Despite collaborations with The Eagles and Linda Ronstadt, J.D. Souther has always flown below the radar, unfairly eclipsed by songwriters like Tom Waits and Neil Young. Check out some of those classic ’70s country-rock albums your parents (or grandparents) have; often he had a hand in the best songs.
Five Good Covers is an occasional series in which we look at a song that has supplied a variety of cross-genre cover versions. One mark of a well-written song is versatility, so we celebrate such songs with five totally different interpretations.
Time for a new semi-regular feature: Five Good Covers. Lots of websites showcase exhaustive lists of every version the writer could find of a certain song, which is great if you want 35 covers of “Umbrella,” not so helpful if you only want the best few. Here we whittle it down, presenting only five covers of any one song. Fewer songs than you might think can support five varying but valid interpretations.
We start off with a Valentine’s Day-appropriate song: “Be My Baby,” by the Ronettes. This song is often described as the crowning accomplishment of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound production, with Brian Wilson calling it the greatest pop record ever made. It works equally well without that million-dollar gloss.
Paranoiacs – Be My Baby
The adorable harmonies of Ronettes have been replaced by a sketchy guy in the corner of the bar assuring you your drink doesn’t taste chalky. [Buy]
Jocelyn Scofield – By My Baby
Soft piano gives a tragic twist to this cover. The singer here is probably destined to remain baby-less. [Buy]
We Are Scientists – Be My Baby
Waves of distortion cannot mask this bouncy chorus. [Buy]
Linda Ronstadt – Be My Baby
Linda veers away from her country-folk roots on this twee little nugget of adoration. [Buy]
Steve Carlson – Be My Baby
What begins as a basic acoustic jam takes on a groovy finish with some reggae-inflected riffing. [Buy]
Got an idea for a future Five Good Covers feature? Leave a comment!