I am talking about cover songs that go so far above and beyond the original that they put the original to shame. You know those covers. Those are the ones that AREN'T played on the radio anymore (if at all). The ones that make you instantly forget about the original.
So my friends, here is my semi-short list of my favorite cover songs (and one full length c.d.), of which only two are played with any degree of frequency on the radio. Most will have links to videos if you should desire to watch a few while reading this post, and all will have some kind of factoid attached to them.
1} I Fought The Law by The Dead Kennedys. There have been numerous covers of this Bobby Fuller song but this one by the D.K.'s puts the others to shame. While they managed to keep most of the original lyrics to the song, they added their own unique twist by incorporating the murders of George Moscone & Harvey Milk, Dan White and the so-called Twinkie defense into the song.
2} Hurt by Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash came out with five phenomenal c.d.'s produced by Rick Rubin during the last several years of his life, and this cover of the Nine Inch Nails song was one of about a dozen covers that he did. This one has, for some strange reason, been getting some radio airplay as of late.
3} Boys of Summer by The Hooters. The Don Henley version was so-so, but the Hooters version, from their excellent c.d. "Time Stands Still" is the best version that you'll never hear on the radio. They play it like it was meant to played: slow, haunting, and plaintive.
4} Atlantic City by The Band. I didn't realize that this was a cover until I heard the original by Bruce Springsteen from his album "Nebraska". This version is a helluva lot better than the original. Not as wobbly or dark as Bruce's but more upbeat and resigned. Also, I did not know that opening stanza was based on a real incident with the Philadelphia mob.
5} In A Metal Mood by Pat Boone. Yes, I said Pat Boone. Back in the late 90's, Pat decided to do a c.d. of metal song covers that were rearranged in a big band/swing vocal style. There is a lot more I could add to this, but it would take up the entire post. If you get the opportunity to pick this up on the cheap (Amazon), do it, 'cause you won't be disappointed.
6} White Lines by Duran Duran. I originally heard this kick ass version of the early Melle Mel song (which I found on a 12" EP at a Salvation Army thrift store) on a cover compilation of theirs called "Thank You". They had a few decent covers on there (Perfect Day and Take You Higher), but this one had the most airplay on the radio.
7} John Barleycorn by Traffic. While I won't say that this is the definitive cover (yes boys and girls, this is a cover song of a traditional English folk ballad), this is the one that I've been able to find a video of. If you want to hear a traditional version, please check out American folk duo Atwater-Donnelly.
8} Under The Boardwalk by John Mellencamp. Best cover of a Drifters song ever. Almost impossible to find on a c.d. (I think it was released only as a single), it is one of the few John Mellencamp songs that I truly enjoy.
9} Summertime by Billy Stewart. Best cover of a Broadway musical number.
10} Bridge Over Troubled Water by Johnny Cash with Fiona Apple. This song has a lot of memories for me, of which Simon & Garfunkel being one of my Dad's favorite duos. I've also heard a wonderful version of this song sung at a memorial service for my dad back in 2004. But hands down, this version is the one that still resonates rather deep for me. Even as I write this little blurb it still sends a chill down my spine.
And finally, not wanting to end this on a downer, here is one of my favorite versions of I've Been Everywhere (heard versions by Hank Snow and The Statler Brothers) sung by Johnny Cash.