Join 3,495 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Four Lads, not They Might Be Giants
August 4, 2010 11:00 AM   Subscribe

A comprehensive list of songs you didn't know were covers.
posted by LSK (185 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
A vaguely comprehensive discussion, disguised as a bulleted list, about songs you might not have known were covers.
posted by lumensimus at 11:04 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


No it's really a comprehensive list of songs people under 40 didn't know were covers. For people over 40 it's a list of old songs that we didn't know were covered by a new band.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:07 AM on August 4, 2010 [120 favorites]


Some believe that Joan Jett's "I Love Rock And Roll" is a Britney Spears cover.

That is an interesting proposal.
posted by brandman at 11:08 AM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I knew.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:08 AM on August 4, 2010


I dunno. For most of those songs I didn't know the cover version existed. I mean, do people really not know that Leaving on a Jet Plane is by John Denver?
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:08 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


most of these seem painfully obvious to anyone past hs/college age. I mean, who is exactly shocked to find out a song by the Fugees or Black Eyed Peas is a cover?
posted by timsteil at 11:08 AM on August 4, 2010


No it's really a comprehensive list of songs people under 40 didn't know were covers

I'm under 40.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:09 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


• DragonForce's "Strike of the Ninja" is actually a version of "Feel the Fire" by DragonForce side project Shadow Warriors.

You're right I didn't know that.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:09 AM on August 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


Oh, God, not tvtropes.com -- set one foot inside and your day is blown. See you when you realize it's 5am and you haven't moved or eaten since you clicked that first link!
posted by tzikeh at 11:09 AM on August 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


This is a crappy list because the non-cover versions of the songs don't even qualify as obscure. It reads mostly as a list for or about people who are incurious and ignorant about the music they listen to.
posted by OmieWise at 11:11 AM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


..."Knockin' On Heaven's Door", which some thought was originally by Guns N Roses.

People. Come on now.
posted by Put the kettle on at 11:13 AM on August 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Do people really not know that Tom Petty wrote "Free Falling"?
posted by octothorpe at 11:13 AM on August 4, 2010 [26 favorites]


The conversational style and lack of citations doom this page to FAIL.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:13 AM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Though always good to be reminded of The Lover Speaks.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:14 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought I would be proud to know the originals, but instead I'm slightly chagrined to not even be familiar with many versions "everyone" now thinks are original. Hrm.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:15 AM on August 4, 2010


I had a college roommate who insisted, for as long as I knew him and in spite of numerous offers of proof to the contrary, that "Yesterday" was written by Boyz II Men and that The Beatles' version was a cover.

The world is full of people who are stupid, ignorant, and have no interest in changing either of those things. Age has nothing to do with it.
posted by The World Famous at 11:15 AM on August 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I started going down the list, and was just about to log in to add "Fire" (Springsteen, a hit for the Pointer Sisters before the Boss himself started playing it in concerts) when some vague memory of the last time I started editing TVTropes pages surfaced. I shuddered and closed the window.

Dear God, that was close.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:16 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, I was listening to David Bowie before Nirvana was even formed....
posted by swooz at 11:16 AM on August 4, 2010


No it's really a comprehensive list of songs people under 40 didn't know were covers. For people over 40 it's a list of old songs that we didn't know were covered by a new band.

So everyone over 40 knows that "Sloop John B" wasn't a Beach Boys original, and the same for the Rolling Stones' "Time Is on My Side," Marvin Gaye's "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," Aretha Franklin's "Respect," etc.? I don't think so.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:16 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Barbara Ann" wasn't originally performed by the Beach Boys, nor even by The Who, but by The Regents.

Something else you probably don't know about the Beach Boys cover of Barbara Ann: its "iconic" casual, recorded-with-the-audience sound is actually the theme of an entire album of covers called Beach Boys Party! which the group produced primarily to satisfy Capitol Records while Brian Wilson finished Pet Sounds. The album also features Dennis singing a tremendously touching version of "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away", Al Jardine singing "The Times They Are a-Changin'", and Brian Wilson yelling at the faux "beach party" audience of friends and family of the band "If you don't know the words, than SHUT UP and go home!"
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:16 AM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


No it's really a comprehensive list of songs people under 40 didn't know were covers

Who cares what people under 40 think?
posted by philip-random at 11:20 AM on August 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


do people really not know that Leaving on a Jet Plane is by John Denver?

The Peter, Paul and Mary recording is far more iconic.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:20 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Oh, God, not tvtropes.com -- set one foot inside and your day is blown. See you when you realize it's 5am and you haven't moved or eaten since you clicked that first link!"

... but you have pooped.
posted by Eideteker at 11:21 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Fly Me to the Moon" didn't originate from Neon Genesis Evangelion.

OK, I'm done with this list now.
posted by Put the kettle on at 11:22 AM on August 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


Oh snap -- interesting related page: the Cover Changes the Gender.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:22 AM on August 4, 2010


Ok, I never knew that "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" wasn't by TMBG. That's kind of mind-blowing, since it practically defines their particular nerdcore ethos as a band.
posted by rusty at 11:22 AM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Of course there are shitty examples. It's TVTropes. About half of the examples given for every trope are either not instances of said trope (on account of the editor doesn't get it) or are from tv shows or movies that are so terrible, it's surprising anyone admitted to watching it. Also, for every trope the literary examples consist solely of either Star Trek or Warhammer 40,000 tie-in novelizations.
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 11:23 AM on August 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is the hardest page to read in the history of ever.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:24 AM on August 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


Indeed, many Bob Dylan songs only became famous when someone else performed them, including "Blowin' In The Wind" (Peter, Paul, and Mary); "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "My Back Pages" (The Byrds); and most recently "Desolation Row" (My Chemical Romance).

Eww. And 'Nope' to all of that.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:24 AM on August 4, 2010


"Fly Me to the Moon" didn't originate from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
I always wondered why they liked video game soundtracks so much at Olive Garden.
posted by sanko at 11:24 AM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


No it's really a comprehensive list of songs people under 40 didn't know were covers. For people over 40 it's a list of old songs that we didn't know were covered by a new band.

This is what I came to say.

Ok, I never knew that "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" wasn't by TMBG. That's kind of mind-blowing, since it practically defines their particular nerdcore ethos as a band.

The first version of that song I ever knew was by Bette Midler; she recorded it in the 70s but I was introduced to it by a college roommate in the early 80s.
posted by not that girl at 11:26 AM on August 4, 2010


Sometimes it's just plain wrong, too. Take the entry for "I Will Always Love You." Says that Dolly's version went to number 1 3 times. Well, actually, Dolly recorded it 3 times, and only two of those went to number one, and both of those were on the Billboard country charts. She's great when she sings it, but none of that really compares to Houston's ridiculous chart run with that song -- number 1 in at least 19 countries, 4x Platinum sales (for a single!), and a basically unprecedented 14 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
posted by hippybear at 11:28 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


BBC Radio 1 does a whole series, nearly devoted to live cover songs called "Live Lounge". The Fray's cover of "Hips Don't Lie" is pretty funny.

