We interrupt this post to bring you this hilarity: everytime I see the Blogger Dashboard, I can't help but think "Bloggerdise by the Dashboard Light." We now return you to your regularly scheduled nonsense.
Cover versions -- 95 times out of 100, covers can't hold a candle to the original. At worst, they destroy our good memories of songs. At best, they are poor reproductions. But sometimes a cover version turns out to be better than the original -- or at least the version that I tend to enjoy most. I present, in no particular order, my favorite covers:
1. I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Marvin Gaye). Gladys and the Pips were shouting about a cheating love. Marvin made it dark, brooding, ominous -- almost like he was channeling John Fogerty (and oddly enough, CCR covered this not too much later, choosing to cover Marvin's version). You knew this wasn't going to be a sweet happy song from the first shakes of that rattlesnake tambourine.
2. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) (James Taylor). Marvin's original wasn't bad by any stretch. But somehow, JT's is the one that I cling to more. It's a happy reminder of a good childhood, filled with fun and music. And quite frankly, it's easier to shag (dance, shag DANCE) to JT's version.
3. Respect (Aretha Franklin). She took Otis Redding's song of male prowess and turned it on its head. Rumor has it that Otis heard it and said, "That girl done stole my song!" Sock it to me, sister.
4. Hard to Handle (Black Crowes). Damn. Otis can't win tonight, can he? Now, don't get me wrong -- Otis Redding is awesome! But again, another one that I just prefer, because it's more well-known to me.
5. Oh Lonesome Me (Kentucky Headhunters). I'm sure a few country purists have just dropped over dead. Too bad. I love the Headhunters, and I love this particular version. It's rollicking fun, and good to dance to (no doe-see-doeing either)!
6. Please Come Home for Christmas (The Eagles). I think it was Charles Brown who did the original, but this will always be the definitive version for me. Jon Bon Jovi's is passable, Aaron Neville's is just alright, but this one is the best. Ever. Bar none. Seriously.
7. Ain't It Funny How Time Slips Away (Al Green & Lyle Lovett). What can you say about Willie Nelson? I'm not crazy about his singing..... However, he is a very gifted songwriter -- exhibit A: "Crazy," made famous by the immortal Patsy Cline. Exhibit B is this particular song, a classic to country-philes. This version of "Funny How Time Slips Away" appears on the Rhythm, Country and Blues CD project, which paired various country and R&B artists. This song, in the hands of Green and Lovett, is just nothing short of awesome. Fonked-out Willie. Ah yeah.......
8. Smokin' in the Boys' Room (Motley Crue). Yeah, I left off the umlauts. Sue me. Another one that just reminds me of high school and the fun times. High school was something I would never want to experience again in a million years, not even knowing what I know now and going back and doing it again.... But that's not to say it didn't have its good moments. Every time I hear this song and think of high school, I think of my friends on yearbook staff and all the fun times we shared: DP and the nin-jitsu blades (you had to be there), me falling out of my chair, the weekend at SS's house with NO sleep!, lots of silly good times. Why this one song reminds me of all that, I'll never know. But hey -- don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
9. All Along the Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix). Oh yeah. I've heard Dylan's a couple of times, and no, no no. I can't wrap my brain around it. Hendrix wins by a mile. By a marathon. By Alaska.
10. Mr. Tambourine Man (William Shatner). Psych. (evil maniacal laugh commences)
10. Shake Your Tailfeather (Ray Charles & the Blues Brothers Band). Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was in the movie. And yeah, yeah, yeah, it's still awesome! When I heard someone attempting to sing this a couple of weeks ago on American Idol, I thought, "My God! Ray Charles and John Belushi are BOTH spinning in their graves!" That was the ka-chunk, ka-chunk sound you heard........