‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.
In July of 1958, a Prince was created. That was the month Charles became Prince of Wales. Earlier this month he was officially crowned King.
In June of 1958, another Prince was created. He died seven years before Charles’ coronation, but he had long before passed beyond the arena of royalty into the field of the celestial.
Prince was, if not a god, a divine presence, more felt than understood. That he was a musical genius was almost taken for granted; his prolific recording, his tremendous work ethic, his mysterious appearances where you least expected him (On Muppets Tonight?? Making fun of Hee Haw???)–all served to make him more myth than man, and now he’s less man than legend.
Prince famously told George Lopez that “covering the music means your version doesn’t exist anymore,” but that’s not quite so. Prince may not (or may) be immortal, but his music definitely is, and the covers that continue to roll in are all the proof you need. This post offers some of the evidence. (Certainly not all of it – more nominations missed the cut than made it, and the great majority of them were very worthy.)
Before we begin: to qualify, a Prince song needed to have been officially released before the cover version. Sadly, this means the Bangles’ “Manic Monday,” Sheila E’s “The Belle of St. Mark,” Celine Dion’s “With This Tear,” and others didn’t get considered.
And now for our selections. And don’t worry, Charles–it’s good to be King. It’s just more magical to be Prince.
Sandra Bernhard’s “Little Red Corvette” from Without You I’m Nothing (album, 1989; film, 1990) remains my favourite Prince cover.
Great list. I’m a Prince fanatic, so it’s hard to narrow it down to just 40 … and I have a few to add.
– I Wanna Be Your Lover – Corinne Bailey Rae
– Take Me With U – Marshall Crenshaw
– Fantasia’s Confidential ghetto: 1999/Once In A Lifetime/Coconut – PM Dawn
– Never Take the Place of Your Man – Goo Goo Dolls (they left off the “I Could”)
– The Beautiful Ones – Susan Voelz
– I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man – Eels
For country music covers of Purple Rain, my fave has always been LeAnn Rimes’ version.
But my favorite of all – a track I’ve played about as many song as any other during the pandemic for some reason – is:
– When You Were Mine – Lambchop