Also, The Baseball's cover of Rihanna's Umbrella is always good for a giggle.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:28 AM on August 4, 2010


Weird, I was just searching for who sang the lead vocal on Black Magic Woman (Gregg Rolie) only to also find out it was originally a Fleetwood Mac song. Then came back to Metafilter and this article popped up.
posted by thorny at 11:33 AM on August 4, 2010


"A number of Laura Branigan's hits ("Gloria" and "Self Control", for example) were covers of Italian pop songs."

I wish she had done Prisencolinensinainciusol.
posted by everichon at 11:35 AM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Let's take this one further and just say anything by Leonard Cohen in general has been Covered Up. Has something to do with the fact he's a mindblowingly fantastic songwriter but only just adequate as a performer (a few songs notwithstanding).

Blasphemy!
posted by justkevin at 11:35 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


As it turns out, everything was written by Prince.
posted by everichon at 11:37 AM on August 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Do people really not know that Tom Petty wrote "Free Falling"?

Yes.
posted by L'OM at 11:42 AM on August 4, 2010


A few years ago, my husband picked up a great CD called "Uncovered" (which is not in the first 5 pages of CDs by that name on Amazon, or I'd link it) that's all the original versions of songs people generally know best as covers, like Tainted Love. I realized I was old because they thought more people knew the Red Hot Chili Peppers' version of Love Rollercoaster from the Beavis & Butthead movie than the original. It wasn't the only one like that, either.

I knew it was a cover when I heard it, but my association for Istanbul, Not Constantinople is the a cappella group a bunch of my alumni buddies were in over the years, not TMBG.
posted by immlass at 11:43 AM on August 4, 2010


"Smells Like Teen Spirit" ISN'T by Tori Amos???

(ok, that one's not on the list but I couldn't resist)
posted by matty at 11:43 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm 30, and feel good that I knew all those songs were covers. Most I could have told you who the original artist was, and out of those, most-I could have played for you, from my music library.

(Feeling older than I am, for some reason has always given me a good feeling!)
posted by QueerAngel28 at 11:45 AM on August 4, 2010


There's some inaccuracies on the list. The complaint that "When the Levee Breaks" wasn't written by Minnie/McCoy and recorded in '29 stands out. "I Drove All Night" is a tricky one because it was written for Orbison but not released until well after Lauper made it a hit. The same is also true with "Because the Night" which, as far as I know, was a feature of Springsteen concerts but not actually released by him until after Pati Smith's version.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:45 AM on August 4, 2010


Robyn's "Cobrastyle" is a cover of Teddybears' version, which is itself a combination of Erick Sermon's "Bomdigi" and a modification of Trans X's "Living on Video".
posted by Beardman at 11:45 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


So wait, you're saying that the song Fight for Your Right (to Party) wasn't originally done by the HotRats, but was actually by some band called the Beastly Boys or something like that?

Never heard of 'em, and I quite frankly think you are full of shit.
posted by quin at 11:47 AM on August 4, 2010


As it turns out, everything was written by Prince.

That makes the rumor that he only listens to his own music easier more understandable. The poor man has no choice.
posted by Beardman at 11:48 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"easier more understandable"? Who says MeFites can't write good.
posted by Beardman at 11:50 AM on August 4, 2010


wait, Fall Silent didn't write the Sesame Street Theme ?
posted by namewithoutwords at 11:50 AM on August 4, 2010


Oh snap -- interesting related page

You see this is why I avoid TVTropes.
posted by randomination at 11:52 AM on August 4, 2010


Also, The Baseball's cover of Rihanna's Umbrella is always good for a giggle.

So is the traditional Russian version.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:53 AM on August 4, 2010


"Cover"? What's that? Is that one of those terms old people use for music, like "LP" and "guitar"?

I'm guessing this list has something to do with people not knowing where famous samples on hit mixes originally came from, but the terminology is so archaic that I'm not sure.
posted by koeselitz at 11:55 AM on August 4, 2010


Aw, c'mon guys, there is some interesting stuff there (though, yes, the page is really hard to read). Sure, I knew a lot of these (and some of them are ridiculous), but there are some that I didn't know. It's interesting to browse, though it does cause a bad case of "people actually believe that?" frustration (yes, people do).
posted by statolith at 11:59 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kids [...] come up afterwards and say, "It's cool you're doing a Nirvana song." And I think, "Fuck you, you little tosser!"
— David Bowie, on performing "The Man Who Sold The World"

posted by Ironmouth at 11:59 AM on August 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


Placebo's "Running Up That Hill" and Maxwell's "This Woman's Work" have both managed to eclipse the original versions by Kate Bush.

Okay, now I'm pissed.
posted by adipocere at 12:00 PM on August 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


Gosh I didn't know that was a remake I and II Via the always amazing Crap From the Past.
posted by wheelieman at 12:00 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Fuck you, you little tosser!"
— David Bowie


Swoon!
posted by phunniemee at 12:00 PM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


"My Way" is a song with lyrics written by Paul Anka and popularized by Frank Sinatra. The melody is based on a French song "Comme d'habitude" composed by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. Anka's English lyrics are unrelated to the original French by Claude François and Gilles Thibaut and Anka is credited as a co-composer of "My Way" because he largely re-wrote the song. "My Way" is often quoted as the most remade song in history.
posted by Danf at 12:05 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apparently, people are even dumber than I thought.
posted by brand-gnu at 12:05 PM on August 4, 2010


A black friend of mine was talking about white people who made it rich singing songs originally done by black people. I nodded my head in agreement thinking about such hits as Hound Dog. Then he gave as his first example, All Along the Watchtower.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:05 PM on August 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


"Dazed and Confused" was written by Jake Holmes, a folk-pop musician best known for writing commercial jingles, including the "Be All That You Can Be" jingle for the U.S. Army.

This I did not know and now wish I did not.

What about Patty Smith's cover of Springsteen's "Because the Night?" I really can't listen to Springsteen's version because Smith's cover was SO MUCH BETTER.
posted by three blind mice at 12:07 PM on August 4, 2010


"Tainted Love", often thought of as a song about AIDS, first came out in 1964. Ed Cobb wrote and Gloria Jones sang the original version .... Soft Cell, of course, immortalized the song, with Marilyn Manson's cover likely the second best known.

I used to think that Soft Cell's was the definitive version, which it is for some reasons (the song takes on a totally different meaning in the 1980s, that's for sure). But then I heard Gloria Jones' version and realized how wrong I had been. Soft Cell may have "immortalized" the song but that doesn't mean they defined it (sorry, Marc Almond).

Placebo's "Running Up That Hill" and Maxwell's "This Woman's Work" have both managed to eclipse the original versions by Kate Bush.

