Mar 132024

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

Eric Carmen

Eric Carmen, one of power-pop’s pioneers as the frontman for the Raspberries and a successful adult-contemporary solo artist, passed away over the weekend. He was 74 years old.

Carmen was forever a man out of time. Even as he accumulated hit records (did you know he cowrote the Footloose love theme “Almost Paradise”?), his music was scorned for being too wimpy, too poppy, too much not what was cool at the time. But time marched on, and people found themselves returning to the songs he wrote, because of their messages – what could be more direct than “I wanna be with you so bad”? – and the feelings they stirred up. Try as the critics did to shame him for his career, he had a lot to be proud of.

When it comes to covers of Eric Carmen songs, the veins are rich, but they’re tapped a lot more rarely than you might think. According to, the most-covered Raspberries song, “Go All the Way,” has fewer than a dozen versions. If anything good comes out of Carmen’s passing, maybe it’s that people will discover what a true artist he was. Here are five artists who have already made that discovery.

Lisa Mychols – Go All the Way (The Raspberries cover)

“Go All the Way” wasn’t just the Raspberries’ signature hit – it was one of power-pop’s signature hits, and that’s saying something. The lyrics straddled the line between PG and R ratings, so successfully that it went top-five in the US even as the BBC banned it. Guitarist Wally Bryson felt he should have gotten a songwriting credit for that incredible opening riff, and maybe he should have, because most covers genuflect in front of it by playing it note for note. One that doesn’t is Lisa Mychols’ cover. She has the affrontery to go acoustic and slow it down a little, leaving her lush vocal to carry the electricity of wanting. Does it ever.

Olivia Newton-John – Boats Against the Current (Eric Carmen cover)

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” That’s how F. Scott Fitzgerald closed The Great Gatsby, and that’s where Carmen got the inspiration for “Boats Against the Current.” Olivia Newton-John gave it gravitas in her cover, fully developing the ballad’s ache. Incidentally, her Grease co-star John Travolta covered Carmen’s “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again,” while John’s brother Joey covered the Raspberries classic “Let’s Pretend.”

Billie Joe Armstrong – That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll (Eric Carmen cover)

“That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” was an Eric Carmen song that most people first heard when teen idol Shaun Cassidy turned it into a hit a couple years later. That’s how Billie Joe Armstrong first heard it – “My sisters would dance around the house to this one!” he said. With his cover, the Green Day frontman may well have gotten the next generation of dancing sisters hooked on Carmen’s song.

Greyson Chance – Hungry Eyes (Eric Carmen cover)

Remember Greyson Chance, the kid who sang “Paparazzi” at school? Well, it hasn’t been all peaches and cream for him since, but he’s still making music and making it well. This is his cover of “Hungry Eyes,” the song from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack that brought Carmen back into the top five.

Frank Sinatra – All By Myself (Eric Carmen cover)

Far and away Carmen’s most covered solo song, “All By Myself” may have been “drenched in self-pity,” as one critic put it, but who hasn’t been? “If you walked in a record store and saw ‘All By Myself’ on the record label, you’d know what the song was about,” Carmen said, “and it’s an emotion that everyone has felt at some point in their life. Therefore, it’s a song that goes immediately to your heart.” Artists who sent it out to other hearts range from Eartha Kitt to Tom Jones to Celine Dion to Hank Williams Jr. For this post, we’ve chosen Frank Sinatra’s live cover, a tribute from one master to another.

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