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Top 100 Cover Songs
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Song Title
Artist
Original Artist
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01
All Along The Watchtower
Jimi Hendrix
Bob Dylan
A Classic Rock standard, and most people don’t even know it’s a Dylan song.  Let’s face it, even Dylan thinks it’s a Hendrix song
02
Hallelujah
Jeff Buckley
Leonard Cohen
This one has been covered a lot, especially as of late.  Jeff’s take on this beautiful tune has become the one all others will be judged against.  Jason Castro did a decent job on American Idol with the song and it shot up to #1 on iTunes with over 188,000 downloads!
03
Proud Mary
Ike & Tina Turner
Creedence Clearwater Revival
The original is an American standard, yet the more popular version in recent years is now Ike & Tina’s version.  This song has real staying power.
itunes
04
Twist And Shout
The Beatles
The Isley Brothers
The Beatles were prolific in their career, but in the beginning they covered a lot of songs…none more attention-getting than this one.  Ferris Bueller brought it back in a big way in the mid-80’s.
05
Respect
Aretha Franklin
Otis Redding
One of the best known R&B songs ever comes from the Queen Of Soul…and it’s a cover.  Aretha owns this song.
06
Georgia On My Mind
Ray Charles
Hoagy Carmichael
Distinctly American, this one is for the time capsule.  From Willie Nelson to Michael Bolton, this one has been covered often, but none more poignantly than Ray did it.  Perfect.
itunes
07
House Of The Rising Sun
The Animals
Unknown
This song is O-L-D.  This is so old, the origin is unknown and heavily debated.  Yet it still gets the cover treatment fairly often and Eric Burdon and his band took it all the way to #1 in 1964.
08
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Israel K
Judy Garland
In 1939, a very young Judy Garland sang a song that would remain a piece of American history.  In 1988, an unknown Hawaiian claims it as his own and via the Internet, the world falls in love with this song all over again.
09
You Really Got Me
Van Halen
The Kinks
Releasing a cover song as your first ever single is not usually recommended…unless you blow the song up and slap a genre-changing guitar assault on top of it.  A risky move for some, but Eddie Van Halen was changing the game.
10
I Heard It Thru The Grapevine
Marvin Gaye
Gladys Knight & The Pips
Marvin’s version came only a year after Gladys, but it caught fire and shot to #1.  Decades later, it’s still one of the most recognizable Motown songs in the library.
11
I Shot The Sheriff
Eric Clapton
Bob Marley
Many people tried to bring reggae to the US, but it wasn’t until Clapton did this song, that the world really paid attention.
12
Take Me To The River
Talking Heads
Al Green
It was called New Wave at the time of release, but the Heads outlived that moniker.  The production, and David Byrne’s quirky vocals made this a standout from the first listen.
13
We Can Work It Out
Stevie Wonder
The Beatles
The Beatles are one of the most covered bands of all time, but the memorable ones are the ones where the artist reworks it to their strengths without losing what made the song great in the first place.  Stevie is a master at just that.
14
Satisfaction (I Can’t Get No)
Devo
Rolling Stones
When Devo busted this one out on Saturday Night Live In 1978, jaws dropped. Is it possible to remake one of greatest Rock singles ever?  Yes.
itunes
15
How Can You Mend A Broken Heart
Al Green
The Bee Gees
How can you take a folky English pop song and make it a silky soul song?  Easy, give it to Al Green.
16
The Man Who Sold The World
Nirvana
David Bowie
When Nirvana set out to do MTV’s popular unplugged series, they didn’t just sing their hits with acoustic guitars.  They brought friends and they brought covers.  You can hear this haunting song on a Rock radio station somewhere every day.
17
Hurt
Johnny Cash
Nine Inch Nails
Rick Rubin brought many songs to the man in black that were not in his wheelhouse, but this one would seem a very unlikely fit.  Trent’s song is angry, full of despair.  Johnny’s is bare, honest, painful and since his passing….hard to listen to.  Put this song on and the world seems to stop.
18
With A Little Help From My Friends
Joe Cocker
The Beatles
These 2 versions couldn’t sound less alike.  The Beatles version sounds almost trite, while Joe’s is gospel soul bliss.
19
Red Red Wine
UB40
Neil Diamond
As the story goes, Neil was vacationing in the islands when he first heard UB40’s hit…and didn’t recognize it as his own song.  Nuff said.
