Friday, June 24, 2005

What's the Best Cover Song?

Let's have some interactive fun--you know, just like the kind of fun my kids have when I suggest, nay, insist that they leave me alone and go play Gamecube so I can read The Well-Trained Mind or Mitten Strings for God and consider homeschooling my children this Fall, or maybe next year, or perhaps in a different life when they aren't seriously and rather thoroughly kicking my butt. (Which is probably why Heavenly Father sent a tiny helpless duckling into my yard for me to rescue, commit to raising, and then kill so it would be clear that I don't have what it takes to nurture younglings, i.e. have another baby. PS I didn't' kill the duck on purpose.) So on to the interactive fun!

I will ask you a question, and you answer it, 'k? It is about something I am super enthusiatic about so let's have at it. What is the best cover version of a song ever? Now before you answer please consider that it is rare for a re-make to be better than the original song, but not uncommon for a re-make to be as good as the original. (Killing Me Softly by the Fugees and Freddie's Dead by Fishbone come to mind.) And let's just all agree to spare ourselves any discussion of Vanilla Ice and Tiffany because that's just lame. And I'm not really counting Respect by Aretha Franklin because she may as well have sung it the first time.

I'm going to weigh in on this one, but don't let that influence your answer (unless you were going to say something about Tiffany or Vanilla Ice, in which case--don't bother). For me the runner up is I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston. I'm not saying it's my favorite song--although in its day it was fun to memorize the downcast-eye/looking-up timing from the video and do it during slow dances--but it is one of those rare re-makes that I like better than the original, with all due respect to Dolly Parton or Tammy Wynette or Babyface or Kenny Rogers or Vince Gill or whatever. Remember, before she was a crazy coke fiend Whitney Houston had some wicked good pipes.

For me the number one better- than- the-original song, with my apologies to devout Guess Who fans keepin' it real across the nation is American Woman by Lenny Kravitz. It is so choice. I love it. And Christian loves Heather Graham, who stars in the video--so who can argue with that? PS I don't feel bad about the Christian/Heather Graham thing because many people tell me that I look just like her, but seem smarter.

46 comments:

  1. This is so fun... and so easy for me. Johnny Cash's rendition of Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus!

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  2. And happy belated birthday.

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  3. Well the obvious choice is Jimi Hendrix doing "All Along the Watchtower."

    But my favorite, best ever, is This Mortal Coil doing Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren."

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  4. Here are thoughts from the collaboration of the fabulous Jess and JP:

    Paved Paradise...by Counting Crows.

    I Want You To Want Me...by Letters to Cleo (my favorite, for the record.)

    I'm a Believer...by SmashMouth (good 'ol Shrek)

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  5. First, great pick with Lenny my main man. Word.

    Others: Knockin' on heavens door by G -n- R

    Walk this Way by Run DMC

    Row boat by Beck, covered by Johnny Cash

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  6. Before I even read the rest of the post or the comments I will say that it is "I Will Survive" by Cake. Now to the rest... Ooo..after reading "Alice's" comment I would add Johnny Cash's "I'm Gonna Break My Rusty Cage" by Soundgarden...

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  7. Oooo...ooo...also Rufus Wainright covering "Across the Universe" (Beatles) and "Halleluja" (Jeff Buckley)...

    oh, and what about the ENTIRE soundtrack to "I Am Sam"...I can't get enough of Stereophonics "Don't Let Me Down" and Chocolate Genius "Julia"

    OK I'm done.

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  8. I love Lenny Kravitz. LOVE HIM. I also really like everything that Lauryn Hill does, which includes such covers as "Killing Me Softly" by the Fugees and "Can't Take My Eyes off of You."

    I like "Across the Universe" by Fiona Apple. I also like "The Wind Cries Mary" by John Mayer and "Someone to Watch Over Me" by Sting (even though you hate Sting). I also like lots of songs...

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  9. Hey, that's another good Across the Universe one (Carrie Ann must have posted while I was typing/thinking)--and I love Rufus Wainwright. Beatles songs are just so coverable sometimes. My favorite I Am Sam songs are "I'm Looking Through You" by the Wallflowers and "Blackbird" by Sarah McLachlan.

