OK, 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.