Bullshit.
posted by blucevalo at 12:10 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did you know that "Bohemian Rhapsody" wasn't an original composition by the Muppets?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:10 PM on August 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


The one that really blew my young heavy metal mind was that it was not Judas Priest's Rob Halford who penned 'Diamonds and Rust', but rather Joan Baez.
posted by medeine at 12:11 PM on August 4, 2010


Little known fact: nearly all of Bonnie "Prince" Billy's songs were actually written by Will Oldham!
posted by slogger at 12:13 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have a t-shirt that says WWTWD on it along with a stencil of Tom Waits' face. Either people get it immediately or - and this happens far more often:

them: "What ... uh ... who is TW?"
me: "Tom Waits. He's my favorite musician."
them: "Oh. So what has he done?"
me: "You know 'Jersey Girl' by Bruce Springsteen?"
them: "Of course."
me: "And 'Ol' 55' by The Eagles and 'Downtown Train' by Rod Stewart?"
them: "Yeah."
me: "TOM WAITS WROTE ALL OF THOSE. HE IS A GENIUS."

and then for some reason the conversation instantly shuts down and they walk away. I think they're are frightened by the truth.
posted by komara at 12:14 PM on August 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


I used to think that Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill was inferior to the version by The Chromatics. I've sort of come around, and like both equally. I hate Placebo's version. It's whiney, and has none of the power of the original, nor the sultry lust of the Chromatics version (nor the fun electro-pop of Purple Crush's).

I always thought that Fast Car was a Xiu Xiu original song, I guess because I'd always slept on Tracy Chapman (I really like both versions).

One cover that's eclipsed the original for me is Play with Fire, covered by Cobra Verde. Originally by The Stones.

And Les Savy Fav's Precision Auto absolutely rocks compared to Superchunk's
posted by codacorolla at 12:15 PM on August 4, 2010


This kind of list is geared more towards passive music fans or those at the early side of their journey to musical obsessiveness. I remember back in high school when I started discovering original versions of favorite songs. Hearing the Equals original version of "Police on My Back" for the first time particularly floored me. As did stumbling upon Garland Jeffries while looking through a used record rack, learning that my favorite Circle Jerks song was a cover. But that Four Lads version of Istanbul really did catch me off guard since it sounds so much like something TMBG would write.

This list is easy to mock, but I'm going to opt instead for "I'm the not target audience". At one time I would have killed to see a list like this, because even when looking at song credits on albums it wasn't always easy to track down the original artist.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:17 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tainted Love is a malleable song.
posted by everichon at 12:20 PM on August 4, 2010


"Fuck you, you little tosser!"
— David Bowie


Bowie would later recycle this line after another incident...
posted by mannequito at 12:22 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This site cannot win. For any given coversong it is entirely possible that there exists a potential listener "you" who is unaware that it is not an orignal song. Thus in order to be comprehensive this site would have to list every song that has been covered at all. As this happens the site will be less and less useful. Rather than do this they should create a list of songs that say 80% of people are unaware are covers. In pursuing this less ambitious goal a superior site could emerge.
posted by I Foody at 12:22 PM on August 4, 2010


I used to read the Rasputina message board (before Sony dumped them) and at one point there was a thread where it was agreed by many of the posters that Nick Cave had been the singer for the Velvet Underground.

At that point, I realized the futility of fighting a changing world; correcting them would have been like punching the incoming tide. I just closed the window and have not looked back since.

I felt the same way reading this tvtropes page; there exists in this world someone who believes it is necessary to point out that Fly Me to the Moon did not, as it turns out, originate from some goddamned Japanese cartoon which came out in nineteen-ninety-fucking-five, and a whole lot of editors who saw no need to amend that statement.

Okay, world. You win. I grow no younger.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:22 PM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Tainted Love", often thought of as a song about AIDS ...

Pretty sure this wasn't the case until Coil (not mentioned) covered it in 1985. Proceeds from the single were donated to the Terence Higgins Trust.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:23 PM on August 4, 2010


I'm jealous of younger music fans today being able to instantly find so much on the internet today. It took me over a decade to finally get to hear the original version of "It Must Be Love", which was my favorite Madness song (and I didn't learn until recently that Labi Siffre cameos in the madness video). I don't think I heard the original "Tainted Love" until Rhino's soul box set came out. Now it seems to be just a click away.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:24 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone who thinks that link is a massive circle-jerk hasn't read this thread.

It's fun though, isn't it?
posted by howfar at 12:25 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


One that I can add is Breakfast in America by Supertramp being used as the hook in Cupid's Chokehold by Gymclass Heroes. I'd never heard the original before, so I figured the hook was just part of the song.
posted by codacorolla at 12:30 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


What about Patty Smith's cover of Springsteen's "Because the Night?" I really can't listen to Springsteen's version because Smith's cover was SO MUCH BETTER.

This is true for everything Patti Smith has ever even considered thinking about.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:30 PM on August 4, 2010


springsteen and smith are both credited as writers of "because the night," so it really can't be considered a cover. not sure what there respective contributions were exactly.

is it a cover when the writer "gives" the song to an artist, perhaps even writes it for them, and then later records/releases their own version? happens all the time in jazz and popular music from say the 1960s back...
posted by nequalsone at 12:33 PM on August 4, 2010


Hearing the Equals original version of "Police on My Back" for the first time particularly floored me.

How about Toots' Pressure Drop?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:35 PM on August 4, 2010


"Ok, I never knew that "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" wasn't by TMBG. That's kind of mind-blowing, since it practically defines their particular nerdcore ethos as a band."

Big TMBG fans know that the fact that it's a cover defines their nerdcore ethos as a band. Taking an obscure, goofy old song and transforming it into something completely different and excellent (while still paying homage to the original) is something they do pretty frequently. Take for instance, "Why Does the Sun Shine?" and their cover, which they recently had to correct (to maintain their science rep) with "Why Does the Sun Really Shine?"

That, my friend, is nerdcore ethos.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 12:40 PM on August 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Thanks! I didn't know I didn't know these were covers!
posted by Eideteker at 12:42 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find that most people who have heard Cash's cover of "Hurt" don't know it's originally by NIN/Reznor. Cash kind of put a nail in that one, though, both by it being his last single and the fact that it seems to be a perfect fit between performer and song. (I find both the Cash version and the parody version by Sad Kermit more poignant than the original.)

I'm now curious which "major" band is the least covered.
posted by maxwelton at 12:44 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, after Cash's cover of 'Hurt,' NIN's version sounds kinda whiny.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:49 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dammit, I just finished a ninety-minute TV Tropes browse-a-thon and now I'm getting sucked back in. Thanks, MetaFilter!
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 12:50 PM on August 4, 2010


Most of these I knew already... and it's making me feel a little old. Teenagers have never heard Don Henley sing "Boys of Summer"? WTF?

Anyway one I heard last night:

"Move It On Over" was originally written and recorded by Hank Williams Sr. before being covered in the 70's by George Thorogood.


Did not realize it was a cover until last night when Willie Nelson covered it in concert at Wolf Trap. I didn't think Willie would be covering George.
posted by smoothvirus at 12:50 PM on August 4, 2010


The only one that really stunned me when I first heard about it was REM's Superman. It just sounds like them.

