Obsessed with cover songs

Walk Away Renee

Beatles' Second Album backOK, I admit it: I’m obsessed with cover songs. And it goes back decades. I discovered that the source of most of the US album Meet The Beatles was the UK collection With The Beatles. What was cut? Why five of the six cover songs, all but Til There Was You from The Music Man. The five covers were all soul-related and showed up on The Beatles’ Second Album.

Motown was always putting songs from one artist as album cuts for another. A tune written and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland might show up on both a Supremes and Four Tops album. Several songs written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, and produced by Whitfield, were recorded by both the Temptations and Gladys Knight and the Pips. The Temps recorded War, but Motown, fearing it might be too controversial, allowed the lesser-profiled Edwin Starr to release the single and get the hit.

I’ve listened to every episode of Coverville, which recently hit the 1400th episode milestone. The tracks here are, to the best of my knowledge, NOT on those OTHER cover songs posts I’ve created. 

Hound Dog: Big Mama ThortonElvis Presley

Proud Mary: Creedence Clearwater RevivalIke and Tina Turner 

Me And Bobby McGee: Roger MillerJanis Joplin 

Try A Little Tenderness: New Mayfield Dance OrchestraOtis Redding 

I Fought The Law: The Crickets; The Bobby Fuller Four; The Clash

I’m Not Your Stepping Stone: Paul Revere and the Raiders; The Monkees – not all that different

See this post about Walk Away Renee.

More toonz

I Can’t Get Next To You: The TemptationsAl Green

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?: The Shirelles; Carole King with the Mitchell-Taylor Boy and Girl Choir, co-written by CK

Alison: Elvis CostelloLinda Ronstadt. Elvis HATED Linda’s covers of his songs.

Fire: Bruce Springsteen;  The Pointer Sisters

Wrecking Ball: Neil Young; Emmylou Harris

Tainted Love: Gloria Jones; Soft Cell

MacArthur Park: Richard Harris; Donna Summer

I Am Waiting: The Rolling StonesOllabelle

Everytime You Go Away: Hall and OatesPaul Young 

Sail Away: Randy NewmanEtta James

Stand By Me:  Ben E. King; John Lennon

Bye Bye Love: The Everly BrothersGeorge Harrison – a rewrite inspired by his breakup with Pattie Boyd

Cover songs again? (Burgas edition)

Eli’s Comin’

lesley gore
Lesley Gore

I must blame Greg Burgas. Cover songs again? I wrote about them in 2019. But I forgot that I had ALSO done a post back in 2013 as well as one in 2021 that I did as a response to a meme.

But Greg wrote: “My Question of the Week is a pretty easy one, I think: What’s your favorite cover song?” EASY? Is he out of his mind? (Don’t answer that.)

ALSO, my friend Mary is currently studying cover songs. She tells me that Steven Van Zandt, he of the E Street Band, discussed in his biography what makes a great cover. He said it differs from the original by having a different tempo, different arrangement, different or slightly different genre, is sung by someone of a different gender from the original, and/or a different style.

In any case, I’m going to list MORE cover versions. I believe I haven’t written about them in my previous cover posts, though I may have noted them in pieces about a particular artist.

Oh, yeah, there is something called a re-cover, in which the artist covers their previous recording. One of my favorites is You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore. Here’s the original and the remake.

Seven Separate Fools

I think that Three Dog Night was one of the best cover bands ever. Mark Evanier wrote about them recently.

Chest Fever: The Band3DN
The Loner: Neil Young3DN
Lady Samantha: Elton John; 3DN
Mama Told Me Not to Come: Randy Newman3DN
Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here: John Hiatt3DN
I wrote a whole post about the history of Black and White, which is not my favorite 3DN track

13th Confessional

Most of the songs of Laura Nyro I first heard by someone else.

Eli’s Comin’: Nyro3DN
Stoned Soul Picnic: Nyro; The Fifth Dimension
Wedding Bell Blues: Nyro; The Fifth Dimension
And When I Die: NyroBlood, Sweat, and Tears


James Taylor did some nice covers. Here’s a list, though some are re-covered. Not all were better than the originals, and in fact, to me, his COVERS album was not that great.
Mockingbird: Inez and Charlie FoxxJT and Carly Simon
How Sweet It Is: Marvin GayeTaylor
Up On The Roof: The DriftersTaylor
Handy Man: Jimmy Jones; my favorite Taylor cover


Money: Barrett Strong; The Beatles
Chains: The Cookies; The Beatles
Got To Get You Into My Life: The BeatlesEarth, Wind, and Fire                      We Can Work It Out: The BeatlesStevie Wonder


(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman:  Aretha Franklin; Carole King, the co-writer
I Say A Little Prayer: Dionne WarwickAretha Franklin
Piece Of My Heart: Erma Franklin; Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin

Original performers; you know the cover version

Jackie DeShannon

My friend Fred Hembeck gave me a collection of songs some years ago. The thing they have in common is that they were all very familiar, but not by the artists on the disc.

These were the original performers. So I decided to post some songs that I didn’t know were the first recorded versions, some from that album plus a few extras.

Dedicated To The One I Love – The Five Royales  (1957), The Shirelles (1959).  The Mamas and the Papas also recorded this.
I Can’t Stop Lovin’ You – Don Gibson (1958), Ray Charles (1962). Written by Gibson on June 7, 1957, the same day he wrote Oh, Lonesome Me, later covered by Neil Young, among others.
I’m Leavin’ It All Up To You – Don and Dewey (1959), Dale and Grace (1963). Donny and Marie also covered this.
Twist and Shout – The Top Notes (1961), The  Isley Brothers (1962). Also covered by a Liverpudlian band of some note.

