Cover Songs- Part 1

Friends it is time to talk about cover songs. You know what I am talking about, it is when an artist decides that they can do a better version of a song than the original artist. Sometimes it works and sometimes it is really, really, really, I cannot stress this enough...BAD.

And now thanks to the power of the Internet we can debate this right here and now. Or at least I can rattle off some obvious ones and provide links to others. And of course I encourage your participation.

Credit for the first suggestion goes to the King of all Waffle Makers, Jameel who rightly opined that Madonna destroyed American Pie. I can't decide which is worse, her fake British accent or this song.

Any number of artists have chosen to cover AC/DC. Party anthem "You Shook Me All Night Long" has been done and redone many times. Celine Dion and Anastasia assaulted my ears with this horrific version.

Shania Twain generally doesn't offend me, but she fell prey to the same trap as Celine. It just doesn't work for me. As long as we are talking about AC/DC I'll include Shakira's version of Back in Black. It is not great, not terrible. If you watch the video you might not even notice, but that is probably because her Hips Don't Lie.

Fergie's version of Live and Let Die should have been shot. It would have been more humane than allowing it to pollute the airwaves.

Dave Matthews killed All Along The Watchtower. So did Brian Ferry. Dylan did it well, but I prefer Hendrix. On a side note I have always enjoyed Hey Joe.

Bryan Adams should have remembered that The Beatles were rarely if ever surpassed. Some artists managed to do ok. I do enjoy Ozzy Osbourne's version of In My Life.

"I'll Melt With You" by Bowling For Soup is just horrid. And I just have to bring up Celine again with this just awful version of Bad.

And because I'd rather not end this with a bunch of negatives here are some artists who did well with their covers.

Ring of Fire- Ray Charles
Hurt- Johnny Cash
With A Little Help From My Friends-Joe Cocker
Come Together- Aerosmith
Mr Tambourine Man- The Byrds

And just because I feel like it, here is Led Zeppelin playing Kashmir, one of my favorite songs and one that has been butchered far too many times.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Love Hurts by Nazareth came well after the rendition by the Everley Brothers or Roy Orbison. But it's the best.

The latter are really good in their own way, but for me lead singer Dan MaCafferty's emotion-filled rendition is the paradigm.


Soccer Dad said...

Achh, I hate Joe Cocker.
The problem is that he always sings out of tune.

I've heard that Barbara Streisand covered Punky's Dilemma a Simon and Garfunkel tune.

The two most incongrous covers I can think of are Poison's "Your mama don't dance" and Lemonhead's "Mrs. Robinson."

cruisin-mom said...

Jack, i'd have to say I agree with you on just about everything. Madonna doing American Pie?...YUCK, double YUCK.

Soccer Dad said...

BTW here's the link between Shania Twain and AC/DC.

The Babka Nosher said...

Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. One more reason that Celine Dion's mouth should be permanently sealed. But I have to disagree with SoccerDad - I liked the Lemonhead's version of Mrs. Robinson!

Val said...

LOVE Kashmir...

Soccer Dad said...

Babka, I didn't say that I didn't like the Lemonheads version, I said that it was incongruous. Their musical style is quite removed from Simon and Garfunkel. Still I prefer the original.

Jack Steiner said...


I would agree with that.


There is something endearing about Joe, or maybe it is just that Belushi's impersonation cracks me up.


Madonna destroyed that song.


I hadn't thought of that. Thank you.


I like their version too. Don't know that I prefer it, but I liked it.


Good taste.

Anonymous said...

And here's Dread Zeppelin covering Hey, hey what can I do & Kashmir:

(btw, Robert Plant has played with them...)

As far as covers that rock, "Hazy Shade of Winter" (Simon & Garfunkel) done by The Bangles, "Smooth Criminal" (Michael Jackson) by Alien Ant Farm are two off the top of my head. Janis Joplin's cover of Erma Franklin's (Aretha's sister) "Piece of My Heart" is also pretty good, I guess ;-)

benning said...

As a Beatles fan I know there have been many attempts at covers that have been utterly horrid. But one I think was better than the original was the Mamas and the Papas version of "I Call Your Name". Compare the two versions and I think you'll agree.

Cool post!

Karen said...

I like Bonnie Raitt's covers of John Prine and Jackson Browne and John Hiatt and well, pretty much everyone.
P.S. Be sure to watch this "close-captioned" video of Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help from My Friends":

Jack Steiner said...

Hi Karen,

That video was great. I like Joe Cocker, but he does get a bit garbled.

One Wink at a Time said...

I just watched all of these, with the exception of 5 or 6 which are no longer available. I have to say, you hit the motherlode of bad covers. Congratulations. I almost thought I could get through Bryan Ferry's Watchtower, but it ended up sucking too. And as much as I can't stand Steven Tyler, I have to admit his Come Together was pretty decent. I recently watched a cover of this song that was really good. Soon as I can remember the band, I'll let ya know.
Just for kix, watch/listen to some other versions of Drift Away. I think you'll agree with me that no one comes close to Dobie Gray.
Oh yeah, Fergie's Sweet Child of Mine was equally horrendous. And Celine doing Bad... O. M. G. 8-(

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