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

C is for Covering Cohen

“I trusted Leonard more than anyone I had known…at times, more than myself.”

According to Wikipedia, Canadian poet-singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, a 2008 inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, has had over 2,000 renditions of his songs recorded. Indeed, there have whole albums of Cohen covers, some by various artists, but some by a single performer.

It has been stated by some that folk singer Judy Collins “discovered” Leonard Cohen because she was the first major artist to cover his tunes, starting with her sixth Elektra album, 1967’s In My Life, with Suzanne and Dress Rehearsal Rag.

She, however, would hastily disagree. On the liner notes of her tribute album to him, 2004’s Democracy Now, she writes: “what is more true is that he discovered me, and in that first year after our meeting, he told me I should be writing songs.” Subsequently, she did. They displayed a creative synergy, with her pushing him to perform, initially, at a WBAI (NYC) public radio fundraiser, quite literally. In return, she said, “I trusted Leonard more than anyone I had known…at times, more than myself.”

All these songs were sung by Judy Collins on Democracy Now:

Suzanne – Leonard Cohen and Judy Collins

Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye – Roberta Flack

Sisters Of Mercy – Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris

Bird On A Wire – Johnny Cash

Story of Isaac – Suzanne Vega

Most of the songs on Democracy Now were previously recorded by Judy, but there were three songs newly recorded by her, all written by Cohen, except the Song of Bernadette, co-written with William Elliot and Jennifer Warnes.

Song of Bernadette – Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt

And speaking of Warnes, who was a backup singer for Leonard Cohen in the 1970s, she also did a tribute album called Famous Blue Raincoat back in 1986, reissued with additional songs in 2007. Among the tunes, Song of Bernadette, Bird on the Wire, and

First We Take Manhattan – Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes

Famous Blue Raincoat – here sung by Joan Baez

Of course, no Leonard Cohen discussion would be complete without the oft-covered Hallelujah. I opted for the version by fellow Canadian k.d. lang, which she initially recorded for an album of tunes by Canadian songwriters, 2004’s Hymns of the 49th Parallel, and performed at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, CANADA.

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial