Leonard Cohen recently requested that people stop covering his song "Hallelujah." Was it the fact that Neil Diamond covered it along with "Yesterday," the world's most covered song (covering "Happy Birthday" at your niece's birthday party doesn't count) on his latest album, Dreams? If I hadn't laid off my intern three years ago, maybe we could find out.
Since this is a blog that--you may have noticed--makes a lot of lists, I thought it was would be appropriate to dig up some tunes that I've heard covered by quite a few people over the years. You have your own and you should share them below!
10) "Me & Bobby McGee" - Kris Kristofferson, Janis Joplin: Yes, yes, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." I suppose you could sing this if your company pension goes bye-bye or you lose your retirement savings to the Atari Corporation or if things don't work out with your trusted financial advisor. Anyone want to buy some preferred stock in Thunder Muscle?
9) "Proud Mary" - Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tina Turner: When I was kid and my parents dragged me to church to learn of the many ways I would earn entrance to hell, the "folk" group allowed the teenager in their ensemble to crank up the electric guitar with a little "Proud Mary," because, of course, both a riverboat and the Mother of God had the same name! I never stuck around to see if years later "Mary, Mary, Why Ya Buggin?" made it into the aging band's repertoire as well.
8) "My Funny Valentine" - Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Elvis Costello: I still like this song. Probably because most versions I hear are instrumental and, therefore, require less concentration on my part. If I listened closer, there's a good chance I would hate it. You want to know why so many music critics are so critical? It's because they listen closer and become acutely aware of how tiring this whole music thing is. Look, there's a band that pound shovels together! They're great!
7) "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" - Bob Dylan, Guns & Roses, Warren Zevon: Just the simple fact that Guns & Roses killed this song is reason enough for it to be here. I suppose "The Weight" by the Band and even Dylan's own "Ballad of Hollis Brown" have been covered as much for all I know. We let Warren Zevon have it, since he kinda died soon after, and was someone who deserved to sing it in the first place.
6) "Have I Told You Lately?" - Van Morrison, Rod Stewart: It's amazing that an international curmudgeon such as Van Morrison would write and sing a song that's been played at more weddings than there are marriages. The likelihood of this song surviving is 50% higher than most marriages. If I could share just a third of the copyright on this tune, I would never leave the house again! (Think of the money I would save on pants! Yahoo! management would surely approve.)
5) "Perfect Day" - Lou Reed: Was Lou Reed being a jerk for denying Susan Boyle the right to perform one of his most over-covered hits? Or was it really some legal snafu? I was hoping he was taking one for the team, but apparently he was just holding out to direct the video. As far as I'm concerned, I think he was taking one for the team. If Boyle doesn't sing "Heroin" or "Sister Ray" or the ballad on side three of Metal Machine Music, then she can't be part of the club. I don't care how much of a "freak" she is.
4) "These Days" - Jackson Browne, Nico, Gregg Allman, Paul Westerberg, Tom Rush: I like the song a lot. So far I haven't heard a version I disliked. However, why tempt the odds? Eventually someone - Bono? Sting? Michael Buble? Elvis Costello? - is going to mess it up. And I don't want to be there to witness the damage.
3) "Brown Eyed Girl" - Van Morrison: This is a song that is ALWAYS played in bars by open mic performers, house bands, featured acts without enough songs of their own. Does anyone ever request this song? Can we shoot them?
1) "Yesterday" - The Beatles: According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this is the most covered song of all-time with more than 1,600 covers from Elvis Presley to Boyz II Men. Even Michael Bolton got around to trying it. It's like the gateway song to eventually covering other songs on this list. At least it isn't "Let It Be."