Name:
Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cover Songs

Since it's getting close to 5 AM, I guess I'm not getting any sleep tonight. So here's a list of songs that you had absolutely no clue were covers. The vast majority of these have become so famous that most people attribute them as originals to the artists who made them popular.

“Respect” - by Otis Redding, covered by Aretha Franklin

Might as well start the list with a bang. I've gotten into Otis Redding lately, although I do admit that part of my interest is because he managed to be so influential before he died at only 26.

Consider new direction "Sitting by the Dock of the Bay," seemed to indicate, and that he was about to start collaborations with Bob Dylan. What might have happened if he hadn't died so early?

I was stunned to find out that this was a cover, considering the empowering message that Aretha Franklin charged it with really made it seem like her own. It doesn't cheapen her version, but it's surprising nonetheless.

“Hard to Handle” - by Otis Redding, covered by The Black Crowes

This was also surprising, and made me lose a lot of respect for Chris Robinson, because "Hard to Handle" is one of the few truly good Black Crowes songs. Or should I say, it was one of the few good Black Crowes songs.

“Me and Bobby McGee” - by Kris Kristofferson, covered by Janis Joplin (and everyone else in the world, but most famously by Janis Joplin)


This is the same Kris Kristofferson most kids today know as Whistler from the "Blade" movies. I knew he was a singer first, but I didn't know "Me and Bobby McGee" was his until very recently.

“I Fought the Law” - by The Crickets, covered by The Clash

Most know the song best as a Clash anthem. But apparently it was a Crickets song (post Buddy Holly)

“Take Me To The River” - by Al Green, covered by The Talking Heads


I knew it was by Al Green, but the Talking Heads version is so good that I only associate the song with David Byrne's voice.

“Hound Dog” - by Big Mama Thornton (and Johnny Otis?), covered by Elvis Presley

“Blue Suede Shoes” - by Carl Perkins, covered by Elvis Presley


It's quite interesting to see that some of Elvis's greatest hits were covers, although I do enjoy his original stuff ("Can't Help Falling in Love" being a personal favorite - I'm sappy like that, so sue me).

“Mony Mony” - by Tommy James, covered by Billy Idol

“White Wedding” - by The Deathstars, covered by Billy Idol

Two of the three songs that made Idol famous were covers. "Rebel Yell" is still catchy though.

“Hallelujah” - by Leonard Cohen, covered by Rufus Wainwright, also covered by Jeff Buckley

Wainwright's version is famous for being in "Shrek," but I've always been partial to the Jeff Buckley version.

“Istanbul (Constantinople)” - by The Four Lads, covered by They Might Be Giants

This I had no clue about until tonight. This completely changes my perception of They Might Be Giants.

“Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson, covered by Pearl Jam

I detest this song.

“Crossroads” by Robert Johnson, covered by Cream


“Red Red Wine” by Neil Diamond, covered by UB40

UB40's most famous songs have been their covers, namely this one and the aforementioned Elvis song "Can't Help Falling in Love."

“Cocaine” by JJ Cale, covered by Eric Clapton

“After Midnight” by JJ Cale, covered by Eric Clapton


I'm not sure if Cale recorded either of these songs before Clapton did. So they may not really qualify to be on this list.

“Tainted Love” by Gloria Jones, covered by Soft Cell

“Turn Turn Turn” by Pete Seeger (from the Bible), covered by The Byrds


Of course, The Byrds also famously covered "Tambourine Man," but this song is associated with The Byrds exclusively now. At least that was my impression.

“Twist and Shout” by The Isley Brothers, covered by The Beatles

“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Prince, covered by Sinead O’Connor


To think that Sinead O'Connor might never have hit it in the international market if Prince hadn't written this song and then challenged her to a one-on-one game of basketball and discussed the song over pancakes afterwards.

“Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty, covered by The Foo Fighters

“You Really Got Me” by The Kinks, covered by Van Halen


I think the Kinks were already popular when they recorded this, but Van Halen really put it on the map. "Van Halen I" still sits up there with GNR's "Appretite for Destruction" as two albums that were so great that nothing either band could do afterwards could come close.

“All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan, covered by Jimi Hendrix


I think everyone knows this is a Dylan song, but you never hear the Dylan version on the radio.

“Blinded by the Light” by Bruce Springsteen, covered by Manfred Mann

Same with this one, in that I've never heard the Springsteen original on the radio.

I was never sure about the lyrics to this song, at least the Manfred Mann version, whether it was "revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night" or "revved up like a douche, another runner in the night," but neither makes sense to me, so it doesn't really matter. How does one rev up a douche, anyway? And what are the consequences after you rev it up?

Apparently, it's "revved up like a deuce" though. That still sounds vaguely scatological to me.

“There She Goes” by The La’s (Lee Mavers), covered by Sixpence None The Richer

Kind of a lame way to end it, but I was surprised this song was a cover.

In any case, this was for some reason the focus of my energy tonight, and I'm still interested in finding out about other songs that are really covers. Let me know of any I left any off this list.

3 Comments:

Blogger Wanda said...

"Can't Help Falling in Love" being a personal favorite - I'm sappy like that, so sue me

One of my favorite songs! Such a great song.

Interesting list.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Tyler Durden said...

Interesting list...even though I've only heard the cover, apparently, it threw me a curve trying to imagine good ol' Neal singing about Red Red Wine.

While I can't think of any covers, there is one tangent category, which is songs that have been heavily sampled (or more or less stolen) and made into new songs. The two obvious examples that I couldn't stop thinking about are:

"Super Freak" by Wild Cherry, which was transformed into "Can't touch This" by MC Hammer

"Under Pressure" by Queen, which was transformed into "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice.

Where's Nick Hornby when you need him?

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i didn't look to see how old this post is...but nonetheless this needs to be said.

If you think the Black Crowes best song was Hard to Handle, you definately need to look deeper into their catalog. They are without a doubt some of the best songwriters since the 90's and still living. Check out Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, Warpaint, Amorica, Three Snakes...

4:25 AM  

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