I know that TMBG weren't the first to sing Istanbul (not Constantinople), but I always assumed it was Flanders and Swann (where I heard it first).

The rest fell into the following catagories:

* Oh, I didn't know that. I'm not exactly "surprised", however.
* I'd be surprised if they'd written any original material
* Seriously? Freefalling? It's by Tom Petty you morons! How can you not know that!?!? How can you not know that Kate Bush sang Running up that Hill? You people have the cultural awareness of tree squirrels.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:53 PM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


at one point there was a thread where it was agreed by many of the posters that Nick Cave had been the singer for the Velvet Underground

Duh, everyone knows it was Neko Case, right?
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:54 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


What about Patty Smith's cover of Springsteen's "Because the Night?" I really can't listen to Springsteen's version because Smith's cover was SO MUCH BETTER.

Oh yeah, I fully agree with this. Springsteen's lyrics are "I want to have sex with you to ease the burden of my dead-end job." And to his credit, this works for almost all of his other songs from the same period. Smith's lyrics are just, "I need to have sex with you RIGHT NOW." She doesn't just gender-switch the song, she makes it almost universal for people who have libidos. Smith also streamlines the climactic bridge into a beautiful cadence which is a point where Springsteen always seems to stumble.

A fair litmus test for the ability to grok the song is whether the cover includes that bridge or cuts it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:55 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm now curious which "major" band is the least covered.

I was going to suggest AC/DC as an unassailable summit that none dare try to climb, but then I remembered that Hayseed Dixie more or less reinvented their entire sound as bluegrass.
posted by quin at 12:58 PM on August 4, 2010


I was going to suggest AC/DC as an unassailable summit

I was wondering if Pink Floyd might have a case, too, but I'm not too sure I want to find out.
posted by maxwelton at 1:10 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The Covers Project" is a pretty good site. You can search by artist and find a list of their material that has been covered as well as what covers they have done. (people will no doubt find it woefully incomplete, but it'll never be finished)

I'm now curious which "major" band is the least covered.

I was going to guess Van Halen but doesn't look like it.

I was wondering if Pink Floyd might have a case, too, but I'm not too sure I want to find out.

It's a long list, but not a lot of stuff I'm familiar with.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:14 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm now curious which "major" band is the least covered.

80s metal is probably the best place to start there. Van Halen, The Scorpions, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, etc. don't really get covered much.
posted by The World Famous at 1:16 PM on August 4, 2010


I blush to confess I thought for many years that the Pet Shop Boys' You Were Always on My Mind was original to them, having never heard the Willie Nelson or Elvis versions that came earlier.
posted by binturong at 1:18 PM on August 4, 2010


"Flying Without Wings", arguably mostly made famous by its use on American Idol by Ruben Studdard, was actually by Westlife, and featured in the film Pokemon: The Movie 2000.
posted by doublehappy at 1:21 PM on August 4, 2010


I actually find the idea of a definitive recording vs. a cover to be an interesting quirk of popular music.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:22 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Teenagers have never heard Don Henley sing "Boys of Summer"?

They have, they just don't know it. The cover is, to me, indistinguishable. That has to be among the lamest, most slavishly copying covers ever. Oh wait, they changed "Deadhead" to "Black Flag." Totally original there. Nice work, boys.
posted by rusty at 1:24 PM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm now curious which "major" band is the least covered.

I'm going to guess.... King Crimson.
posted by hippybear at 1:24 PM on August 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


One example, I guess: back when this came out, I remember a lot of my American compatriots (who apparently had never heard the song) were under the interesting impression that it was a cover of a Beck song. But not only is that song thirty years old; it's been covered over and over and over again, even by the original band themselves. I guess it's the fact that it was really only a hit in the UK in 1980.
posted by koeselitz at 1:24 PM on August 4, 2010


"Whiskey in the Jar" wasn't written by Thin Lizzy, nor the Pogues, nor Pulp, nor Metallica. It's an old Irish folk song.

* And speaking of Metallica, how many of their fans know that "Turn the Page" is a Bob Seger cover?
o Most of us. Or anyone who's, you know, read the liner notes.
o The Garage Inc. album consisted entirely of cover songs, a fact the band has called plenty of attention to. It's unlikely that anyone owns the album and doesn't know that.
o But no one really owns a Metallica album, right, Lars?


That's funny. The only Metallica album I own is Garage Inc. Specifically for their version of "Whiskey in the Jar".
posted by Splunge at 1:25 PM on August 4, 2010


I actually find the idea of a definitive recording vs. a cover to be an interesting quirk of popular music.

It's one which goes back to the jazz age, I'm sure. Debates about whether it was Holliday's version of X or Louie's version of Y which is the best have been going on for decades now.
posted by hippybear at 1:26 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Waaaaait a sec. Julio Iglasias didn't write "Light My Fire"?

I'm going to have to torrent some of these "Doors", see what they're like
posted by not_on_display at 1:28 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also the Sneaker Pimps cover of Gently Johnny from The Wickerman.

I'm now curious which "major" band is the least covered.

Frank Zappa did a fair number of covers - Bolero, Louie-Louie, I am the Walrus, Murder by Numbers - but apart from straight-up cover/tribute bands, I can't think of any Zappa covers.
posted by three blind mice at 1:28 PM on August 4, 2010


Apparently, people are even dumber than I thought.

"You know how dumb the average guy is? Well, by definition, half of them are even dumber than that." --J.R. "Bob" Dobbs
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:29 PM on August 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


smoothvirus: “Teenagers have never heard Don Henley sing "Boys of Summer"? WTF?”

I find this attitude a little strange. Don Henley is a worthless piece of garbage. If the young can be spared some pain and suffering, I'm all for it.

rusty: “They have, they just don't know it. The cover is, to me, indistinguishable. That has to be among the lamest, most slavishly copying covers ever. Oh wait, they changed "Deadhead" to "Black Flag." Totally original there. Nice work, boys.”

Well, if it's slavish, I think you can put it down to "trying to capture the spirit of the original," which was itself quite slavish. And by "slavish" I mean "shit."
posted by koeselitz at 1:29 PM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


80s metal is probably the best place to start there. Van Halen, The Scorpions, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, etc. don't really get covered much.

Aztec Camera did a very nice cover of "Jump!"
posted by yhbc at 1:33 PM on August 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Waaaaaait a sec. The Butthole Surfers didn't write "American Woman" or "The One I Love"?

I'm here every night for a few weeks, folks. Try the veal.

Waaaaaait a sec. Bananarama wasn't the genius behind "Venus"? Or "Na Na Hey hey Kiss Him Goodbye"?

Waaaaait a sec, Tommy Tutone didn't write 867-5309? It was just someone's phone number at first? I'm gonna have to torrent phone numbers.

Thank you you're too kind. Don't forget to tip our waitress, Darlene. Round of applausefor Darlene.

