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All Covered Up

  • Nov 22, 2011
In my thirty-five years of life, I've been fortunate enough to have been introduced to a number of styles of music.  My father introduced me to great country artists like Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard, the Statler Brothers, Willie Nelson, and Charley Pride, as well as a number of gospel groups and swamp pop acts.  My mother always had more of a general interest in music, not setting her sights on any specific genre.  I was introduced to artists like Tony Orlando, Tom Jones, Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty, and Louis Armstrong by her.  My sister, always having a bead on what was currently cool, let me listen to her Survivor, Michael Jackson, and Lionel Ritchie albums and tapes.  She was also a huge Elvis fan.  My brother, like my mother, was all over the place, but his musical interests were even more spread out.  He listened to everything from blues greats like John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy to legendary country artists like Hank Williams, Sr., Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, and George Jones and southern rockers such as Lynyrd Skynyrd.  You could also catch him listening to Fleetwood Mac, George Strait, and more regional acts like Dash Rip Rock, Dr. John, Nathan Abshire, and Wayne Hancock.

As a child, I pretty much had to listen to whatever mom or dad had on the radio, or what my older siblings played in their rooms if I was around.  At about the age of nine, I started making my own mix-tapes off of my parents' and siblings' albums and pretended to be a DJ on the radio.  I played everything from Little Richard to REO Speedwagon on my "station" and as I grew older, I started adding music that influenced and shaped me.  Thanks to my upbringing, that musical influence was varied, and has included everyone from Guns n' Roses and Buddy Holly to Neil McCoy and KISS.

One thing that I always looked for was cover versions of tunes.  I loved hearing different artists' takes on tracks originally recorded by others.  This list is comprised of my favorite covers over the years.  No, there is no All Along The Watchtower covered by Jimi Hendrix, although I really do love that song, but it does include a few covers that some of you might not have heard of. 

Please feel free to comment and list your own favorite cover tracks.  Thanks for taking the time to read my list!
Hurt (cover)
Take a song by rockers Nine Inch Nails, offer it up to a country legend like Johnny Cash, and the result is the single greatest cover song created in my lifetime.  While original artist/writer Trent Reznor's NIN version is cool, Cash's version shows us a broken man reflecting on his life.  From the heartfelt vocals to the brilliant video, this is one of a very short list of songs that brings me to tears when I hear it.  Reznor wrote it and performed it first, but Cash owns this track!

While people argue over who wrote and/or first performed "Misirlou," there is no doubt that the most popular version (and my personal favorite) is that of Dick Dale and his Del-Tones.  Dale played a righty guitar left-handed and faster than hell.  It was a big hit for Dale in the 1960's, and became popular again when it was released as part of the soundtrack for Pulp Fiction.  The first recorded performance is usually considered to be that of Michalis Patrinos and his band in 1927.  The song is entitled Misirlou, but Dale changed it to Miserlou for his juiced up version.

Promised Land
In 1971, swamp pop legend Johnnie Allan put his spin on Chuck Berry's Promised Land and the result was an accordian-fueled swamp rocker that is, to this day, my favorite swamp pop song.  If you grew up around my father, you had to listen to acts like Johnnie Allan and other swamp poppers like Warren Storm and Rod Bernard.  I've seen Allan perform a few times over the years and his age hasn't slowed him down a bit. 

If you've never listened to swamp pop before, give it a try.  It's definitely an acquired taste, but once you find a few grooves that you enjoy, you might just be hooked for life.

Whiskey In The Jar
I've maintained a love/hate relationship with Metallica, as I didn't particularly care for much of their music throughout the 1990's.  However, their 1998 cover of Whiskey In The Jar won me over.  This Irish folk song has been recorded by a number of bands over the years (most notably Thin Lizzy), but I enjoy Metallica's version best.  Here's a live recording of it for you to enjoy.

Alient Ant Farm Smooth Criminal
While I enjoy quite a few of Michael Jackson's songs, particularly tracks like Thriller, Beat It, and Billie Jean, I never enjoyed Smooth Criminal until Alien Ant Farm took a shot at it in 2001.  Their rocked up version was music to my ears, and the video, which pretty much crams every single reference to Jackson's career into it, is still one of my favorites.

