I’m warming myself up to write something clever and witty, darlings, but until I get my groove back (note to self: find out how Stella did that, or perhaps cross-reference with that Disney movie about the Emperor who got turned into a Llama — I think it was called Beauty and the Beast, but I could be wrong there) I’m going to share some songs with you. I had this idea pop into my head last night on my drive home, and I hope I can remember them all.
You know, it wasn’t always expected of singers to write their own songs, and it really wasn’t until the influence of singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan and Simon/Garfunkel on Rock and Roll that we as hipster musical snobs turned our noses up at people who didn’t write their own songs, and spoke the words cover band with an air of contempt.
So I am here today to enlighten you, as well as showcase some of the greatest covers that ever were. Some of these songs have been made so famous by the bands that covered them that you might not even have realized (unless, like yours truly, you are terribly clever) that they were covers at all. Some have even been praised by the original songwriters as the definitive version of the song, such as this first one:
All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix (originally by Bob Dylan)
Tainted Love – Soft Cell (originally written by Ed Cobb, performed by Gloria Jones, 1964)
Now, I bet you thought that the Soft Cell version was the original, and the Marilyn Manson was the first cover. Not so — this Soft Cell cover is the definitive version of the song, but not the first!
Brand New Cadillac – The Clash (originally by Vince Taylor, 1958)
Because the Night – 10,000 Maniacs (originally written by Bruce Springsteen/Patti Smith, recorded by Patti Smith)
Blinded by the Light – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (originally by Bruce Springsteen
Twist and Shout – The Beatles (originally recorded by The Top Notes in 1961, and then covered by everybody else, including Ferris Bueller, later)
Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor (originally by Prince — no, really)
With a Little Help From My Friends – Joe Cocker (originally by The Beatles, and the fact that people know the Joe Cocker version better than The Motherfucking BEATLES is quite the accomplishment. Or it could just be that The Wonder Years is still a big part of the public consciousness.)
(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding? – Elvis Costello (originally by Nick Lowe)
Take Me To The River – Talking Heads (originally by Al Green)
Honourable mentions: These are great cover versions, but it’s not fair to say that they are definitive. Nirvana did a great job with The Man Who Sold The World, but it’s not like anyone’s going to forget it’s a Bowie song. Same with Ryan Adams’ version of Oasis’ Wonderwall or Johnny Cash’s take on NIN’s Hurt.
What songs have I missed? What are your favourite covers?