Hey Joe
March 2, 2004 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Hey Joe! Jimi Hendrix, right? Unless it's one of the 599 others. Do we have any idea of what the real standards are; i.e., the truly most-covered and most-coveted songs? [Via LinkFilter.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (25 comments total)
I was surprised not to see "Louie, Louie," "Walk Away Renee," "People Get Ready," "Day Tripper," "Whiter Shade Of Pale," "Shakin' All Over," "Wade In The Water," "Tobacco Road," "Hoochie Coochie Man" & "Walkin' The Dog" on that list, since I posess scores of versions of each and have heard many more.
posted by jonmc at 7:33 PM on March 2, 2004

I was surprised to see Son of a Preacher Man there--it's hard to do well.
posted by amberglow at 7:34 PM on March 2, 2004

I'm sure that there was a site posted on MeFi that had an even better list of cover songs and stats that allowed you to update to it if you saw something missing. Anybody remember such a beastie?
posted by ashbury at 7:39 PM on March 2, 2004

That would be the Covers Project , ashbury.

I'm also surprised not to see "Wild Thing," on that list. Did they have any systematic way of compiling that list or were they just shooting blind? Lotta Beatles stuff, but they missed the Garage Rock & R&B genres (which are very cover-intensive) completely.
posted by jonmc at 7:42 PM on March 2, 2004

The Covers Project.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:45 PM on March 2, 2004

Ahhh, thanks jon and monju, that's the one.

According to the covers project, wild thing has been covered quite a few times, including one by kermit the frog, no doubt sung to Miss Piggy.
posted by ashbury at 7:49 PM on March 2, 2004

It seems like the data base is generated from user submissions which would make statistical generalizations very suspect. Or maybe I'm missing the point.
posted by monkeyman at 8:02 PM on March 2, 2004

Cripes...what the hell is with all of the Beatles' songs?
posted by davidmsc at 8:03 PM on March 2, 2004

Neither of the sites is very accurate--for instance, Bob Dylan's Up To Me, an outtake from Blood On The Tracks was covered by Roger McGuinn in 1976 while Dylan's version did not see an official release until the 1985 Biograph box set. Since McGuinn's cover of Dylan's song was released earlier than Dylan's original, McGuinn gets the credit. Well, you don't need a weatherman to know which way this wind blows...

Both the Cover Songs Database and the Covers Project are all too often missing crucial covers or giving credit to the wrong person entirely. They can not be depended upon.

So, other than being built around a next to worthless piece of shit 'database' to which evidently any nimrod [on preview: monkeyman says it more politely than I]can contribute the WRONG information, it's a nice post in concept. In my humble opinion.
posted by y2karl at 8:12 PM on March 2, 2004

Altho harder to navigate, I will always depend on AMG. AMG, for example, has 375 albums with the song Wild Thing on it. That doesn't mean that 375 artists have done it, since you have Jimi's version on at least 10 albums, but at least the list is comprehensive.
posted by ashbury at 8:21 PM on March 2, 2004

The most covered song is The Beatles' Yesterday, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:34 PM on March 2, 2004

Whiter Shade Of Pale only shows three covers, why did you include it in your list, jonmc?
posted by billsaysthis at 9:06 PM on March 2, 2004

I refuse to believe that there are only 11 songs that sample funky drummer.
posted by atom128 at 9:19 PM on March 2, 2004

of course, the old school American popular song composers (the Gershwins, Rogers & Hart/Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, etc) have anybody on these databases beat by a million miles in terms of covers. AMG has 1,944 hits for "Summertime", 1,175 hits for "My Funny Valentine" and between 500 and 1000 for most of the other famous popular songs I punched in.
posted by boltman at 10:45 PM on March 2, 2004

iTunes tells me I have 47 Louie Louie's in my CD collection - that's 46 cover versions. I demand a recount.
posted by chrisgregory at 10:49 PM on March 2, 2004

Great point (because it's true), boltman.

Certain songs, by the composers you mentioned (to which Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Harry Warren, Vincent Youmans, Duke Ellington, Frederick Loewe, Jimmy Van Heusen, Burt Bacharach and others should be added), are being played a hundred times at every single minute, somewhere in this world.

These are the true standards. They're covered routinely - it's not a gesture, as it is in Pop and Rock - and unknowingly. There can be no greater respect.

Btw, Richard Rodgers wrote at least half his best songs (I'd say 75%) not with Oscar Hammerstein II, but with equally brilliant (I'd say even more) Lorenz Hart.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:03 PM on March 2, 2004

Well... James Brown's Funky Drummer has been sampled at least 183 times (probably thousands more).

(Courtesy of the-breaks)
posted by cadastral at 11:03 PM on March 2, 2004

I.E. seemingly every hip-hop (or hip-house, for that matter) track from like '87 to '91.

Proof their database needs more, well, data: 0 hits for "Stagger Lee", 0 hits for "Frankie and Johnnie" and only 4 for "Hoochie Coochie Man."
posted by arto at 12:16 AM on March 3, 2004

Great site cadastral - thanks!
posted by benzo8 at 12:32 AM on March 3, 2004

No kidding, arto. Three hits for "Statesboro Blues," none of which are the Taj Mahal or Allman Brothers versions. Just one hit for "Good Morning Little School Girl." And not a single result for "See See Rider / CC Rider"--hell, I know five versions off the top of my head, and I'm no blues historian.

Love the idea of the site, though. I wonder how they handle songs with variant titles, like "See See Rider / CC Rider" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night / In the Pines."
posted by hippugeek at 1:05 AM on March 3, 2004

From my own experience watching bands in the Seattle area, the most oft covered song was Mustang Sally.
posted by vito90 at 6:10 AM on March 3, 2004


Well, right off the top of my head I can think of versions by Jackie Mittoo, King Curtis, Annie Lennox, Doro Pesch, Percy Sledge, Herbie Mann, Joe Cocker, & The Box Tops and I'm sure that's just the tip of the iceberg. As y2karl says both those lists are far from authoritative.
posted by jonmc at 6:24 AM on March 3, 2004


but maybe that's just live, as opposed to recorded covers.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:01 AM on March 3, 2004


How could I have missed that!
posted by jonmc at 7:10 AM on March 3, 2004

Yeah, there was a radio station, i think in northern NY, that used to do a Louie Louie weekend. They had over 300 versions of it. That has to be unbeatable.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:40 AM on March 3, 2004

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