Wednesday Jukebox: King-Sized Covers
Last week Snarky’s Jukebox post on covers was so popular, we decided to have a couple spin-offs that focused only on covers of one artist, particularly ones where 1) the original music is considered legendary or classic by many, but 2) the cover reinvents the song into something as good or better than the original. This will obviously tread on some hallowed ground for some, hearing people lauding a cover over the original, but hey, get over it. Think of it a different manner: previously alienated audience members are having their hearts softened to the music you love so much, they just needed an intermediary musician to help them hear it.
Today we consider the reinvented canon of the famous and infamous American icon, Elvis Presley. Both of my parents are fans of his, my father especially, so I’ve been around his music all my life, but never really connecting to it directly. When Chuck D first said Elvis didn’t mean isht to him, I at least got the generational aspect of what he was saying. To me, Elvis was just always there, in the background, in every discussion of music and rock and roll and pop culture, whether you loved or criticized him. It wasn’t until I heard these covers of certain songs that I was able to enjoy the music itself for the first time.
Note: Elvis himself was a covers artist, more so than a songwriter. Many of these tunes probably weren’t written by Presley either, but generally they all fall into the category of “songs made famous by Elvis.”
Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind
Well first off, Elvis’s version was a cover of Brenda Lee’s version that he made more famous, but to be real, I love Willie’s best of them all.
Trisha Yearwood – Devil in Disguise
The original had a nice bass line and guitar trill, but for some reason he seemed whiney talking about some devilish. Then I heard Trisha Yearwood sing it and I decided I liked the song better when she did it. Here’s a sweet live version from the early 90s where she rolls up on stage in a fake Cadillac!
Sananda Maitreya – Heartbreak Hotel
Maitreya – the artist formerly known as Terence Trent D’Arby – had a late 80s hit with a cover of Heartbreak Hotel that I like because of how raw and breaking his voice is. Elvis walk a line of mimicry and earnestness, and his version of Heartbreak Hotel by the end of his career felt like a bombastic parody of 12-bar blues. This one helped me understand better the original intent of the song.
Norah Jones – Are You Lonesome Tonight?
I didn’t exactly know what to do with Norah Jones when she first came out, but this cover, along with her version of Roxy Music’s More Than This, brought me over to her team.
What are your favorite Elvis songs done-up by other musicians?