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Wednesday Jukebox: Covered in Beatles

May 3, 2011

Last Wednesday Raymond J dropped some King-Sized covers on y’all. This week I’m tackling the most sacred of the sacred: The Beatles. At this point I feel compelled to mention that while being a fairly big fan of The Beatles, I am not a fan of them singing their own works. With the exception of George, I find their vocals tinny and reminiscent of mating feral cats. Now their work as solo artists, my opinion differs quite considerably. Double Fantasy, Somewhere in England, Goodnight Vienna and McCartney by John, George, Ringo and Paul/Wings (respectively) are some of my favorite albums, mostly because it seems like Clapton and Bowie, their voices got better with age, or perhaps I became more tolerant of them. It’s interesting that as more time passes, the less The Beatles seem to have a strangehold on the pop music discourse. It’s entirely possible to have a respectful and calm discussion about satisfying covers of their music; a feat that probably yielded more dissension than discourse in the past.

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – Dianne Steinberg-Lewis & Stargard

Dianne Steinberg-Lewis once popped by my blog to say hello and I nearly died from excitement. Her performance in the much maligned Sgt. Pepper Movie is one of the highlights of my childhood! I remember practicing the song and the dance moves when I was eleven. Fashioning sheets to my arms and wearing a leotard and tap shoes, I clickity clacked my way around the living room singing about the girl with kaleidoscope eyes. Steinberg-Lewis has one of the most incredible voices and sounds sublime on this track.

“Come Together” – Aerosmith

The coolest thing about this cover, besides seeing Peter Frampton and Steven Tyler fist fight to the death – wait, in what world can Frampton kick Tyler’s ass – is Tyler’s vocals. I love them. I discovered this cover when I discovered the movie, whose name shall not be spoken any more in this entry. Actually, that catfight is pretty awesome even without the music. Probably one of the most awesome catfights in cinema history.

“Dear Prudence” – Siouxsie & the Banshees

While not one of my favorite Beatles songs, it’s oddly one of my favorite Siouxsie songs. Probably because Siouxsie mines the song for a buoyancy absence in the original.

“Got to Get You Into My Life” – Earth, Wind & Fire

A cover so good, it makes you forget there was an original. If you’ve grown up on this version of the song, the original probably won’t hold any new surprises. If anything, it’ll disappoint considerably.

If covers of Beatles music don’t make you want to weep or pull out your hair, which ones do you enjoy? I avoided Across the Universe,which is something of a cottage industry and is ubiquitous. That said, my favorite cover of the song is by Bowie.

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. marlene permalink
    May 4, 2011 12:01 am

    I love The Beatles. When I was 10 and in school, I used to write Beatles related factoids relevant to the particular day underneath the date on my assignments. Some of them got pretty long winded, such as my memorial to John Lennon on Dec. 8th. As you can imagine, this did not help my reputation at all.

    That said, the only Beatles covers I can stomach are Bowie’s version of Across the Universe and anything on the Concert for George album.

  2. May 4, 2011 12:19 am

    Thanks, Marlene! I am looking forward to hearing more from people who don’t like covers of Beatles’s songs as well as though who love them or regard the whole issue neutrally.

  3. Leafy1 permalink
    May 4, 2011 12:43 am

    Having been a young tween when the Beatles arrived on the scene in 1963, I have to say that they revolutionized music on many, many levels. Whether you find their voices tinny or not (and their earliest recording were mono, rather than stereo), they expanded the musical form in so many ways. They were really the first to make concept/theme albums that were meant to be heard from beginning to end. It is hard to explain how influential and amazing their music was on not only the music scene, but on popular culture, in general. I am so glad I lived through that time.

  4. May 4, 2011 12:47 am

    I’m super familiar with the music and the legacy, I just don’t like their voices. I like singers, vocalists, and I don’t think any of the Beatles could go toe to toe vocal-wise with any of the great vocalists of the their day or any day. It doesn’t mean I don’t like their music or devalue their legacy; it just means I would rather hear someone with a voice sing their songs. I would also argue there are tons of blues artists – you know the ones the beatles were ripping off – that were just as influential and possibly more so, but they never managed to get as famous as the Beatles. again, I’m a big fan, I just don’t like their vocals.

  5. Q.V. permalink
    May 4, 2011 3:01 am

    “Chevrolet”, the parody version of “Yesterday” about driving and crashing cars that me and other bored music students made up and sang without permission in grade 7 music class, did not seem to do it for the music teacher who was strumming his hardest.

    Ozzy Osbourne’s “Working Class Hero” always did it for me. Shit, that wasn’t the Beatles, though, was it, that was John Lennon. OK, how about the version of “You really got a hold on me” that Bonnie belted out in the backyard at the end of an episode of Roseanne? It was so loved in our family that we kids sang that version at every family gathering we ever went to afterwards.

  6. May 4, 2011 6:33 am

    I understand passionate love for artists, but damn, open your eyes people, the Beatles weren’t perfect! I don’t disagree with their vast musical and cultural influence, just the assumption that it was all caused by their singular genius – instead it was a perfect storm of songwriting talent, era, technology, producers, zeitgeist, and expanding on the work of other artists. and a lot of the Beatles sound that people label so revolutionary was created by producer George Martin, aka NOT a Beatle.

    Here’s my favorite cover that knocks the original out of the water.

  7. May 4, 2011 6:39 am

    and how can I argue with an angelic Emmylou Harris pregnant and singing this superior version of a love song while her husband plays guitar?

