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UNDERCOVER : Classic Cover Songs!

Typically when an artist/band perform a song which was written and perform before by another artist/band, then we call it a “Cover.” Usually cover songs are popular, mostly early days of Rock n’ Roll music scene. Cover songs are often carried a negative connotation, it’s like stealing a beautiful song and get an instant popularity. In reality, they are typically recognized as one artist paying homage to another out of admiration. Many cover versions turn out to be more popular than the originals. It’s not uncommon that despite a great original version, the cover version works better.


Actually there’s nothing better than the originals. These songs get to cover by different artists/bands because these songs (originals) are unique in the first place, so the others get tempted to cover these…



All Along The Watchtower

Original: Bob Dylan

Cover: Jimi Hendrix

Most people forgot or don’t even know it’s a Dylan song. Even Dylan thinks it’s a Hendrix song!



Original: Leonard Cohen

Cover: Jeff Buckley

This song had been covered more than 200 artists but Jeff’s soaring and angelic rendition stands out.


Proud Mary

Original: Creedence Clearwater Revival

Cover: Ike & Tina Turner

Even though the CCR original was a powerful song, yet the more popular version is Ike & Tina’s version. This song has real staying power.



Original: Otis Redding

Cover: Aretha Franklin

Aretha’s cover version is consider as one of the best known R&B songs ever, she owns this song.


House Of The Rising Sun

Original: Unknown

Cover: The Animals

The Animals cover is a number one hit song. It’s originally a traditional folk song.


Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Original: Judy Garland

Cover: Israel K

Judy’s 1939 version from the musical movie “Wizard of Oz” was an all-time classic until an unknown Hawaiian covered it via the Internet, the world falls in love with this song all over again.


You Really Got Me

Original: The Kinks

Cover: Van Halen

Van Halen’s version is a perfect example for genre-changing cover song.


I Heard It Thru The Grapevine

Original: Gladys Knight & The Pips

Covers: Marvin Gaye / CCR

Marvin’s cover came out only a year after Gladys’ original, and it went straight to #1. CCR’s long Blues Rock version is quite captivated as well.


I Shot The Sheriff

Original: Bob Marley

Cover: Eric Clapton

Eric called up Bob right after he heard the song and asked if he could cover the song. Both versions are equally loved by the audience.


How Can You Mend A Broken Heart

Original: The Bee Gees

Cover: Al Green

Al turned an English Pop song to a silky Soul song!



The Man Who Sold The World

Original: David Bowie

Cover: Nirvana

The haunting Nirvana cover from their MTV Unplugged won everybody’s heart!



Original: Nine Inch Nails

Cover: Johnny Cash

A very unlikely cover from the Country legend. The original NIN song’s dark and angry. But when you listen to Johnny’s version, he world seems to stop! It’s honest and painful, almost hard to listen to…


With A Little Help From My Friends

Original: The Beatles

Cover: Joe Cocker

Joe turned a typical famous Beatle song into a blissful gospel soul.



Red Red Wine

Original: Neil Diamond

Cover: UB40

Even Neil couldn’t recognized his song when he first heard UB40’s hit song.


I Will Always Love You

Original: Dolly Parton

Cover: Whitney Houston

Dolly’s version was a minor Country hit. Whitney sang it in her movie The Bodyguard and it went straight to #1.



Light My Fire

Original: The Doors

Cover: Jose Feliciano

The Doors original song is just too perfect, Jim Morrison’s voice is irreplaceable. Still, Jose’s cover is captivating as well.


She’s Not There

Original: The Zombies

Cover: Santana

Carlos Santana adds up a set of fantastic guitar fills and made it just right!



Sweet Jane

Original: Lou Reed

Cover: Cowboy Junkies

Junkies’ cover is melancholy and spooky even though the song originally was a Punk Rock hit before.


You’ve Got A Friend

Original: Carole King

Cover: James Taylor

JT sung a song his best friend wrote, he didn’t changed much on his cover version but everyone thinks it’s his song.


Hazy Shade Of Winter

Original: Simon & Garfunkel

Cover: The Bangles

A Simon & Garfunkel classic song. The standout harmonies and the added urgency to the Bangles version made the song an 80s classic again.


Knocking On Heaven’s Door

Original: Bob Dylan

Covers: Eric Clapton / Guns N Roses

Probably the most debatable cover songs. Truth is, this song’s meant to sing over and over. Dylan wrote this song for “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” a hollywood ‘western’ movie, he also acted in the film and did the whole soundtrack!


Last Kiss

Original: Wayne Cochran

Covers: J. Frank Wilson / Pearl Jam

The song was recorded first by Wayne Cochran, but wasn’t a hit until J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers recorded their version. Pearl Jam cut the cover for fan club members, only few local radios played that song, it got huge attention and later they released it officially in a benefit album; “No Boundaries”, a Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees. Eddie is fantastic on this song, it became PJ’s biggest hit single.