Did you hear the one about Tiffany and Debbie Gibson are having a knifefight against Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears? So one night, Tiff sez to Debbie, I got a plan....
posted by not_on_display at 1:34 PM on August 4, 2010


Dammit, I just finished a ninety-minute TV Tropes browse-a-thon and now I'm getting sucked back in. Thanks, MetaFilter!

You, too?
posted by mysterpigg at 1:34 PM on August 4, 2010


apart from straight-up cover/tribute bands, I can't think of any Zappa covers

Michael Hedges' cover of Zappa's Sofa No. 1 is pretty amazing. I like it more than the original, actually.

Aztec Camera did a very nice cover of "Jump!"

Paul Anka's cover of Jump is great, too.
posted by The World Famous at 1:39 PM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Michael Hedges' cover of Zappa's Sofa No. 1 is pretty amazing. I like it more than the original, actually.

Awesome. Many thanks.

Actually, at the bottom of the page I linked to there was a list of (obscure) Zappa covers! "Peaches en Regalia" was covered by the Dixie Dregs.... now I'm gonna have to track that down.
posted by three blind mice at 1:49 PM on August 4, 2010


It's funny how they're making it sound as if covering someone else is a bad thing to do.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:50 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


My mother, a Boomer, believes that everything good in music had been completed by the late '70s, and that everything since has been a steep downhill decline.* This makes conversations about "covers" amusing.

My Mother: "Oh, turn this off. Your generation ruins everything."
Me: "What are you talking about? This is 'Sympathy for the Devil.'"
My Mother: "No, it's a cover. The Rolling Stones didn't have those ridiculous 'woo woo' bits."
DJ: "That was 'Sympathy for the Devil' by the Rolling Stones, on 102.9, your classic rock station."

My Mother: "This is awful. I liked the original much better."
Me: "This is the original version. Annie Lennox wrote 'Sweet Dreams.'"
My Mother: "No, this is a cover. The original is better."
Me: "You aren't thinking of the Marylin Manson version, are you?"
My Mother: "No, this is an older song from the '70s. You just think your generation invented everything."

*To her credit, Mos Def and Outkast changed her mind about this somewhat.
posted by Marty Marx at 1:55 PM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


This list would be better with links to the actual songs and their covers.
But its neat, now i have a list of songs to youtube in my spare time.
posted by captaincrouton at 1:55 PM on August 4, 2010


It's funny how they're making it sound as if covering someone else is a bad thing to do.

They shouldn't. A good cover is a magical thing, it brings you something new while inspiring you to appreciate the original that much more.

It's why, I find, that the best covers are the ones that diverge dramatically from the style of the original; The Fight for Your Right cover by the Hotrats I mentioned earlier comes to mind here. (As does NIN's cover of Queen's Get Down Make Love, which was the first example of some doing a wildly different version I'd ever heard, and still sticks out in my mind as one of the best.)
posted by quin at 1:59 PM on August 4, 2010


I always enjoy finding out that a hit song is a cover of something first performed decades earlier. Some kinds of pop music transcend a generation.

I wonder what songs have the longest time between being hits. I'm sure it's longer than the 25 years between Kylie Minogue and Little Eva's hits. Or the 25 between Phil Phillips and The Honeydrippers. Or the 28 years between Rose Royce and Christina Aguilera.

Or was there someone in between on those? Our present search engines are too dumb to trace those patterns. Once they can, history may full of hidden surprises.

Here's one for the trivia buffs: who first charted in the US with a Mac-Len song?
posted by Twang at 2:04 PM on August 4, 2010


hippybear: It's one which goes back to the jazz age, I'm sure. Debates about whether it was Holliday's version of X or Louie's version of Y which is the best have been going on for decades now.

Certainly, but in many cases everyone knew that Holliday and Louie were doing their own arrangements of works that were originally written for Broadway or big bands a few decades earlier. You don't hear that either Armstrong or Minnelli "stole" Cabaret because they produced very different versions of the source material. Few people have a fetish for the authenticity of Cole Porter arrangements, live recordings, or his original Broadway productions. They just aren't that good by later standards.

Regarding Zappa, his The Man from Utopia meets Mary Lou is awesome for mixing two songs together into a he said/she said conflict.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:07 PM on August 4, 2010


I'm going to guess.... King Crimson.
posted by hippybear at 3:24 PM on August 4 [+] [!]
Both Rorschach and the Flower Travelin' Band cover "21st Century Schizoid Man."

The only Pink Floyd cover I can think of offhand is the recent, excellent 8-bit version of Dark Side of the Moon
Of course there are shitty examples. It's TVTropes. About half of the examples given for every trope are either not instances of said trope (on account of the editor doesn't get it) or are from tv shows or movies that are so terrible, it's surprising anyone admitted to watching it.
And a full third of the remaining examples refer to the webcomic El Goonish Shive
posted by jtron at 2:08 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another prominent example is "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", which some thought was originally by Guns N Roses

What! Who the hell thought that!?
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:09 PM on August 4, 2010


Whoops, here's a link to that 21st Century Schizoid Man cover by FTB
posted by jtron at 2:10 PM on August 4, 2010


The only Pink Floyd cover I can think of offhand is the recent, excellent 8-bit version of Dark Side of the Moon

As a Pink Floyd fan, I can't believe I'm about to link to this. I'd ask you in advance to forgive me, but I know you won't be able to:

Bim Skala Bim covers Brain Damage. Ouch.
posted by The World Famous at 2:13 PM on August 4, 2010


The only Pink Floyd cover I can think of offhand is the recent, excellent 8-bit version of Dark Side of the Moon

Plus infinity billion covers of 'Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2.'
posted by shakespeherian at 2:14 PM on August 4, 2010


My mother, a Boomer, believes that everything good in music had been completed by the late '70s, and that everything since has been a steep downhill decline.

I agree and I'm young enough to be your mother's son
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:14 PM on August 4, 2010


Pink Floyd cannot be covered successfully . Why try?
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:16 PM on August 4, 2010


There's also a dub version of Dark Side of the Moon, and (I believe) a bluegrass version. The Flaming Lips released a version of it last year too, with a whole bunch of other artists.

And, from glancing at wikipedia, it appears there's been a lot of cover versions of Wish You Were Here.

Plus infinity billion covers of 'Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2.'

oh yeah! Remember this one?
posted by mannequito at 2:18 PM on August 4, 2010


The only Pink Floyd cover I can think of offhand is the recent, excellent 8-bit version of Dark Side of the Moon

The Austin Lounge Lizards covering Brain Damage. Probably the bluegrass version mentioned above.
posted by immlass at 2:20 PM on August 4, 2010


Here's the wikipedia entry on the various Dark Side covers.
posted by mannequito at 2:20 PM on August 4, 2010


koeselitz: I guess it didn't occur to me that they just couldn't do much to make it a good song.

