies did a nice version; it was released on the bonus CD that came with their 2004 album One Soul Now.

And I came across this version by a string quartet calling itself the Section; it came from the 2002 CD Hometown: The String Quartet Tribute to Springsteen:

 There are other covers out there, but my energy waned. Of the covers I found, I think I like the Cowboy Junkies’ version best; Margo Timmins can do little wrong from where I listen. But the best version of the song I found on YouTube isn’t really a cover at all.

In 2005, Springsteen toured as a solo artist after the release of Devils & Dust, and for that tour, he shelved a lot of the songs he normally performed live. But he did “Thunder Road” once, backing himself on the piano. And it’s neat to know that the performance took place in Minneapolis, at the University of Minnesota’s Northrop Auditorium on October 12, 2005. (No, I wasn’t there, but I sure wish I had been.)

Corrected and edited slightly after posting.