The Triumph and Tragedy of Cover Songs

What’s better than hearing your favourite song?  How about hearing your favourite song played by an artist/group who didn’t write it, and performs it better…or worse.  I have unfortunately felt the effects of both of these scenarios, as I’m sure many people have.  There’s something to be said for a good cover.  For some reason, they can be quite hard to pull off.

I was inspired to write this blog when I discovered that Miley Cyrus (shudder) covers Poison’s epic ‘80s ballad Every Rose Has It’s Thorn on her new album.  Am I alone in thinking that there should be laws against these types of social wrong-doings?  I mean, I thought Avril Lavigne covering Metallica’s Fuel was bad enough.  Who knew she could be one-upped?!

The lousy covers aside, we all know great cover songs, and have our own personal favourites.  This is another opinion piece, so bear with me while I spew out 20 songs that may be completely different from your 20 favourite cover songs.

I’ve heard people say that to properly do a cover song, you have to make it your own.  With that in mind, I feel that these following tunes definitely put their own touches on some very good original songs, some more than others. Making it your own cannot be a simple task because how you hear a song versus how others hear a song can be very different indeed, and you likely won’t please everyone with your version. I think these artists pulled them off quite nicely!

So without further adieu, here’s the list!

Top 20 Cover Songs that must be heard:

1. All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix

Originally written and performed by Bob Dylan on his 1967 album John Wesley Harding

2. Hey Ya – Obadiah Parker

Originally written and performed by OutKast’s Andre 3000 on their 2002 double-album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

3. Little Wing – Stevie Ray Vaughan

Originally written and performed by Jimi Hendrix from his 1967 album Axis: Bold As Love

4. It Makes No Difference – My Morning Jacket

Originally written and performed by The Band from their 1975 album Northern Lights-Southern Cross

5. Crossroads – Cream (Eric Clapton)

Originally written and performed (much differently) by Robert Johnson in 1937 on an unnamed 78 rpm record

6. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – Guns N Roses

Originally written and performed by Bob Dylan for the 1973 soundtrack to Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

7. Astronomy – Metallica

Originally written and performed by Blue Oyster Cult from their 1974 album Secret Treaties

8. Fall At Your Feet – Jesse Cook

Originally written and performed by Crowded House from their 1991 album Woodface

9. Oh Well – Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Originally written and performed by Fleetwood Mac from their 1969 album Then Play On

10. Kids – The Kooks

Originally written and performed by MGMT from their 2007 album Oracular Spectacular

11. Baker Street – Foo Fighters

Originally written and performed by Gerry Rafferty from his 1978 album City to City

12. Runaway – The Travelling Wilburys

Originally written and performed by Del Shannon in 1961 as a single

13. Boyz-N-The-Hood – Dynamite Hack

Originally written by Ice Cube and performed by Eazy-E on the 1987 album N.W.A and the Posse

14. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Gus

Originally written and performed by Blue Oyster Cult from their 1976 album Agents of Fortune

15. Ice Cream ManVan Halen

Originally written and performed by John Brimm as a single in 1953

16. Jolene – The White Stripes

Originally written and performed by Dolly Parton from her 1974 album Jolene

17. Dear Mr. Fantasy – Big Sugar

Originally written and performed by Traffic from their 1967 album Mr. Fantasy

18. “1985” – Golden Dogs

Originally written and performed by Paul McCartney and Wings from their 1974 album Band On the Run

19. Paint It Black – Gob

Originally written and performed by The Rolling Stones from their 1966 album Aftermath

20. The Ghost of Tom Joad – Rage Against the Machine

Originally written and performed by Bruce Springsteen from his 1995 album The Ghost of Tom Joad


Well those are my favourite 20 cover songs, are there any omissions I should have included in there?

Let me know!

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~ by whet_hopped on July 1, 2010.

7 Responses to “The Triumph and Tragedy of Cover Songs”

  1. WAY way way back in the day I enjoyed David Ushers cover of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. Please don’t judge me for saying that. 🙂

    • Holy crap I thought you meant USHER as in the R&B singer, and then I read this again and saw DAVID USHER… that’s more respectable, I loved Moist!! Was never a fan of David Usher on his own though, now I will have to definitely check out that version!

  2. Also, super loved Gob’s cover in my highschool days. So fantastic. They always played a super good show.

    • Haha! I never knew Usher covered Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car! I will definitely have to check it out for a good chuckle. I won’t judge, but I would classify that one as a guilty pleasure for sure. Gob’s cover was pretty fantastic, especially considering how the original sounds. I unfortunately never got the opportunity to see them live… I imagine it would be pretty high energy and probably quite funny.

  3. Dynamite Hack… ahh takes me back to high school.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Britney doing the Rolling Stones’s “Satisfaction” in your hate-on-this section haha.

    • Oh geez I totally forgot about that! Was that one on her debut album? I think that’s probably more taboo than the Miley cover….
      You’ve definitely gotta hand it to Dynamite Hack, that was a pretty impressive cover. And their only hit!

  4. […] The busiest day of the year was July 4th with 126 views. The most popular post that day was The Triumph and Tragedy of Cover Songs. […]

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