Music covers always get much discussion from those that love their songs. ‘A cover will never be as good as the original!’ people scream, without giving things even a glance. It’s far I suppose, when you’ve heard a legendary song that’s placed it’s own history in music only to see it rejuvenated 20 years later by some kids with no real talent, it is quite mind numbing at times. However, there are a few songs out there that absolutely rival their originals and I thought I’d share a few if that was OK with you!
Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits, 1980
Covered by The Killers in 2007
This is a unique one for me. Earlier this year, I would’ve laughed off the suggestion it comes close to the wonderful Dire Straits song. I have been won over so much by this though, and it is a truly remarkable cover. Before I even swapped sides of bias I could easily acknowledge that it was such a beautiful cover by The Killers but did it really match up to the original? For me, without a doubt I now see. This caused a little bit of a debate over at Sidepodcast a few months ago but as I say, I’ve been won over by it so much and it’s simply ignorant to now see how beautifully done this song is covered. Even in this example at Abbey Road you can view to the right, the sheer wonder of the live performance, so immaculately performed, is a joy to behold.
Hurt by Nine Inch Nails,
Covered by Johnny Cash in 2002
It kinda amazes me when I mention Johnny Cash’s interpretation of Hurt to people and then get the response ‘He covered it?’! It’s an utterly haunting cover though and even NIN themselves came to the conclusion that Cash made the song his own after this incredible bit of music. The video sees Cash in his final video before his passing on, and it’s just so poignant and haunting how he reflects back at his life in his dying days, I suppose, and it honestly gives me chills every time I hear it. It’s so utterly raw and it’s actually quite hard to explain just how powerful it is considering how late on in Cash’s life he sang this yet absolutely, as Nine inch Nails described, made it his own. A classic song for me in it’s own right.
All Along the Watchtower by Bob Dylan, 1967
Covered by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968
Again I always seem to find a similar shock reaction when people discover that this is not a Jimi Hendrix song no matter how completely famous he is for this incredible piece of music. This is a Jimi Hendrix song no matter whatever way you look at it for me. Yes, Bob Dylan will forever be credited for the original song which is just above average to me, it’s really nothing special, but the sheer talent and absolutely unique style of music and sound Hendrix brought through his guitar and everything he did onstage with it just make this arguably one of the greatest bits of rock music of all time. And yet, it still wasn’t his song! The man was a legend, and only a man of his awesome talents could make this just as legendary.
Wonderwall by Oasis, 1995
Covered by Ryan Adams in 2001
I’ve no idea how well known this version is, but my god this is a hell of a cover of a hell of a song. I’ll admit freely that I’m not a huge fan of Oasis as a lot of their stuff isn’t to my tastes but Wonderwall is an excellent, excellent song. This, however, is an incredible cover that rivals the original for me. Ryan Adams takes it and slows it down beautifully to the levels of an acoustic guitar with immediate effect as the resulting sound is quite simply a sombre but sweet version of Wonderwall. It also sounds so much more genuine than the quite melodic original but still managed to keep all the emotion that was packed up in the Gallagher’s finest moment musically. Fantastic cover.
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, 1984
Covered by Jeff Buckley in 1994
After the previous years’ Christmas seeing a battle of the number ones between various covers of Hallelujah, I’m sure many of you know this song now reading this back and it was bound to be included. It’s simply impossible to ignore – this song has been part of my musical library for many years and it’s just remarkable how much talent, I feel, Buckley had. The video to the right shows him playing the song live in a studio and it’s just an awe inspiring bit of listening because it’s completely raw and completely stunning to behold without a doubt. This is way more famous than Cohen’s original without a doubt and whilst Mr Cohen no doubt got the ball rolling with an excellent original version of Hallelujah, there is simply no comparing any of the covers to Buckley’s incredible version.
Just a couple of special mentions to throw out there for you that didn’t quite make the mix – Imagine (John Lennon) covered by A Perfect Circle; a tragic view of a positive outlook, yet an incredible juxtaposition makes such a good cover – A Little Respect (Erasure) covered by Wheatus; we all know Wheatus for Teenage Dirtbag but this for me was a far more solid song and a simply epic cover! Love it! - Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Andy Williams) covered by Muse; yes it’s Muse but it’s an amazingly catchy cover that takes a romantic classic into the 21st century with a rockier edge that works far better than it really should. There are more but my mind can’t think of them at the moment annoyingly!!
And a bonus cover for your entertainment, the incredible Deep Sunshine covering that all-time classic… The Final Countdown by Europe!
It truly is the greatest cover of all time.
So what are your personal favourite cover songs? There’s so many to choose from of course but I’d love to hear what makes your ears tingle in terms of covers. Of course, this entry has got me wondering now about the worst covers…
If you follow me on Twitter and seen my recent messages since writing this, I think you’ll know what will be in that…