  8. eieioj permalink
    May 4, 2011 10:23 am

    I’m a hardcore Beatles fan, but not a rabid one. I am also a Danny Elfman/Oingo Boingo/Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo fangirl, so this gives me a happy.

    Also, this:

  9. May 4, 2011 11:56 am

    I love that version of “We Can Work It Out”! In fact, I always thought the Beatles had covered Stevie!

  10. GrownUpMusicLover permalink
    May 4, 2011 12:42 pm

    Having been a young tween when the Beatles arrived on the scene in 1963,

    Well, I tend not to take music advice from 12 year olds, no matter what decade they were tweens. Seems like you missed the point of the post – the author clearly knows and appreciates the Beatles, just as well as these cover artists do.

  11. May 4, 2011 12:43 pm

    I’m a pretty big Beatles fan, but I enjoy covers of their songs just as much. I echo the love for the Concert for George (its incredibly moving), the Mann/Penn version of “Two of Us” and Stevie’s “We Can Work it Out.”

    Elliott Smith did lovely covers of a lot classic Beatles songs, like “Something,” “Blackbird,” “For No One” and “Long, Long, Long.” I’d post them here but so many YouTube links are marred by crowd noise. But here’s his cover of a John Lennon song:

  12. May 4, 2011 1:01 pm

    Elliott Smith’s Beatles covers are the best.

  13. May 4, 2011 1:09 pm

    Whenever I think of Beatles covers, I think of Joe Cocker.

  14. May 4, 2011 1:14 pm

    I’m at work discussing the topic and my friend just played this one for me:

    oh Annie!

  15. May 4, 2011 1:17 pm

    oh Annie! Wow, that was gorgeous.

    The bonus here being, Barry Gibb and his gorgeous, gorgeous head and chest hair.

    I cannot get enough of how descriptive the song is and seemingly perfect it is for a funeral!

  16. May 4, 2011 1:50 pm

    I’ve been looking for this particular version of “You Never Give Me Your Money” FOREVER. You betta, work, Miss Dianne!

  17. IrishUp permalink
    May 4, 2011 1:54 pm

    I love The Breeders’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun”. They bring a very very dark edge to it:

    And Tina Turner just shuts “Get Back” down!

  18. May 4, 2011 2:04 pm

    oh Snarky, our love for the terrible Sgt. Pepper’s movie is showing….and I DON’T CARE.

    @IrishUp: those are both great covers I forgot about until you posted!

  19. May 4, 2011 2:05 pm

    One of the things I remember from growing up in the 60s was the sharp divide between the music of the young and old, and the phenomenal success of groups like the Beatles had a lot of established performers scrambling for relevance. Which it seemed could be obtained by recording a string-heavy arrangement of one of the Fab Four’s slower numbers.

    Vikki Carr’s “Nowhere Man”

    Perry Como’s “Something”

    And of course, everyone recorded “Yesterday” but I think the Chairman’s is the most definitive (and slowest) version out there:

  20. May 4, 2011 2:57 pm

    @Irish UP – I love the Breeders cover of that song! Tori’s is okay; the Breeders bested her for sure.

    @Raymond – Ha. So true. I don’t care who knows. I love that movie because it made me finally love the Beatles (whose LPs I own. Yeah, top that, Beatles fans. I have them on all formats in existence)

    @Redlami – HA. Omg, Sinatra’s version is off the chain.

  21. May 4, 2011 3:09 pm

    Yeah somehow Sinatra managed to stretch a two and a half minute song out to four.

  22. IrishUp permalink
    May 4, 2011 3:28 pm

    @raymondj & snarky’s: who DOESN’T love Framptons and Gibbs in pastel military gear?! I think time has been kinder to Sgt Pepper’s than the critics were.

    I’d never heard Annie Lennox’s version of that, thanks so much!

    I am seriously itchin to post Shattner’s “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”. For the kitch’n’giggles; it’s by far the best worst cover ever, IMO.

  23. May 4, 2011 4:04 pm

    @Irish UP – DO IT. I love his kitschy version so much. Also, I agree, about Sgt. Pepper the movie. i mean how many producers, after realizing nobody can act, gets rid of all the spoken dialog to spare the audience. I wish more producers had that kind of compassion!

  24. May 4, 2011 4:08 pm

    Go Mordecai!

  25. IrishUp permalink
    May 4, 2011 4:48 pm

    Here it goes! I love this “Laugh-In” meets “ST” version

  26. May 4, 2011 7:30 pm

    Yes! to the Stevie Wonder cover already posted.
    Also, I went through a Joan Baez phase as a teen, and her cover of “Eleanor Rigby” was on the cassette I played (over and over) in my room with the door closed. But I was still teased.

    And ::happy dance::! I get to stick another TTD video in here (I’m sure it won’t load properly). It’s the only cover of “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” that I’ve come across that I feel isn’t drone-y.

  27. May 4, 2011 11:52 pm

    Weird. I edited out the “youtube” and brackets. When posting a video in the comments I guess they don’t want to burden us with anything but copying/pasting the link.

  28. May 5, 2011 1:02 am

    I’ve no idea why but for the last few months, none of the embed links I copy from YouTube work here anymore. =(

  29. IrishUp permalink
    May 5, 2011 8:49 am

    @hsofia – I’ve had the same problem when I try to embed a youtube video that I get at from Bing. It seems to work if I open the video directly in YouTube, then link. But if I click on the link from the Bing page, only the http address will show up in the post.

  30. May 5, 2011 11:31 am

    @IrishUp – hmm; I go straight thru to YouTube and take the embed link from there. But you have me wondering if YouTube changed something. I typically use Google as my search engine.

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