Jul 312023
best cover songs
Bob Dylan — Bad Actor (Merle Haggard cover)

Bob Dylan has been on a covers roll this year. On tour, he has primarily covered a number of Dead (“Truckin’,” “Stella Blue,” “Brokedown Palace”) or Dead-associated (“Not Fade Away,” “Only a River”) songs. But he’s dipped into other classic catalogs occasionally too. He did Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” for the first time and then, not long after, maybe the deepest cut yet: Merle Haggard’s 2016 track “Bad Actor.” The tape took a while to surface. It was worth the wait.

Budjerah & WILSN — Better Be Home Soon (Crowded House cover)

Budjerah explained about this cover: “‘Better Be Home Soon’ is a classic Australian song… Everyone in this country has to have heard the song on the radio or somewhere since it came out, and even young people know it. When I sat down to learn it properly to record with WILSN, I fell in love with the lyrics the most. So much depth and story, and there’s so many ways you can look into it and get different things from it to relate to yourself.”

Ella Hunt — Motel Blues (Loudon Wainwright cover)

“I still remember the first time I heard Motel Blues,” Ella Hunt said “I was 14, it was the first Loudon song I ever heard. The un-fussy-ness of the lyrics, their humor, clarity, and humanity were so striking. I don’t think I’d ever heard such lonely words but I felt so held by the humanity of them.”

The Killers — I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man (Prince cover)

When the Killers played Minneapolis club First Avenue, best known for its appearance in Purple Rain, who else were they gonna cover? Even given shaky iPhone-video audio quality, it’s clear Brandon Flowers and absolutely nail this one.

Margo Price — Stranger in a Strange Land (Leon Russell cover)

Margo Price offers the first taste of a forthcoming Leon Russell tribute album, A Song to Leon. She says: “The monologue in the middle is my favorite. It still seems absolutely pertinent and its subject still matters today. He’s talking about the afterlife and equality and goes off about starting a new race where we all just learn to love each other. We can all learn a thing or two from Leon Russell… I had the pleasure of briefly meeting him at a show many years ago in the hallway. I always remember what he said during the live interview that day, which was that it was his job to misinform the press. He was an old man at the time, but I’ll never forget how mischievous he seemed.”

My Morning Jacket — Ballad of John and Yoko (The Beatles cover)

At the recent Peach Music Festival on Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania, My Morning Jacket busted out a new Beatles cover, tackling the 1969 “Ballad of John and Yoko” for the first time ever. Sean Ono Lennon, son of the titular characters, had performed just prior to them. Hope he stuck around to catch it.

Nick Cave & Debbie Harry — On The Other Side (Jeffrey Lee Pierce cover)

Nick Cave and Blondie’s Debbie Harry have teamed up to record a cover of “On The Other Side,” a previously unreleased song by the Gun Club’s Jeffrey Lee Pierce. The track, rarely performed during Pierce’s lifetime, now gets a remarkable rendition with Cave singing and playing the piano, while Harry adds vocals. This collaboration marks the fourth joint cover of Pierce’s work by Cave and Harry, and will be part of The Task Has Overwhelmed Us, the fourth installment in The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project series, out September 29.

Smoking Popes — Don’t You Want Me (The Human League cover)

“The original Human League version of this song is so cool,” Smoking Popes singer/guitarist Josh Caterer told Brooklyn Vegan. “I’ve always wanted to try it with the Popes, but I knew we had to find the right person to sing with, someone who could do justice to the song. I think Deanna’s voice is perfect for it, with just the right energy. Her performance on this track really takes it to another level!”

The Best of the Rest

Alexa Rose — Passionate Kisses (Lucinda Williams cover)

Elisapie — Isumagijunnaitaungituq (The Unforgiven) (Metallica cover)

Falling in Reverse — Last Resort (Papa Roach cover)

Flower Face — You Oughta Know (Alanis Morissette cover)

Ghost — Stay (Shakespears Sister cover)

Jeleel — HANDS UP! [Party in the USA] (Miley Cyrus cover)

Jem Cassar-Daley — Sweet Escape (Gwen Stefani cover)

Joshua Ray Walker — Linger (The Cranberries cover)

Juliana Hatfield – Can’t Get It Out of My Head (ELO cover)

Lil Uzi Vert — Chop Suey (System of a Down cover)

Miya Folick — Walking On Broken Glass (Annie Lennox cover)

Night Club — Cities in Dust (Siouxsie and the Banshees cover)

Nothing But Thieves – Dance The Night (Dua Lipa cover)

Sunstroke — Salvation (The Cranberries cover)

Check out previous months’ best covers lists.

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