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The Handsome Family has always written memorable, clever, dark songs. Thanks to memorable, clever, dark television shows and musicians, you may know who we’re writing about.

To say 2014 has been an important year for The Handsome Family would be an understatement. The veteran act (they’ve been around since 1993) finally appeared on the radar of mainstream television and music fans thanks to True Detective and Andrew Bird’s new covers album. It seems that it took other people’s work to shine a light on The Handsome Family. We’d like to see that light continue to shine. We’d like to see The Handsome Family cover some great songs and we’d like some great artists to cover their songs.

We asked The Handsome Family’s Rennie Sparks what songs she’d like her band to cover. She chose no songs from humans. You’ll see.

The Handsome Family should cover Daniel Knox’s “Ghostsong”

Handsome Family and Knox share a drummer so this one makes a lot of sense. Attention HBO, season 2 of True Detective may need a new theme.

Rennie Sparks would like to cover selections from Sounds of North American Frogs released by Smithsonian Folkways in 1958.

From Rennie: Charles M. Bogert’s magnus opus (96 songs!) collected the cries of tiny frogs found in puddles and swamps, ditches and bogs all over our great land. His narration is part of the joy of this CD. He whispers an introduction to each song that radiates a pure love of frog music and a genuine excitement over the little orchestras discovered in hidden pools. If I could write one song as genuine as these gorgeous songs, these utterly natural utterances of love, hate, fear and bravado, I would retire immediately as a songwriter. Some of these songs will soon be sung no more (as frog populations dwindle) and so I may be forced to sit in mud puddles and sing my version of these secret frog songs just to keep them alive. I would give my green tongue to be able to sing like these frogs.

Rennie Sparks would like to cover “Chorus of Barking Tree Frogs”

“A Florida swamp erupts in fanfare of the most intricate kind. These frogs strive to find space for their call between the others calling. Intricate harmonies beyond what my brain can conceive.”

Spoon should cover The Handsome Family’s “The Woman Downstairs”

Spoon doesn’t have that much in common with The Handsome Family’s sound, but both sing about Chicago. It’d be fantastic to hear Britt Daniel sing about Ashland Avenue.

Rennie Sparks would like to cover “Mating Call of the Squirrel Treefrog.”

“In a moss-covered tree somewhere in Florida this great aria was written. Only to be attempted while far off the ground.”

The Handsome Family should cover Scott Walker’s “Jackie”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBkK3RhN73g

And play it slower. Same notes, same instruments, just slower. Much, much slower.

Rennie Sparks would like to cover “Mating Call of the Squirrel Treefrog.”

“In a moss-covered tree somewhere in Florida this great aria was written. Only to be attempted while far off the ground.”

Norah Jones should cover The Handsome Family’s “Weightless Again”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIKyvKON4Vo

“This is why people OD on pills,” could be a line interpreted by Norah Jones that could give her some rock critic love and The Handsome Family some album-sold-in-Starbucks money.

Rennie Sparks “Scream of the Southern Leopard Frog.”

Recorded as frog seized in Bogart’s hand. When seized by a raccoon the frog produces a far more bloodcurdling scream. Every girl ought learn to scream like this for safety at night and for general bad-ass-ness.

The Handsome Family should cover New Order’s “Age of Consent”

Not because they need to try to appeal to the New Order/Joy Division fans, but if the New Order/Joy Division fans knew about The Handsome Family, they’d love them.

Rennie Sparks would like to cover “Mating Call of the Squirrel Treefrog.”

“Territorial Call of the Green Frog.” This warning cry sounds in a pond in Tenafly, NJ. If I could make this sound well, none would dare to throw vodka bottles in my yard.

Lydia Loveless should cover The Handsome Family’s “Drinking Beer on the Roof”

It’d be nice to hear a younger person that happens to be a female sing about drinking on the roof.

Rennie Sparks would like to cover “Chorus of Sonoran Desert Toads, Great Plains Toads and NM Spadefoots”

Recorded somewhere outside of Tucson AZ. I wish I could lay in the dirt and sing with these fellows, but I doubt they’d continue after my big white flesh flopped down and they heard my limited croaking range.

The Handsome Family should cover Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Shame”

It would not be surprising if Withers and The Handsome Family share some influences.

Rennie Sparks would like to cover “Mating Call of Couch’s Spadefoot”

Recorded north of Rodeo, NM. Hidden under tumbleweeds at side of the road this lothario awaits his beloved. Who says tumbleweeds can’t be sexy?

Lady Gaga should cover The Handsome Family’s “All The TV’s In Town”

Not a joke. She could do it as a criticism of commercialism or something.

Rennie Sparks would like to cover “Warning call of the Pig Frog”

When I emulate this sound no one looks up at all. More practice is need before I may empty rooms with my warning cry!

The National should cover The Handsome Family’s “The Bottomless Hole”

No one would know if this was a cover. No one. It even mentioned Ohio.

Rennie Sparks would like to cover “Rain Song of the Squirrel Treefrog”

Less spirited than their mating call and uttered at less frequent intervals. A celebration of water falling. Does the song bring the rain or the rain bring the song? The only way I’ll know for sure is by attempting this myself. Must find the right tree to begin.

The Handsome Family performs at IOTA in Arlington this Thursday, Rough Trade in Brooklyn this Friday and The Mercury Lounge in New York City on Saturday.

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