Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cover Me....

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........


bolivar said...

Aah, Nettie - I am very disappointed in you! I know you love rock-n-roll music as much as Tal, Sera, & I do! And yet, you leave out quite possibly the greatest cover song of all time: "Summertime Blues" by the Who (NOT by Blue Cheer)! What's up with that?
And as far as "Tambourine Man" - right song, wrong artist. You gotta have the Byrds version of that song on your list.
And, if you are as sick as the rest of us are, I should recommend two LPs that will make you go WTF:

1. JOEY BISHOP: Sings Country Western
2. SEBASTIAN CABOT: Sebastian Cabot, actor. Bob Dylan, poet.

I will have my own list on my blog. Look to see if Pat Boone's version of "Ain't (Isn't) That a Shame" or Great White's version of "Once Bitten Twice Shy" makes my list (here's a hint: not in this lifetime. Probably not in the next one, either.)

Toodles everyone! I'm Bolivar. B-O-L-I-V-A-R!

nettiemac said...

Bolivar, it should please you that I do own the first Golden Throats collection, and have the others on order.

I have heard of "Joey Bishop Sings Country Western" in a book I have called 50 Worst... (covers their worst singles, worst albums, and has a special Elvis tribute section that made my head ache from laughing so hard.....). I have got to check it out for myself.

And re Mr. Boone.... I *almost* put his version of "Crazy Train" on here..... ;)

Seraphim9 said...

Here is one of the few times Talmadge and I disagree - I like "Higher Ground" as done by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but he likes Stevie's version better.

I do like both versions, but the Chili Peppers really "put the stank on it!". LOL!


bolivar said...

Here's one that Talmadge might remember: Burton Cummings' version of the BTO classic, "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet", done in a big band style. Hilarious!

nettiemac said...

I have heard that.... matter of fact, Tal did me a copy once upon a summer of "JBFH" (from his show) and that was the opening song. Only slightly worse was Cher's butchering of "Fire & Rain."

I wore that tape out..... :)

Talmadge G. said...

I would respond here, but I believe this calls for my own post, 'cuz I can think of several that are not addressed here.

I will, however, respond to a couple things: First, the Joey Bishop LP ... there truly are no words to describe it. No words.

Oh, and I'd say Burton C's version of YASNY was what Bill Murray was shooting for when creating his "lounge lizard" routine.

And I'm stickin' with Stevie on his higher ground. But I'd give the Chili Peppers a nice "Honorable Mention" for their cover.


Carol said...

Geez, four of your ten are on my list - "Smokin' in the Boys Room", "Shake a Tailfeather" (as if you didn't already know that from Jackson last year), "Respect" and "Oh, Lonesome Me". As for William Shatner singing "Mr. Tambourine Man" - let's just say I'll take your word for it. :-)