Originals vs Covers – 4 C less than O

Just a peacock on a fence in the Castle of St George, the dragon slayer, in Lisbon, Portugal. It has no meaning to this post, but I like to believe I can be inscrutable…. 🙂

In this episode we will look at Cover versions that are just not equal to the Originals, thus the C<O.

Since you’re here, why not check out the rest of the series?

Part 1: Where we introduced the topic.

Part 2: Where we listed Covers that were better than the Originals

Part 3: Where we talked about songs where the Covers are as good as the Originals

Click the links abover and check those songs out.

As before, you will get a link to the original, link(s) to cover versions and a rationale of sorts for their equal status.

Let me know if you agree, disagree or are just meh, whatever, man. Use the comment feature below to do that.


In a departure from the previous lists, I have dispensed with links to the songs. Statistical analysis revealed that ain’t nobody clickin’ on them there links. Users have universally ignored all the links I provided so diligently, thus reinforcing my privately held opinion (thus far) that all’s the world a .. ah never mind!

I have made one exception, right at the end of the list, where you will see a little audio player. (Yay for me! I learnt a bit of HTML again!) Slap on headphones, press play and curse out loud… 😉 🙂


Here we go then, songs where the cover version is just NOT as good as the original!

Covers < Originals

The list of songs where the Cover versions are just not as good as the Original, thus C
Brimful of Asha - CornershopNorman Cook remixAh, come! Who can argue against the unintelligible (even to me) Punjabi spoken at the start? ALL TOGETHER NOW - "45!"
American Pie - Don McLeanMadonnaEeek! Madonna successfully kills off an iconic song, removes the caustic commentary, the nostalgic lamentation and leaves us with .... what exactly? Faugh!
Gloria - ThemThe DoorsVan the Man shows how. The Doors have a creditable version, but...
Mr Tambourine Man - Bob DylanThe ByrdsNo. Roger's 12-string Rickenbacker jingle-jangle doesn't lift it up above the original.
Pretty Woman - Roy OrbisonVan HalenAh no, Eddie! Sorry!
Good Lovin' - The Young RascalsGrateful Dead Maybe it;s the little boy suits The Young Rascals wear in that video, or maybe they're just havin' a good taayim!
After Midnight - JJ CaleEric ClaptonI knew EC before I knew JJ and EC took a lot of JJ's stuff and won a lot, but here EC loses to JJ. JJ's laconic singing and guitar playing is, well, great?
The Weight - The Band1. Aretha Franklin
2. King Curtis
An iconic song! Listed in my list of great songs. Ain't nobody gonna win against the original!
A Woman Left Lonely - Janis JoplinElla BrownOne word "Janis". Did I tell you that she is #1 on my personal list of Greatest Female Singers? No? You're wrong - I just did!
Me and Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin1. Kris Kristofferson
2. Sam Samudio
The Janis version rocks the Outro. Kris is countrytish and still good. Sam "the Sham" of Wooly Bully fame does a creditably bland version.
Knocking on Heavens Door - Bob Dylan1. Eric Clapton
2. Guns and Roses
The covers just don't capture the psalm-like quality of angst that Dylan gets. Besides, the Dylan version is so easy to play along with and sing with. Just close your eyes and close the door and you won't have to worry anymore about getting this very easy song to play.
Light my fire - The DoorsJose FelicianoCome on! This is one of those songs where the Doors get it right in all aspects. Ray's keyboards, Robbie's guitar in a great solo, with just the right amount of breakup, Jim's vocals all combine in a great song. Jose's version - um, no.
Blue Sky - Allman BrothersJoan BaezGreat easy-going love song, with those guitars.... Joan is too ... pure and high-pitched?
Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell1.Keb Mo
2. Counting Crows
with Vanessa Carlton
Joni's version with that funkily urgent guitar is too much for the laid back Keb' Mo' version and the oddly pop Counting Crows. Both covers lose that anger of the original.
It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry - Bob DylanBloomfield, Kooper, StillsDylan wins. I've always been concerned that somehow Bloomfield's guitar playing never gets through to me. I find him just a tad off... Must be me, because everyone else thinks he is very good. The cover here is from the Kooper Sessions. Stills' presence doesn't help.
Come Together - The BeatlesAerosmithThe Beatles. What an original song for it's time! Aerosmith, good job, but yeah, sorry boys!
If not for you - Bob DylanGeorge HarrisonNasal singing from Bobby over that slidy guitar from Georgie.
Sunshine life for me - Ringo StarrDon McLeanRingo, I think. Don comes close, but Ringo edges ahead for his voice?
Blue Bayou - Roy OrbisonLinda RondstadtNo, Linda, is a good singer, but doesn't match Roy's original.
You ain't going nowhere - Bob DylanThe ByrdsLloyd Green's pedal steel guitar is a great addition. Roger's 12-string Rickenbacker jingle-jangle is missing in action and overall, nope. Bobby from Hibbing, Minnesota wins this battle.
Dream On - AerosmithRonnie James DioVery close! But then Steven Tyler and that Skittles commercial nails the secret ingredient that allows Aerosmith to win this battle. This was suggested by Ashesh.
Lovesong - The CureAdeleNo contest! Adele's stripped down schmaltz does not cut it. Maya suggested this one.
Crazy - Gnarls BarkleyRay LaMontagneAnother that Maya suggested and I remembered the Gnarls version from the radio back in the day. Ray has a great acoustic version, but somehow Gnarls' version is more appealing.
Temple of the King - RainbowAxel Rudi PellMaya, I think, is a fan of Rudi and she suggested this song to see how I would react. Well, Rainbow takes a dreamy, melodic approach that works. Rudi makes it too metallic and the guitar intro is oddly reminiscent of "Brothers in Arms" by Dire Straits.
Bridge over Trouble Water - Simon and GarfunkelElvis PresleyNo contest!
Stairway to Heaven - Led ZeppelinPat BooneOh dear god! Pat!!!!! Take him away! It's true, folks, I have this in my collection, somewhere on those TBs of music. It was only ever played once.................. I wonder why!
Puff the magic dragon - Peter Paul and MaryNina and FrederikClose again, but PPM win, possibly because the harmonies are more accomplished.
Runnin' down a dream - Tom Petty and the HeartbreakersBarely Musical
What a great riff! It's a drivin' song! You get on the highway and put the song on and the pedal down.

