Feb 232024

Get Back to the beginning.

70. Lindsey Buckingham — Here Comes the Sun

The story goes that an ABC staffer entered the green room and told Lindsey Buckingham that his tribute to the late George Harrison needed to sound more like Harrison and less like Buckingham. A furious Buckingham responded by throwing his guitar across the room. Long story short, he got to play it his way, and the guitar may look a little the worse for wear for its unscheduled flight. But it still sounds amazing, sometimes like two guitars at once, and Buckingham gives it both delicacy and muscle with a true tribute of a performance. — Patrick Robbins

69. The Bar-Kays — A Hard Day’s Night

Why wasn’t the Bar-Kays’ take on “A Hard Day’s Night” an absolutely huge hit back in 1968? It featured the original line-up of the innovative Memphis funk band, for goodness’ sake. The house band of the celebrated Stax label. The teenage protégés of Booker T. Jones, who’d backed soul giant Otis Redding. The band that had massive success with the eminently funky, party-flavored “Soul Finger” in 1967.

Not only that, but the Bar-Kays sprinkled their magic all over the signature mop-tops tune: Jimmy King with his thrilling guitar licks, Ben Cauley with his jubilant trumpet lines, and Ronnie Caldwell with his sublime keyboard work. That’s not to forget the poignant timing of its release as a single, just months after four members of the band, including King and Caldwell, died in the same December 1967 air crash that killed Redding. Yet, despite the unbelievable fact that the track was ignored in 1968, we can sure appreciate the third and final single of the original Bar-Kays now. Stax loved the Beatles, just as the Beatles loved Stax. This track is a shining example of that. — Adam Mason

68. Alicia Brizuela and Roger Heathers — Honey Pie

Where the original “Honey Pie” takes you to the circus, its jaunty vocals paired with a plodding big-band beat, this cover takes you to a jazz cabaret with its smoky, soulful vocal tone. Both the original and this cover add some sliding emphasis on words like “crazy” and “frantic,” adding emphasis like when you are telling a story and want to amp up the drama. At the end, there is a shift to some old-school video game sounds in the instrumental accompaniment, signaling “game over” for this tale. — Sara Stoudt

67. Amy Winehouse — All My Loving

The original 1963 version of “All My Loving” is decidedly pop-rock/baroque-rock. Amy Winehouse released her version in 2004, adding some serious raw soul and vocal oomph into the mix. “All My Loving” is no longer a romantic tune of peppy puppy-love, but rather something a bit more adult-feeling—that is to say, it has jazz and grit. The syllables she chose to emphasize are unexpected, tasty, and nearly lackadaisical at points. — Aleah Fitzwater

66. The Ruby Suns — Martha My Dear

The 2016 Beatles tribute album The Magical Mystery Psych-Out featured a bunch of psychedelic bands covering Beatles tunes in, yup you guessed it, a psychedelic style. Unlike the original, The Ruby Suns’ “Martha My Dear” isn’t bouncy. It is also only marginally psychedelic. Rather, it is a freakin’ funeral march. It is a slow-moving locomotive. It is a gorgeous dirge full of sweet harmony that sounds a helluva lot like a Beach Boys track from the early ’70s, i.e. their weirdest, most magnificently mind-bending era. It is all woozy and endlessly wonderful. — Hope Silverman

65. Emmylou Harris — Here, There and Everywhere

When I first heard this, many moons ago, all I could hear was a consummately gorgeous song. Achingly gorgeous, the emotion seeping out of every painfully drawn breath by the singer, the arrangement that rare alignment of every appropriate consummatory evocation of mood. The song weeps, it bawls, a celebratory song evincing the bleakest evocation of loss ever waxed onto vinyl. If headstones had speakers, and all that.

Emmylou Harris was, in 1975, on the cusp of her breakthrough. Most had heard of her through her ineffable vocal work with Gram Parsons, with legions of Byrds and Burritos fans crossing the road to hear her. (And Rolling Stones fans; never forget the mutually serendipitous Gram/Keef linkage.) Cross the road? Yes; however immersed you might be in country-rock tropes, at this stage Emmylou was anything but. Country, yes, and a pure and pristine, chamber version of that to boot.

Ease yourself into the full Elite Hotel, Harris’s third LP (and second of ’75), and the first tastes you get are of pure Nashville, even with the knowledge it is Elvis Presley’s TCB band doing most the heavy lifting. But it soothes, it balms, and then you put on side 2 and get a silken wallop. With most still reeling from the wincing grief of Rodney Crowell’s masterpiece “Till I Gain Control Again,” that mood is plunged fathoms deeper as “Here, There and Everywhere” leaks and limps into earshot. The backing barely colors Harris, so delicate it is, the acoustic guitar and quiet moans of steel and electric. As piano slips slowly in, you are hooked and hung out to dry. Sure, that her voice has never been quite so Emmy helps, and then the strings sweep in, with the outbursting harmonica of Mickey Raphael providing the final punch to lay you out. — Seuras Og

