Sep 172019
 
cover songs 1969

This marks the fourth year I’ve done a big anniversary countdown (after 1996, 1987, and 1978). It also proved to be the most challenging. There were a lot of covers released in 1969. In fact, according to covers-and-samples database WhoSampled, there were more than in any of the other years we’ve done. Their database lists 3,110 covers, which is surely still a small fraction.

The reason for the cover song’s proliferation seems clear to me after going through them all: Popular bands released a lot more music back then. Aretha Franklin released two albums in 1969. So did The Byrds, Elvis Presley, Joe Cocker, Johnny Cash, Johnny Winter, and Nina Simone. Creedence Clearwater Revival and Merle Haggard released three albums apiece. James Brown topped them all with four. To get that kind of output, artists would pad their albums with covers. Every 1969 album by every artist I just mentioned includes at least one cover. Many include several. A few are all covers. It adds up.

Impressively, many of those covers reinterpreted songs that had come out within the previous year. This entire list could easily have been “Hey Jude” covers. “Wichita Lineman” and “Light My Fire” came up constantly too (the latter song slightly older, but it had hit the charts again in 1968). Even songs from 1968’s soundtrack to Hair got covered endlessly in 1969.

Even beyond “Hey Jude,” Beatles covers dominated the year. I’m not going to go back through the entire 3,110 covers and count, but if you told me Beatles covers made up a full half of those, I wouldn’t be shocked. Add Bob Dylan covers to that side of the scale and it’s probably true. Beatles songs got covered in every conceivable genre for every conceivable audience. Jazz and swing and folk and proto-metal Beatles covers everywhere the eye can see. Plenty of people cover the Beatles these days, sure, but trust me: It’s nothing like it was in 1969.

So wheedling all those down to the top 50 proved incredibly difficult. But it means this is maybe the top-to-bottom strongest set thus far, and it killed me to leave some off (that’s why our Patreon supporters will get a set of 69 bonus tracks – so join now).

One note: I left off Woodstock performances. For one, we counted down the 50 best covers performed there last month. But more importantly, most people did not actually hear those covers until the movie and soundtrack came out in 1970. Jimi Hendrix performed his iconic Star-Spangled Banner – pretty much everyone’s top cover of the weekend – to a nearly empty field. Most of the audience had left before he punched in at 9 AM that Monday morning. That said, several of the classic covers performed at Woodstock were released as singles or on albums the same year – including Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends” – and those studio versions make this list.

Now, let the sunshine in with the 50 best covers of 1969.

The countdown begins on page 2…

Aug 152019
 
Woodstock Covers

You know the story – on August 15, 1969, an estimated 400,000 people coalesced on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in upstate Bethel, New York, for “3 days of Peace & Music” at a music and art fair that ultimately defined a generation. Today marks the golden fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock, and to celebrate the occasion, the staff at Cover Me are going “back to the garden” to wrap you in the Top 50 covers performed by the legendary artists who graced the stage during that long weekend.

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Aug 222017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Today (8/22) marks the 53rd anniversary of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” making its first appearance on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. First recorded in 1963 as an unreleased demo sung by 22-year-old Dionne Warwick, a soon-to-be Bacharach protégé, it’s been covered well over 150 times since, with at least a half dozen of those achieving varying degrees of Billboard chart success. It continues to be a goldmine for its authors, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It’s not just popular to record, either – add in commercial uses of the song, from TV ads to Xena: Warrior Princess to Mad Men, and you’ll see another huge revenue stream from a song that’s become totally ingrained in modern day popular culture.

With so many versions released over such a long period of time, we found it impossible to narrow the entire list of covers down to only three standouts. So we’ve listened to every version we could find, and in a Cover Me first, we’ll give you the bottom line by decade, starting today with the Sixties. We’ll even throw in some honorable and noteworthy mentions too!
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Jan 062017
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

Jose Feliciano

“You know,” Steve Buscemi famously says in Fargo, “Jose Feliciano, you got no complaints.” That wasn’t always the case – his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before game five of the 1968 World Series caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth back in the day – but Feliciano’s sheer talent and the undeniable prowess of his guitar playing, not to mention the length of his career, have seen him outlast all the negativity and become one of the most admired musicians playing today.
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Sep 202013
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

The early- to mid-’70s marked the pinnacle of Stevie Wonder’s career, both in terms of chart success and recorded output. Between 1972 and 1976 he released one Top-5 and three Number 1 albums, including his 1976 magnum double-opus Songs in the Key of Life, recorded when Wonder was only 26 years old. Innervisions, released in 1973, is arguably the cream of this crop.
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Apr 022011
 

This March, we pit 64 Beatles covers against each other in what we call Moptop Madness.

Yesterday’s winner: Joe Cocker, “With a Little Help from My Friends”

The final round of the Elite Eight here today, folks. It offers two quieter performances by renowned singer-songwriters. José Feliciano’s “A Day in the Life” strums off against Elliott Smith’s “Because.” Vote to see which song will make the Final Four (which begins tomorrow).

Listen to both songs below, then vote for your favorite. For added sway, try to convince others to vote your way in the comments. Voting closes in 24 hours. Continue reading »