Working Class Hero

Original: John Lennon

Cover: Green Day

Green Day did that on a compilation album to save Darfur.


Come Together

Original: The Beatles

Cover: Aerosmith

The Beatles original was fabulous as usual, and Aerosmith’s one is electrifying.


I Can’t Make You Love Me 

Original: Bonnie Raitt

Cover: George Michael

Good songs get great covers, this can be an example.


Take It Easy

Original: Jackson Browne

Cover: The Eagles

It was Jackson’s song that really brought these Country Rockers on to the scene.


Nothing Compares 2 U

Original: Prince

Cover: Sinead O’ Connor

Who knew it’s a Prince song until Sinead made her hit single!


La Bamba

Original: Ritchie Valens

Covers: Los Lobos

Even though none of us know what the song’s saying, we all love to sing the song whenever we get to listen to it.


After The Gold Rush

Original: Neil Young

Covers: Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris & Linda Ronstadt

This trio cover is absolute magic. The trio’s blend of voice, is effortless and makes you realize what a treasure Neil is as a songwriter.


Stone Cold Crazy

Original: Queen

Covers: Metallica

Covering a Freddie Mercury song is probably the hardest thing for a singer. Metallica picked the right song did a splendid job.


If You Don’t Know Me By Now

Original: Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes

Cover: Teddy Pendergrass / Simply Red

Great song, also covered by some great voices.


Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon

Original: Neil Diamond

Cover: Urge Overkill

“Pulp Fiction” had the cover and it’s a treat to listen to this song.



Original: Dolly Parton

Cover: The White Stripes

Dolly’s original was lovely version, but with a slightly harder and punkier approach the White Stripes’ cover is a pretty straight-up version.




(as published in SONIC Music Magazine)



Other songs with their notable Cover versions…

(Song names, Originals and Covers respectively)


Black Magic Woman

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac



I Love Rock n’ Roll

the Arrows

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts


Reason to Believe

Tim Hardin

Rod Stewart



J. J. Cale

Eric Clapton


Downtown Train

Tom Waits

Rod Stewart


Twist And Shout

The Isley Brothers

The Beatles


Georgia On My Mind

Hoagy Carmichael

Ray Charles


Higher Ground

Stevie Wonder

Red Hot Chili Peppers


Hound Dog

Big Mama Thornton

Elvis Presley


You Shook Me

Muddy Waters (with Earl Hooker)

Led Zeppelin


I Put a Spell On You

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Nina Simone / CCR


As Tears Go By

The Rolling Stones

Marianne Faithfull


Kentucky Woman

Neil Diamond

Deep Purple


Turn! Turn! Turn!

Pete Seeger

The Byrds


Wild Thing

The Troggs

Jimi Hendrix / Jeff Beck


Live and Let Die

Paul McCartney & the Wings

Guns N’ Roses



Robert Johnson



Me and Bobby McGee

Roger Miller (singer) / Kris Kristofferson (writer/singer)

Janis Joplin


Mr. Tambourine Man

Bob Dylan

The Byrds


The First Cut Is the Deepest

P. P. Arnold (singer) / Cat Stevens (writer/singer)

Rod Stewart / Sheryl Crow


Still I’m Sad

The Yardbirds

Rainbow / Boney M


Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

Frankie Valli

Andy Williams / Lauryn Hill


People Get Ready

Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions

Bob Marley / Rod Stewart & Jeff Beck


Tuesday’s Gone

Lynyrd Skynyrd



Turn The Page

Bob Seger



Whiskey in the Jar

Irish traditional song

The Dubliners / Thin Lizzy / Metallica


Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

Jimi Hendrix

Stevie Ray Vaughan


Little Wing

Jimi Hendrix

Derek & the Dominos / Sting / SRV


Mustang Sally

Sir Mack Rice

Wilson Pickett


Love Hurts

Everly Brothers



Johnny B. Goode

Chuck Berry

Judas Priest


Diamond and Rust

Joan Baez

Judas Priest


Ticket to Ride

The Beatles

The Carpenters


Stand By Me

Ben E. King

John Lennon


Wild Night

Van Morrison

John Mellencamp


Always on My Mind

Brenda Lee

Elvis / Willie Nelson / Pet Shop Boys


Statesboro Blues

Blind Willie McTell

Allman Brothers Band


Killing Me Softly with His Song

Roberta Flack

The Fugees


I Will Survive

Gloria Gaynor



Burning Down the House

Talking Heads

Tom Jones with the Cardigans


Sweet Dreams


Marilyn Manson


99 Red Ballons




Smell Like Teen Spirit


Tori Amos


Careless Whisper




Don’t Dream It’s Over

Crowded House

Sixpence None the Richer


School Day

Chuck Berry



With Arms Wide Open


Dave Grohl



Snow Patrol

Leona Lewis


the Power of Love

Jennifer Rush

Celine Dion / Air Supply


Oh Pretty Woman

Roy Orbison

Van Halen


(…to be continuted!)

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