From Nina Simone’s soulful rendition of “Here Comes The Sun” to Fiona Apple’s hauntingly beautiful take on “Across The Universe” the beauty of great covers lies in their ability to breathe new life into beloved songs.
Ah, the beauty of great covers! Is there anything quite like it? When a talented artist takes a beloved song and makes it their own, infusing it with new life and meaning, it can be a truly magical thing. And when it comes to covers of Beatles songs, well, the possibilities are endless.
The Beatles themselves were no strangers to covering other artists’ songs, and their early covers of rock and roll classics helped to cement their reputation as a formidable live act. But it’s the covers of their own songs that have had the most lasting impact, with countless artists from all genres and generations putting their own spin on Beatles classics.
What makes a great cover? It’s a difficult question to answer, as the best covers are often the ones that surprise us, challenge our preconceptions and make us see a familiar song in a whole new light. Some covers are faithful to the original, while others take wild liberties with the source material. Some are reverential, while others are irreverent. But the best covers are always the ones that capture the spirit of the original while adding something new and unexpected to the mix.
While some might argue that these songs are untouchable, that they belong in a kind of musical canon that can never be breached, the truth is that the best covers prove that great songs are timeless and adaptable, capable of resonating with new audiences and inspiring new interpretations for generations to come.
We Can Work It Out – Stevie Wonder
Wonder’s funky, soulful take on this Beatles classic is a masterclass in reinvention, transforming the original into something entirely new and irresistible.
With a Little Help from My Friends – Joe Cocker
Cocker’s iconic performance of this song at Woodstock is the stuff of legend, a raw and powerful rendition that captures the spirit of the era.
Come Together – Aerosmith
This hard-rocking cover from Aerosmith brings a whole new level of grit and swagger to the Beatles’ classic, with Steven Tyler’s vocals and Joe Perry’s guitar work taking center stage.
Across the Universe – Fiona Apple
This indie darling’s soulful, stripped-down cover of the Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road” is a breathtakingly raw and emotional interpretation, with her powerful vocals and piano work capturing the heartache and longing of the original.
Golden Slumbers – Ben Folds
Ben Folds’ rendition of the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” is a triumphant and emotive indie rock cover, featuring his trademark piano skills and commanding vocals that take the song to greater heights.
Yesterday – Ray Charles
The soulful crooning of Ray Charles turns this Beatles ballad into a timeless classic, with his signature style adding depth and emotion to the already haunting melody.
A Hard Day’s Night – The Supremes
The Supremes’ Motown-infused version of this Beatles hit is pure joy, with Diana Ross and co. infusing the song with their trademark energy and sass.
Eleanor Rigby – Aretha Franklin
The Queen of Soul’s cover of this haunting Beatles track is nothing short of stunning, with Franklin’s powerhouse vocals and piano skills bringing new life to the already powerful lyrics.
Something – James Brown
Brown’s funky, soulful take on this Beatles classic is a revelation, with the Godfather of Soul putting his own stamp on the song and making it truly his own.
Here Comes The Sun – Nina Simone
Simone’s soulful, bluesy version of this Beatles classic is a must-listen, with her powerful vocals and piano work adding depth and emotion to the already moving lyrics.
Blackbird – by Sarah McLachlan
McLachlan’s haunting, ethereal cover of this Beatles ballad is pure magic, with her delicate vocals and acoustic guitar work creating a sense of intimacy and vulnerability that is truly breathtaking.
Dear Prudence – by Siouxsie and the Banshees
This post-punk icon’s haunting, atmospheric cover of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” is a masterclass in mood and tone, with Siouxsie Sioux’s vocals and the band’s dark instrumentation lending the song a sense of mystery and intrigue.
Norwegian Wood – The Fiery Furnaces
This experimental indie rock duo’s take on the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” is a wild ride, with their unconventional approach to the song resulting in a thrilling and unpredictable reimagining of the original.
I Want to Hold Your Hand – Al Green
The legendary soul singer’s cover of this early Beatles hit is a masterclass in soulful interpretation, with his smooth vocals and funky instrumentation giving the song a whole new dimension of depth and feeling.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps – Regina Spektor
Regina Spektor’s take on the Beatles’ classic “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a stirring and haunting rendition, showcasing her stunning vocal range and delicate piano work that creates a melancholic and ethereal atmosphere. Pitchfork would surely be enchanted by her spellbinding performance.