20
I Will Always Love You
Whitney Houston
Dolly Parton
This song had two lives with its writer and original artist, Dolly Parton.  The first version was a minor country hit in the 70’s.  Dolly re-made it for the soundtrack of The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas with a more poppier flare in 1982.  Whitney sang it in another movie, The Bodyguard and sent it to #1 for months and months.
21
Light My Fire
Jose Feliciano
The Doors
The pride of Puerto Rico was en fuego with this cover song of the Doors classic.
22
Summer Breeze
The Isley Brothers
Seals & Crofts
The Isleys produced some of the best covers ever including “Hello It’s Me”, “Ohio”, and “Love The One You’re With”…so picking one was tough.  This one retains most of the melody, yet gives it their psychedelic soulful touch.
23
Landslide
Dixie Chicks
Fleetwood Mac
Smashing Pumpkins did an ok version of this as well, but the Chicks take it to the Heartland in a warm way that would lead them in a whole new direction as a group.
24
Tainted Love
Soft Cell
Gloria Jones
This is another song that falls into the category of Didn’t Know This Was A Cover.  You have to go all the way back to 1964 for the original.  Soft Cell kept their version (coupled with The Supremes ‘Where Did Our Love Go”) on the charts for an amazing 43 weeks back in 1982.
25
Good Lovin’
Grateful Dead
The Rascals
One of the all-time great party songs gets the laid back pool party treatment.  One of the Dead’s most playful moments on record.
26
She’s Not There
Santana
The Zombies
It’s hard to imagine Carlos NOT covering this song.  The song suits him to a tee, and allows those fantastic guitar fills.
27
Sweet Jane
Cowboy Junkies
Lou Reed
These Canadians came on to the scene with this atmospheric cover in 1988 and then had it immortalized 6 years later in Natural Born Killers.
itunes
28
I Thank You
ZZ Top
Sam & Dave
Take some Memphis Soul, add a little Texas Blues and you’ve got one funky barbeque.
29
On Broadway
George Benson
The Drifters
A great oldie gets the jazzy-pop treatment in what would become a live staple of Mr. Benson’s shows till this day.
amazon.com
30
Dancin’ Barefoot
U2
Patti Smith Group
This is another song that has become a favorite of Alternative acts to cover.  U2 has covered The Stones, The Beatles, Lou Reed and more…but this is a shining moment for Edge.
31
Blinded By The Light
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
Bruce Springsteen
They also covered “For You” and “Spirit In The Night” from The Boss, but “Blinded By The Light” went to #1 in 1976.  Ironically, Bruce used to perform the Manfred Mann hit ‘Pretty Flamingo” in his early concerts.
32
To Love Somebody
Rod Stewart
The Bee Gees
One of Rod’s truly great vocal performances ever.  His covers of ‘Angel” and “Reason To Believe” are also magical, but this one is a pure gem.
33
Higher Ground
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Stevie Wonder
The Chili’s were big on covers in the early days, giving them their high energy punk-funk approach.  This is the song that put them on MTV’s radar and began a series of hits that would last 20 years.
34
Ain’t That A Shame
Cheap Trick
Fats Domino
Although they were seen as the second coming of The Beatles in the 70’s, it was this song that led off the trio of Budakon hits with Surrender and I Want You To Want Me.  The interplay between Bun E. Carlos on drums and Rick Nielson’s guitar is what live rock and roll was all about in the 70’s.
35
Mad World
Gary Jules
Tears For Fears
Brought to life by Donnie Darko, it’s amazing how much a song changes in meaning just by slowing it down.
36
Under The Boardwalk
John Mellencamp
The Drifters
Everyone knows this song, but it was the former Mr. Cougar who took it from the beach to Middle America.
37
My Girl
John Hiatt & Loudon Wainwright III
The Temptations
You could argue that this song is one of the greatest, if not the greatest pop single ever written (by Smokey Robinson)…so how could you cover it?  This version has such a rootsy emotion to it, they take it to a whole new place and it works.
38
I Fought The Law
The Clash
Bobby Fuller Four
Considering the song and considering the band doing it…perfect match.
39
Hard To Handle
The Black Crowes
Otis Redding
“Respect” and “Hard to Handle”….proof that Mr. Redding does not get the credit her deserves.  The Crowes made this the sing-a-long song of the 90’s.
