When Canadian band Cowboy Junkies cover a classic song, they always put a personal spin on it. And often, that means they make the song slower and prettier.
“Guess it depends on your definition of beautiful,” guitarist and singer Michael Timmons said this week. But we’ll always have some of that from Margo’s voice. It’s always different, but there has to be something about the song that made us swoon — the lyrics or the melody, or the overall groove; How did the song affect us? But we like to keep the push and pull — give it a little edge, keep the beauty and fight against it.”
A prolific cult band, the Cowboy Junkies had their unexpected moment of mainstream success with the 1988 album “The Trinity Sessions” and their haunting cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane.” This song choice evoked the band’s lesser-known punk roots.
“I definitely took a lot from the punk era in New York and London – since I was 17, I felt it was speaking directly to me. Before that, only people playing music like Mick Jagger and David Bowie. There were people, and I knew I couldn’t be them. But the punk movement said anybody could do it, so that’s what we did.
“When we made ‘Trinity Sessions,’ it was like we were looking at the country and folk side of things,” Timmons said. “And as far as my writing goes, we were focusing in that direction — fiddles and mandolins and accordions. We felt like we made a good record, but when we made it we were still an independent. bands. And it just so happened that the spotlight caught us while we were working in that genre, but we had no intention of staying there. We’ve evolved and moved on but what we do is There’s always a cowboy junkies vibe to it. He’s always got a sense of the atmosphere.”
The group’s two area shows (Friday at the Cabot in Beverly, and Saturday at the Plummet Center in Truro) come off the back of a very different pair of Pandemic-era albums. The first, “Ghost”, is in part a song cycle inspired by the death of the Timmins siblings’ mother.
“That’s really the theme of the first four songs—a side, if you will. It was difficult to record, very emotional. But I deal with things in life by writing, and we thought those songs would be the best to record. are worthy
The latest album, “Songs of the Retreat,” is an all-covers collection of songs by David Bowie and The Cure, with not much to offer.
“It comes from our music fandom, we were all collectors growing up. And since we haven’t had a record company for the last 20 years, we can do what we want to do – our audience. takes a certain amount of faith. Maybe they don’t like a particular album, but they’ll be back the next time. The Bowie song we did, ‘Five Years,’ is the opening song to ‘Ziggy Stardust.’ It’s pretty big. I guess we thought it was time to take on the giants.
The band, which includes Michael, Margo and Peter Timmons and longtime friend Alan Anton on bass, hasn’t changed personnel in their 38 years together.
“It’s rare that we’ve had a lineup together that long, and that’s a big part of our lives — our experiences of growing together and being together as musicians. It’s different in the studio, but I think We all trust each other to do what we ask each other to do.