There has been quite a buzz around the music industry this past week with the release of Ryan Adams’ cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album. Both rave and less than impressed reviews have been flying. On the one side, people are arguing why he shouldn’t be able to snag the spotlight for something she wrote, while others prefer his version to hers. To each their own.
But when you get down to the brass tax of it all, the definition of a cover song is this: “In popular music, a cover version or cover song, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording of a previously recorded, commercially released song by someone other than the original artist or composer.”
It’s been a thing for many years. Most of the earlier, more notable rock songs are actually covers of rhythm and blues or old jazz tracks. Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”? Yeah, that was written by blues musician Willie Dixon and originally performed by Muddy Waters. And, did you know that “All Along The Watchtower” was not originally Jimi’s, but actually belonged to the one-and-only Bob Dylan first? He liked Hendrix’ version so much, Dylan is quoted having told the late rock star, “I don’t know if anyone has done my songs better” (also referring to Jimi’s other cover of “Like A Rolling Stone”).
What is so fascinating about covers are their ability to make people feel so passionately one way or the other. It’s a music lover’s basic instinct to stand by the version they prefer. It’s artists vibing on each other’s work and putting their own spin on it, and fans take that pretty personally. With Halloween in our midst, we thought it would be a novel idea to gather a few of our favorite cover songs for this month. After all, what better way to impersonate whomever or whatever you’re going to dress up as by playing songs dressed up as others?
See how many of the originals you can recognize from their covers below and let us know which you like better. Also, we would love to hear some of your other favorite covers of all time!
Image via Chelsie Autumn Photography