40
Brown Eyed Girl
Jimmy Buffett
Van Morrison
Once again, an artist who loves covers.  The king of the Parrotheads has covered “Sunny Afternoon”, “Uncle John’s Band”, “Southern Cross” and many more, but this is the one that his legion of fans expect at every gathering.  You can’t argue with steel drums.
41
You’ve Got A Friend
James Taylor
Carole King
It’s not so much that JT changed the song and made it his own.  It’s just that almost everyone on the planet thinks it’s his song.
42
Ooh Baby Baby
Linda Ronstadt
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Linda wasn’t a songwriter, so it was all about picking the right song.  She plucked “Hurt So bad” from Little Anthony & The Imperials, “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” from Warren Zevon” and “Back In The USA” from Chuck Berry.  “Ooh Baby Baby” was a perfect choice for her.
43
Jump
Aztec Camera
Van Halen
Little known cover, but a great quirky take.
44
Get Ready
Rare Earth
The Temptations
Rare Earth had the distinction of being the first white act signed to Motown.  Ironically, they did mostly old Motown songs, they just crunched them up.
45
Love Song
311
The Cure
When Alternative music started to come into fashion in the late 80’s, there was no bigger band than The Cure to wave that flag.  This became their biggest hit peaking at #2 and a natural choice for 311 to put their reggae spin onto for the 50 First Dates soundtrack.
46
Hazy Shade Of Winter
The Bangles
Simon & Garfunkel
I have to admit that when I first heard this back in 1987, I didn’t know it was a S&G song.  The Bangles added a bit more urgency to the song and some lush harmonies for the Less Than Zero soundtrack.
47
Havin’ A Party
Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
Sam Cooke
If you’re not from the East Coast, you may not know this song, but trust me…this was played at every party from the late 70’s thru the 80’s….a lot!
48
Knocking On Heaven’s Door
Eric Clapton
Bob Dylan
One of the most covered songs ever, but would you rather hear Clapton’s reggae-tinged version or Axl Rose screaming it?  Ok, don’t answer that.
49
Last Kiss
Pearl Jam
J. Frank Wilson
The single that almost wasn’t.  Every year Pearl Jam releases a 45 to their fan club members only. Many times these are instrumentals or sung by someone other than Eddie Vedder.  In 1998 a few radio station DJ’s got the single and started to play it on the air.  The song got instant requests and Epic Records was forced to release it as a single where it became the band’s biggest hit single.
50
Wild Horses
The Sundays
Rolling Stones
Harriet Wheeler’s soaring vocals give this song a different quality than the original.  In fact, most times when the song is covered now, it’s The Sundays they are covering.
51
Sea Of Love
The Honeydrippers
Phil Phillips
In this case the remake surpasses the original.  The full production, lush string arrangements and soaring Robert Plant vocals make this a modern day standard.
52
Money
Flying Lizards
Barrett Strong
One of the first Motown hits gets one of the most unusual cover arrangements ever.
itunes
53
Everybody Knows
Concrete Blonde
Leonard Cohen
Johnette Napolitano’s vocals give this song the haunting quality it needs.  This song should sound like Halloween, and here it does.
54
Crazy
Ray LaMontagne
Gnarls Barkley
Ray started doing this Gnarls Barkley song (as did everyone else that year) and got rave reviews for his sparse intreptation of the song. Ray changes the meaning of the song with his soulful yearning.
55
Little Wing
The Corrs
Jimi Hendrix
This song is kind of hard to mess up, but when you add a pure female vocal and an Irish arrangement, you have something unique.
56
Tears Of A Clown
English Beat
Smokey Robinson The Miracles
A Motown classic given the ska treatment from one of genres forefathers.  You can’t help but smile.
amazon.com
57
Save It For Later
Pete Townshend
English Beat
When the guy who wrote Baba O’Reilly decides to cover your song…you let him.  The stripped won version with Pete’s instantly recognizable vocals make this a keeper.
58
Ring Of Fire
Social Distortion
Johnny Cash
You don’t mess with Mike Ness and you never messed with Johnny Cash.  Ther personalities of these two men make this connection perfectly fitting.
