Three Covers That Are Better Than the Originals

Monday, January 31, 2011
Our fearless blogmaster Madpoet specifically stated in this post that original renditions of songs are always better than reinterpretations "at least when it come to artists reinterpreting their own songs". While this clarification may not have been for this reason, (oh, and also he recanted his general claim not much later), it serves as a reminder that, sometimes, covers of certain songs are better than the originals when re-imagined by another artist. These are three examples of this being true.

All Along the Watchtower:
Original: Bob Dylan
Cover: Jimi Hendrix

This is not a poke at Dylan, not at all. In fact, none of these are meant to say the original is in any way bad, just that the cover is better. All Along the Watchtower has been reinterpreted more times that the Bible and by as many different people, but anyone who has heard Hendrix rock this song knows that his is, by all accounts, the definitive version of Dylan's original work. Seriously, listen to it live:

Mad World:
Original: Tears for Fears
Cover: Gary Jules

Much like the last song, I actually like both versions of this song, but Gary Jules and Michael Andrews' stripped down, piano melody version of this song is hauntingly beautiful in a way synthesizers just can't be. But, if you haven't heard this version, judge for yourself:

Original: Nine Inch Nails
Cover: Johnny Cash

This song, while written by Trent Reznor, was MADE to be performed by Johnny Cash. This song is beautiful and heart-wrenching coming from the aged Cash on a guitar and piano, and is far, far more meaningful coming from him. Even if Cash didn't write it himself, this song is his. In fact, new rule: no one can ever cover this song again. Reznor can still sing it sometimes, being the original author, but besides that I don't want to see Hurt on any other album ever again.

For the sake of not killing our front page, you can enjoy Cash's rendition of Hurt after the jump.


  1. From Reznor's mouth:

    I pop the video in, and wow… Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore… It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning — different, but every bit as pure

    It has become Cash's song.

  2. WaltDz10:19 PM

    Apparently, you missed the premise of madpoet's article...namely, that artists covering their OWN songs tend to fuck them up. Had you read his post more carefully, you might have been able to come up with a relevant rebuttal.
    Even drunken waterheads know that Jimi Hendrix did "Watchtower" better than Dylan. Next I suppose you'll enlighten me with the knowledge that "Taxi Driver" is a superior movie to "High School Musical". Yeeesh..reading comprehension...
    Here's how a relevant comment is done:
    (stand by)

  3. WaltDz10:23 PM

    Lou Reed's version of "Sweet Jane" off of Rock n Roll Animal is superior to the original.
    U2's live version of "Bad" is better than the Unforgettable Fire version.
    Judas Priest's "Victim of Changes" off of Unleashed... in the East blows the original away.
    Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" with Pearl Jam as the backup band is infinitely more rockin' than with Crazy Horse.
    Ministry's "So What" off of A Mind is a Terrible Thing makes the original sound like the Partridge Family.
    I could go on and on..

  4. WaltDz12:44 AM

    Finding covers better than the original is like shooting fish in a barrel. I'll bet I can do ten in one minute. Hold on...I'm on the honor system here...putting my cigarette out...and..3...2...1...
    Last Kiss, Pearl Jam
    Walking in the Sand, Aerosmith
    Jolene, White Stripes
    Blinded by the Light, Manfred Mann
    The Man Who Sold the World, Nirvana
    Dazed and Confused, Led Zep
    Sky is Crying, Stevie Ray Vaughn
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow, uh..Is?..the Hawaiian guy
    Til I Met You, the Beatles
    Song For the Siren, This Mortal Coil
    Winterlong, the Pixies

    WHEW!!! okay...I was wrong..2:01 minutes.
    But you get my point, right?

  5. WaltDz12:46 AM

    Sorry, I type very slowly.
    And I drink.

  6. What we need is a "songs so unique to the artist that they can't be covered list"

  7. Another good one is Respect. Originally recorded (written) by the great Otis Redding, it is clearly Aretha's song now, but I gotta admit the Stax rhythm are pretty fucking cool in Otis's version

  8. That should be - The Legendary Stax Rhythm section makes Otis's version pretty cool


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