Covers Better Than The Original? Yep.

Everybody loves a list so here’s mine on a topic that is on many music blogs and sites. Now most of the time I prefer an artist’s own rendition of their work. Many people prefer Rod Stewart’s version of Tom Wait’s Downtown Train. Granted Rod has a voice that is like a sandpapered angel, beautiful; Tom’s is a sandpapered frog . But Tom’s version is full of the city’s mean streets and its hard luck citizens. I believe it is the vastly superior version.

So here are five covers I like better than the original, it’s subjective and personal, just like music.

5. Turn, Turn, Turn – The Byrds. That shimmering guitar jangle and Fab-like harmonies make one beautiful song. The great Pete Seeger’s original, not so much.

4.  House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals. This was a traditional blues folk song brought to radio life by a great British Invasion band. Here is an original interpretation by blues legend Leadbelly and his wife.

3. Mr. Bojangles – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Originally recorded by its writer Jerry Jeff Walker and released in 1968. It was a minor hit. In 1971 it was eclipsed by TNGDB and their excellent version.

2. Twist And Shout – The Beatles. Originally recorded by The Top Notes, then more successfully  by the Isley Brothers, the song is now on hold  to The Fabs and John Lennon’s throat tearing vocals. One of the great vocal performances in rock and roll.

1. All Along The Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix. Sorry Bob Dylan, I love you, but Jimi now owns this.

So, there are my favorite covers that outshine the originals, I’d love to hear yours.

11 thoughts on “Covers Better Than The Original? Yep.”

  1. Eddie Cochran’s ‘Summertime Blues’ was stolen when Roger and the boys tore it up.
    Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Right Down The Line’ is right up there with Gerry Rafferty’s.
    Edie Brickell’s ‘A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall” tears your heart out the way Bob Dylan’s version didn’t.

  2. I’m the ultimate John Prine fan, but even he admits Bonnie Raitt’s cover of “Angel from Montgomery” from her 1974 “Streetlights” album is hard to beat.
    ( The Prine/Raitt duet of “Angel” at the 1985 tribute concert for Steve Goodman was obviously the best of both worlds. )

  3. Jerry, I was close to putting that in my five, you are right on both, plus a little band called John Ray McKeever tore that sucker up, too.

  4. Bonnie Raitt seems to be the cover queen. I consider Bonnie’s version of Randy Newman’s “Guilty” the definitive one.

  5. Pete Seeger thought The Byrds’ version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!” was great. He often used it as an example of how folk songs can and should change with the singer.

    My favorite cover, though, would have to be Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. They’re almost completely different songs – only the words and notes are the same 🙂

    Likewise, Don McLean’s version of The Melodian’s “Rivers of Babylon”, although my soft spot for it may be colored by an a cappella version done with completely different lyrics by my high school senior class 🙂

    And for the same reason as the other two, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”. Izzy blended in Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow”, so maybe it’s not a fair comparison, but it’s still a song of overpowering beauty.

    1. Ross, I could not agree more on Jeff Buckley. The rest of your picks I’m going to check out right away. Thanks!!!

  6. I am awfully fond of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s cover of the Beatles’ “Day Tripper” live in studio at the BBC – it may be my favorite cover ever. And Johnny Cash’s cover of Tom Petty’s “Southern Accents” off his Unchained album is chilling. And McCartney’s original is still better, but the Faces’ live cover of “Maybe I’m Amazed” off their box set (another live recording) is a close second.

    1. I like all 3 Jeff, but you know my Fab fondness. My Johnny Cash cover would be Hurt, but I don’t like much from NIN. Also The Band’s Atlantic City and When I Paint My Masterpiece are in my Top 1o.

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