Thursday, December 15, 2005


Our discussion of our favorite cover songs has invariably led us to a related matter that we might as well turn into a discussion of its own. What well-known songs were actually better in their original form? What got it right the first time and was only watered down in its hit form? We'll take all songs, all genres, all eras, but I think the more obscure the original, the better.

I'll start us off:

Muddy Waters, "You Need Love" -- This was the basis for Led Zepplin's "Whole Lotta Love." While the Zep version is a classic, the original blues tune is just scorching. The guitar work that he lays down is phenomenal, and the fact that he did this in the early '60s (when the pop charts were full o' Fabian) is amazing.

Gloria Jones, "Tainted Love" -- Soft Cell turned this into a one-hit wonder of the '80s, but the original is an inexplicably forgotten Motown tune. The tune's better in every way: a little more upbeat, a little more sassy, and a little more convincing coming from an angry woman than an androgynous man.

Dolly Parton, "I Will Always Love You" -- Before this song was systematically slaughtered by Whitney Houston and a thousand tone-deaf contestants from "American Idol," it was a sweet country tune from Dolly Parton. Supposedly about her break-up with Porter Wagoner, the song actually sounds sadly sincere in her rendition.

William DeVaughn, "Be Thankful for What You've Got" -- I'm always surprised at the number of people who know the weaker Massive Attack version, but never heard the original. This early '70s soul strutter is coolness defined.

Wow, that's a whole lot of love on the list. I guess things like "feelings" and "caring" are subjects that can be updated for any age and any audience.

Any original favorites of your own? Drop them in the comments.


ORF said...

I cannot think of any, but I've got a funny related story. My freshman year roommate had meal worms for brains.

So that was around the time Stuff Daddy put out his tribute to Biggie "I'll be missing you" and ripped Sting right off (that is, until Sting stooped so low as to show his own face onstage w/ Diddy that year at some awards show to sing the song. BOOO!!!)

Anyway, I'm listening to The Police one day in my room and Mealworm is there with me and "I'll Be Watching You" comes on. And she says, "Wait, why does this sound so different? I thought Puffy sang this? Who IS this????" So I explained. And she chose Puffy's version as the superior one. And we did NOT live together the next year. The End.

Otto Man said...

Jesus, that's sad.

There was a great Onion piece several years back that described Puff Daddy's newest single, which was simply Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" with nothing changed except the title. Something like "Tha Kid."

Mrs_Thrillhous said...

Pink Floyd, "Wish You Were Here"
As much as I like Catherine Wheel, I think they should have left this alone.

Don Henley, Boys of Summer
I don't know the pop group that did this recently, but it only exposed their weaknesses!

Bryan Adams, Heaven
I liked the chick's techno version, but her doing it as a ballad was not taking it up a notch.