64. The Hot Club of San Francisco — You Can’t Do That

Extended improvisation is one thing missing from the Beatles catalog, not that anyone misses it. But it’s a joy to hear their classic songs played by masterful instrumentalists. The Hot Club of San Francisco brings that mastery, and an irreverent spirit. They advance the “gypsy jazz” stylings of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, but with a twist: they play unconventional instrumentation, and they embrace rock’n’roll, a genre that Django died too young to hear. The stylistic blend really clicks on “You Can’t Do That.” HCSF stays with the song’s floor plan, but replaces its furnishings with upcycled material from swing-era Parisian nightclubs. — Tom McDonald

63. Throwing Muses — Cry Baby Cry

The Throwing Muses songwriters Kristen Hersh and Tanya Donelly, with their ethereal voices, were both adept at lending their songs a dreamy quality that often made them seem like off-kilter nursery rhymes. This was never more evident than on 1991’s essential The Real Ramona, an offshoot of which was a defining cover of the White Album’s “Cry Baby Cry” on the B-side of the “Not Too Soon” single. They adopted a Lennon-penned Beatles song that was already a distortion of the sinister children’s rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence,” with surreal images of kings and queens cooking breakfasts and putting on séances instead of a royal maid getting her nose picked off by a blackbird! Hersh notched up the song’s nursery-rhyme creepiness with one of her most otherworldly lead vocals, while the band brought melancholy guitar arpeggios and psychedelic effects aplenty. The Muses were clearly destined to record it. — Adam Mason

62. Ray Charles & The Count Basie Orchestra — The Long and Winding Road

From the opening lines, Ray Charles is not singing a Beatles song. This is now a Ray Charles song. With the Count Basie Orchestra helping emphasize this fact, Charles applies all of his stupendous talents to what seems to be a simple melody. His voice croons, coos, soars, rises, and falls and every syllable feels authentic and from the heart. This cover is something new, beautiful, and wholly different from the Beatles original. — Mike Misch

61. Jeremy Messersmith & Zach Coulter — Norwegian Wood

Way back in 2010, an unassuming cover album with the matter-of-fact, bare-bones title of Minnesota Beatle Project Volume I was released. As the title suggests, it weren’t nothin’ fancy, just a bunch of Minnesota-born or based musicians performing versions of their favorite Beatles tracks. But buried within this yard sale of an album was a bonafide hidden treasure; Jeremy Messersmith & Zach Coulter’s cover of “Norwegian Wood.” The most mind-blowing thing about their version is how they’ve somehow managed to inject more melody into the already seriously melodious “Wood.” The song is set at a languorous pace, awash in wistful acoustic guitars and elongated vocal notes, and brimming with swoonsome, subtle, and gorgeous melodic tweaks. This cover is lush and sounds like a crush. Simply gorgeous. — Hope Silverman


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  22 Responses to “The 75 Best Beatles Covers Ever”

Comments (22)
  1. oh HELL yes. Looking forward to digging into this.

  2. Esther Phillips… ‘And I Love Him’. just sublime….

  3. Steve Earle – “I’m Looking Through You”
    Richard Barone – “Cry Baby Cry”
    Elvis Costello – any of a number of Beatles covers
    Lou Ann Barton – “Every Little Thing”

    . . . just off the top of my head. Thousands more and these are 75 best EVER? Dial it back a bit. How about some beatles covers instead without the outrageous claim?

  4. Well, I don’t know. There was no way you were going to do this and not have folks take you to task. Reasonable people can disagree and all that, I suppose, but it seems you all went out of your way to be contrary. You certainly warned us where you were going with #75.

    I’ve been collecting covers of the lads’ tunes for some time now. and there’s precious little overlap between what you privilege and what I prefer. Admittedly, I have a (relative)recency bias that you all do not and you all were more eclectic than I am, both in the songs you selected and musical genre in which they were covered. I mean, “Honey Pie” is in the bottom 10 percent of all Beatles songs. Why would I want a cover of it, let alone rank it among the best ever?

    So, here are few I like that you didn’t include.

    I like both of these, one very different than the other, better than the version you selected:



    And this, a beautiful rendition:


    George’s only song on SPLHCB:


    Our Johnny climbs inside his head:


    Pretty Paul:


  5. A few more:

    Margo Timmins renders a lovely jazz lounge version of “Things We Said Today”:


    A nicely arranged version of “Fool on the Hill” by Bruce Cockburn:


    JT and Yo-Yo do George’s “Here Comes the Sun”


    I’m available for consultation should you choose to edit and resubmit your list!

  6. Sublime, Paul Brady covers “You Won’t See Me”:


  7. Guitar, cello (or is it bowed upright bass?), voice and a terrific arrangement:

    Lisa Lauren covers “Look What You’re Doing”:


  8. Paul Weller and friends rock “Come Together” (check out the keyboard player):


  9. And though I appreciate George’s songs getting some slots on your list, when it comes to Thea and Beatles covers, I very much prefer this one:


  10. Respect your choices, love the reader comments, and have to say that any list titled Best Beatles Covers should most definitely include these 25 (in alphabetical order or She Loves You by Peter Sellers would be first, best Beatles cover ever).