For strikingly different from the original covers that are awesome, I present my favorite example, Devo doing "(Can't Get No) Satisfaction."
posted by rusty at 2:22 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Biggest surprises in my eyes:
Police - I Fought the Law
Aretha - Respect
All the Led Zeppelin songs

A lot of the other ones are fairly common knowledge
posted by AHM at 2:27 PM on August 4, 2010


Also some jackass named Roger Waters has been going around for years playing Pink Floyd songs, claiming that they're his.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:30 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I present my favorite example, Devo doing "(Can't Get No) Satisfaction ."

I prefer Cat Power's.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:30 PM on August 4, 2010


The World Famous-I'm flagging that as offensive.
posted by shrabster at 2:32 PM on August 4, 2010


Tainted Love was one of my most despised songs until I heard the original, which is wonderful. I like putting it on with company around. Pretty much everyone thinks that it's the cover.
posted by painquale at 2:35 PM on August 4, 2010


Hey wait, there is a lot of good info here even for people over 40.
Don't knock it if you haven't read through the entire list.
Not many people know that:

>Jimi Hendrix's first hit, "Hey Joe", was written by... some obscure Californian folksinger dude named Billy Roberts.
>Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" was written by Jake Holmes, a folk-pop musician best known for writing commercial jingles
>Joan Jett "I Love Rock And Roll"... a cover of The Arrows.
>Manic Monday" by The Bangles was written by Prince.
> Santana's "Black Magic Woman" was originally a Fleetwood Mac song.

The list goes on.
posted by Rashomon at 2:36 PM on August 4, 2010


apart from straight-up cover/tribute bands, I can't think of any Zappa covers.

It's gotten hard to get ahold of those quality pharmaceuticals these days. Here's a couple:
Zomby Woof
, Trouble Coming Every Day
posted by Twang at 2:38 PM on August 4, 2010


Holy Crap...Hello It's Me is really a cover of a Todd Rundgren song. Who woulda thought?
posted by timsteil at 2:44 PM on August 4, 2010


I have a t-shirt that says WWTWD on it along with a stencil of Tom Waits' face.

MUST... HAVE!!!!
posted by JHarris at 3:02 PM on August 4, 2010


Soft Cell may have "immortalized" the song but that doesn't mean they defined it (sorry, Marc Almond).

Chalk me up as someone who could die happy never, ever, ever hearing the Soft Cell version ever, ever again. It is inescapable and soul-crushing at the same time. I have left wedding receptions over its being played. I nearly crashed my car TWICE reaching to change the station when it (inevitably) comes on. DO NOT WANT.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:05 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


hippybear: “It's one which goes back to the jazz age, I'm sure. Debates about whether it was Holliday's version of X or Louie's version of Y which is the best have been going on for decades now.”

KirkJobSluder: “Certainly, but in many cases everyone knew that Holliday and Louie were doing their own arrangements of works that were originally written for Broadway or big bands a few decades earlier. You don't hear that either Armstrong or Minnelli "stole" Cabaret because they produced very different versions of the source material. Few people have a fetish for the authenticity of Cole Porter arrangements, live recordings, or his original Broadway productions. They just aren't that good by later standards.”

I wanted to say that the mention of Louis Armstrong reminds me of something I was thinking about this week. The 20s were pretty much the beginning of the recording industry as a community of musicians who made records for a record-buying public who followed them. The first huge recording star was Louis Armstrong; he was the most famous musician of his day, incredibly popular and at the top of his game as a trumpeter. (This was, by the way, before any of those Broadway hits were even written – and before jazz musicians covered Broadway tunes traditionally. The habit of making Broadway tunes into jazz standards didn't really begin in earnest until Sidney Bechet recorded "Summertime" for a tiny, struggling record label in New York called Blue Note in 1939.)

Louis Armstrong's own hero and mentor was King Oliver, who helped him out when he was a kid just learning, and who gave him a place to play in the band for a long time. Louis actually swiftly eclipsed King Oliver's abilities on the trumpet, but he always respected Oliver, and he wouldn't for a second think of upstaging King Oliver as long as he was on the bandstand; as Louis Armstrong himself once put it:
“It's one of them things when you admire somebody so. Same as when I was playing second trumpet with Joe Oliver. And you think I'd, uh, blow for him? Like hell and I was [a] New Orleans little old young country sumbitch, strong as an ox, but I always respect Joe Oliver and that was that. He was the man and I wasn't the one to moo him, no no. When I blew that horn, I got away from Joe, believe that. Didn't blow it until I left him, you know? Yeah and every other page in my story is Joe Oliver, man... [Oliver] was a great man, you know, and I wouldn't let nobody play him cheap right today. When them ofay writers and all them cats, you know, want to make my situation, they say, 'Didn't Bunk Johnson teach you?' I say, 'Bunk didn't teach me shit!' Any similarity of tone or whatever it is, it's accidental. Joe Oliver was the man that would stop and show the kids in New Orleans anything they want to know about that music. Bunk didn't have time on the way to the Eagle Saloon. But Joe Oliver would stop.”
And that held all the way – as long as he was on King Oliver's bandstand. You can hear it on all the records that King Oliver's band did while Louis was there – he keeps well back, and lets King Oliver have center stage, and even Armstrong's solos are pretty restrained.

But then Louis' wife at the time, Lil Hardin-Armstrong (god bless that woman) finally managed to convince Louis that he ought to have his own damned group. And after Louis left in 1924, he started making what are now known as some of the greatest recordings in the history of recordings, the very birth of jazz as a medium and a continuum – the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens.

Anyway, to get to the point of all this... well, Louis always talks about how much he respected King Oliver, and I'm sure he did. But good god if he didn't do what must've been one of the most devastating covers anybody's ever done.

In April 1928, a few years after Louis had left the band (amicably, by all accounts) King Oliver cut a really great record, a tune that Oliver himself had composed entitled "West End Blues." It's a neat record, and a wonderful composition; a great cornet intro by King Oliver, a great loping rhythm, and a wonderful harmony to it. It's a fine example of the really enjoyable stuff that some bands were producing at the time.

But...

Well, less than two months later (at the end of June) Louis' Hot Five group did a recording of the same tune. And it's just... well, it's astounding. It's amazing. It actually shocked people who heard it. It still sends chills down my spine when I hear that intro – it's everything a trumpet should do, everything a musical instrument should do. Every note in this song is perfect. For decades after this, people would meet Louis and demand that he play that intro for them; they'd play this record at dancehalls, at parties, and it would bring the house down every time. It's actually one of the reasons swing music even happened – because people kept asking for this record.

It's like the King Oliver version never even existed. It's quite amazing, because Louis pretty much copies most of the notes he plays in that song: the intro, the chorus, the solo near the end. Only he plays them perfectly, so well that the King Oliver version sounds like an awful mistake in comparison.

The funny thing is that I'll bet Louis told himself that it was a tribute to his old teacher to stick to the notes he'd played in the original version. But I can really only imagine one reaction by poor old King Oliver when heard that record. I know if it was my song that my star pupil had done that with, I would've gone home and cried my eyes out. Good god.
posted by koeselitz at 3:07 PM on August 4, 2010 [16 favorites]


I used to be gutted on finding out my favourite new song was a cover, until I started listening to folk and blues. Turns out almost everything is a cover. A lot of the time Dolly Parton wrote it. Other times some really old lady was singing it in 1927 and it was written by a man about his penis.