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  10. P.S. Although I Am Sam has a great soundtrack, I must say it was a horrible movie.

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  11. Hold on HOLD ON! Eliza, you have a misconception about me. I know that it comes from one of my early blogs wherein I confessed to not liking jazz. I then said, "And that goes for you too, Sting." I need to explain that I love Sting--am, in fact, more taken with Sting then I care to admit. I was just saying that sometimes his long jazz jam sessions bore me. But I would never tell him that. I just wanted to be clear.

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  12. hmmm, this is a tough one. I think I'm going to have to say Istanbul (not Constantinople) done by They Might Be Giants. Although Jamaica Me Stupid done by Tenacious Kamalei comes in a close second.

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  13. ahh...I was gonna say Across the Universe by Rufus also. How about:
    1.Twist and Shout-The Beatles
    2.Love Song-311
    3.Velouria-Weezer

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  14. I just want readers of this blog to know that I don't care that Kacy is more taken with Sting than she cares to admit. After all, people sometimes tell me that I remind them of Sting but they say I'm a little cooler and that I sing better. Who am I to argue?

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  15. Also, I'm not saying it's a great song, but Billy Idol's "Mony Mony" is better than the original.

    My favorite cover? The Fugees' "Killing Me Softly". But just about every song on Cash's "The Man Comes Around" is worthy of this list.

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  16. Obi Wan singing Elton John's Your Song--would that count?

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  17. I remember commenting on the Sting thing on that earlier post, and your insisting that you do care for Sting, although you don't always love the long jazzy stuff. Therefore, the phrase "even though you hate Sting" was not a bitter rebuke, rather a light-hearted jab, referring to posts gone by.

    But you can feel free to tell me that you love Sting any time you want!

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  18. Speaking of Sting... Shawn Colvin does a great rendition of "Every Little Thing you do is Magic" and Eva Cassidy covers "Fields of Gold" beautifully. (Though I do love the original.) Can it be a cover if the original artist is singing on it? If so, then then the cover of "Every Breath you take" (Shawn Combs? P. Diddy? Puff Daddy? which is it -- or are they all the same?) with Sting is excellent.

    But my hands-down favorite (I'm so lame, I know) is John Denver's cover of the Beatle's "Mother Nature's Son".

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  19. Definitely "Hurt" redone by Johnny Cash. Oh man. He just has so much more clout than Trent Rezner (Sp??)

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  20. Oh I love this post! I have a bunch!

    Pearl Jam's "Last Kiss" that was done in the 60's by Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers

    "China Girl" David Bowie with the original by Iggy Pop

    "The First Cut Is The Deepest" sheryl Crow-- original Cat Stevens

    "Smoking in the Boys room" Motley Crue--original Brownsville Station.

    These are not really my favorite songs by any means, but I do think they are some of the greatest remakes, of these particular songs, and few are aware that these renditions were not the originals.

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  21. I would say my favorites are always done by U2. "Night and Day" I like better than Cole Porter's. But I think "Unchained Melody" might have to go to the original.

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  22. I LOVE U2's Everlasting Love. And Shameless by Garth Brooks & Billy Joel are equal in my eyes. I may even like Garth's a little more.

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  23. Sinead O'connor: Nothing compares 2 U, original by Prince--back me up here. Another for U2 unchained melody--nice.

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  24. You know how you're NEVER supposed to pick the answer on a multiple-choice question that is totally exclusive. I think the same logic applies here. Nevertheless, here are a few that I like: "Always on My Mind" by either the Petshop Boys or Willie Nelson (Sorry, I know it's sacrilege but Elvis has always given me the hibbie jeebies), "When the Levee Breaks" and "Gallows Pole" by Led Zeppelin are both good, and I like the Lick the Tins version of "I Can't Help Falling In Love" from the "Somekind of Wonderful Soundtrack" (again I apologize to the Elvis fans).

