More often than not, the definitive version of a song is recorded by its writer(s), or at least the artist who did it first. That’s not always the case, of course. Sometimes covers surpass the original. Or sometimes a great cover adds a whole new dimension to a song. So, in the spirit of music geeks’ endless appetite for lists, let us humbly suggest a few covers that are, if not definitive, completely successful on their own. We’re just getting the proverbial ball rolling. We’d love to add your own commentary. So let’s kick things off with a half-dozen nominees:
Stevie Wonder’s “We Can Work It Out.” It’s pretty hard to top the Beatles, but Stevie brings the funk. His harmonica solo, too, is sublime.
The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout.” The Hamburg years made The Fabs a pretty great cover band. Their version of this Isley burner is probably the one most folks remember.
The Bangles’ “Hazy Shade of Winter.” They brought the snap, jangle and pop to the moody original.
Lake Street Dive’s “I Want You Back.” This street-side rendition put this band on the map. Sultry goodness.
Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower.” Dylan tunes helped propel several careers (“Mr. Tambourine Man,” anyone?); but Mr. Hendrix just flat-out owns this one. (You could argue that Jimi’s cover of the “Star Spangled Banner” is transcendent, too, but that’s not exactly what we have in mind here.)
Ryan Adams’ “Shake It Off.” It earns its spot on the list, if only for the incongruity of covering Taylor Swift.
Photo Credit: Image of Jimi Hendrix courtesy of Pixabay.