Update: The Headline to this article originally named Jason Isbell as contributor – we meant Josh Ritter. Apologies for our wishful thinking and getting anyone’s hopes up. What started one year ago as an innocent social media game, when Facebook friends and fans suggested artists they would like to cover the hugely under-rated Wesley Stace AKA John Wesley Harding’s songs, became a reality with the Community Coronation Covers Project, a community-curated playlist featuring a myriad of well-respected artists, many of whom will be familiar names around these parts. These have now been gathered on Bandcamp as ‘The Good Lyre: Songs of John Wesley Harding’ which is coming out this coming Friday on Bandcamp for the sweet price of $15 – 100% of the proceeds will benefit Sweet Relief.
From the hundreds of suggested artist/song pairings, Stace compiled a list: “Realizing that some of these wild ideas were tantalizingly within my grasp, I wondered whether the musicians in question might be willing to help out, to make someone’s day.” These are “bespoke covers: requested by a single person, and hand-delivered, as it were, to that person,” says Stace. “The object was first to blow the mind of whoever made the suggestion – “You said you wanted to hear Graham Parker sing Devil In Me? Here you go!” – and then to blow the minds of any fans of the performing artists whom they never thought they would hear sing this song or perhaps any other of my songs: handmade custom-built quarantainment.”
“The project started purely as a way to lift spirits at the beginning of the lockdown; a way for musicians to cheer people up. Now we’re bringing it full circle: all the proceeds from this album will benefit Sweet Relief, and specifically musicians affected by the Covid pandemic. It’s a beautiful way to mark the end of the project’s journey. I immediately think of John Prine, Adam Schlesinger, Dave Greenfield, Matthew Seligman, Hal Willner and other friends and/or musical influences lost to complications from the virus.
“These performances were acts of great generosity and kindness by these artists – it’s not necessarily an easy thing to work up a new song by request – and I’d like to thank everyone who contributed. Now, in a further act of generosity, all musicians gave an enthusiastic YES to all proceeds being donated to Sweet Relief. There but for fortune go all of us.”
Aric Steinberg, EVP of Sweet Relief Musicians Fund commented: “We’re so grateful to Wes and all of the amazing artists that donated their time and talent to this project. The proceeds will be used to help musicians who have been financially devastated by the pandemic; artists helping artists, so cool!”
You can find out more and pre-order via Wes’s official site here.
Ryan Miller (Guster) – Your Ghost (Don’t Scare Me No More)
Eric Bazilian (The Hooters) – The Person You Are
Tanya Donelly (Belly) – The World (and All its Problems)
Josh Ritter – Sussex Ghost Story
Rosanne Cash – I’m Wrong About Everything
Gary Louris (The Jayhawks) – Kiss Me, Miss Liberty
Britta Phillips (Dean and Britta) – Sleepy People
Steven Page – Why Must the Show Go On?
Chris von Sneidern – Negative Love
Graham Parker – The Devil in Me
Wreckless Eric – Sick Organism
Bad Scene – You In Spite of Yourself
Casey Neill – Darwin
The Minus Five – Making Love to Bob Dylan
Marti Jones and Don Dixon – Dreamfader
David Lewis – Infinite Combinations
Bob Pernice – To Whom It May Concern
Marshall Crenshaw – I Just Woke Up
Dean Friedman – Top of the Bottom
Dag Juhlin (The Sunshine Boys) – People Love to Watch You Die