Over and over: “cover” songs
Wiwille’s Tuesday Music post of a Ministry cover of a Dylan song got me thinking about “cover songs”.
Back in the day, it was a common practice to cover then-current songs and multiple versions of a single song would be getting radio play and album sales at the same time. Today, it’s more common for a band to cover an old song, and call it a “tribute” to the original artist. Love ’em or hate ’em, it’s part of the modern music culture. Some covers become more popular than the original, leading to listeners not even knowing their favorite song is a cover.
I often wonder: What is the most-covered song in rock ‘n’ roll? Would it even be possible to track such a thing? (A question made harder by the fact that one could also ask what qualifies as rock ‘n’ roll, and do you count a song if the original was another genre, then covered by a rock band, or vice versa.)
A quick Google brings up the claim that “Yesterday” by the Beatles is the most covered song, as it is claimed that there are over 3000 cover recordings of it. Undaunted by such facts, I continue to wonder – partly because I’ve never heard a cover of “Yesterday”. At least not that I’m aware of, since I hate the Beatles and that particular song so much I would immediately change the station or turn off any version of it I heard.
“Johnny B. Goode” would surely be a contender, as it’s been covered a hojillion times. “Please don’t go” is an old blues tune covered by many many artists, including rockers like AC/DC, so I’d say that might qualify.
Are there songs that should never be covered? That was my opinion when I heard the cover of “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” that was used in the movie The Faculty. Sometimes, the original is just unbeatable. On the flipside, (start jeering me now) I actually like the “Hazy Shade of Winter” cover done by The Bangles – not because they did it particularly well, but because Simon and Garfunkel seem to have written a song good enough that not even The Bangles could fuck it up.
I’ve rambled on enough. Discuss amongst yourselves.