January 04, 2008
Friday random ten: Cover me

Been awhile since I've done a Friday random ten, so let's get back into it. This one isn't really random, strictly speaking. I came across the song "American Girl", which I'd always identified with Tom Petty, done by Roger Guinn, on a collection of seventies rock music, and it got me to thinking about covers, in particular ones that I have where I also have the original. What follows is a list of songs from my iPod for which I have multiple versions:

1. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Asylum Street Spankers/Johnny Mercer & Margaret Whiting. A holiday standard. Wammo's vocals really bring out the subtle creepiness of the male half of the duo, so I like that version more than the somewhat vanilla Mercer/Whiting combo.

2. "Behind the Lines" - Genesis/Phil Collins. It's a little weird for Collins to have covered something he did with Genesis, but his bouncy, horn-infused version is quite different, and in my opinion superior.

3. "Brain Damage" - Austin Lounge Lizards/Pink Floyd. The very first Lounge Lizards song I ever heard. Took me a minute to realize what I was hearing. I've been a devoted fan ever since.

4. "Casey Jones" - Warren Zevon/Grateful Dead. Zevon's version is from a collection of Dead covers called "Deadicated". In general, I prefer the new versions to the originals, and this is no exception.

5. "Come Together" - Aerosmith/Ike & Tina Turner. I don't think I have the original Beatles version. I'll have to doublecheck. Not that it really matters - this tune works best with a singer who's got a superstrong set of pipes, and isn't afraid to use them. Steven Tyler does that well, but there's only one Tina Turner.

6. "Dance This Mess Around" - Asylum Street Spankers/The B-52's. The Spankers have a fair number of covers in their repertoire, and it's fair to say they span a broader spectrum than most, and put more of their stamp on their covers than most. I had a hard time believing this wasn't one of their freaky originals when I first heard it. And I still don't know what "all sixteen dances" are, since the song only names about half that many.

7. "Desperado" - Clint Black/Lager Rhythms. Another one for which I don't have the original. I actually kinda prefer the Eagles' rendition best - there's just something about Don Henley's voice. That said, Clint Black's countrified version works well, and I'm always a sucker for a capellas. Call it a three-way tie.

8. "Five O'Clock World" - Flying Fish Sailors/The Vogues. A very faithful rendering by the Fish of a song I really like. Their version is a bit more spare, and I think that tips the scales in its favor for me.

9. "Gloria" - Patti Smith/Van Morrison. I almost didn't realize this was the same song, as Smith's version is more than twice as long as Morrison's. Dave Barry once wrote that if you threw a guitar over a cliff, if would bang out the chords for this song on its way down as it bounced off the rocks. That may be true, but given a choice, I want that guitar to be Van the Man's.

10. "God Bless the Child" - Billie Holiday/Blood, Sweat & Tears/Julie Murphy. I know this is going to make me sound like a heretic, but I prefer the BS&T version over Billie Holiday's. Go ahead, mock me for that.

That's ten songs and I'm still in the Gs. I'll continue this next week.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 04, 2008 to Music

You have excellent taste.

I have 4 versions of "Strange Fruit" and 3 of "Sugar in my Bowl".

Both times Nina Simone is the winner by a hair.

Posted by: Jenny on January 4, 2008 3:41 PM

BS&T = win

Posted by: Justin on January 4, 2008 4:10 PM

You don't have the original version of "Come Together"?!?! That means you don't have Abbey Road, like the best Beatles album of all time!
I actually like the Aerosmith cover version a lot, but the Beatles original is still the best and yes, John Lennon's 'pipes' are more than adequate for the tune.
I've never heard Tina Turner's version so that should be a treat when I find it.

Posted by: Mike Thomas on January 4, 2008 4:23 PM

John Lennon's Come Together at the One to One concert is the best version of Come Together. This is on the Live In New York City album.

Posted by: Justin on January 4, 2008 11:11 PM

On behalf of the District Attorney: Take a Letter Maria by R.B. Greaves

Posted by: Charles Hixon on January 5, 2008 3:50 PM

Some wonderful songs:

-- "Reach Out I'll Be There"
The Four Tops

-- from Little Miss Sunshine
"Till The End Of Time" DeVotchKa

-- the guitar playing and voice of Manual "Cowboy" Donley in
"Flor Del Rio"

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