COVER ME GOOD
Written By: Tobin Wait
So last week I was driving over the Burrard Street Bridge with my wife and two daughters. CBC Radio 2, generally a pretty safe source for decent music, was playing in the background of our conversations. Slowly, something about the music began to irk me. I paid closer attention to the song being played. I recognized it, barely. Then it hit me: it was Bruce Springsteen's “Dancing in the Dark,” being sung by a female vocalist, in a sort of quasi-folk style, with an orchestral musical arrangement. It was awful and it was annoying. Someone was messing with the Boss in the worst of ways. It destroyed the song. And it got me thinking…
Good cover songs need to be something special. They need to not just copy the original, but to add something unique, give it a new flavour, make it come to life: retain the old, but make it new. It's not an easy task. As is true for all art, there is a fine line between being derivative and being creative. Luckily, despite the numerous cringe-worthy cover songs dotting the musical landscape, there do exist some really cool, really unique, and really special ones.
So give these a listen and hear something new in the old:
1. Felix da Housecat – Sinnerman (Original by Nina Simone)
In keeping the original hypnotic piano riff, and the husky vocals of Nina Simone, Felix da Housecat crafts a catchy, head-bobbing tune, perfect for Saturday night or Sunday morning.
2. Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (Original by Leonard Cohen)
Smokier, and more haunting than the original, Buckley's version drips with heartache and emotion.
3. Poolside – Harvest Moon (Original by Neil Young)
A chilled-out, groovy, barely recognizable take on a Canadian classic: a perfect soundtrack to a lazy Sunday morning.
4. Iron & Wine – Such Great Heights (Original by Postal Service)
A mellow, acoustic, heartfelt rendering of the upbeat and poppy original.
5. Rage Against the Machine – Renegades of Funk (Original by Afrika Bambaata)
A heavy, groovy, funky, militant take on the 80's funk-rap classic.
6. Method Man ft. Mary J Blige – You're All I Need (Original by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
The original is beautiful soul; the cover is beautiful hip hop.
7. DOA – War (What is it Good For) (Original by Edwin Starr)
A loud, abrasive and somehow catchy version of the 70's classic – about what you would expect from these local legends.
8. Chet Faker – No Diggity (Original by Blackstreet)
Soulful, mellow and groovy – a cool, indie take on the 90's R & B hit.
9. Cat Power – Breathless (Original by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)
Sultry, smoky and sexy – Cat Power makes the original even more intimate and dreamy.
10. Supersuckers – Dead Homiez (Original by Ice Cube)
Ice Cube as re-imagined by a country punk band – enough said.
11. Johnny Cash – Hurt (Original by Nine Inch Nails)
Johnny Cash brings age, wisdom, soul and ache to a fully stripped down version of an already stripped down 90's alt classic.
12. Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower (Original by Bob Dylan)
By electrifying a folk classic, Jimi makes it wholly his own.
Got your own faves? Hit us up in the comments.