15 Great Beatles Covers


Rock & Roll was built on covers, because a great song is a great song. The best covers retain the identity of the original recordings, but bring something new that enhances the song. Not surprisingly there are thousands of Beatles covers, and there’s no way to hear them all, but here is my take on 15 of the best. Next week we’ll have even more fun and go after the worst Beatle cover songs.

15. Jimi Hendrix Experience – Day Tripper

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Oh to be in London in 1967 when Hendrix and the Beatles were blowing each other’s minds, chasing birds and turning the world on.

14. The Silkie – You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away

An artifact from 1965 when folk groups still wore suits and ties. This prim little combo made a hit out of this Beatles album track and had Lennon and McCartney produce it.

13. Bob Dylan – Things We Said Today

I’m sure there are people thinking this belongs on the worst Beatle covers list, but Dylan recording a Beatle song for the first time closes a certain historical circle, even if it does sound like he’s gargling.

12. Gomez – Getting Better

Gomez and the Beatles are both bands with three or more lead singers, a rock rarity. The Band, the Beach Boys and Sloan also come to mind, if you guys can come up with five more I’ve got another list.

11. Soundgarden – Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except For Me And My Monkey)

Soundgarden gives the song the oomph it calls for, and I think Mr. Lennon would have loved it.

10. The Vines – I’m Only Sleeping

The perfect slacker vibe for the original slacker song. I think Johnny would have loved this one too.

9. Nina Simone – Revolution

When is a cover not a cover? Nina Simone changed the lyrics and the tune a little bit, and took songwriting credit, but everyone involved knew what was happening here, and I’m sure they were all pretty happy about it.

8. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs – And Your Bird Can Sing

OK, this is ranked way too high, but I’m a sucker for well-crafted pop, and I make no apologies. The over-layering on the second verse of this poppiest of rock songs is exquisite.

7. Ben Harper – Strawberry Fields Forever

Oh it’s experimental and all that, but Ben Harper reminds us what a soulful song this really is at its core.

6. Ray Charles – The Long and Winding Road

Did somebody say soulful?

5. The Black Keys – She Said She Said

Recording this on their first album in 2002 looks, in retrospect, like an important statement by the Keys.

4. Richie Havens – Here Comes The Sun

It’s quite a trick to sound completely different from the original, and yet somehow retain the same feelings of lightness and joy.

3. Johnny Cash – In My Life

The symmetry of a dying Cash singing these words of a 25-year-old Lennon brings me to my knees every time.

2. Stevie Wonder – We Can Work It Out

The Beatles version had both McCartney’s and Lennon’s hands on it, but Stevie should get a third writing credit for the sweet new licks he added to it.

1. Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends

When Joe Cocker passed away last December, McCartney said he was “forever grateful” to him for turning the song into a “soul anthem”. Cocker took the song and truly made it his own. It’s the only Beatle cover that is hands-down better than the original. Agreed?

Photo credit: By Omroepvereniging VARA (Beeld en Geluidwiki – Gallery: The Beatles) [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

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6 comments to “15 Great Beatles Covers”
  1. Great list. I would say the cover of “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide” by The Feelies is worth listening to as well.

    Also, somewhere on YouTube there is a video of Husker Du covering “Ticket to Ride” and it’s predictably amazing.

  2. You didn’t mention Emmylou Harris Here, there and everywhere. Also Joe Crocker and She came in thru the bathroom window. I know it’s Joe twice but it is still worth a spot.

  3. Is Paul McCartney covering “Imagine” or “Something” eligible? It wasn’t list-worthy or anything, but I’m wondering the logistics of that.

  4. Pingback: 10 Weird And Wonderful Steely Dan Covers | Rocknuts

  5. Pingback: Great New Track: Matthew Sweet – “Trick” | Rocknuts

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