The idiot in the cover version should never be allowed to put his musicianship (or lack thereof) on display to the world at large!


The songs in the list above are not in any particular order, or rather they are in the order in which I thought about them. All opinions are personal and trivial details may or may not be true, but are presented as currently known by me.

You are free to disagree! Just use the comment box below and let me have it!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Chakra Incognita

    Ah – so many suggestions from me and Ashesh. I like that. I must listen to Lovesong again. Haven’t listened for ages. There are LOTS of songs here that I am not familiar with and I have to listen to them and compare. I agree on Temple of The King. I find them two entirely different songs and I am besotted with each in its own way. I listen to them at different times depending on mood. Yup I am Rudi’s fan and equally of the bellowing singer. (And much more of their originals than covers. One cover of theirs I detest is Hallelujah). I again find Crazy to be two different songs. Just as I find Diamonds and Rust by Joan, Judas Priest and Arjun Kaul all different.
    I seem to be having a stuttering internet and the Barely Musical Canadian is barely streaming. The snatches I can hear are GOOD and the guitar is awesome. Strongly agree on Madonna 🙂 🙂 and American Pie
    You must listen to Come Together by HitchHykers – they bowled me over.
    I love that we all have strong opinions. Thank you for another “edutaining” post!

    1. SloWord

      Being different is fine with me. I think, I like quite a few of the covers for that reason. In a simple comparison, as in these posts, I had to pick one over the other. Thanks for the vote on the BM Canadian!