The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Tuesday, December 09, 2003
COVER ME: Fellow blogger
Jim Henley is collecting lists of great musical covers. I don't know if I can answer his call properly, in part because I'm not sure where the boundary lies between covering someone else's song and simply performing a standard. Still, here's a baker's dozen of my favorites -- not a top 13, but a coven of tunes that might form the core of a longer list, if I had the time and inclination to write one:

The Blind Boys of Alabama: "Amazing Grace" (they sing it to the melody of "House of the Rising Sun")

Ray Charles: "Ring of Fire" (Johnny Cash goes R&B)

Miles Davis: "Someday My Prince Will Come" (turns out there was a great jazz song in there waiting to come out)

Bob Dylan: "A Satisfied Mind" (somewhere beyond country, gospel, and rock)

Merle Haggard: "Brain Cloudy Blues" (if the Bob Wills band is playing behind you, are you covering Wills or channeling him?)

Slim Harpo: "Folsom Prison Blues" (Johnny Cash goes R&B, again)

Jason & The Scorchers: "Candy Kisses" (country crooner George Morgan learns to slamdance)

Los Lobos: "Down Where the Drunkards Roll" (the best track on the Richard Thompson tribute Beat the Retreat)

Van Morrison & The Chieftains: "Raglan Road" (Patrick Kavanagh, double the soul)

Wilson Pickett: "Sugar Sugar" (this is what the Archies would sound like if Archie weren't a virgin)

Charlie Rich: "Hey Good Lookin'" (Hank Williams gets da funk)

They Might Be Giants: "Why Does the Sun Shine?" (a faithful homage to a children's educational record)

Tom Waits: "Heigh Ho" (Snow White's little friends are in hell)

Finally, an honorable mention of sorts goes to Brave Combo for "Tubular Jugs." I don't know whether to think of this as a cover version or a full-fledged original song, but the sheer inspired madness required to combine "Tubular Bells" with "Little Brown Jug" deserves our respect, our love, and our fear.

posted by Jesse 4:28 PM
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