Favorite Cover Versions

I just thought I’d share some of my favorite ever cover versions of songs. A good cover brings something to a song that makes it seem completely new, and doesn’t make you wish you were listening to a different version. In other words, it’s not like almost every performance on American Idol.

Bizarre Love Triangle, Frente
Don’t Fence Me In, David Byrne
Quinn the Eskimo, Manfred Mann
Always on my Mind, Pet Shop Boys
Times They Are A-Changin’, Simon & Garfunkel
Star Spangled Banner, Jimi Hendrix
Sometimes when I’m dreaming, Art Garfunkel (strangely hard to get, apparently it was released on a “Greatest Hits” album in the UK and Australia, but not in the US or Canada) Correction: Art Garfunkel’s version was first. Agnetha’s (of ABBA fame) is the (redundant) cover.
America, David Bowie with omnichord (part of a 9/11 Benefit Concert, no idea how to get it except by ripping the DVD)

I can’t even come up with ten.

My current canonical example of a redundant cover version is The Bangles version of Hazy Shade of Winter, i.e. a derivative and clearly inferior version of the original. Or pretty much any performance on American Idol. But even some famous and successful covers, such as Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah are redundant and unoriginal (his is not really much different from John Cale’s rendition, which itself wasn’t much different from the original).

  • Chris

    I have come to the conclusion that New Order’s primary service to music history has been to produce eminently cover-able tracks. Apart from Frente, I’d list:

    Nouvelle Vague’s take on (well, anything, but in particular) Blue Monday.

    Moby’s version of Temptation.

    Cheers,
    Chris