I always have gotten the impression that it is okay to enjoy a cover song, but If you love a cover better than the original it is some kind of musical faux pas; like it is a slap in the face to the original writer/performer. I also have been guilty of these thoughts. For some reason I'd get upset that Tim McGraw hijacked Ryan Adams' When The Stars Go Blue. It wasn't only that I hated McGraw's version, it was that he made it more popular than Adams ever could. It bothered me that if you asked a country fan who Ryan Admas was, they'd most likely reply: 'Oh yeah, I love Sumer of 69.'
A couple of years ago I saw a live Ryan Adams performance on TV(I think it was VH1 Storytellers). He was getting ready to play his 'hit country song' when he back-handidly thanked Tim McGraw for allowing him to fill a pool with unicorn bones. I seemed to have forgotten that the writer of these great songs still gets paid, and in some instances, they may take these coverings as a compliment. Jeff Tweedy says it best in Wilco's What Light:
And if the world is singing your songs
And all your paintings have been hung
Just remember what was yours is everybody's from know on
This may be perhaps the controversial cover on my list. How dare anybody one up the Beatles. BUT Joe Cocker's version of this song is legendary and it reminds me of that hot piece of ass, Winnie Cooper. I'm sorry, but The Beatles version sucks and I've never been a fan of Ringo's vocals.
I never thought that Dolly's version matched the dark subject matter of the lyrics. Then Jack White came along, murdered the song, and brought it back from the dead. He tells that whore Jolene to Fuck off way better than Dolly ever could. Fuck you Jolene!
I have no qualms with the original, but Jeff Buckley just nails one of the best melodies ever written. *Edit - While discussing this list with my cousin and Leonard Cohen fanatic, I learned that Buckley's version is actually a cover to the third degree. Arguably, Buckley was covering John Cale's cover of Leonard Cohen's original. Got that? I still think Buckley has a better voice.
I'm a sucker for the trademark Jim James reverb; it brings so much character to his songs. Similar to what Jack White did on Jolene, Jim James is able to capture lyrical essence better than Gram Parsons. JMHO, bro.
Yes! I love the flamenco guitar on this track. Finally I can listen to Hotel California without feeling like an old white man wearing black calf-high socks with shorts. And remember, nobody Fucks with the Jesus.
There are about a thousand covers of All Along the Watchtower and 99% of them are better than Dylan's, but Jimi's cover is the best. I wish that this asshole could have lived longer and brought us more music.
To me, Tainted Love epitomizes the 80's and is one of my favorite songs of that era. I actually didn't know that this was a cover until recently, but I've listened to Gloria Jones' original version and just can't get into it. So, as far as I'm concerned: winner = Soft Cell.
I really like NIN's version, but I was floored when I first Johnny Cash's cover. This old muthafucker made this angsty song into one of self-reflection and regret. It makes you wonder if Trent Reznor actually wrote this song for Cash. The single piano note that builds towards the end is so hauntingly delicious.
I wasn't sure that this song needed improving. Then the Bamboos took it in a completely unexpected direction. What was an empty and desolate song got all horny on us. I have been listening to the shit out of this lately.
Yeah, so what? I picked one of our very own Pop Culture Collide covers. Which (shameless self-promotion) you can download here for free. Joel got me into Solid Gold and they are as cool as Val Kilmer intimidatingly biting the air. They updated this classic piece of pop culture making it fresh and synthy.