Austin-based artist Michael Frascasso, previously mentored by the great Doc Pomus, is a well-known songwriter, talented and graceful singer and a gifted interpreter of songs. He has put out his fair share of well-known, critically acclaimed efforts, including nine solo albums, recorded duets with artists Patty Griffin and Lucinda Williams, reinterpretations of songs by legendary artists such as John Lennon and tributes to artists like Woody Guthrie, Mickey Newbury and Townes Van Zandt.
Frascasso tends to veer off in unexpected directions when he creates music, and his genre-crossing musical creations are never made up of repeated material. It’s this sense of uniqueness about his approach and delivery that allows him take an age old tradition and elevate it to something fresh and surprising– the art of the cover song. Here Come the Savages, Fracasso’s latest album which drops on June 10, is composed of half originals and half covers, allowing Frascasso to straddle that imaginary divide history somehow erected between Gerde’s Folk City and CBGB (country, bluegrass and blues).
Today, Elmore is premiering Fracasso’s cover of New York Doll and seminal punk rocker Johnny Thunders’ song “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.” The singer reigns in the loose, glam-punk energy of the original, stripping the song down to a slow, lonesome ballad with only the slightest accents of guitar and drum rhythms. Fracasso’s gentle voice carries the elegance of the melody, but the cry of the pedal steel transports transposes the track to a new setting and time, transforming it into a long lost Americana tune. Fracasso explains his attraction to the song’s potential, “I heard Johnny Thunders’ version, kind of like Alejandro Escovedo to me, and I wanted to slow it down and give it a little Neil Young “After The Goldrush” touch.” He adds, “it’s just so heartbreakingly beautiful, yet to me still a rock & roll song.”
Listen to “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” below.
– Emilee Gorshe