Cover Me

Jeff Buckley's Grace

Is there any cover song that is better than the original?

My husband and I were discussing cover songs the other day and the conversation got me thinking. I used to be adamant that no cover song is better than the original until I realized that I couldn't argue my point because one of my favorite songs of all time is a cover! This brought to mind several other examples of cover songs that I actually prefer over the original. So I guess I have to eat my words a bit (just don't tell my husband!).

Here's my "better than the original" list. I'm curious to see what your list would include.

  1. "Hallelujah", Jeff Buckley (Leonard Cohen) - This is possibly my favorite song of all-time.  I love the original, too, but no other version (and there are plenty) even comes close to giving me chills like Jeff Buckley's take.
  2. "Fields of Gold", Eva Cassidy (Sting) - This was the song my husband and I danced to at our wedding and Live at Blues Alley is still one of the few albums that I'll play from start to finish.  Sadly, Ms. Cassidy died from melanoma before she really became well known.
  3. "Hazy Shade of Winter", The Bangles (Simon & Garfunkel) - Ok, I'll admit that for the longest time I didn't even know this was a cover song. I'm sure many prefer the original but I'm a child of the 80s.
  4. "Tainted Love", Soft Cell (Gloria Jones) - As with Hazy Shade of Winter, it took many years before I realized that this, one of my favorite songs from the 80s, was actually a cover. I much prefer Soft Cell's take, don't you?
  5. "I Will Always Love You", Whitney Houston (Dolly Parton) - I'm cringing as I type this but I would be lying if I didn't include this on my list. I love Dolly but I loved, loved, loved The Bodyguard (hey, I was a teen girl when it came out) and for me Whitney just nails this one.
  6. Age of Consent, Grant-Lee Phillips (New Order) - This cover is more or less tied with the original for me because I love 'em both equally. I had to include this song, however, just to give a shout out to Grant-Lee Phillips awesome album, "nineteeneighties". Another one of the few albums I'll play the whole way through.

 

 

Comments

I've got to say that I prefer The Cure's version of Purple Haze.

How about Jimi's cover of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower"? Or his version of "Like a Rolling Stone" at Monterey? In both cases, he grabbed the essence and amped it up to the max. Even Dylan himself gave due props...

I'm not familiar with the Hendrix cover of Like a Rolling Stone but I agree that his version of Watchtower is better than Dylan's. I should probably add the disclaimer that I'm not much of a Dylan fan, though, so it doesn't take much for me to think a Dylan cover is better than the original. :)

The library blogger angela wrote a similar entry last year, so here are some more covers to ponder. http://denverlibrary.org/content/we%27ve-got-you-covered

Syl,

I just checked out Angela's list and I'm not sure how I missed that the first time around. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Thanks, Syl! Amber, great list! I love it that we both listed I Will Always Love You, but each preferred different versions.

Angela,

Likewise! Did you catch we also both included Tainted Love?! Just goes to show that not all cover songs are bad.

It's true! Can't wait to check out the songs on your list.

Covers are hard to knock, especially when so much of Pop, and music in general is ghost penned. Here are some of my current favorites.

I Want You To Want Me: The Holmes Brothers (Cheap Trick) -- This gospel cover of the 80's rocker is simply amazing.

Maybe I'm Amazed: Bettye LaVette (Paul McCartney) -- Blows the original away, and comes on her only cover album of rock songs.

Buckets of Rain: The Wood Brothers (Bob Dylan)-- Hard to compare with this classic, and I think this version beats Dylan's.

I Will Survive: CAKE (The Righteous Brothers )-- Tongue in cheek, or pure joy? Made famous by Gloria Gaynor.

Yon,

Thanks for this list! I am unfamiliar with the first three but I, too, love Cake's version of the disco classic.

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