Just playing around yesterday, wondering if I could come up with the top ten covers in my itunes library. It was hard. Even with a fairly high standard for consideration, I had over 25 songs in my first cut. And I've left a lot of really good ones on the cutting floor to get down to ten. Johnny Cash's covers of Hurt and Personal Jesus, Lenny Kravitz's cover of American Woman, Sheryl Crow's Sweet Child of Mine, Antony's cover of Knockin on Heaven's Door. You get the idea.
But here are my current favorite 10.
10. Sweet Jane, Cowboy Junkies. Two Velvet Underground songs make my list. You know you have a good cover when its kind of the definitive take on the song. And I think the Cowboy Junkies's version is the definitive one.
9. Ain't No Sunshine, Tyrone Wells. Stripped down. Peel the paint of the wall vocal. And a live recording. I get goose bumps every time I listen to it.
8. Masters of War, Pearl Jam. This is a stunning cover of the Dylan classic. They played it live after the beginning of the Iraq war. Vedder's vocals, the great guitar work, the moment in which they performed it. Awesome.
7. Oh! Sweet Nuthin', My Morning Jacket. I love how versatile these guys are. This was from their Bonaroo performance. Some covers are great because they do something new with an old standard. This one's great because they capture something of the original. Again, Velvet Underground.
6. Ain't that a Shame, Cheap Trick. I know, how could I leave off Johnny Cash and keep Cheap Trick. But I love this version of the old Fats Domino song. The guitars are so good, the build up so powerful, the vocals so cheeky. I always want to dance when I hear it.
5. She Said, She Said, Black Keys. The distortion they add to the Beatles' familiar guitar riff makes this a different song. And I like it. I can never just hear this once.
4. One, Johnny Cash. The emotion and gravity in his voice make this great song feel even more important. Johnny Cash doing U2. Pretty great.
3. Ramble On, Train. Who would've thought. Train covering Zeppelin. But I love, love this cover. I think I might like it better than Zeppelin's version. Great voice. Great guitars. Pretty straightforward cover. It's on the Knight's Tale soundtrack.
2. Hard to Handle, The Black Crowes. I would not advise anyone to cover Otis Redding. But they do, and this is the definitive version of this song. Great guitar riffs and amazing vocal. Just a fun, fun song.
1. Rusty Cage, Johnny Cash. Cash does Soundgarden. Go figure. These are amazing lyrics and Johnny Cash was meant to sing them. "You wired me awake and hit me with a hand of broken nails. You tied my lead and pulled my chain to watch my blood begin to boil...When the forest burns along the road like God's eyes in my headlights, when the dogs are looking for their bones and ice picks are raining on your steel shores..." And the Rick Rubin arrangement is great. I love this song.