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Thoughts about cover songs

ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Thoughts about cover songs
on: February 29, 2024, 01:49:37 PM
I have long had a theory about cover songs that flies in the face of many thoughts that the original artist did the "best" version because they wrote it and know it best.

I agree.

Sort of.

But mostly not.

The enjoyment of a song is (IMHO) up to the listener, not the performer.  The performer can do something absolutely flawlessly, putting in their all, but if it doesn't resonate with the listener then it just doesn't work.

So, my theory is that the song is defined (from the listener's perspective) by the first version they hear, or at least recall hearing.

For example, I absolutely love the song Blinded by the Light by Manfred Mann, but I found out this morning that it is a cover song!   :ahhh

Maybe I'm late to the party, but I never realized that it was originally a Bruce Springsteen song!

I'm not about to go disrespecting The Boss, but upon hearing this I immediately went to the Youtubes and listened to the Springsteen (original) version of Blinded By The Light, expecting to be blown away by the light.

It is, as you would expect, a VERY different take on the song from the more familiar Manfred Mann version, but holy smurf it was barely recognizable.  As much as it pains me to say it, Springsteen's characteristic "marbles in my mouth " style mumble singing just didn't seem to do it justice.

Had I heard it on The Boss' debut album (it actually predates me) then maybe I would be horrified by the Manfred Mann adaptation? 

This is just one example- I can think of a bunch where I have heard a cover version first and like it better than the original.

Does anyone else have any thoughts or observations on this?

Def
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us Offline SteveC

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Re: Thoughts about cover songs
Reply #1 on: February 29, 2024, 02:17:02 PM
It really depends on the song. Many covers are way better than the original artists version sometimes the artists version is better. I think you are correct in thinking that the first version heard does come in to play in how we perceive them.

Many famous songs were covers


They call me the Breeze- Lynyrd Skynard
Cocaine- Clapton

Both by JJ Cale

Jet Airliner- Steve Miller Band

Original by Paul Pena

I think this original version rocks !

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP8mX4xugno&ab_channel=Hwangvis


Me and Bobby McGee- Janis Joplin

Original by Kris Kristofferson
« Last Edit: March 01, 2024, 01:48:02 AM by SteveC »


scotland Offline Sea Monster

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Re: Thoughts about cover songs
Reply #2 on: February 29, 2024, 11:46:22 PM
For some reason or another, I often heard comedy (weird al, or random basement artists) versions of songs *before* hearing the original.

Comes from being a basement dweller myself, and only learning about the mainstream later in life....

so now I feel like coolio and 50 cent are singing it wrong. Why won't they learn the real words?

Edit: Apparently Weird Al doesn't want you embedding his videos, and I don't feel like linking one of the 100 copies on someone elses channel, so you're on your own.

« Last Edit: February 29, 2024, 11:54:11 PM by Sea Monster »


us Offline Murphy Slaw

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Re: Thoughts about cover songs
Reply #3 on: March 01, 2024, 02:09:14 PM
If Johnny Cash covered your song, it became his song.

I still wish he had covered one of mine...


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Thoughts about cover songs
Reply #4 on: March 01, 2024, 03:37:22 PM
If Johnny Cash covered your song, it became his song.

I still wish he had covered one of mine...

Johnny Cash is the Chuck Norris of the music industry!

Def
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gb Offline Tasky

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Re: Thoughts about cover songs
Reply #5 on: March 05, 2024, 11:03:41 AM
As above, depends on the song.
I've heard plenty of Gary Numan covers, but almost none of them come even close to matching the original, with that voice like a car alarm. It's weird, but it works like nothing else can.
Loads of people had success with Jennifer Rush's 'The Power Of Love', but no-one belts it out with the sort of sincerity that Laura Brannigan did.



no Offline Vidar

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Re: Thoughts about cover songs
Reply #6 on: March 05, 2024, 06:17:10 PM
If Johnny Cash covered your song, it became his song.

I still wish he had covered one of mine...

These modern hip hop gangsters have nothing on him. Performing inside an actual prison while singing "shot a man just to watch him die" for cheering crowd is kind of dark. His version of Hurt is totally his - I was very surprised to learn it was a cover.
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us Offline PitCarver

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Re: Thoughts about cover songs
Reply #7 on: March 05, 2024, 07:38:06 PM
His version of Hurt is totally his - I was very surprised to learn it was a cover.

In my opinion, what made Hurt , his, was the video.  So much Johnny Cash history in just a few short minutes... but you had to know that history to appreciate it.
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no Offline Vidar

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Re: Thoughts about cover songs
Reply #8 on: March 05, 2024, 11:30:36 PM
In my opinion, what made Hurt , his, was the video.  So much Johnny Cash history in just a few short minutes... but you had to know that history to appreciate it.

Yes, that video is a key part for sure. Wouldn't be the same without.

For those into covers  Frog Leap Studios/ Leo Moracchioli has an interesting channel on Youtube with 1 new one per week for years . I believe the most watched is the version of "Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0RV0kgdqJU. Other popular ones are Africa (Toto) and Hello (Adele).
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hr Offline styx

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Re: Thoughts about cover songs
Reply #9 on: March 06, 2024, 12:05:55 AM
These modern hip hop gangsters have nothing on him. Performing inside an actual prison while singing "shot a man just to watch him die" for cheering crowd is kind of dark. His version of Hurt is totally his - I was very surprised to learn it was a cover.

Well many would say that Johnny Cash is a matter of acquired taste. You either like him or you need to acquire some taste

On the topic at hand, I do agree that it depends a lot on the listener. A very simple way of approaching it is musical theater. If something is a hit it might end up having multiple performers doing the exact same lines, to the exact same music but still being different.

What I do find interesting is the ability that many people have now with platforms like youtube where they can release their own version and interpretation.

Oh and Def, I had a similar experience with Jersey girl. First heard Tom Waits and the the Boss just somehow didn't sit right.
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us Offline Alan K.

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Re: Thoughts about cover songs
Reply #10 on: March 06, 2024, 02:43:28 AM
Sometimes a cover is an homage to the original artist and carries with it the respect and gratitude of the cover artist for the original artist.  Somtimes a cover is an abomination that should not have been made at all. Sometimes a cover is better than the original.


no Offline Vidar

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Re: Thoughts about cover songs
Reply #11 on: March 07, 2024, 07:54:42 PM
I guess one shouldn't judge neither books nor music by their covers.  ::)
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