I think every good writer has a personal soundtrack. I keep a playlist of my favorites on hand whenever I have a session.
The following list only features my favorite song covers. What tunes do you groove to while you write?
1. Save It For Later performed by Harvey Danger
I jumped on the Harvey Danger bandwagon too late. The band broke up in 2009. This single recorded for the “200 Cigarettes” soundtrack endures.
2. There is a Light That Never Goes Out performed by The Dum Dum Girls
It is very hard to top an original song by Morrissey, one of the most beloved icons of rock. The Dum Dum girls manage to reinvent the song in their signature style.
3. Kids performed by Ooks of Hazzard
Kids by MGMT was a huge hit, and it is hard to believe that any cover could be superior to the original. At least for me the twang Ooks of Hazzard were able to give to the original is superb.
4. Crazy performed by Alanis Morissette
You might have missed this Seal cover by Alanis Morisette. The single comes from her greatest hits album and remains one of my favorite songs.
5. This is Halloween performed by Marilyn Manson
The stand out song on “Nightmare Before Christmas Revisited” is the opening theme sung by shock rocker Marilyn Manson.
6. Teardrop performed by Jose Gonzalez
You may already be familiar with Massive Attack’s “Teardrop.” This tune served as the opening theme on medical drama “House” for eight seasons. The cover by Jose Gonzalez featured in the season four finale, “Wilson’s Heart.”
7. Landslide performed by Smashing Pumpkins
This cover released on“Pisces Iscariot” and it received nonstop airplay on Los Angeles alternative stations. Billy Corrigan blows me away singing in such a different style.
8. Telephone performed by Pomplamoose
Pomplamoose released an album of covers that includes this hit by Lady Gaga. They give it a fresh take by recording it in the style of an indie song.
9. Book of Love performed by Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel turns this Magnetic Zeroes tune into a pop hit with his recording for the “Shall We Dance” soundtrack. The song was also featured in the season eight finale of “Scrubs.”
10. You Can’t Hurry Love performed by Phil Collins
I grew up in a family of Genesis fans. I heard Collins cover of this Supremes song long before I heard the original. It is a childhood favorite.
11. Sometimes I Still Feel the Bruise performed by The Mountain Goats
“Sometimes I still Feel the Bruise” is a pretty obscure song then covered by an obscure indie band. This cover by the Mountain Goats is haunting to say the least.
12. I Felt Like Smashing My Face Through a Clear Glass Window performed by Of Montreal
Sometimes a cover will surpass its original. I prefer the Of Montreal version of this classic Yoko Ono song. Kevin Barnes brings just the right amount anathema.
Your turn, tell me your favorites in the comments.
Featured image courtesy of jasper_su licensed via Creative Commons.
Wow Susan, you really made me feel SO OLD with this list. The ONLY song I readily knew was Phil Collin's amazing cover of "You Can't Hurry Love."
For me, great covers have existed forever. Some of mine include:
1. Sh-Boom - The Crew-Cuts
2. Little Darlin' - The Diamonds
Now, many would argue that those early covers were horribly sanitized versions of the great originals done by the R&B artists of the day - The Chords and Maurice Williams and the Gladiolas, respectively for those two - but I think it was part of the process of bringing that great music to everyone.
Elvis then did it with "That's All Right, Mama" and several others.
The Beatles did it with Chuck Berry's "Rock and Roll Music" and many others as well. When their versions came out, I was too young to know they were covers or even what a cover was!
Anyway, I won't give a course in Rock 'N' Roll history, even though I've actually taught one.
Here are other great covers, IMO:
1. Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Guns 'N' Roses
2. I've Got You Under My Skin - Frank Sinatra
3. Sweet Caroline - Elvis Presley - the "live" version done during his Vegas years
4. Everybody Hurts - The Corrs
5. Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson
Now, you'll have to either look 'em up or ask me the stories behind these and/or who did the originals!
Covers are always risky and are seldom as good as the original, but Collins' "You Can't Hurry Love" is really good. Sometimes, the cover is better than the original, like (at the risk of being labeled a heretic) Joe Cocker's version of "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window."
@Kim Phillips My only real experience with Joe Cocker is the classic John Belushi moment when he comes out and sings "With a Little Help From My Friends". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHaA4RePosY I think that is a ton more heretical. You totally reminded me about that one with your comment.