4 Fantastic Cover Songs

cover songs - music notes and symbolds on tan backgroundMy previous post, on the topic of the best covers of Christmas tunes, got me thinking of some of my favorite (non-Holiday) covers of all time. Really, anytime that I think of covers, I tend to think of seedy, moderately terrible bar bands playing Def Leppard tunes at 1 am, but that definition is pretty unsatisfying and belittling to those artists who’ve taken a tune that somebody else wrote and made it their own. Whether changing it wholeheartedly or just updating it with their own voice, these covers can breathe new life into a classic song. I realize that opens up the floodgates with thousands of options, and so I’ll do my best at listing a handful of my favorites.

The Beatles – Twist and Shout

The Beatles knew had to make people dance and scream, and so when they decided to release their cover of the fun “Twist and Shout”, it had all the workings of a match made in heaven. The best part about this cover is that the group appears to have some fun with it.

Rufus Wainwright – Across The Universe

Sticking with the Beatles, #2 on my list is “Across the Universe” as covered by Rufus Wainwright. The George Harrison penned acoustic tune takes you to a different place musically, both in its tone and pace, than most Beatles tunes at that time. And Wainwright’s cover of this track does justice to the original, and features Rufus’ incredible voice on top.

Cream – Crossroads

A blues guitarist named Robert Johnson wrote a song about coming to a “Crossroads” in his life, and at that juncture, he allegedly sold his soul to the devil in exchange for stardom. Mr. Johnson died shortly after releasing the song about this experience, titled “Cross Road Blues”, however, this story and tune became one of the most fascinating aspects of the early blues movement. Some 30 years later, Eric Clapton and his group Cream decided to cover it, and they gave this song the rock treatment it deserves. This song helped make Mr. Johnson a household name while showcasing the guitar masterwork that comes from slow-hand Clapton.

Layla – Eric Clapton

And finally, here’s another cover by Eric Clapton and this song is written by…Eric Clapton? Yep, way back in the early 90s, MTV bestowed some great musical moments on TV in their Unplugged series. Well, Eric Clapton took the title “unplugged” literally and pounded through some of his songs, but tweaked them all to be performed without his slow-hand style electric guitars. What came about is an amazing album that further showcases Clapton’s musicianship, and leaves us with this wonderful update to the tune “Layla”.