Can we talk about cover songs, today? You either love them or hate them.
If you’re not familiar, cover songs are supposed to be performed with their own spin and be appreciated as their own entity. A good cover, in some way outshines the original. Unfortunately for our ears and hearts, that rarely happens. I find that most covers simply blow the goat. You know the ones – rarely even as good as the original, often done by someone who shouldn’t be trying to imitate on a beloved favorite in the first place or by someone who thinks they can improve it, but falls miserably short.
In my (sometimes humble) estimation, most fail.
Without linking all of them (I think you’ve heard most of them and if not, YouTube has them.) I can name a few off the top of my head that don’t fit the bill of failing:
- Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt,
- Travis’s cover of Hit Me Baby One More Time (rumor has it Weezer covered it live too),
- Willie Nelson’s cover of Grave Digger,
- Marilyn Manson’s cover of Tainted Love
There are others that can be argued such as Billy Joel’s Shameless, Ataris Boys of Summer and much of the Pop Goes series fit the bill of good covers. I’m even willing to conceded that they might be improvements on the original.
Mostly they defy the stereotype that covers suck because a better musician (or one that I like better) has picked a song they like to do or they’ve done a popular song in a totally different way.
Over the weekend, I heard Darius Rucker’s cover of Wagon Wheel
I texted my brother about it immediately for his thoughts. You see, I was very conflicted about the whole thing. Why? That’s easy. Wagon Wheel (originally by Bob Dylan) is a song that I absolutely LOVE (Old Crow Medicine Show performing my favorite version:
and Darius Rucker (you know, Hootie) is someone that I LOVE, but in my mind I could not reconcile his voice being the carrier or the lyrics of that song.
Rucker explains , but I’m not convinced it was a good idea. Sure he and Lady Antebellum did a good job performing the song, but it wasn’t theirs and they did little to make it their own.
Is it a bad cover? No, but I feel like he could have done such a better job with it by giving it his very own spin. I’d like to hear it played orchestra styloe or just an acoustic guitar and a bongo. See my conflict? I want to like it, but I’m having trouble.
How about you? What cover do you love? Or hate?