The Whatever: Cover Song Extravaganza

It’s Monday, so here … we … go.

It’s another two-parter.


Please go back and do the previous ones, too.

What are your five favorite cover songs of all time?

1. Jonatha Brooke ends her Back in the Circus album with a beautiful, heartbreaking reworking of the Alan Parsons Project’s “Eye in the Sky”; the way she sings “the sun in your eyes made some of the lies worth believing” is one of her all-time top “whoa, my heart has done what her voice just did” moments. Whew.

2. “Cruel to Be Kind,” by Letters to Cleo. Everybody loves their cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me” from the 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack, and it’s awesome, but their reworking of Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to Be Kind” is a better song for them as a band. Kay Hanley’s vocal rocks off the socks, and the guys come in for some killer backing vocals.

3. “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” by Living Colour. This rocked-up cover of the Clash classic was the B-side on the cassette single of the radio hit “Type” from their epic Time’s Up album; I listened to it until the tape wouldn’t play anymore and feared I’d lost it forever. Luckily they slapped it at the end of the 2002 remastered re-release of their landmark 1988 debut, Vivid. You can’t go wrong with Vernon Reid’s raging guitars, Will Calhoun’s thunderous drums, and Corey Glover’s vocals that go everywhere from confused to furious to hot-buttered soulful. Honorable mention to their scorching version of Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic” from the Stone Free tribute compilation.

4. Fiona Apple’s “Across the Universe” is dreamy, dreamy, dreamy.

5. Chantal Kreviazuk’s cover of Randy Newman’s “Feels Like Home” is a perfect wedding song if I ever heard one; I think she’s not a woman at all but actually a wild gust of raw, feminine energy that’s occasionally bottled up just long enough to be brought into a studio to lay down some tracks. Honorable mention to her brilliant version of “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane.”

And when you’re finished with that …

What five songs would you love to hear covered by what five artists?

1. Glen Phillips (from Toad the Wet Sprocket and his own excellent solo career) needs to do a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans.” Or any Neil Diamond cover. I’d actually like to hear him do one of Neil’s older scorchers, like “You Got to Me.”

2. Jonatha Brooke has a song called “How Deep Is Your Love?”, but it’s an original song and not the Bee Gees version. I’d still love to hear her do a huge, lushly produced cover of theirs.

3. Garrison Starr could rock the living hell out of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

4. I’d love to hear Fiona Apple do an entire album of old-timey standards, produced by Jon Brion and featuring the kids from Nickel Creek as guests.

5. New Edition. Under the Blue Moon, Vol. 2. That’s all I’m saying.


  1. Kerstin says:

    What I like:

    1. Proud Mary. Ike & Tina when they were hot. Damn good song and damn good cover. It’s really hard to top Creedance but they sure did it.

    2. Ghost Riders in the Sky. Johnny Cash. Need I say more?

    3. Mony Mony. Billy Idol. Possibly my favorite song in high school.

    4. Big Yellow Taxi by Counting Crows and by Amy Grant. I loved both covers. And I love Joni Mitchell’s original. But I especially love the Counting Crows version with a little help from Vanessa Carlton.

    5. The Crying Game. Quite possibly the best thing Boy George has ever done. The original by Dave Berry is good, but Boy George really brought a vulnerability to the song that is amazing.

    What I’d like to hear:

    I can’t even think of anything right now. I may come back to it though.

  2. Bret says:


    1. Foo Fighters- Band on the Run. The Foos take this Wings song and supercharge it with ROCK!.

    2. Chris Cornell-Billie Jean. A Michael Jackson classic slowed to to a blues number with Cornell’s signature wail. good good stuff.

    3. Cat Power-I Can’t Get no (Satisfaction). Slowed down and more melancholy. Sad but good.

    4. Halifax- Straight Up. Punk plus Paula Abdul? Could it work?? Classic 80’s with a pop-rock feel. I think it does work.

    5. Jewel-Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Need I say more?

    1. Foo Fighters- Acoustic version of Zepplin’s Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.

    2. Gin Blossoms- Dancing in the Moonlight bt King Harvest. This oldie has always been a favorite of mine…and the these guys putting their spin on it….I think it would be great.

    3. Glen Phillips- One (is the lonliest number) by Three Dog Night.

    4. Collective Soul- Solitary Man by Neil Diamond.

    5. Matthew Sweet- California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas.

  3. Melissa says:

    Wild Horses by The Sundays

    Mississippi by the Dixe Chicks

    Eye in the Sky by Jonatha Brooke

    Different Drum by Kimmet and Doug

    Home by Chantal Kreviazuk

    I am sure there are others, but these five came to mind and they are all excellent. :)

    The five covers I would like to hear….

    Joss Stone singing “House That Jack Built” by Aretha Franklin

    Tori Amos singing “Crazy for You” by Madonna

    Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale singing “Something Stupid” by the Sinatras

    Rachael Yamagata singing anything by Janis Joplin

    Ryan Adams singing “Brown Sugar” – oh…..wait…. ;)

  4. John says:

    Kerstin: Each of those versions of “Proud Mary” is legendary in its own right. I’m a big fan of that Counting Crows/Joni Mitchell cover, too! Joni Mitchell was recording in the same studio at the time Counting Crows were making that album, and when she heard they were covering “Big Yellow Taxi,” she decided to go down to say hello. Adam Duritz heard she was coming and freaked out in a “we’re not worthy, we’re not worthy” kind of way and ran outside. When he did, Joni Mitchell was there smoking a cigarette. I think that’s how the story goes; it’s been a while since I’ve read it but I’ll try to find the original online.

    Bret: Ladies and gentlemen, this is my brilliant cousin, Bret. Foo Fighters supercharge their OATMEAL with rock, so it’s not surprising that they did the same with a Wings classic. Tori Amos also does a wicked “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and so, too, does Harry Connick, Jr. Your cover suggestions are sublime. Ed Roland meets Neil Diamond? Glen rockin’ Three Dog Night? “Sweet” dreams of “California”? Foos. Gins. Whammy. Well done, sir.

    Melissa: I agree on all of your covers. Would Joss Stone have to sleep with Aretha Franklin to get permission? (That’s an inside joke between Melissa and me, Other Readers.) Tori would take “Crazy for You” into a whole other orbit. That’s a great idea about Gwen and Gavin, Rachael would own some Joplin, and Ryan Adams … well … I’m glad you’re joking. :) That concert will remain one of the most horrible examples of human behavior I have seen or ever will see. Whoa.

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