I mean really. This sort of thing takes you down a peg or two. And gives you an uncomfortable yet all consuming crush on Dolly Parton. Try explaining that to your cool friends! I don't even have a lawn! Woody Guthrie was a bad rude man.
posted by shinybaum at 3:07 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Eurythmics version of "Sweet Dreams" came on in a goth club I was at one night in Melbourne. The underage girls next to me squealed with surprise: "Oh my god someone has covered Manson already!"
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:07 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]



>Jimi Hendrix's first hit, "Hey Joe", was written by... some obscure Californian folksinger dude named Billy Roberts.
>Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" was written by Jake Holmes, a folk-pop musician best known for writing commercial jingles
>Joan Jett "I Love Rock And Roll"... a cover of The Arrows.
>Manic Monday" by The Bangles was written by Prince.
> Santana's "Black Magic Woman" was originally a Fleetwood Mac song.


Yawn. Old news.
posted by Liquidwolf at 3:08 PM on August 4, 2010


Also, fun fact: every band that has ever been in a recording studio has recorded a cover of John Cale's "4′33″" - they rarely release it, even as a b-side, but if you went through the masters you would find multiple versions.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:11 PM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


A list of songs you didn't know people didn't know were covers.
posted by elpea at 3:15 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to be gutted on finding out my favourite new song was a cover, until I started listening to folk and blues. Turns out almost everything is a cover. A lot of the time Dolly Parton wrote it.

We're big Celtic (Irish/Scottish/Breton/etc.) music fans at our house. A number of years ago, we saw the Irish-American group Solas, which does a lot of work in the Celtic folk tradition. It's very common to name the performer from whom the band learned a song during a show, so you get a lot of "we learnt this from the fiddling of so-and-so in County Clare" or "we learnt this from the singing of so-and-so" during performance. At one point they started a tune with the announcement in a heavy Irish accent that they had learnt this song (Silver Dagger) from the singing of Dolly Parton.
posted by immlass at 3:15 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only Pink Floyd cover I can think of offhand is the recent, excellent 8-bit version of Dark Side of the Moon

Well, then, you need to be acquainted with Luther Wright & The Wrongs' full recreation of The Wall in a bluegrass milieu. There's plenty of links on YouTube -- I think the entire album is there.
posted by hippybear at 3:23 PM on August 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Although not a straight up cover, I was surprised by the similarities between Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison and Beverly Maher - Crescent City Blues.
posted by Sailormom at 3:43 PM on August 4, 2010


Also, fun fact: every band that has ever been in a recording studio has recorded a cover of John Cale's "4′33″" - they rarely release it, even as a b-side, but if you went through the masters you would find multiple versions.

Yeah, and John Cage stole all the credit for it too!
posted by anagrama at 3:47 PM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:50 PM on August 4, 2010


I was going to suggest AC/DC as an unassailable summit

80s metal is probably the best place to start there. Van Halen, The Scorpions, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, etc. don't really get covered much.


An imbalance that Arab Strap were obviously trying to address on their Shy Retirer EP by including (fantastic) versions of both You Shook Me All Night Long and Why Can't This Be Love.
posted by anagrama at 3:56 PM on August 4, 2010


here's a somewhat related discussion on my LJ from 4 years ago.
posted by luvcraft at 4:01 PM on August 4, 2010


KFAI's Crap from the Past did a great show called "Gosh! I Didn't Know That Was a Remake!" back in January, 2004. Selections include the original versions of quite a few that didn't make the TVT list. You can download the show from archive.org.
posted by Opposite George at 4:11 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite mostly-covers-band, Three Dog Night, once did a song about how they are better known for their covers than their originals. None of the songs they are famous for were originally by them.
posted by nomisxid at 4:29 PM on August 4, 2010


TVTropes link! Unclean! Unclean! Leave the wounded and run!
posted by grapefruitzzz at 4:39 PM on August 4, 2010


So it's settled: I'm the only person in the world who actually reads album liner notes and song credits.
posted by Kirk Grim at 4:46 PM on August 4, 2010


My love of "Wish You Were Here," both the entire album as an entity and the title track as a single, knows few bounds. If you're a musical person please don't tell me that they have no merit; some things are burned into you when you're 16 and that was for me. Hate to know I have even less taste than I thought I did.
posted by maxwelton at 4:49 PM on August 4, 2010


For some reason, this cover of Satisfaction tickles something.

Polly never, ever replied to my 438 love letters, even the ones that explained about the vials in the freezer, before I had to go away for awhile.
posted by maxwelton at 4:54 PM on August 4, 2010


This Flemish site 'De Originals' is a lot of fun. The book is completely addictive if you're into this sort of thing. (But in Dutch)
posted by ouke at 5:23 PM on August 4, 2010


Twang: "From Me To You" by Del Shannon back in 63, I believe, was the first McCartney-Lennon song to chart in the states. He doesn't do too bad using that falsetto voice of his.
posted by frodisaur at 5:25 PM on August 4, 2010


Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters fame did an entire album of early AC/DC covers. And it's beautiful.
posted by Atom Eyes at 5:31 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


maxwelton: “For some reason, this cover of Satisfaction tickles something.”

Keith Richards himself is on record as saying that this cover of "Satisfaction" is better than the original, and should be considered definitive.
posted by koeselitz at 5:40 PM on August 4, 2010


Keith Richards is right.

Frank Sinatra's signature "Theme from New York, New York" is a cover of the original by Liza Minnelli.

'Manic Monday' by The Bangles was written by Prince.

True enough, but it's not a cover unless he recorded it before they did.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:01 PM on August 4, 2010


frodisaur: "From Me To You" by Del Shannon back in 63, I believe, was the first McCartney-Lennon song to chart in the states.

bing bing bing bing bing!! Never actually heard it, need to chase that down one of these days.
posted by Twang at 6:08 PM on August 4, 2010


I'm shocked to learn that "Superman" isn't by REM. It is the first song I have any actual memory of hearing, and it kills my earliest memory a tiny little bit to know that it wasn't an original.

Then again, I remember a dream I had whe I was about ten, where some old man on the street was singing the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" theme as a folk-tune, convincing me that it was an older idea than I'd ever considered.

Anyway, "Ball of Confusion," by Love and Rockets. That one was a recent shocker to both me and my ten-years-older brother who fucking worshiped that band in its heyday.

As for "major" bands least covered, I'd have to go with Radiohead or The Pretenders.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:41 PM on August 4, 2010


Just FYI, a youtube search of "Midnight Special" turns up all sorts of goodies.
posted by digitalprimate at 8:13 PM on August 4, 2010


As for "major" bands least covered, I'd have to go with Radiohead or The Pretenders.