    1. Come Together by Axl Rose and Bruce Springsteen
    2. Come Together by Roberta Flack
    3. Come Together by Sophie Urista
    4. Eleanor Rigby by Aretha Franklin
    5. Golden Slumbers By Gracie Abrams
    6. Got to Get You Into My Life by Earth, Wind, and Fire
    7. Help by Alejandro Escovedo
    8. Help by Little Wayne
    9. Helter Skelter by Aerosmith
    10. Her Majesty by Chumbawamba
    11. I am the Walrus by Oasis
    12. I am the Walrus by Spooky Tooth
    13. I Feel Fine by Leslie West
    14. I Need You (acoustic version) by Steve Perry
    15. I Want to Hold Your Hand by T.V. Carpio
    16. I’ve Got a Feeling by Pearl Jam
    17. I’ve Got a Feeling by Billy Preston
    18. Long, Long, Long by Tim Bernardes
    19. Long, Long, Long by Tanya Donelly
    20. Sexy Sadie by Rachel Unthank and dThe Winterset
    21. She Loves You by Peter Sellers
    22. Something by James Brown
    23. While My Guitar Gently Weeps by Girl in a Coma
    24. Yesterday by Marvin Gaye
    25. You Never Give Me Your Money by Tenacious D

  11. And… 26. She Said She Said by The Black Keys; 27. Tomorrow Never Knows by Junior Parker. Both essential Beatles covers.

    • Stan, that Junior Parker cover of Tomorrow Never Knows is one of my personal all-time faves! Perfectly eerie and gorgeous! We just didn’t have enough room this time :) And Rachel Unthank and the Winter Set’s epic Sexy Sadie is in there, at #30. Love your lists and gotta add that while I do adore Marvin’s Yesterday, Donny Hathaway’s is the one that steamrolls my heart :)

  12. Okay, okay — I’m not trying to suggest the Alternative 75 Best Beatles Covers Ever, but also: 28. Yes it Is by Don Henley; and All You Need is Love by Noel Gallagher, which even though it was done for the Teenage Cancer Trust belongs in the Irony Knows Know Bounds Hall of Fame given the loving, graceful, forgiving nature of the Gallagher Bros relationship.

  13. Yeah, more covers to sort through! Thanks, Stan.

    So, sometimes I like covers that translate well to other genres (and in this case languages):

    A French gypsy jazz offering of George’s “If I Needed Someone”.


    • Thanks for all the sharings, Kevin. Like you I’m a fan of that “John, Paul, George, & Django” gypsy jazz album. Not sure if you noticed, but we selected a different song from it (see #64).

  14. Aargh, Forget this one; it’s a masterpiece. Across the Universe by Laibach. The version by AURORA is excellent too, but the Laibach version…whew. (You’re welcome Kevin…in the hands of masters these interpretations from the shoulders of giants can be pretty fulfilling to listen to, hope it does that for you and others).

  15. Can I please, like, get banned from posting on this site? I run a company, have other stuff to do! And yet…Things We Said Today by Dwight Yoakam. Sigh. LAST ONE, I SWEAR.

  16. Yeah, I can’t stop just yet, either:

    John (effing) Entwistle rocks George’s “Here Comes the Sun”


    Whereas JT and Yo-Yo give it a distinctly different treatment:


  17. As an Australian I’m pleased to see that Tommy Emmanuel made the list. Perhaps I’m biased (I don’t think so) but I would always include in a list of this size Zoot’s heavy cover of “Eleanor Rigby” and Doug Parkinson in Focus with “Dear Prudence”, a big hit in 1969. Oh, Lowell Fulson’s chugging “Why Don’t We It In the Road” is a personal fave.

  18. Now I’m just flat out using posting here to procastinate.

    Margo Timmins renders a sultry jazz “Things We Said Today”


  19. And allow me to use Ms. Timmins to pivot to covers of the boys’ offerings after they regrettably chose to go separate ways:

    George — “I’d Have You Anytime”


    Paul’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Brian Vander Ark:


    John’s “Working Class Hero” by Hilton Valentine


    I say regrettably chose to separate only because they did so in such a definitive way that led to them never really working together again as a quartet. I understand and respect their need for individuation. But, with a little perspective, I think they might have instead announced an extended hiatus that would give them the space needed, but also more readily allowed for reuniting. Bands don’t need to formally “breakup”. Why not leave it more open ended?

    Of course, the effect was that we have four solo careers to enjoy. So, there’s that.

  20. So I just stumbled upon this. Had no idea about its origins and at first thought about whether I wanted to share a cover of this great song from an animated series about bugs. And the lead singers voice, well, I wasn’t sure about that either. But I gave it couple listens and have come to quite like it:


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