For many local musicians, summer time means it’s time to brush up on cover songs. Restaurants, hotels, bars, and other music venues of this kind are more likely to shell out some dough for live entertainment, so long as the entertainers play recognizable songs. As I was digging through my binder full of cover song chords and lyrics this week, I asked myself “what makes a great cover song?” A question with a million different answers, depending on who you ask. Some may attempt to learn a song exactly as it was originally recorded, others may take the song and transform it into a completely different interpretation. While many of us may prefer to play original music, I think there is something to covering other artists’ songs. It allows us to continue a longtime folk tradition of passing/spreading stories breathing new life into old tales time and time again. For these reasons, I maintain that there is still something respectable about playing “Sweet Home Alabama” in a bar for the millionth time in your life. There are wayyyyy worse ways to make a living, after all.
My favorite cover of all time? Hands down, the Jimi Hendrix version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” When the cover is better than the original (and I say this as a HUGE Bob Dylan fan), you know magic happened! What is your favorite cover?