Purple Haze
What?  A cover song list without Jimi Hendrix?  Not exactly.  I am including a Hendrix track, but a cover of his legendary Purple Haze by another rock legend, Ozzy Osbourne.  In 1989, the Make A Difference Foundation released an album entitled Stairway To Heaven/Highway To Hell that featured cover versions of popular songs from bands who had members die as a result of alcohol and/or drug abuse.  All of the artists on the album were heavy metal/hair band acts, and included groups like Gorky Park, Cinderella, Bon Jovi, and Motley Crue covering songs by artists such as Janis Joplin, The Who, and the Sex Pistols.

I own the album, and if you're interested in hard rock, I highly recommend you pick it up.

It's My Life
In 2003, ska/pop/punk pop outfit No Doubt released a cover of Talk Talk's It's My Life from 1984.  It follows the original very closely, and I love both equally.  I'm particularly fond of the injection of Gwen Stefani's voice and the bass work in No Doubt's version.

Walk This Way
While a few bands fused rock and rap before it (most notably Blondie and their song Rapture), 1986's Walk This Way started a rap-rock revolution.  Run-D.M.C. was at the top of their game in the mid-80's, and Aerosmith was quietly falling to the wayside.  When the then-current rap kings took the Boston band's 70's hit and mixed it with their own rap-stylings, the song became a huge hit.

Aerosmith's career fired up once again, and the track solidified Run-D.M.C.'s place on the rock side of music history.

Lean On Me
Bill Withers hit with his soulful track Lean On Me in 1972.  In 1987, Club Nouveau popped up the track and added their excellent harmony to it as well.

Club Nouveau's version is, was, and always will be associated with 4-H in my book.  Why?  Because we adapted it for our Oberlin Elementary 4-H song and competed against other local 4-H clubs at Achievement Day.  Instead of the line "We be jammin," we craftily changed it to "We love 4-H."  Agricultural musical wizards were we!


In 1971, Five Man Electrical Band released their biggest hit, Signs, on their Good-byes and Butterflies album.  In 1990, hard rockers Tesla released their popular live album Five Man Acoustical Jam, which included covers of a number of tracks such as Lodi and We Can Work It Out.  Their biggest hit from that album was their cover of Signs.

While Love Song is probably my favorite Tesla tune overall, Signs is a very close second.  Tesla didn't stray too far from the original for their cover, but their acoustic version sounded great and actually sparked interest in Five Man Electrical Band for awhile.

Here's another live version of that track in Philadephia. 

La Bamba
The brief but fiery career of Ritchie Valens was brought to life in the 1987 film La Bamba.  The soundtrack spawned a #1 hit for Chicano rockers Los Lobos when they covered Valens' version of the traditional Mexican tune that shares the film's name.  This film and, more specifically, this song triggered my interest in Valens, the Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly.  It also convinced me to check out more Tejano and Chicano musical stylings.

Since that time, I've managed to collect all of Buddy Holly's works (his career was brief, but brilliant beyond my imagination), and have also added artists such as Los Lobos, Flaco Jimenez, Los Super Seven, the Mavericks, and a whole slew of Texas music to my listening repertoire.

Jump, Jive, an' Wail

With a deep appreciation of artists such as Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, and the early work of Elvis Presley, it's no wonder that I was drawn to rockabilly artists such as the Stray Cats and their frontman, Brian Setzer.  In the late 1990's, Setzer's second major group, the Brian Setzer Orchestra,  released an excellent cover of Big Band legend Louis Prima's Jump, Jive, 'an Wail

That song, and the album it comes from, The Dirty Boogie, was one of the biggest catalysts in the swing/big band revival that flourished in the late 90's/early 00's. 

What did you think of this list?

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November 23, 2011
I play music in much the same way. No way of predicting what might come up next!
November 23, 2011
Very eclectic list! I love people who enjoy a wide variety of musical styles. Thanks for putting this one together.
November 23, 2011
Thank you for reading my list. When people ride in my car or truck with me for the first time, they often go into shock when my playlist switches from groups like AC/DC to Amedie Ardoin. Granted, it's a jarring shift in styles, but I love it.
November 23, 2011
Very very creative and fun list to read. Thanks for sharing!
November 23, 2011
Thanks, woo!
November 22, 2011
This list is awesome and I think I'm going to have to make my own sometime this week. I love a lot of these tunes on here. I hadn't heard 3 and 6 before and those are really cool.
November 23, 2011
You educate me on the hip-hop and I'll educate you on the swamp pop! Thanks, djevoke!
November 23, 2011
Deal :)
About the list creator
Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #16
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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