I don't know about the Pretenders, but I stumbled across a (shit) cover of Exit music (from a film) online not too long ago, and the Fourplay String Quartet do a pretty agreeable instrumental cover of 2+2=5.
posted by damonism at 8:22 PM on August 4, 2010


No one has had the balls to cover such gems as "She Does It", "Who Made The Egg Salad Sandwiches", "Let's Have A Party In My Recroom" (the list goes on) by the great The 5 Neat Guys.

And the greatest cover of all? How about The Recess Monkeys version of "My Girl", originally by Chilliwack?
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:28 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


As for "major" bands least covered, I'd have to go with Radiohead or The Pretenders.


It seems to me that Radiohead gets a lot of themed tribute albums. For example:
the eye rollingly terrible reggae cover
posted by codacorolla at 8:40 PM on August 4, 2010


Yeah, Radiohead gets covered constantly these days, it seems like. [1 2 3 4 5 6 7]
posted by koeselitz at 8:40 PM on August 4, 2010


frodisaur: "From Me To You" by Del Shannon back in 63, I believe, was the first McCartney-Lennon song to chart in the states.

That was in some small part due to my dad, who heard the song on the radio and didn't catch the artist, just the title. He went to a record store to search it out and the clerk announced they ahd two versions: one by superstar Del Shannon,a nd one by some obscure British group. Guess which one he bought.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:14 PM on August 4, 2010


frodisaur: "From Me To You" by Del Shannon back in 63, I believe, was the first McCartney-Lennon song to chart in the states.


I was going to vote for Len-Mac's "World Without Love" by Peter and Gordon, but yes, Del Shannon beats that one out. I'd say the P&G recording was probably the first one, though, AFTER the Beatles broke through in the states.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 10:29 PM on August 4, 2010


Also, I can't believe that what is represented as a"comprehensive list"(?) leaves put two very well-known JamesTaylor covers -- "Handy Man" by Otis Blackwood and Marvin Gayes' " How Sweet it is (by Dozier-Blackwood)". Such obvious shit!

For jazz fans there's the amazing cover of the ancient "St. Louis Toodle-o" by Duke Ellington which Steely Dan ingeniously covered on their "Pretzel Logic" album.

Then there's "Just a Gigolo", an 80s hit for David Lee Roth, orignially done by Louis Prima back in the late 1940s. There are tons more....
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 10:48 PM on August 4, 2010


...and while I'm sat it, recall that Elvis'"Are You Lonesome tonight" was originally done by Al Jolson decades before Elvis touched it.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 10:52 PM on August 4, 2010


I recall being especially impressed on my first listen through of Rust Never Sleeps that Young had been determined to beat everyone else to the punch and perform the definitive cover of the original version of his own song from a scant 30 odd minutes beforehand.
posted by MarchHare at 11:04 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do people really not know that Tom Petty wrote "Free Falling"?

Tom Who?


...until I started listening to folk and blues. Turns out almost everything is a cover.

I take it you haven't seen this.
posted by Evilspork at 11:28 PM on August 4, 2010


All the songs on that list I knew, I knew the originals. If there are really lots of people out there who don't, I am depressed. And frankly, any little snot who thinks that Nirvana did the original of "Man Who Sold The World" needs to be punched to within an inch of his life.
posted by Decani at 12:40 AM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


As for "major" bands least covered, I'd have to go with Radiohead or The Pretenders.

The Pretenders have a number of songs just begging to be covered (covered well, that is), "Talk of the Town" first among them. I know that I've heard "Brass in Pocket" covered, rather crappily.

Then there are the Pretenders' own covers, one on nearly every album, including "Stop Your Sobbing" and "I Go to Sleep" (Kinks), "Thin Line between Love and Hate" (Persuaders), "Room Full of Mirrors" and "May This Be Love" (Hendrix), "and "Forever Young" (Dylan).
posted by blucevalo at 4:56 AM on August 5, 2010


I'm now curious which "major" band is the least covered.
I'm going to guess.... King Crimson.


The Crimson Jazz Trio (which included a former member of King Crimson) put out two CDs of jazz King Crimson covers.
posted by klausness at 5:06 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had always assumed that Leadbelly's rendition of House of the Rising Sun was the first ever recording (even if the song existed long before). Turns out there was an earlier recording in 1933 by Clarence Ashley.
posted by Kabanos at 7:18 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know the Montpelier Codex? Prince.
posted by everichon at 8:20 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Crimson Jazz Trio (which included a former member of King Crimson) put out two CDs of jazz King Crimson covers.

And April Wine did a version of 21st Century Schizoid Man that strangely didn't absolutely suck.

And the side links on that one inform me Ozzy took a swing at it, too. And Ningen-isu don't completely embarrass themselves either.
posted by philip-random at 9:23 AM on August 5, 2010


As for "major" bands least covered, I'd have to go with Radiohead or The Pretenders.

Radiohead? This Radiohead? One of the most covered modern bands. (Oh yeah, what they said.)

My vote is for Cinderella. I'd love to see a talented folkster/indie rocker take a crack at Gypsy Road.

Two great recent covers:

Hounds of Love - The Futureheads

Take on Me - A.C. Newman

And the greatest cover of all? How about The Recess Monkeys version of "My Girl", originally by Chilliwack?

OH LORD YES. I went out and favorited a bunch of shit just to give you my 5,000th favorite.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:25 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like OK Go's cover of The Zombie's This Will Be Our Year.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:27 AM on August 5, 2010


LINKS!

OK Go; Zombies.

Doc Watson & Clarence Ashley

East St. Louis Toodle-oo - Steely Dan

Hey You - Luther Wright and the Wrongs

also, Rodeohead.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:06 AM on August 5, 2010


jtron: The only Pink Floyd cover I can think of offhand is the recent, excellent 8-bit version of Dark Side of the Moon.

You obviously haven't noticed Les Claypool's Frog Brigade's "Live Frogs Set 2", which is, of course, a full and faithful cover of the entirety of "Animals".
posted by atbash at 2:16 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Liquidwolf: “Pink Floyd cannot be covered successfully . Why try?”

Dude. There is a reason why the Scissor Sisters' fantabulous cover of "Comfortably Numb" was a smash hit a few years ago – because it's awesome. I am gobsmacked that nobody has mentioned this. It hit #10 on the UK singles chart, so it's not like it was under the radar or anything. And Waters & Gilmour also mentioned that they thought it was awesome.
posted by koeselitz at 5:38 PM on August 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Talk of the Town" first among them.
I can't find a link, but the Pernice Brothers' cover is delightful.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 6:46 PM on August 5, 2010


There's quite a few songs on there that I never knew were covers. "The First Cut Is The Deepest", "Tainted Love", and "Istanbul (not Constantinople)". But then, these are all songs that I never felt the need to investigate particularly closely, so I guess I can be forgiven. There's a lot of songs on there for which the "iconic" cover version is news to me, though.
posted by antifuse at 9:11 AM on August 9, 2010


"Particle Man" is actually an old negro spiritual.
posted by Eideteker at 9:22 AM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


« Older unseen hands: women printers, binders and book des...  |  Other than its former resident... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments