It’s always “interesting” to discover that a song you may have assumed was written by a certain artist or band turns out to be a cover. A classic example of this is posted below as the first of the intro tracks.
Another interesting aspect of covers relates to the lively discussion/arguments/shouting matches that might arise about whether a particular artist/band has covered a song and made it their own. That is, the cover is considered to be better than the original. There are many songs written by Bobby Zimmerman for example, that could be included in this category, given his somewhat “esoteric” (and not to everyone’s taste) vocal and musical stylings. In his favour, the songs were pure gold nuggets just begging to be refashioned in a more “listenable” form. His version of “Like a Rolling Stone”, however, has never been bettered, even by Jimi.
To stimulate some discussion and debate, at this point I’ll list some songs that have been extensively covered, the original artist and the definitive (in my opinion) version. Some of my favourite ever songs are on this list. They include:
Heard it through the Grapevine: Writers were Whitfield/Strong, original artist was The Miracles, definitive version by Gladys Knight and the Pips (sorry, Marvin)
Song to the Siren: Writer/original artist Tim Buckley, definitive version by This Mortal Coil
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man: Writer/original artist Bob Dylan, definitive version by the Byrds
All along the Watchtower: Writer/original artist Bob Dylan, definitive version by Jimi Hendrix (honourable mention XTC)
I can only give you everything: Writer/original artist Them, definitive version by Naz Nomad and the Nightmares (i.e. the Damned)
Spirit in the Sky: Writer/original artist Norman Greenbaum, who also performed the definitive version
Out of Time: Writer/original artist the Rolling Stones, definitive version a dead heat between The Stones’ and Chris Farlowe (given they’re basically musically identical)
Sea of Love: Writer/original artist Phil Philips, definitive version by Horace Andy
Sweet Jane: Writer/original artist Lou Reed/Velvet Underground, definitive version by the Cowboy Junkies (although the Velvet’s version is also magnificent)
Anyway, here’s the two intro tracks:
I think it’s going to rain today: Writer/original artist Randy Newman, definitive version by UB40
Song to the Siren: Tim Buckley on the Monkees’ TV Show, 1968
Please post your favourite songs that have been covered at some point including either the original or your preferred cover version. Again, I’m barely scratching the surface here. Plenty of space in the comments section, so go for it and let’s see some spirited debate. You know you want to.