59
Working Class Hero
Green Day
John Lennon
This is more recent remake taken from a compilation to save Darfur.  With Billie Joe’s recent conversion to political songs, doing this song makes sense.
itunes
60
Battle Of Evermore
Lovemongers
Led Zeppelin
Ann & Nancy Wilson never kept it a secret their reverence for all things Zep.  On a non-Heart side-project they show their stuff in perfect harmony…with mandolins.
amazon.com
61
Mercy Mercy Me
Robert Palmer
Marvin Gaye
Palmer has covered many songs in his career, most notable “Can We Still Be Friends” and a number of Little Feat songs.  He charted in 1991 with this stylish version of one of Marvin’s finest moments.
62
Crimson And Clover
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Tommy James & The Shondells
She was turned down by 27 record companies.  Joan put out her own record, took “I Love Rock And Roll” to #1 and followed it up with this song.  She was indie before indie was cool.
63
I Want Candy
Bow Wow Wow
The Strangeloves
Malcolm McClaren has had an interesting career.  His solo records were very eclectic and his taste in finding acts equally bizarre, i.e. Sex Pistols, Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow.  This outfit was fronted by Annabella Lwin, who was rumoured to be all of 16 when she joined the group.
64
Jersey Girl
Bruce Springsteen
Tom Waits
This was a rare live song from Bruce until it appeared on his 3 disc live set in 1985.
65
Drive
Ziggy Marley
The Cars
The way this song was used in the film 50 First Dates and the reggae flavor added made you realize just how good this song was.
66
Come Together
Aerosmith
The Beatles
From one of the biggest flop films ever, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band….this was one of the lone survivors.
amaozn.com
67
I Can’t Make You Love Me
George Michael
Bonnie Raitt
George Michael could probably sing the phone book and most of us would listen.  This song is almost too easy for him.
68
Got To Be There
Chaka Khan
Michael Jackson
There may be no finer female voice in music and hearing her steal this song is breathtaking.
69
These Days
Gregg Allman
Jackson Browne
This is one of Jackson’s best songs and most covered.  Gregg’s version brings it down South and adds a touch of Blues.
70
Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime
Beck
The Korgis
A minor hit in 1980, it was brought back to life by Beck in the film Eternal sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.
amaozn.com
71
Dancing Days
Stone Temple Pilots
Led Zeppelin
In 1995 many of the top bands of the day got together to record a tribute LP to the Gods Of Thunder.  Most of them were forgettable, but STP’s tune remains the bright spot.
72
Where Did Our Love Go
J. Geils Band
The Supremes
Great tempo, respectful of the original….yet a little down n’ dirty with that trademark Geils harmonica sound.
73
Take It Easy
The Eagles
Jackson Browne
When these California country rockers burst on to the scene, it was a cover song from a little know singer-songwriter named Jackson that launched the career of the biggest selling American band ever.
74
Nothing Compares 2 U
Sinead O’Connor
The Family
When The Time disbanded, Prince had to find another outlet for his songs, which seemed to be written daily at that time.  He took some of the remaining members of The Time and added some other Minneapolis friends and formed The Family.  Prince wrote the songs and the whole project seemed to last 10 minutes.  Sinead hit a grand slam with it in 1990, mostly due to her one take riveting video for the song.
amazon.com
75
Bizarre Love Triangle
Frente
New Order
This was a unique take on an up-tempo synth-dance number at the time.  These days every TV show or commercial seems to feature something similar.  Ahead of their time.
76
La Bamba
Los Lobos
Ritchie Valens
In the summer of 87, you couldn’t go into a bar without hearing this come on the jukebox and everyone singing along.  Of course, none of us know what we’re saying when we sing it.
iTunes
77
I’m Free
Soup Dragons
Rolling Stones
One of the lesser know Stones songs in their catalogue…it became the first radio hit for the Soup Dragons in 1990.
iTunes
78
To Sir With Love
10,000 Maniacs
Lulu
This is a rare one.  After Clinton was inaugurated in 1993, MTV threw their own party.  The Maniacs were hot at that moment and played a few songs with Michael Stipe of R.E.M. on guest vocals for a few, including this one.
iTunes
79
Ms. Jackson
The Vines
Outkast
A rock band covering a hip hop song.  Always a favorite at their live shows.
amazon.com
80
Darling Nikki
Foo Fighters
Prince
There are plenty of Prince covers out there, but this one got a lot of attention as a b-side on Modern Rock radio.
iTunes
81
Walk Away Renee
Rickie Lee Jones
The Left Banke
Rickie is one of the great interpreters of Rock, in fact she has done an entire album of covers.  This one comes form her critically acclaimed Girl At Her Volcano EP.
amaozn.com
82
Every Night
Matthew Sweet
Paul McCartney
One of Paul’s lesser known solo songs, but remains one of his favorites to perform. Matthew gives it the right blend of respect and updating.
