Category: Metablog

Quarantine Interlude: #coversfromhome

April 5th, 2020 — 5:39pm

Just a quick stop-in today, to let you know that we’ve been sharing live covers throughout the day on the Cover Lay Down Facebook page as we find them: living room and garden takes all, solo and without full bands for the most part, all created in the time of isolation and fear, each as beautiful as the single six-song sample found above.

Blues run the game among these #coversfromhome, for the most part – even the spate of tributes to John Prine and Bill Withers which joined the stream in the past few days have remained soft and sorrowful. But there’s joy here, too – joy in sharing, and helping keep artists afloat; in reaching out, and chatting with the crowd as the music flows by, in the livestreams. And by last count, we had posted over fifty videos in the past two weeks alone, from artists long beloved, and a few new finds, too, that give us renewed hope for the world in which we will emerge, when our chrysalis finally breaks, and we are free again.

Hope everyone’s okay with the fact that – for now at least – we’re skipping the true-blue blog entry, and favoring the short and ongoing burst that Facebook serves. It’s hard to partition time in a stay-at-home world. And as we’ve noted here previously, Facebook is proprietary, making it impossible for us to share the majority of these wonderful, intimate videos here, outside their native form.

So: click through for our Facebook page, and discover the aching, the angry, the tender and the true.

Loneliness and distance are their primary themes, for sure. But none of us are as alone as it feels.

Come join us, and see how rich the world of stay-at-home coverage can be.

2 comments » | Metablog

In Praise of Summer, As It Goes
(A Cover Lay Down mix)

August 31st, 2018 — 10:23pm


This week was a slammer: first week of school for both myself and the kids, late-night rehearsals for the play I am directing, which opens next weekend; the wife away for days, on retreat as she works towards certification in her late-in-life spiritual calling as a religious educator. With a heat wave in the middle of it, the air cavernous and close. And both children sick, in a house where hurt will always be.

But my classroom is outfitted in new white boards and stocked with a year’s worth of supplies, thanks to the world’s shortest crowdsource campaign at Donors Choose. This morning I came in late after a shorter-than-expected meeting with the smallerchild’s new teachers, and my intervention students were writing, quietly, building confidence as they grappled with their haphazard prompt without me. My AP class is eager and bright, engaged and having fun; the seniors, who I cared for over two years and then thought I had abandoned last Spring, come to visit with respectful grins, seeking their oracle as they look towards college. Last block, the girl who couldn’t stop chattering Monday asked if she could read her work to the class, and the kids settled in, respectful and sure, to see what they could praise, and found more than enough to satisfy us all.

The play is a stunner. My wife is home, and beautiful, and still smarter than me – tonight’s date at the new restaurant in town felt like renewal. The wee one – at thirteen a willowy, slim pale creature – pushes through her hours and days, and comes home babbling joyfully of friends and teachers she loves for the first time in years. The elderchild pushes, too – through a short dose of steroids that took her to the children’s hospital for the first time in almost two months; through the newest and deepest-so-far of loves, a quiet boy who holds our fancy, too, and stayed with us last weekend in Vermont, at summer’s last summerhome, where every year might be our last.

There is pain in our lives: in my student’s struggle to catch up and transcend the urban blight; in the workload and the weariness; in how little we see our spouses and parents, and the distances that yaw between us; in the prone existence my children live in the darkness as each day wanes, curled around their chronic aches. I come home with a voice hoarse and torn, too tired to care for the rest. Eventually, I think, something else, like this space, too, may have to give.

But there are blessings here, too, and pride – and not just for now: these, and a thousand other pieces of this imperfect world, its challenges met, its promises real.

Each night, as the sun sets behind the trees of a still-summer yard, something I cannot see or hear suddenly startles the turkeys and their babies, almost grown and only slightly smaller, that cross our driveway. And they fly into the low trees like my heart: heavy, in its way, yet weightless in another; winged and free, able to lift still from the earth.

And there is music there, of an origin deep in me and all of us: rustling and beautiful; rejuvenating; reassuring; real.

