Mixtape Madness: Cover Songs
Author: Mack Rawden
published: 2007-10-17 12:49:25
Anyone who loves music, I mean really loves music, can’t get enough of mixtapes. From a collection of road trip anthems for an extended drive to a chorus of I love you songs for a cute girl, the mixtape can service all of your needs, providing a happy beginning, middle, and end. I’ve made dozens of absurd mish-mashes in my life, and I figured I’d share some of my favorites with you in a series of unknown length called Mixtape Madness.
This week’s crazed concoction is devoted to the cover song. Playing another band’s work is always a delicate and tricky process. Even the smallest misstep can turn a pleasant rendition into a blasphemous disaster with staggering consequences. I, for example, will never forgive Creedence Clearwater Revival for their cover of Screamin’ Jay’s “I Put A Spell On You”, nor will I ever get over Limp Bizkit’s traumatizing version of “Behind Blue Eyes.” Those assholes.
But it’s not all bad. “Tained Love” and “Cum On Feel The Noise” were both vastly improved by subsequent remakes, and a whole host of other covers have put fascinating new spins on old favorites. Before I get into this gem of a mixed tap, I feel the need to clarify something. This is not the fourteen greatest cover songs ever recorded. It’s simply a rag-tag collection I found worthy enough to put on a personal CD. Therefore, it will be useless when you email me, complaining about how I didn’t include “Big Yellow Taxi” by Counting Crows.
The following is an actual mixed tape I made my sophomore year of college. I’ve also included a brief reason why each lucky tune made the list.
1) “I Will Survive” by Cake: This outrageous and campy cover of Gloria Gayner’s classic is brilliant. Lead singer John McCrea doesn’t bother going for the same high notes (that would probably require castration), but his reserved almost speaking gives the lyrics a more cold and distant spin.
2) “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen: Most people seem to think this was a Kingsmen original, but the song was actually written by Richard Berry eight years before they got their greedy paws on it. This tune is just flat-out fun. If you’re ever worried about people not having fun at a party, just put on this indecipherable gem. Debauchery will follow.
3) “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett: The Kingsmen tried to cover this gem too (those selfish bastards), but Wilson Pickett ended up having the signature version of this Mack Rice original. At the end of the day, all Sally wants to do is ride around, and I can get on board with that.
4) “Blinded By The Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band: Sorry, Bruce Springsteen. Manfred Mann did some dirty things to your song, and I can’t get enough. Plus, every time I hear the line “I’ll turn you on, sonny, to something strong”, I feel like I should be snorting mounds of cocaine with hundred dollar bills. In retrospect, that might not be a good thing.
5) “Alabama Song” by The Doors: Jim Morrison wants to know the way to the next whiskey bar. No! Don’t ask why. Just show him. Ohh, he also wants to know where to find little girls. Don’t question the Lizard King!
6) “One Bourbon One Scotch One Beer” by George Thorogood: Society constantly tells us to solve our problems rationally. Weigh the pros and cons and all that bullshit. George Thorogood has a different solution. It involves getting shitfaced and letting solutions fall into place. Sounds good to me.
7) “Smokin’ In The Boys Room” by Motley Crue: Sure, the Brownsville Station original is a classic, but if I was really cutting class to breathe in cancer, I’d want Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, and Mick Mars with me. Yes, girls girls girls are allowed to come too.
8) “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker: What you don’t like The Wonder Years? That’s what I thought. Get off my case, asshole. Sometimes I like to be nostalgic.
9) “I Fought The Law” By Bobby Fuller Four: Apparently, not very well, though, as Bobby Fuller was found dead just as this song broke. Many think he was murdered by law enforcement officials. I’m down with a good conspiracy theory; so, I’ll buy it having absolutely no evidence to support the claim. A lot of people like the Clash’s version better, but those people are complete idiots. You’re not an idiot, are you?
10) “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Conner: Yes, I know she ripped up a picture of the pope, but have you heard that voice? It’s like Jesus knocked up Aretha Franklin and produced a perfect set of pipes.
11) “Across The Universe” by Rufus Wainwright: It’s hard to touch The Beatles’ original, but this version comes damn close. While Wainwright’s voice is incomprehensible at some points, I still get shivers every time I hear him croon “Nothings gonna change my world.”
12) “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley: Jeff Buckley’s voice is beautiful, and it never shines more than on this Leonard Cohen classic. Over the last decade, it’s truly become the signature version, and if you download one song from this list, I’d advise it be this one.
13) “Hurt” by Johnny Cash: I still love Trent Reznor’s take, but the wisdom and pain in Cash’s voice is heartbreaking to say the least. I still can’t make it through the video without crying, and sometimes the song itself even inspires the waterworks.
14) “Pure Imagination” by The Smoking Popes: Who doesn’t love Willy Wonka? Probably Communists, but I don’t think this brilliant Smoking Popes cover was for them anyway. Like Louie Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”, it’s impossible to listen to this song and not smile. In the immortal words of Lester Burnham, “It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world.”
Which Cover Song Do You Like The Best?
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