Jun 182022

Go back to the beginning

10. Red House Painters – Silly Love Songs

What’s that – you’d much rather listen to the loud grungy grace of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” than the soft gooey pop of Wings’ “Silly Love Songs”? Have we got a cover for you! Mark Kozelek took out all the bouncy joy of the original (not to mention a couple buckets of sap), turning it into a rumination on love instead of a celebration. With the downcast feel going on for almost eleven minutes, this cover isn’t silly. It isn’t silly. It isn’t silly at all. – Patrick Robbins

9. Sandie Shaw – Junk

British pop diva and cult hero Sandie Shaw scored three UK #1’s in the ’60s, including “Puppet On A String” and “(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me.” During the decade she recorded five albums, the most compelling of which was her 1969 cover collection Reviewing The Situation (which Sandie herself produced). The album was reissued in 2004 with previously unreleased bonus tracks, including this haunting, stop-the-traffic, acapella version of “Junk.” It is stark, striking, and just waiting to be snarfed up and put to use over the closing credits of a magnificent movie that has yet to be made. – Hope Silverman

8. Lee Ann Womack – Let ‘Em In

The 1976 album Wings at the Speed of Sound might be best remembered for “Silly Love Songs,” but it opened with the stellar track “Let ‘Em In.” Country singer Lee Ann Womack recorded a cover for the 2013 tribute album Let Us in Americana – The Music of Paul McCartney. With its call to welcome strangers and friends alike, Womack’s warm country cover feels like the ideal track for a front porch strum and sing along. – Curtis Zimmermann

7. The Whitmore Sisters – On the Wings of a Nightingale

The newest song on this list, the Whitmore Sisters’ “On the Wings of a Nightingale” only came out two months ago. Older sister Eleanor may be best known as a member of Steve Earle’s longtime backing band The Dukes and Duchesses with her husband Chris Masterson, who produced their new album Ghost Stories. In a bio on the band’s website, Eleanor says, “We did want to nod to the influence of sibling harmony. Will Rigby (dBs) had sent Chris and I the demo Paul McCartney had made for the Everlys.” “In addition to McCartney’s songwriting,” younger sister Bonnie adds, “his bass-playing was a huge influence on me.” – Ray Padgett

6. Foo Fighters – Band on the Run

Inspired by a George Harrison remark bemoaning the Beatles’ business problems and carrying a message of freedom and escape, “Band on the Run” was a No. 1 hit in the US and a No. 3 in the UK. Foo Fighters originally recorded “Band on the Run” for an album commemorating the 40th anniversary of the founding of BBC Radio 1, and it also appears on the Foo Fighters’ cover collection Medium Rare. Foo Fighters performed the song for McCartney and President Obama at the White House in 2010, when McCartney was awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. During the performance, Dave Grohl said to McCartney, “you’re definitely my hero,” which may explain why it’s a very faithful cover, with some unsurprising hard rock/grunge touches. – Jordan Becker

5. Bettye LaVette – Maybe I’m Amazed

In case you haven’t noticed, Bettye LaVette has slowly but surely become the queen of our Best Covers Ever posts, covering ten different artists ranging from Pink Floyd to John Prine to Stevie Wonder. For her eleventh appearance, she takes on “Maybe I’m Amazed” – or, more accurately, she takes on the numbing familiarity we have with the song and pulverizes it. That leaves the song ready to be re-envisioned as a pained tribute to the power of love. LaVette’s vocals come from the heart – not just the romantic heart, but the tough muscle that constantly works and sometimes struggles to keep you alive. – Patrick Robbins

4. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Monkberry Moon Delight

“Monkberry Moon Delight” is already one of Macca’s straight-up weirdest songs, but Screamin’ Jay Hawkins sends the darkness over the edge and then some with his loopy take. Full of trebly guitar turns, some off-the-rails tambourine work, and countless interludes of maniacal laughing, Hawkins’ shock-blues version of the Ram tune feels fittingly aligned with another macabre anthem from Hawkins, also concerning a spooky nighttime brew: “I Put A Spell On You.” With Hawkins’ wild flair, “Monkberry Moon Delight” may as well be reclassified as Halloween’s biggest long-lost novelty hit. – Ben Easton

3. Guns N’ Roses – Live and Let Die

When it comes to writing classic James Bond themes, nobody does it better (sorry for the pun) than Sir Paul. Ok, that’s as debatable as the question of which actor best portrayed Bond. So let’s get to more solid ground by stating that Guns N’ Roses pulled off one of the great McCartney covers with this one, no matter your opinion of the original song or your feelings toward Axl, Slash, or any other nonsense. The cover is pretty old by now—30 years old, in fact, or well over twice the amount time that passed between the release of the original “Live and Let Die,” and the GnR cover. But never mind its age: not only doesn’t it die, it stays relevant. In a 2016 New York Times interview, Paul was favorably inclined toward the GnR version. “A nice little nod” he said, followed by slightly insecure remarks about the comparative size of their pyrotechnics. Axl Rose for his part seemed pleased about the song as well. “To me it’s like Tom Waits meets Metallica, it’s the way I sing it, so rough and scratchy. It’s working out really good, it sounds like us.” – Tom MacDonald

2. Sloan – Waterfalls

Sloan didn’t have the career in America that they deserved. The four singer-songwriters have been bashing out shoulda-been-hits (and were hits in Canada) for thirty years and they’re still going strong. They were certainly going strong with their cover of “Waterfalls,” filling out McCartney’s stripped-back version and giving it a beat you could run to. Jay Ferguson took vocals here, doing a great job at giving the song just a little more of a lift. – Patrick Robbins

1. Grace Kennedy – Too Many People

“Too Many People” is best known as McCartney’s dig at John and Yoko and their moral self-righteousness with the Bed Ins. Sometimes songs with lyrics everyone knows the meaning behind don’t translate well as covers, but sometimes those songs just need British disco rock singers to give them new life. Underknown British soul singer Grace Kennedy’s version has a lean, funk sound to start, with some gritty rock guitar. Horns are layered along with what sounds like analog synthesizers. Kennedy sings the lyrics with a passion that veers from outrage to celebration. Whoever it’s directed it, it’s effective. And the fusion of loud rock guitar with some kind of British approximation of disco actually works and gives the song a completely new vibe, utterly divorced from its original context. – Riley Haas

Check out more installments in our monthly ‘Best Covers Ever’ series, including Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, and more.

Cover Me is now on Patreon! If you love cover songs, we hope you will consider supporting us there with a small monthly subscription. There are a bunch of exclusive perks only for patrons: playlists, newsletters, downloads, discussions, polls - hell, tell us what song you would like to hear covered and we will make it happen. Learn more at Patreon.

  One Response to “The 50 Best Paul McCartney Covers Ever”

Comments (1)
  1. That Neil Young cover is amazing.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>