I am not often here, it’s true. But I love you as I love the world. Let us be here together, as the September world starts to spin again.

3 comments » | Metablog, Mixtapes, Teaching

Rise Again: Returning, Rebuilding, Recovering
w/ covers of John Denver, Carole King, Steely Dan, Whitesnake & more!

November 29th, 2015 — 12:08pm

Thinking about longevity and persistence this weekend, prompted in part by Heather’s recent announcement that music blog I Am Fuel, You Are Friends, which has brought us so much honesty, joy, and discovery over the years, just celebrated its tenth anniversary on the web, and in our hearts.

But where Heather makes it look easy to tap into the joy, the history of Cover Lay Down is staggered with loss and regeneration. Like in 2008, when Blogger started to shut us down due to an inability to distinguish between fair use music-sharing and copyright theft, and we had to switch domains. Or four years later, when the company that ran our servers went awol, leaving us to rebuild from scratch – and to praise the lord for the Wayback Machine’s Internet Archives, which today hold the bulk of our first five years of posts and music.

Regular readers know, too: as it has been with the blog, so it has been with the blogger. Several times, I’ve written about my ongoing issue with tinnitus, which corrupts my ability to listen well and wholly to the music we would share and celebrate. And although home life and family were relatively stable when we first opened our virtual doors in 2007, since then, behind the scenes, capacity has reared its ugly head, as personal, professional, and social obligations have heavily impacted our ability to share the music we love so regularly.

The stress and strain of significant family illness and hospitalizations both at home and in my extended family, and the ever-increasing workload of the modern classroom teacher, were the paired tipping points that drove us to hiatus over the past year. An infestation of fleas and five feet of basement floodwaters over the summer buried us deeper, delaying our return.

And then my laptop died. A week later, so did its back-up, the side-along drive I used for music storage – locking me out of a carefully collected and categorized set of over 75 thousand songs amassed over two decades: covers, originals, rarities and live cuts, a lifetime of listening and love to big and unwieldy to store in the cloud.

The loss went almost unnoted amidst the chaos. It seemed relatively trivial at the time; family matters more than machinery. But ultimately, the loss of both primary laptop and archive back-up in a span of just a few weeks had no small impact on the decision to take some time off. And coming back without those archives is proving a bit more of a challenge than we originally anticipated.

There is no phoenix here, as there was when we returned in 2012. Losing the archives means losing both content and index – and the effect this has on our practice is ultimately quite significant. Where once a little kitchen table inspiration could be easily served by a fast search in a vast collection, already tagged by coversong and composer, today I find myself back at square one, dependent on the wider world of public media and downloadables, and the raw ability to search and find in a veritable haystack.

The result is a recentering, tipping us towards the new and the amateur, away from long-gone rarities and CD collections gone digital. But where there is loss, there is opportunity. More novelty and currency will mean more new artists features, and perhaps less comprehensive features on thematic tropes and songbooks, but that’s not terrible, in the end. We’ve covered most of the artists we love by now, and while the opportunity to share more of the new on a more regular basis may make us more like the vast majority of other music blogs, so, too, does it keep us from recycling and reshuffling, offering instead the opportunity for a renewed connection to the ongoing production of the folkways, a regained appreciation for its streams and tributaries.

As much as they offer a chance to reflect on the shifting sands that have brought us here, then, today’s covers also represent a foray into collecting from the wider world – and although it may yaw a bit wider than some of our previous sets, the result is no compromise. From new discoveries to elusive half-remembered songs, from pensive to proud, from catchy to cool and cathartic, may the songs stand as a tribute to resilience, and to our commitment to rebuilding, again and again: as long as there is you, and us, and them, to celebrate.

Rise Again: A Cover Lay Down Mix [zip!]

Cover Lay Down is proud to be back on the web thanks to the kind support of readers like you. Looking to help out in other ways? Consider spreading the word about our newly-inherited concert series, featuring amazing American Roots duo Mike + Ruthy this Friday, December 4th!

