‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.
Are there any bad John Prine covers?
I mean, sure, there are bad covers of anyone worth covering. But it struck me going through the many candidates for this list that they mostly ranged from transcendent on the high end to pretty good on the low. “Pretty good” was about as bad as it got! I don’t think you could say that for anyone else we’ve featured in this series.
It’s not just that the songs are great (though that helps). Beatles songs are great too, and lord knows there are plenty of terrible Beatles covers. I think maybe it’s that the people who cover him really care. The reverence the music community holds for Prine far outweighs his modest commercial success. He didn’t have any big hits under his own name. A few more when his songs were performed by other people – who we’ll get to – but even there, not that many. Not enough to make him as important figure as he was, and still remains, in the songwriting community.
The musicians who know John Prine’s music love John Prine’s music. You can hear that adoration in the covers. They’re not necessarily reverent to his original arrangements, but they are always reverent to the man himself.
The list begins on Page 2.