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Cover Me

OK, time for a brief break from politics, and a venture into music — a field where I have NO skill, NO aptitude, and my knowledge boils down to “I know what I like.”

There are a lot of ways of determining if a song is a “classic.” I think I can put up one defining factor: if the song in question can be covered in a variety of styles by a variety of artists, yet still be instantly recognizable as “that song,” then that makes it a classic. Especially if the original is so damned popular, so deeply buried in the collective subconscious, that it can be recognized within seconds.

In the extended section are three covers of a song that I believe can be indisputably be described as a rock classic. It’s one of the most instantly recognizable songs, but presented here by three very different artists — and posted in the order in which I first discovered them.

The first version takes the fewest liberties with the original lyrics — I don’t think the cover artist changed a single word. But it’s probably the furthest from the original vocals and music.

The second version takes the fewest liberties with the original melody — it seems almost a note-for-note remake. Here, the creative part comes from the vocals and the adaptation of the lyrics.

The final version… well, words fail me. It’s the furthest from the original, but yet still captures the spirit of the original and imparts the least amount of whimsy and fun that the other two inject.

I also can’t bring myself to say which of these I prefer. I love them all, as well as the original.

Warning: Rock purists should probably just skip the extended version entirely, because each of these artists fearlessly put their own brand on top of the original work — and that kind of thing just kills some people.


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Comments (15)

Pachelbel's Canon in D majo... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Pachelbel's Canon in D major (his greatest hit) is a classic and has been "covered" by many. I will only say that Cleo Laine's rendition wasn't instantly recognizable for me.

Bohemian Polka...It just go... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Bohemian Polka...It just goes to show that the accordion is the most (justly) underrated instrument in rock music.

jim m,My vote is sti... (Below threshold)

jim m,
My vote is still for the bag pipe

I was nearly strung up by m... (Below threshold)

I was nearly strung up by my thumbs in college by some Simon and Garfunkel purists. They were outraged when I told them I preferred The Bangles’ version of “Hazy Shade of Winter”

Tom Petty says that you kno... (Below threshold)

Tom Petty says that you know you have a good song if you can sit at a piano (or guitar) play and sing it by yourself and it's good. If it has to have production to be a good song it's probably not as good.

"I know what I l... (Below threshold)

"I know what I like " is probably the most valid criteria going. It can apply to any musical genre.

Love all three. Never thoug... (Below threshold)

Love all three. Never thought of Bluegrass for the song though. That took some work. ww

“I know what I like.”... (Below threshold)

“I know what I like.”

"And I like what I know"

<a href="http://www.youtube... (Below threshold)
Sigh, I'll just have to wai... (Below threshold)

Sigh, I'll just have to wait til I get home as UTUBE blocked here at work.

denise, shut up and go clea... (Below threshold)

denise, shut up and go clean the wardrobe.

I'll be mowing the lawn...


Ok..I'm still processing th... (Below threshold)

Ok..I'm still processing these ummmm...versions.

All that's left is the WIZBANG version----
Jay, Kevin, Rick, and DJ. put it up!!!

Better count me out. I hav... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Better count me out. I have, as they say, a face for radio and a voice for literature.

#3 I loved. It works. The ... (Below threshold)
Kathy Kinsley:

#3 I loved. It works. The other 2...meh.

(But I still prefer the original.)

An instrumental version of ... (Below threshold)

An instrumental version of Bohemian Rhapsody:







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