Not that I hadn’t already written a couple-hundered songs by then (a few of which had been recorded by other artists: Charlie Sexton, Steve Jones, The Runaways, Tanya Tucker, etc.), but somewhere in the early 1990s I decided to become a “professional” songwriter; no longer would I hoard stuff for “my next record,” but, rather, have my publishers pitch songs to others. I’d already been co-writing regularly in the second half of the 80s, mostly with Charlie Sexton and John Keller, but amped it up quite a bit in the 90s. This was for two reasons:

1)   I’d begun to have some success as a co-writer. The Arcangels CD, which I’d co-written half of, did really well. Then my publisher, Jolene Cherry, got a song John Keller and I had written, “Love Is,” recorded by Vanessa Williams and included on the TV sitcom, Beverly Hills 90210, soundtrack album. It was a huge hit—number one pop song; all over the radio; million-dollar seller, etc. Then, even cooler, Bonnie Raitt recorded a song Bob Theile Jr, John Shanks and I had written called “You.” Another "hit." And then …

2)   I realized I could make more money staying home and writing than going out on the road and flogging my own records. This was the kicker, as I had grown to hate – to the point of nausia (some call it stagefright)  -- performing in public. (I don’t like people looking at me; not a useful personality trait for a performer.) Not to mention that A&M, recently purchased by Polygram (later purchased by Universal), decided not to release the Olé record after all. T Bone Burnett and I (and a cast of dozens of great musicians) had been working on it, on and off, for two years, 1989 and 1990. That did it. “Fuck it,” I said to myself, and “Fuck you,” I said to the label-industry in general. (See the liner notes to Olé CD—finally released on Gadfly in 1997—for the ugly details.)

  So, I began writing and co-writing with and for many, many peoples. I'm pretty sure that I’m the only person ever to have written songs with both the great Burt Bacharach and the Sex Pistol, Steve Jones. I'll write with anyone, if I like the music ... and the person. Speaking of which ...

2-A) 20 Years later, I've just got to say something; too much information for the casual reader, I know, but ...
There's a guy out there, who's name I refuse to even write/speak, that claims to have "co-written" the song "Love Is" with John Keller and I. His name, thanks to some billboard/bus-stop lawyer, even appears in the writer's credits occasionally. This man is a liar and a thief; he didn't write a word or a note of "Love Is." Here's what happened; here's how the Music Abyssness works: this weasel, who was an occasional collaborator of Keller's, happened to be at John's house the day he (John) came up with the melody to what would become "Love Is." Not working, just at the house. John called his wife, Janet, and ______ into the music room to "check this out." Sadly, he also asked the lazy, lying, talentless--did I mention drug-addled and alcoholic?--creep if he wanted to take a shot at the lyric. Dude said sure. Never wrote a word; never did anything. John finally told him he was giving the track to me in the hopes of winding up with a song. Dude said "fine." The eventual song we (John Keller and I) wrote to John's beautiful melody was based on John's one lyrical line: love breaks your heart. I actually thought the line was a pretty bad cliche, but did what I could with it. Nameless-dude didn't write one note or one word of the song. Dishonest-dude waited 'till it was the #1 song in America, then called John and said "why isn't my name on the label?" Dishonest-dude sued; got 10% of John's half of the song. These kinds of bullshit legal actions are know in the biz as "nuisance suits." The kicker? The scumbag had the gall to show up at the BMI awards to accept the "Song of the Year" award with John. (It was the most-played radio song of 1993.) He's lucky I wasn't there; I'm ASCAP.

Anyway, now that we've got that straight, here are most of these "covers," below. Click on a cover-of-the-cover to enjoy a slide show. Click on the underlined words in the captions and magically zoom off to iTunes to hear a clip of each cut. Feel free to purchase: the artists, I and (what's left of) the music business will thank you.



