weekly mixtape — top ten covers
I have always found covers to be one of the more interesting things that an artist can do. What songs they choose to cover and how they make them their own really showcases their individual creativities and what makes them unique. Furthermore, we can get an idea of how their musical inspirations have manifested into their own music.
This week, I thought that I would share my exhaustive list of covers that I have gathered over the last four years. Besides them being covers, there is not any real design to the placement of songs within this list so feel free to choose whichever songs you find interesting and have fun! Instead of listing all 250 tracks in text, I will share my top 10 below.
10. The Killers — Romeo and Juliet
This is such a great homage to Dire Straits original song. Clearly, much of the Killers sound follows in the footsteps of what Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits did in the 1980s. I love both songs but I definitely prefer this version. It is probably my favorite song the Killers have recorded.
9. Brother Ali — Ballad of a Thin Man
There are so many amazing covers of Bob Dylan songs, it would be impossible to choose just one. The reason why I picked this song is because hetruly makes the song his own. Brother Ali is a rapper from Minneapolis Minnesota. He must have heard some “proto-hip-hop” sounds in this song and translated it into his soundscape. I love that some in the rap industry are recognizing the importance of Dylan’s wordplay.
8. Passion Pit — Dreams
Such a fun cover! It truly sounds like Passion Pit were trying to faithfully update the Cranberries hit song with more modern synth technology. It is also a great homage to one of the pioneers of this dreamy “synthy” sound.
7. In Bloom — Sturgill Simpson
I won’t say that this version is better than Nirvana’s original recording but it is fascinating in its own right. Simpson completely remakes this song with a very complex cinematic string arrangement. The lyrics of the song also work well into the thematic framework of the album it comes from. Pretty cool that Sturgill and his country sound were inspired by Nirvana.
6. Johnny Cash — Hurt
What can I say about this song that hasn’t been said a million times before. An excellent late career track by Cash and produced by Rick Rubin. This version has eclipsed the original in nearly every way to the point where Tent Reznor has claimed this as the definitive version of the track. In an interview with “The Sun,” Reznor explained “Having Johnny Cash, one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time, want to cover your song, that’s something that matters to me. It’s not so much what other people think but the fact that this guy felt that it was worthy of interpreting … He said afterwards it was a song that sounds like one he would have written in the ’60s and that’s wonderful”
5. James Blake — First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
This version is able to capture the emotional potency of Roberta Flack’s original track in a way that is quite remarkable. I imagine this song has some deep significance to James.
4. Last Kiss — Pearl Jam
Eddie Vedder brings this heartbreaking story to life with his haunting vocal delivery. Truly an iconic performance and probably more well known than the original.
3. Lord Huron — Harvest Moon
Lord Huron has always been great at crafting dreamy and instrumentally complex soundscapes. Their recreation of Neil Young’s beautiful masterpiece is such a pleasant listen.
2. Greensky Bluegrass — Time > Breath Reprise >
Who would have thought that bluegrass and Pink Floyd would work so well together? I certainly didn’t. This is another one of those covers that truly makes the song its own while capturing the creative energies that went into the original.
1. Jimi Hendrix — All Along the Watchtower
Such an iconic cover, and Jimi Hendrix’s most famous song. So famous that many do not know that it is in fact a cover of a Bob Dylan song, which came out the year before. Hendrix felt that he was kindred soul with Dylan, explaining “All those people who don’t like Bob Dylan’s songs should read his lyrics. They are filled with the joys and sadness of life … I am as Dylan, none of us can sing normally. Sometimes, I play Dylan’s songs and they are so much like me that it seems to me that I wrote them. I have the feeling that ‘Watchtower’ is a song I could have come up with, but I’m sure I would never have finished it,”
Thank you for checking out this list of my top 10 favorite covers. If you haven’t gotten your fill of covers, check out the playlist below, which features 240 additional covers that I like! Also, please make sure to follow my page on medium if you are looking for more weekly mixes and weekly album discussion podcasts.