Thursday, May 21, 2009


So, after seeing James Taylor last weekend (see the post below this one if you don't know what I'm talking about), I started thinking about cover songs. And which cover songs actually did better (on the U.S. charts) than the originals.

Through some "Google"ing and "Wiki"ing, I discovered that Linda Ronstadt is a cover recording machine. Songs from "Ooo Baby Baby" (Smokey Robinson) to "Back In The USA" (Chuck Berry) have topped the originals in the charts.

Other examples:
"You've Got A Friend" - Carole King (didn't chart) - James Taylor (#1)
"Blinded By The Light" - Bruce Springsteen (didn't chart) - Manfred Mann (#1)
"Respect" - Otis Redding (#35) - Aretha Franklin (#1)
"Cocaine" - J.J. Cale (didn't chart) - Eric Clapton (#30)
"After Midnight" - J.J. Cale (didn't chart) - Eric Clapton (#18)
"With A Little Help From My Friends" - Beatles (#71) - Joe Cocker (#68)

On the flip side, songs by Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and also Johnny Cash have been covered by artists.

What's your favorite cover song?


Sean Coleman said...

I have two:

The Who tearing up Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" (way better than the lead-footed Blue Cheer version)

The Gourds doing Snoop's "Gin and Juice"

Vegas Linda Lou said...

Wow--that's a really tough question. I always seem to feel the original artist's version is so much better. Linda Ronstadt covered Warren Zevon's "Hasten Down the Wind' quite well, and that's the version I heard first. But after hearing Warren's original, there's just no comparison.

You never cease to impress me.

Dan said...

I would say Joe Cockers "With a Little Help From My friends" and more recently Johnny Cash's cover of NIN "Hurt". What a great job he did with that song as well as U2's "One"

Dan said...

Oh another one I thought of is "Whiskey in the Jar" by Metallica. Actually Thin Lizzy's version is a cover written in the 1930's I think.

Jeff said...

My favorite would definitely be The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun".

Creedence Clearwater Revival is a band who did a great job when it came to covering songs. "I Put a Spell on You" and "Heard it through the Grapevine" were very well done by Fogerty and company.

rock and roll history said...

Sometimes the cover does the original justice, and sometimes it doesnt. I'm a big fan of the songs that lots of bands did versions of: Louie Louie, Train Kept a rollin, Summertime Blues. Stuff like that. (Hell- My old band did Summertime Blues. It's easy to learn, everybody knows the words, and it's a crowd pleaser.)
The Diamond-Dave era Van Halen did tons of great cover songs, The Black Crowes first hit was a cover, and dont even get me started on Clapton.....
It's damn near impossible to name just one.

Whizkid said...

I agree with what others have said, but as far as the chart success of covers (which I think was Classic's post topic) no one comes even close to Linda Ronstadt.

Amazingly, she had at least 16 cover songs that charted in the top 31 spots that were more successful than the original...10 of those were top-10 hits, 5 were #1 or #2! She also had at least another 8 charting cover singles that didn't do quite as well as the original, including Smokey Robinson's "Tracks of My Tears", the Stones "Tumbling Dice", Elvis' "Love Me Tender", and Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day".

classicrockforthesoul said...

@ Sean - "Summertime Blues" is one of my favorites too.

@ Linda Lou - Thank you!

@ Dan - Speaking of Metallica, I love their version of Bob Seger's "Turn the Page".

@ Jeff - "House of the Rising Sun"! How could I forget? That was like, HUGELY popular! And of course CCR's got some great ones. (Still bitter about Tina Turner's success on "Proud Mary" - what the heck? The original, CCR's, is sooo much better!)

@ R&R history - Agree on all that! Van Halen ("Pretty Woman"!), Clapton, etc etc.

@ Whizkid - Crazy that Ronstadt had so much success with covers. Cool!

Whizkid said...

Another: Santana's cover of Peter Green's "Black Magic Woman" (Fleetwood Mac) went to #4 in the US and didn't chart for Fleetwood Mac (#67 UK).

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