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Writer's Block: Cover me

Which songs have been covered better by artists who didn't originally sing them?

Bullet list first: My first choices, not a comprehensive list:
  • "Across the Universe" (Lennon-McCartney) as done by Rufus Wainwright.
  • "Superman" (The Clique) as done by R.E.M. on Lifes Rich Pageant.
  • "The Dutchman" (Michael Peter Smith) as done by Steve Goodman — Michael plays it in concert pretty much as Steve recorded it, nowadays.
  • But "City of New Orleans" (Steve Goodman) as done by Arlo Guthrie.
  • "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (The Band) as done by Joan Baez.
I read many other people's lists already. There are three tunes that keep popping up. You can probably guess them, so I won't mention them here.*

A lot of respondents picked modern-day versions of songs that are 20-40 years old. A good example of this (that I haven't seen mentioned) is Smashmouth's cover of "I'm a Believer" from the Shrek soundtrack, which the Monkees had a hit with and Neil Diamond penned. Smashmouth didn't do much to the song's arrangement, but being almost 40 years newer meant the instruments (more electric guitars) and production (louder/compressed) were different. It's a more modern sound, style-wise, and I kind of discount that as a reason the cover version is "better." It's not quite the same category as Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin remaking "Hurt" in such a radically different yet hauntingly effective way.

Postscript: Special mention is made of an instrumental version of "Across the Universe" by the classical guitarist Göran Söllscher on his recording Here, There + Everywhere. No singing, but the song has a great tune, and it's so well played on an 11-stringed guitar (which has several lower strings than the standard guitar, and it resonates, like, forever).

* But I did mention one at the end of the next 'graph.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
fingertrouble
Nov. 11th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
*waves*

re: Across the Universe, had to comment..Rufus's version is great (as is his cover of Hallelujah) but Laibach's trippy version does it best for me...
songdogmi
Nov. 11th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
*waves back* I'll look for Laibach's version later today. Sounds like it could be pretty cool.
songdogmi
Nov. 12th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
I heard it... and saw it — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_q5mlb3Bjzs. Trippy is right, but it's cool.
vaneramos
Nov. 14th, 2010 04:19 am (UTC)
Oh, I like that Rufus Wainwright, too, though I'm afraid to tell people I like it better than the original.
songdogmi
Nov. 14th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC)
I guess there's a bit more wistfulness in the Beatles' version, which fits with the song. But it fits Rufus' voice really well, especially how well he sang it. On some other songs, I think his delivery isn't quite right, though I'm having problems finding the words to describe what I don't like at the moment. But with "Across the Universe," I have no quibbles at all—he nailed it.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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