Someday We’ll Be Together – Johnny and Jackie (1961), Diana Ross and the Supremes (1969). The songwriters were Johnny Bristol, Jackey Beavers (the singers of the original), and Harvey Fuqua. The cover is Diana with non-Supremes background singers.
Nobody But Me – The Isley Brothers (1962), The Human Beinz (1968)
You’re No Good – Dee Dee Warwick (1963), Betty Everett (1963). Yes, DeeDee was the sister of Dionne. Linda had a big hit
Do-Wah-Diddy –  The Exciters  (1963), Manfred Mann (1964). Written by the great songwriting duo of Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry

Dr. Kildare?

Needles And Pins – Jackie DeShannon (1963), The Searchers (1964). Written by Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono
(They Long to Be) Close to You – Richard Chamberlain (1963), Carpenters  (1970). Chamberlain was TV’s Dr. Kildare. Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
Go Now – Bessie Banks (1964), Moody Blues (1964)
I’m Into Something Good – Earl-Jean (1964), Herman’s Hermits (1964). Earl-Jean was a member of the Cookies. Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King

My Girl Sloopy – The Vibrations (1964),  The McCoys (1965 as Hang On, Sloopy)
Good Lovin’ – Lemme B. Good (1965), The Olympics (1965), The Young Rascals (1966)
Bette Davis Eyes – Jackie DeShannon (1974), Kim Carnes (1981). Written by DeShannon and Donna Weiss.
I Love Rock ’N Roll – The Arrows (1975), Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (1982)

A song that’s a classical favorite

I stand by my love for the Chopin lift

bach guitarThe prompt: A song that’s a classic favorite; I don’t know specifically what that means. Therefore, I’ve decided that it means songs that are classical favorites.

Oh, but not the classical VERSIONS, but rather the pop iterations. As it turns out, way back in 2011, I did a post on the topic. S is for Songs from the classics. I had to replace about a half dozen YouTube videos, understandably.

In the post, I touted A Lover’s Concerto by the Toys; American Tune by Paul Simon; Stranger in Paradise by the Supremes; Nut Rocker by B. Bumble and the Stingers; A Fifth of Beethoven by Walter Murphy; Night on Disco Mountain by David Shire; and Ebony Rhapsody by Nat King Cole.

There were also three articles links, but only the first one works. It points to a lengthy list of popular songs from the past century that incorporate classical compositions.

What else should I mention?

Spanish Caravan – the Doors. The intro riff was taken from “Asturias,” a classical piece by Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz (1860 – 1909). The song was written by Robbie Krieger and it appears on the Waiting for the Sun album.

Hallelujah Chorus – the Roches. I got to hear them sing this live many years ago; it was amazing. Also love the album from which it’s taken, Keep On Doing.

Beethoven Symphony 7, Movement II (Allegretto) – Waldo de los Rios. Appears on one of those Warner Brothers Loss Leader albums.

I’ve already written about the Rheingold Beer Jingle from Estudiantina Valse, written by Paul Lacome and rearranged by Emil Waldteufel

And I stand by my love for the Chopin lift at the beginning and the end of
Could It Be Magic by Barry Manilow.

Finally, a piece of music that merely SOUNDS as though it were rooted in the classics: Conquistador – Procol Harum. The version from Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (1972) is far superior to the 1967 studio take on their eponymous first album.

C is for Cover songs

For arcane reasons, I listen to a lot of Beatles covers in the month of July, in honor of Ringo Starr’s birthday.

A cover song is a version of a recording released subsequent to the original one. Sometimes the most popular version is a cover: Good Lovin’ by the Young Rascals [LISTEN] was initially recorded by someone dubbed Lemme B. Good, then was a minor hit by The Olympics [LISTEN], which I own. I Heard It Through the Grapevine was a massive hit for Marvin Gaye [LISTEN], though the original by Gladys Knight and the Pips [LISTEN] (my preferred version, actually) went to #2 on the US charts a year earlier.

What makes a good cover song is that it is not merely a slavish imitation of the original. Otherwise, what’s the point? The version of You Keep Me Hanging On by Vanilla Fudge [LISTEN] had been criticized as excessive, but it’s sure different than what the original Supremes [LISTEN] put out.

Sometimes a cover is SO good that even the originator will bow to the successor. Otis Redding [LISTEN] acknowledged that Aretha Franklin [LISTEN] had “stole” Respect from him, meaning it was now hers, though he wrote it and sang it first. Likewise, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails realized that Hurt has become a Johnny Cash [LISTEN], not a NIN [LISTEN], song.

For arcane reasons, I listen to Beatles covers in the month of July, in honor of Ringo Starr’s birthday. There are a LOT of them; by the time the Beatles broke up, there were over 2500 versions of Yesterday alone, most of them boring.

I have about three dozen Beatles’ cover albums. There are classical, Latin, bluegrass, country, soul collections. I have whole albums covered by various artists, some compiled by MOJO magazine, plus whole albums by the Smithereens, Big Daddy, and others. My friend Fred Hembeck put together some compilations; the worse version among them, Hey Jude by an uninspired, off-key Elvis Presley. I made a few collections myself, from CD that have Beatles-inspired cuts.

Arguably the best Beatles interpreter is Joe Cocker. He came to fame at Woodstock singing A Little Help From My Friends [LISTEN to the studio version]. He’s made a whole song out of the Abbey Road-segued She Came Into The Bathroom Window [LISTEN]. But my favorite of his takes is You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away [LISTEN].

I should mention again my favorite music podcast, Coverville, which comes out twice a week. One episode is a cover story of a particular artist, while the other might be a request show, some independent artist hodgepodge, or based on a theme.

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