Comment » | Metablog, Mixtapes

The Phoenix Rises: On Coming Back and Moving Forward

February 25th, 2013 — 11:00pm

The last time Cover Lay Down suffered a major technological crisis, we had plenty of warning: Blogger had just started shutting down music blogs for spurious copyright claims, and in response, our mp3 file host had given us a two week window to pack up and move on. And so, after some soul searching and a huge outpouring of support from our small but committed fan base, in November of 2008, we opened the doors to a newly redesigned space here at

For the next four and a half years, the bits and bytes that represent Cover Lay Down lived on a private server in California, funded by generous donations from readers like you. Twice a week, on average, I would log on, let the muse come to me, and send the tiny essays and songsets that emerged into the ether, where they would inevitably take on a life of their own. And my biggest fear about this blog was that one day, I would run out of topics for coverage.

And then, a week ago last Sunday, everything disappeared.

If my absence from these virtual pages has been stressful, it is, in part, because we had no platform to let folks know what the hell was going on. And to be fair, for most of the week, I had no idea what was going on, either. It took a community of others who had been affected by the same shutdown to piece together the sad and gory backstory of a company owner gone both AWOL and bankrupt, his abandoned servers disconnected due to non-payment, with no chance of recovery.

In the end, after a week of dashed hopes and failed attempts to get the servers turned back on long enough to extract a database backup, I took a deep breath, and began to rebuild from scratch. I contacted BigScoots, a well-established host with a strong reputation and excellent customer service, and gave them the last of your donated dollars for them to work their magic; I spent a day and a half relearning several web development code systems, and tweaking the design until it looked like home.

And though I have come to accept that it will take weeks or months to restore 5 years worth of regular blog entries one by one using public archives from the Wayback Machine, recreating the space itself must have worked well enough. Because here we are again.

This blog is a home for me, and that’s more than ample reason to fight to recover it. But the well-wishes and notes of concern that have trickled through over the last seven days remind me that this is your space, too – a vital aspect of what makes this blog work, though one which is easy to lose sight of, here on my living room couch, alone in the night with the kids asleep upstairs. A home with open doors is a better home, indeed. And just like our first loss, way back in November of 2008, I am proud and humbled to play host to such a caring collection of individuals.

Now that we’re back, the temptation to pontificate is strong. There’s lessons lurking in the background, here: about making back-ups, especially, and about having a plan B ready to go in case of emergencies. But after eight days of stress and panic, we’ve come out the other side into acceptance, ready to move on, resolved to remember that this is a place of love, and it’s important to keep it that way.

So here’s an appropriately diverse set to get us back to our core mission: to grow and celebrate together through a shared love of music, and a mutual appreciation for the artists who craft and interpret that music on behalf of the world.

May the music speak to our hearts, and bring us the community we so crave. And may we always rise from the ashes, again and again, to stand together against the hardship and the sorrow.

An afterthought: Several of you have asked how you can help us get back on our feet, and we are grateful, as always, for the offers of assistance, and for the commitment and care such offers represent. We have always depended on support from our community. Here’s how to do your part:

  • Support the continued creation of music by purchasing artists’ work whenever possible.
  • Spread the word to friends and family by joining our Facebook page and clicking “like” on a favorite post.
  • Share the wealth by sending us your own coverfolk finds and recordings.
  • Donate to Cover Lay Down to help defray server and bandwidth costs.

7 comments » | Metablog, Mixtapes

Cover Lay Down WILL return…soon!

February 24th, 2013 — 7:06pm

We are saddened to report that, due to circumstances beyond our control, Cover Lay Down’s hosting company went down last week without warning.

Honestly, we were just as surprised as you were.

And, as the week progressed, we were shocked to learn that we had neither back-ups nor legal recourse, other than a total reconstruction from the ground up using old files and fragments.

Though we are pleased that so many in the Internet community have stepped up to offer support and comfort, fully rebuilding the blog is turning out to be a herculean task.

Which is to say: I’m working on it, folks.

Thanks to all who frequent the blog for your ongoing support and your eternal patience.  Things will be back to normal as soon as possible, I promise. Until then, stay cool, and keep listening to and sharing the good stuff.

9 comments » | Metablog

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