Feb 232024

Get Back to the beginning.

60. Lucy Kaplansky — I’m Looking Through You

One of three songs written by McCartney about his troubled relationship with Jane Asher that were recorded for Rubber Soul, it felt more like their older material than most of that album, which explored new and different sounds. And it features Ringo on organ. Lucy Kaplansky is a fine songwriter, but she’s also been a top-notch interpreter of others throughout her career. Here, she turns the original into an Americana-infused ramble, with prominent mandolin and dobro. It’s a really nice listen, even if it lacks a little of the edge of the original (understandable, since Paul wrote the song when he was hurt and angry). — Jordan Becker

59. Reilly Somach — Glass Onion

This cover brings slightly more edge than the original, with its guitar wails and gravelly vocals. The “told you” lines sound like an accusation, like, “come on, I already told you this, pay attention.” Taking on such a short song doesn’t leave a lot of room for flourishes and guitar solos, but there is a subtle, stutter-step guitar riff at the one-minute mark that adds a little personality to the cover before it’s through. — Sara Stoudt

58. The Wedding Present — Getting Better

Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father was a 1988 tribute album put together by New Musical Express, who had enough pull and enough worthy entries on their Rolodexes (Rolodexes were still a thing three and a half decades ago, don’t forget) to land many an artist who was popular or deserved to be. One of those was the Wedding Present, who got into the “Getting Better” mobile and mashed down on the gas. As a sample of the original putters faintly in the background, the band (joined on vocals by Amelia Fletcher of Tallulah Gosh) go full throttle at the idea of getting better, sounding almost resentful of the optimism they’re called upon to spout. By contrast, they sound nearly wistful about the times when they were angry young men, cruel to their brother (a rare cover lyric change that works). This was not your father’s Sgt. Pepper. This was something altogether new, something every cover song should strive to be. — Patrick Robbins

57. Raffi — Octopus’s Garden

Anyone who has been forced to listen to the children’s singer Raffi on continuous repeat knows that his music can actually be quite pleasant (at least when compared with a lot of the other kids music out there). He blends Pete Seeger-style folk music and children’s standards with a “Live at the Troubadour” singer/songwriter vibe. Only instead of singing about the excesses of rock n’ roll, Raffi weaves tales of monkeys, giraffes and an energetic little whale. Given his passion for stories about sea creatures, his cover of “Octopus’s Garden” fits well within his repertoire. On the track, Raffi is backed by New Orleans-style banjo and horns, creating a festive and fun singalong, ideal for an early afternoon Mardi Gras party. It’s worth listening to even after the kids have gone to bed. — Curtis Zimmermann

56. Fiona Apple — Across The Universe

Fiona Apple is known for her experimental/art/baroque pop sound. Her voice can access a surprisingly low register, and often has a cosmic, floating quality to it, making it a perfect fit for “Across the Universe.” Whereas the original had a bright twang of guitars, Apple’s rendition is decidedly more mellow. The darkened timbre of this version of the song was released in ‘98 for the movie Pleasantville. In Apple’s hands, the beat becomes an almost ethereal dirge. The music video depicts a black-and-white world where objects are being thrown, bats swung. Her gentle, agile voice is a direct contrast to what is happening behind her. How eerie. — Aleah Fitzwater

55. Crosby, Stills & Nash — Blackbird

The story of CSN’s cover of “Blackbird” is like an origin story for the band itself. They first sang it as the second song during their second show in the small town of Bethel, New York – you know, Woodstock. Though the band recorded the cover in their early days, it would go unreleased until the 1990s, and it’s a headscratcher as to why. It is, in a word, gorgeous, as good as any of their greatest hits from the ‘60s. The track features a perfect blend of acoustic folk guitar with the trio’s signature three-part harmony. — Curtis Zimmermann

54. Syreeta — She’s Leaving Home

The funky and regal debut LP by Motown singer-songwriter Syreeta (Wright) was released in 1972. It was produced by her ex-husband Stevie Wonder, who not only contributed a handful of songs but provided instrumental and vocal backing…which is to say, he is as much a part of this cover as Syreeta is.

By ’72, Stevie had broken free from the constraints of the beautiful but formulaic Motown sound and his string of stone-cold classic albums had begun (five in a row which is, let’s just say it, downright Beatle-esque). Once he’d kicked the door of musical freedom open, out came the new toys. One of the playthings Stevie acquired was a weird and goofy vocal manipulation device called the talk box. And once Stevie had his talk box, he was gonna use it. Everywhere.

This cover of “She’s Leaving Home” from Syreeta’s aforementioned debut album is an unbilled duet. She plays the role of Paul, singing it straight in her eternally angelic voice while Stevie is “Talk Box-John.” The combination of their two very different vocal approaches can seem odd and discordant at first, like an experiment gone wrong. But after a few listens, the cover’s strange, addictive magic becomes very clear, and the sweet (Syreeta) and sour (Stevie, soulfully) mix sounds like the most natural thing in the world. So weird, so completely captivating. — Hope Silverman

53. Ike & Tina Turner — She Came In Through the Bathroom Window

Talk about an entrance! This live-wire cover is deserving of a spot on our list for its opening five seconds alone. If the original cut came in like a sneaky tumble—slinking in unnoticed, just one part of the greater Abbey Road medley—then Ike & Tina Turner’s standalone cover is a big bang, shattering the window panes on the way in. Tina’s vocal is up front and electric throughout, with hot-mic-ed drums, rollicking piano and a practically unhinged horn section ramping up the fervent energy. — Ben Easton

52. Sungha Jung — Yesterday

“Yesterday” is the most-covered Beatles tune, but guitarist Sungha Jung’s chord melody version is the perfect blend of sophistication and simplicity. The instrumentalist’s ability to stretch and pull within the measure is lovely. The end result is an effortless melancholy, lullaby-style solo guitar version of the tune. This acoustic fingerstyle cover doesn’t need rambunctious moving lines or complex chord stacks to be beautiful. As Chopin said, “Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties… After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.” — Aleah Fitzwater

51. Duffy Power — Fixing a Hole

Ray Howard aka Duffy Power possessed one of those “what the hell is this?” kind of voices. On one song he’d be sensitively soulful; on the next track he’d be utterly hysterical. Which is to say, the line between an overwrought Power performance and a quietly passionate one is microscopically thin. His performances evoke everyone from Billie Holiday to Reg King (lead singer of ’60s mod band The Action) to any number of 20th Century Delta bluesmen.

In 1963, backed by the Graham Bond Quartet (whose line-up included future legends John McLaughlin, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker), Power recorded a version of “I Saw Her Standing There.” It was only the second time in history that a Beatles song had been covered and officially released by another artist. But despite Power’s releasing a slate of solid singles in the first half of the ’60s (including the aforementioned fab-ness), and possessing that otherworldly voice, commercial success evaded him. This cover of “Fixing A Hole” comes from his self-titled third LP released in 1973. Saying it is sonic light years from the lushly melodic, lightly psychedelic original, somehow feels like an understatement. In contrast to the punchy Beatle version, the Power cover feels like it is made of glass. Featuring only voice and acoustic guitar, it is the epitome of fragility, a weird marriage of melancholy vocal and unhinged picking that sounds as if it could go completely awry at any second. This cover is crying and damn is it beautiful. — 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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