This week I’d like to share a playlist of cover songs. Yes, cover songs. There are some who believe you can’t improve on the original, and any attempts to pay homage to any particular song will fall far short of that song’s quality. Personally, I enjoy seeing what musicians can do with the work of others. I like covers which stay faithful to the original song, but I also like covers that depart in significant ways from the sound of the original work, to the point that they sound like a whole new song (Joe Cocker’s cover of “With a Little Help from My Friends” comes to mind as a good example of this).
Here are a few cover songs I’ve been enjoying lately, as I’ve been sorting through the approximately 3600 songs I’ve accumulated in my iTunes library over the past, oh, nine or ten years. (I’m finding a lot of songs I haven’t listened to in years, which is kind of awesome and kind of overwhelming all at once.)
- “I Put a Spell On You”, She & Him. Original by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.
- “Stand By Me”, John Lennon. Original by Ben E. King.
- “Blowin’ in the Wind”, Joan Baez. Original by Bob Dylan.
- “The Man Who Sold the World”, Nirvana. Original by David Bowie.
- “In Between Days”, Ben Folds. Original by The Cure.
- “Real Love”, Regina Spektor. Original by John Lennon.*
- “Across the Universe”, John Butler Trio. Original by The Beatles.
- “Major Tom”, Shiny Toy Guns. Original by Peter Schilling.
- “Love is Blindness”, Jack White. Original by U2.
- “Sea of Love”, Cat Power. Original by Phil Phillips.
- “In My Life”, Ben Lee. Original by The Beatles.
- “Hallelujah”, Jeff Buckley. Original by Leonard Cohen.
*Yoko Ono passed along John Lennon’s original recordings of “Real Love” (made at home on a handheld tape recorder in 1979) to the remaining members of the band, who went into the studio, recorded overdubs, and got the song mixed and released as a Beatles track in 1996. It’s a pretty neat story.