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.