I know I just hit you up with a thread post Saturday, but I was moved today by this week’s Acoustic Blend show on WBAA, via Barrett Myers. If you’re not up on that, Barrett’s on Substack, too. See his post below … and subscribe. It’s free. (How long Acoustic Blend will continue, with WBAA in flux with the transfer to the parent company of WFYI in Indianapolis, who knows?)
Last night’s playlist was all about cover versions – a subject near and dear to my heart.
Here’s the question today, on the way to our own playlist: What are your favorite cover songs? Let’s say, I don’t know, up to four or five. And why do they hit the spot?
As always, be cool to each other when responding. And thanks for reading and supporting the Based in Lafayette reporting project.
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What a fun thread, and thanks for sharing the playlist! First two that come to mind: Bonnie Raitt "Angel from Montgomery" and Alien Ant Farm on MJ's "Smooth Criminal."
I could do these for hours, but ..
Jason and the Scorchers on Bob Dylan's "Absolutely Sweet Marie" ...
The Band’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” - better than the original!
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover of “Cry to me”
David Bowie’s cover of The McCoy’s “Sorrow”
Allison Krause’s cover of John Hartford’s “gentle on my mind”
William Shatner’s cover of Common People - just so unexpected
Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt - Just incredible, plus that video
Dolly Parton’s cover of Shine - a beautiful reimagination, as a good cover should be
Pet Shop Boys’ cover of Always on My Mind - must always turn this one up when it comes on
A few that never get old --
"I Feel For You" - Chaka Khan - This one thrills from the scratched "Chaka Khan" opening to the soaring vocals to Stevie Wonder's harmonica throughout. Prince had to be proud. A close second for Prince covers has to be Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U."
"Bad Time" - The Jayhawks - Love this Grand Funk cover.
"Memories Can't Wait" - Living Colour - Captures the edgy Talking Heads original, but with a harder rock edge.
"Crosseyed & Painless" - Phish - Another Talking Heads cover, this one is a staple of Phish's live shows and absolutely cooks every time. The definitive version is 11/2/96 from Coral Sky, which has Santana's Carl Perazzo on percussion. It's long, but never gets boring. From a band that covers tons and tons of great music, this one always stands out.
"Sweet Jane" and "Blue Moon" - Cowboy Junkies - Outstanding brooding moody covers.
Johny Cash singing Nine Inch Nails', "Hurt."
Not exactly a cover but Pavoratti singing, "It's a Mans' World" with James Brown.
Late to the party, but here goes:
The Fugees version of Killing Me Softly
The Be Good Tanyas — When Doves Cry
Sam Evian — Right Down the Line
Jasmine Thompson — Mad World
Richie Havens — Here Comes the Sun
Okay one more…
Sturgill Simpson — The Promise
"Across the Universe" by Rufus Wainwright from the "I Am Sam" soundtrack (which includes lots of other great artists covering Beatles). Also Richard Thompson's version of Britney Spears' "Oops I Did It Again."
🎵 Brass Against’s cover of Bulls on Parade (Rage Against the Machine)
🎵 Dave Matthews Band’s cover of All Along the Watch Tower (Bob Dylan)
🎵 Lost Dog Street Band’s cover of The Mountain (Steve Earle)
🎵 Bon Iver’s cover of I Can’t Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt)
Disturbed’s cover of Sound of Silence is my goto example… but then I also listen to a lot of Vitamin String Quartet - which covers pretty much everything.
Sweet Jane by Mott the Hoople, written by Lou Reed. It is the definitive version. All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix written by Bob Dylan. I could list many Dylan covers. She Smiled Sweetly by Billy Bragg written by Jagger/Richards. The song is a hidden jewel on The Rolling Stones’ Between the Buttons album and Bragg recorded a sweet version. Crossroads by Cream written by Robert Johnson. Every band that recorded that song after did a cover of Cream’s cover.
Adam lambert. Mad World
One Eskimo. Kandi
Michael Kelsey. Wicked Games, moon Dance, in your Eyes.
Peter, Paul and Mary- Blowing in the Wind (Bob Dylan) Emmylou Harris- Rose of Cimmeron (Poco) Emmylou Harris-Pancho and Lefty (Merle Haggard)Dave Koz/Bebe Winans-The Dance (Garth Brooks)
Loved Barrett's show last night.
Teddy Swim: I Can't Make You Love Me.
I have a playlist of 130 songs of originals and covers but my favorites are Jose’ Feliciano’s cover of LIGHT MY FIRE and The Beatles cover of TWIST AND SHOUT .
Be Good Tanyas doing Neil Young’s “For the Turnstiles”
1. Maori Marlon Williams covering Ewan MacColl's "First time ever I saw your face." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB_jcFax5kM 2. Rhianna Giddens' cover of "Tomorrow is my turn," a song written by Charles Aznavour and popularized by Nina Simone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhUP9RyxLKg 3. Ian Tyson and Slyvia Flicker's 1964 recording of Gordon LIghtfoot's "Early Morning Rain" before Lightfoot had a recording contract with Albert Grossman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyhZXdJ_4l0 4. Emmy Lou Harris singing Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho & Lefty" in 1976. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-country/emmylou-harris-luxury-liner-pancho-and-lefty-1276676/ 5. Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa's version of Tina Turner's "I'd Rather Be Blind." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEHwO_UEp7A Top shelf vocalists and musicians make the songs their own because they give the audience the song, not themselves. And they learn how to use their voices.
My favorite cover of all time is the Puddles Pity Party/Postmodern Jukebox cover of Lourde's "Royals," but its impact depends to a significant degree on the accompanying video. So maybe not the best choice for radio.
Runners up include:
Sonic Youth's cover of The Carpenters cover of "Superstar."
Shonen Knife's cover of The Carpenters "Top of the World."
Robert Wyatt's cover of Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding". (Elvis's version is amazing, but Wyatt's voice makes this incredibly powerful song even more so.)
Elvis Costello's cover of "Penny Lane":
The Bad Plus' cover of The Rite of Spring.
I could go on . . . .
Patti Smith's Dancing Barefoot
Seu Jorge's Life on Mars
Tropical F*ck Storm's Staying Alive.
Totally dig Shatner's Common People and Cash's Hurt too.
Adam Lambert's "Believe" honoring Cher at the Kennedy Center Honors. And Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine's "Baby Got Back." Pretty much anything Richard Cheese.