83
Just My Imagination
Rolling Stones
The Temptations
Their best cover was a bootleg version Of ‘Drift Away”, so we’ll have to settle on this bluesy rendition of the Temps classic.
itunes
84
After The Gold Rush
Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris & Linda Ronstadt
Neil Young
This cover is absolute magic.  This trio’s blend of voice, is effortless and makes you realize what a treasure Neil is as a songwriter.
85
Stone Cold Crazy
Metallica
Queen
One of the hardest bands to cover because the vocal stylings of Freddie Mercury.  Metallica picked the right song when asked to cover something from the Elektra catalogue for a compilation CD.
amazon.com
86
Cold Sweat
John Mellencamp
James Brown
Mellencamp always did the best covers and included them in his live show.  This one takes a JB jam and gives it a bit more melody, but keeps it funky and real.
iTunes
87
With Or Without You
Keane
U2
U2’s version is perfect….earnest and atmospheric.  Keane strips it down to the melody and keeps you firmly focused on the words.  Nice job.
iTunes
88
D’yer M’ker
Sheryl Crow
Led Zeppelin
This was one of Zep’s least serious numbers (it was an inside joke of the band’s) and Sheryl keeps it playful, with a woman’s touch.
89
The Locomotion
Grand Funk
Little Eva
An unlikely cover considering the dated sound of the original, but Grand Funk gives it some funk and their trademark rock n’ soul sound….and takes it to #1 in 1973.
90
Got To Get You Into My Life
Earth Wind & Fire
The Beatles
Even though the movies was abysmal, the songs were mostly good….proving what we already knew about The Beatles and their music.
itunes
91
Don’t Le Me Be Misunderstood
Elvis Costello
The Animals
This cover has the right amount of unique interpretation mixed in with the proper amount of respect for the original….and the voice of Elvis.
92
Summertime Blues
The Who
Eddie Cochran
Another one of those covers where most people assume it was the original.
iTunes
93
If You Don’t Know Me By Now
Simply Red
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
Great song, covered by a great voice.  Mick Hucknall drew some much-deserved attention to Teddy Pendergrass with this hit.
94
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Elton John
John Lennon
As the story goes, Elton made a bet with Lennon that he could record this song and have a #1 hot with it.  John didn’t believe it…and lost.  After it topped the charts, Lennon was forced out of retirement at Madison Square Garden during Elton’s show and got up on stage for 3 songs.  Sadly, that would be his last concert performance.
95
Never Let Me Down Again
Smashing Pumpkins
Depeche Mode
This was a rare Pumpkins song for collector’s until they contributed it to a Depeche tribute CD in the late 90’s.
iTunes
96
We Gotta Get Out Of This Place/Don’t Bring Me Down/It’s My Life
David Johansen
The Animals
This great medley was helped along by a compelling live video that aired on MTV in the early days.  The former New York Doll would never see much success from his solo work until he changed his name (and act) to Buster Poindexter.
97
Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon
Urge Overkill
Neil Diamond
Neil has had plenty of songs covered (The Monkees), but it wasn’t until this relatively unknown song showed in Pulp Fiction that he gained some real cred.
iTunes
98
Angie
Tori Amos
Rolling Stones
Tori was famous for cover songs as b-sides on her singles.  The “Crucify” CD singles featured covers of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit” and this Stones classic.
99
Little Wing
Sting
Jimi Hendrix
Gordon Sumner has made it no secret his  love for all things Hendrix.  He recorded “Purple Haze”, “The Wind Cries Mary”, “Up From The Skies” and “Little Wing”…so far.  It’s his soaring rendition of “Little Wing” that really hits home.
100
Nobody Does It Better
Radiohead
Carly Simon
Another rare find on the Internet for years….this one is almost comical as you can’t quite tell if the band is taking this seriously or not.  Nonetheless, it is Thom Yorke and that always counts for something.


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