Music cover and re-cover


I’ve often mused on musical covers by the same artist. This would be a re-cover in the parlance of the Coverville podcast, which I listen to regularly.

The post was initiated by a 2021 video of a lawyer talking about Taylor Swift rerecording her early albums issued under her original contract. The attorney wondered if the public would purchase the songs again; from the last time I checked the Billboard album charts, three of the ten albums were “Taylor’s version.”

I should compare the old songs with the new ones, but I’m not a Swifty and would feel inadequate to point out the differences in the recordings. (However, I’m quite amused and bemused by the MAGA disdain for her.)

Conversely, I could discuss some of the variations among the records of Frank Sinatra on different labels long before Taylor. A good example would be Snatra’s Sinatra.

“Ten of the album’s twelve tracks are re-recorded versions of songs that Sinatra had previously released, with ‘Pocketful of Miracles’ and ‘Call Me Irresponsible’ being first-time recordings for Sinatra.

“Sinatra’s two previous record labels, Columbia Records and Capitol Records had both successfully issued collections of Sinatra’s hits; this album was the attempt of his new label, Reprise Records, to duplicate this success by offering some earlier songs in stereophonic sound, which by 1963 was an exploding recording technology.” You should be able to hear that album in its entirety here; then, you can tool around and find earlier iterations.


The Beatles had different versions of Get Back and Let It Be, from the single to the album version. Both Get Back and Medicated Goo by Traffic have singles that come to a dead stop – I still own the 45s – while the album cuts do not. Get Back: LP and single. Medicated Goo album cut; I can’t find the single.

I also considered remakes such as Fame and Fame ’90 by David Bowie, Think and Think ’89 by Aretha Franklin, and a supposedly improved version of John Hiatt’s Have A Little Faith In Me. In each case, I prefer the original. However, I have an odd affection for the Trans version by Neil Young of Mr. Soul compared with the Buffalo Springfield take.

In Paul Simon’s In The Blue Light, he re-covers ten of his songs that he thought were previously overlooked. One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor: original (There Goes Rhymin’ Simon) and remake.

My favorite: Crying – the original is by Roy Orbison, the re-cover by Orbison and k.d. lang.

Egregious sins exist on remakes of some compilation albums. I have a Herman’s Hermans greatest hits collection that is all redos; Peter Noone is singing them, but it ain’t the same. Likewise, I have a 4-CD set of soul songs, with the only originals by deceased artists. These are very disappointing.

Licensing rights are often the issue. Rhino put out The Ray Charles Anthology, with 17 songs from his ABC/Paramount period and three live versions of songs he first recorded when he was on Atlantic Records.

Live versions versus studio albums? A whole ‘nother conversation. I tend to like the studio versions, though the live performance of I’m So Glad on Goodbye Cream shreds the studio track from Fresh Cream.

That said, I needed to do much more compare and contrast, scouring YouTube to do the topic justice; frankly, it was too daunting.

Hair covers, er, covers of songs from Hair

blond, brilliantined, Biblical hair

I have had the musical Hair stuck in my mind since a friend of mine sent me links to some hair covers. I mean, covers of songs from Hair. And there were a LOT of them, only some of which are represented here.

Fifty-five years ago, Hair debuted off-Broadway (October 17, 1967). It opened on Broadway in April 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances. Like certain phenomena – Laura Nyro for a brief time, and The Beatles forever, the songs were covered by a variety of artists.

I saw a production of Hair in Binghamton c. 1975, and I was captivated by it. Conversely, when I saw a technically superior production at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady in the 2010s, it was less satisfying. It felt as though the performances treated the material as nostalgic camp. And maybe it is. But it generated some great songs. You may find even more versions listed at Secondhand Songs.


Aquarius – The Undisputed Truth
Sodomy – Stan Kenton (!)
Ain’t got no/I Got Life – Nina Simone, #94 pop in 1969; I have this
Hair – The Cowsills, #2 pop for two weeks in 1969. The group took some heat for excising one verse. Did people think this verse was going to appear on the radio in 1969?

They’ll be ga ga at the go go
When they see me in my toga
My toga made of blond
Biblical hair

My hair like Jesus wore it
Hallelujah I adore it
Hallelujah Mary loved her son
Why don’t my mother love me?

Easy to Be Hard – Jennifer, #128 pop in 1969; Three Dog Night, #4 pop in 1969; of course, I have this
Frank Mills – Lemonheads
Hare Krishna – James Last
Where Do I Go? – Carla Thomas, #38 RB, #86 pop in 1968; I own this

Walking in Space – Quincy Jones
Good Morning Starshine – Oliver, #3 for two weeks pop in 1969; Strawberry Alarm Clock, #87 pop in 1969
The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In) – Jennifer, B-side of Easy To Be Hard

Munich: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring / White Boys / Love to Love You Baby – Ariana DeBose, from Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In – The Fifth Dimension. #1 for six weeks pop, #1 for two weeks adult contemporary; #6 RB in 1969. I love the story about how the group came to record the song, involving a lost wallet.
Querschnitt, 20 videos

Jennifer became Jennifer Warnes, an excellent interpreter of the music of Leonard Cohen

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)

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