Cover Recordings of Tonio K. Songs by Other Artists

  • Alias, “Perfect World,” from the Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead soundtrack and The Son-in-Law soundtrack
  • Arc Angels, “Paradise Cafe,” “Sweet Nadine,” “Always Believed in You,” “The Famous Jane,” “Spanish Moon,” “Too Many Ways to Fall,” from Arc Angels
  • Burt Bacharach, “Who Are These People?” (feat. Elvis Costello), “Go Ask Shakespeare” (feat. Rufus Wainright), “Always Taking Aim,” ”Can’t Give It Up,” “Dreams Will Come,” “Is Love Enough?,” “Please Explain,” “Where Did It Go?,” from At This Time; "I Still Remember," from "New From An Old Friend," 180 Music compilation
  • Mary Black, “Nobody Lives Without Love,” from Shine
  • Erin Bode, “You,” from Don’t Take Your Time
  • Eric Burdon, “Slow Moving Train,” from Soul of a Man
  • T Bone Burnett, “The Strange Case of Frank Cash and the Morning Paper,” from The Talking Animals
  • Glen Burtnick, “Perfect World,” from Talking in Code
  • Jonathan Butler, “Following the Light,” “What Would You Do for Love?” from Story of Life
  • Richard Cocciante, “The Singer,” “Echoes,” “The Beatles Generation,” “Babel,” from Songs
  • Carola, “Someday,” from My Show
  • Peter Case, “Vanishing Act,” “Why?,” from Six-pack of Love
  • Chicago, "If I Should Lose You," from Chicago XXVI Live
  • Adam Cohen, “Cry Ophelia,” from Adam Cohen and the Dawson's Creek soundtrack; “This Pain,” “Opposites Attract,” from Adam Cohen
  • Joe Cocker,” You Can't Have My Heart,” “You Took It So Hard,” “I'm Listening Now,” from Respect Yourself
  • The Crickets, “Hitchhike Out To Venus,” “I’m Gonna Ruin Your Health,” from Remnants; “American Love Affair,” “You Make It Way Too Hard,” from A Long Way From Lubbock
  • Sara Evans, “Almost New,” from the Clay Pigeons soundtrack and Girls’ Night Out
  • The Fabulous Thunderbirds, “How Do I Get You Back?” from Roll of the Dice
  • The Green Car Motel, “Shadow Of The Sun,” from The Green Car Motel
  • Al Green, “Love God (and Everyone Else),” from the Michael soundtrack
  • Mark Heard, “Miracle,” from Mosaics
  • Benny Hester, “It's Over Love,” from Through the Window
  • Ronald Isley, “Count on Me,” “Love's Still the Answer,” from Here I Am (Isley Meets Bacharach)
  • Steve Jones, “God in Louisiana,” from Fire and Gasoline
  • Wynonna Judd, “Don't Look Back,” from Revelations
  • Low Millions (feat. Adam Cohen), “Diary,” “Mockingbird,” from Ex-Girlfriends
  • Jack Mack and the Heart Attack, “Cool Rain,” from Arrythmia
  • Bette Midler, “It's Too Late,” Bette of Roses
  • Aaron Neville, “I'll Love You Anyway,” from the Beverly Hills 90210 soundtrack
  • Trijntje Oosterhuis, "Love's Still The Answer," from Who'll Speak For Love
  • Cary Pierce, “King Of The World,” You Are Here
  • The Pointer Sisters, “Had To Lose Myself To Find Myself,” from Only Sisters Can Do That
  • Celeste Prince, “Wherever You Are,” from the Sweet November soundtrack
  • Bonnie Raitt, “You,” from Longing In Their Hearts, The Best Of Bonnie Raitt, Bonnie Raitt And Friends (duet w/Alison Krauss)
  • Robert Randolph, "Dry Bones," "If I Had My Way," "I'm Not Listening," "Traveling Shoes" from "We Walk This Road"
  • Nelson Rangell, “Love Is,” from Yes, Then Yes
  • Brian Ray, "Soft Machine," "Coming Up Roses," from Mondomagneto and "This Way Up" from "This Way Up"
  • Eddi Reader, “Nobody Lives Without Love,” from the Batman Forever soundtrack
  • The Runaways, “Saturday Night Special,” from And Now... The Runaways
  • Diane Schuur, “Never Take That Chance Again,” Friends for Schuur
  • Charlie Sexton, “Impressed,” “You Don't Belong Here,” from Pictures for Pleasure; “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Don't Look Back,” from Charlie Sexton
  • Charlie Sexton Sextet, “Wishing Tree,” “Ugly All Day,” “Everyone Will Crawl,” “Plain Bad Luck & Innocent Mistakes,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Broken Dream,” from Under The Wishing Tree
  • Charlie Sexton and Shannon McNally, “Nothing Mysterious,” “When We Were Younger,” from The Southside Sessions
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd, “Chase the Rainbow,” from Trouble Is
  • Percy Sledge, “Your Lovin’ Arms,” from Shining Through the Rain
  • Phoebe Snow, “Merry Christmas, Baby,” from Winter, Fire & Snow
  • Michael Stanley, “Ugly All Day,” from The Ground
  • Andrew Strong, “Half a Man,” from Best of The Commitments
  • Swirl 360, “Okay,” from National Lampoon's Van Wilder soundtrack
  • Texas Twisters, “Paradise Café,” from Texas Twisters Live
  • Irma Thomas, “What Can I Do?” from "Simply Grand"
  • Tanya Tucker, “Better Late Than Never,” from Tear Me Apart
  • Dionne Warwick, "Love's Still the Answer," from Now
  • What If, “Perfect World,” from the Russkies soundtrack as well as their self-titled album
  • Vanessa Williams & Brian McKnight, “Love Is,” from the Beverly Hills 90210 soundtrack
  • The Williams Brothers, “Love Doesn't Ever Fail Us,” from the Grace of My Heart soundtrack
  • Brian Wilson, “What Love Can Do,” from "New From An Old Friend" 180 Music compilation
  • Kumiko Yamashita, “Paint It Blue,” from Utau Onna, Utawanai Onna
  • Zuccaro, “Flying Away,” from Fly