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  25. Somebody beat me to the Rufus Wainwright punch. But can I recommend a CD called Nouvelle Vague by a band called Nouvelle Vague? It's fantastic. It's this French group who take a bunch of 80's songs and redo them as these cottony samba numbers. Brilliant. Two of my favorites are 'Just Can't Get Enough' and 'I'll Stop the World and Melt With You.'

    It's like 'St. Elmo's Fire' meets 'Amelie.'

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  26. Could be Linda Rhonstadt's "Desperado" or maybe KD Lang's "Don't Let the Stars". Both destined to be classic remakes. Let's hear it for the ladies with the BIG voices!

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  27. Amen to Freddie's Dead by Fishbone, and what about Hit Me Baby One More Time by Travis (but seriously, how hard is it to improve on the original?) And, oh judy, Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Eva Cassidy is amazing.

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  28. No mention of Van Halen here eh? (Kinks, Roy Orbison)

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  29. Two additions:
    ~The Near/Far (from Sesame Street) Medly, segue into "Near, far, wherever you are..." that Barenaked Ladies used to do at their shows
    ~Guster's "Donde Esta Santa Claus?"

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  30. Anonymous9:18 AM

    I want to know what happened to the duck....

    Sandy

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  31. I'm a big fan of the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and so my entries are Man of Constant Sorrow by Dan Tyminski and Down In River To Pray by Alison Krauss and for that matter her rendition of When You Say Nothing At All is better than others I've heard. And just for the record, no I'm not a country music fan. Folk and bluegrass, yes.

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  32. Holy Crap, 32 comments...you are something, Kacy...some-thing.

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  33. what an excellent post!

    I know I am forgetting something; my favorites are:

    "Sally Ann" by 10,000 Maniacs (I don't know who did the original)

    "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window" by Transvision Vamp (originally by Dylan)

    and don't laugh, "How Soon is Now?" by T.A.T.U (orignally by The Smiths) I love it.

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  34. Weird Al Yankovich's rendition of "Lola"

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  35. I don't know about my favorite, but The Epoxies' version of Robot Man by the Scorpions is great.

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  36. Rufus Wainwright, Ha! Take that Alex.
    Spider-Man via Fruvous is as good as it gets for me. Their impromptu lyrics are ingenious.
    “Shooby doo, rock steady coo, find him an octaped ingénue.
    With flare, HAIR,
    there goes the Spider-Man.”

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  37. Does anyone know if Fruvous is cool? I mean, they gotta get some serious points for singing about such a cool subject. Right?

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  38. I think moxy fruvous is probably cool, and froyo is even better.

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  39. I know that by saying this I am only fueling your addiction...but really....how many comments is enough until you will blog again? THIRTY-NINE COMMENTS?!!!

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  40. I would posit “Git Along Home, Cindy, Cindy” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, although I suspect there may be many in your readership who prefer the BYU Men’s Chorus version.

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  41. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  42. Freak! 41 comments? What, did a bunch of people mistake your blog for Times and Seasons or something? (I'm so jealous.) I can't even read all of them... so here is my vote: Helter Skelter by U2. Except I really do love "Cindy" - we just sang it in our choir and I like to pretend we were better than MoTab.

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  43. I know you are just basking in your 43 comment glory, but PLEASE..post again!

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  44. Nah, I don't think you should post. I don't care much for blogs.

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  45. Speaking of cover songs....

    Back in college 1993ish I was playing an ABBA album when my roommate's boyfriend walked in and said, "Who are the chicks singing Erasure?" He seriously thought Erasure was the original group to sing Voulez-Vous, S.O.S.,Take A Chance on me, etc. Dummy.

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  46. You're right about there being good covers, and there being covers that are BETTER than the originals. I normally hate covers. These are better than the originals:

    Johnny Cash's "Hurt" (yes his Personal Jesus is good, but it does not TOUCH Depeche Mode's)

    and

    Nico's "These Days"...

    Jeffrey Gaines does a great acoustic "In Your Eyes" that is great in a belty, raspy way.

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