Hello and Happy New Year everyone!
I hope all my readers had a wonderful holiday. Mine was lovely and active. My sister and her family kept me very busy, so I took a little break from blogging. Now that I’m back I will definitely be jumping back into my study of Jesus Feminist (find all applicable entries here in case you need to catch up). As it’s been a few weeks since I exercised my writing muscle I thought I would ease back into blogging with a topic a little less deep. That topic being, a list of my favorite Beatles covers.
I’m not here to convince you to like The Beatles. I love them. They are my number one band. If I could only listen to one band for the rest of my life, it would be them. I go through stretches where I don’t listen to them as often but inevitably when I come back it’s like putting on a cozy sweater and sitting in front of a fire; homey and lovely. They aren’t just my favorite band, but they are an important band too. Even those who may not like their music have to admit that they changed the music scene forever when they hit it big. What I love about them is that if you are into pop and top 40 you can listen to their early stuff, but if you are into experimental rock and roll you can listen to their later stuff and really enjoy that as well. (Seriously, if all you know about The Beatles are their early albums give Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Abbey Road a listen.)
OK that is it. I promised I wouldn’t spend this entry convincing you to like The Beatles. Instead I wanted to write about my favorite covers of Beatles songs. The Beatles are one of the most covered bands ever. Seriously just go to YouTube and type in “Beatles’ covers” and you will get literally thousands of results. It can be hard to know which ones are the best, but don’t worry I have painstakingly listened to many over the years and I feel confident in the list I am about to present. So without further ado here is the list in no particular order.
Rufus Wainwright- “Across the Universe”: This is from the movie soundtrack to I Am Sam which is all Beatles covers. There are a few from this album on the list and this one made it for a good reason. Rufus’ voice is just so beautiful and haunting on this song. It isn’t too different from the original which could be a mark against it. I tend to like covers that walk the line between a note for note remake and barely sounding like the song it is covering. But this song made it because his voice is different enough from John Lennon’s to make it interesting.
Stevie Wonder- “We Can Work It Out”: This cover (and one other one down the line) are the reasons why I wrote this post. I love Stevie Wonder and he makes this song his own in the very best way possible. His harmonica solo is sick! I debated which YouTube video to post but decided on the one below for two reasons; how amazing Stevie Wonder sounds for how old he is and because Paul McCartney is in the audience enjoying every minute of the performance
Aimee Mann & Michael Penn- “Two of Us”: Another song from I Am Sam. This cover perfectly encapsulates what I felt when I heard the original. It’s light, breezy, and romantic. You will feel happy after listening to this cover I guarantee it.
Ben Folds-“Golden Slumbers”: This song originally appeared on Abbey Road and is the definition of leaving you wanting more. I wish this song was six minutes long. The cover is the same way. The way it builds is so beautiful. I am literally always upset when it ends because I wish the song was longer.
AJ Luca-“Oh Darling”: Full disclosure. This is my best friend. But even if she was not my best friend this song would be on the list. A few years back AJ participated in a show where a bunch of different artists preformed the entire Abbey Road album. AJ arranged this version herself and it rocks. Paul McCartney is not just the pop crooner who sings “Yesterday”. This song is loud and raucous and hearing a woman sing it makes it even more amazing. Enjoy!
Gavin Creel-“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”: If you only listen to one cover please listen to this one. Seriously. I know it’s from an audience recording so the sound quality is not great. But you will not regret listening to this one. Gavin Creel is on of my Broadway crushes. What I love about him is his ability to sing Broadway style and then immediately cover a pop song and do them both flawlessly. The best part of this cover is when he comes back in after the instrumental. The note he hits puts shivers up my spine. He breaks my heart while singing this song, mostly because he’s gay and I’ll never get to date him. But also because it’s so beautiful. Since this is from an audience member filming skip to 1:20 for the actual song part. (and 4:01 for the note I’m talking about)
Tina Turner-“Get Back”: I named my first car Jo-Jo after this Beatles song. The image of Paul McCartney with his full beard on the roof of Apple Studios singing this song is imprinted on my mind every time I hear this song. But Tina’s version comes pretty close to blowing that visual out of the water. Seriously she eats this song for breakfast. Amazing. Also watch her back up dances because they are the 2nd best part of this video.
Al Green-“I Want to Hold Your Hand”: Talk about a soulful cover. Al Green sounds like he doesn’t just want to hold your hand while he’s singing this song. I love this cover because the feel of it is so different from the upbeat pop original.
AJ Luca-“In My Life”: Yup, the BFF made the list twice. Listen to this number and you’ll know why. It can be difficult for girls to cover The Beatles. The range can be too high or too low, and the ever present question of what to do with those gendered pronouns lurks in the background. (For the record I am of the opinion that if you are the opposite sex it is not a problem to change them when you sing.) AJ arranged both covers herself and they are wonderful. I love the little riff she does on the original guitar part from the very beginning.
Dana Fuchs-“Helter Skelter”: Charles Manson tried to ruin this song for the rest of America, but I will not let him. The original features Paul McCartney at his most intense rock wailing best. Seriously he kills this song. This cover appeared in the Julie Taymor movie Across the Universe. I could take or leave the movie, but I am obsessed with the music. This is another instance of a woman really getting to show her chops on an amazing song. Dana Fuchs goes all out!
The Dolls-“Dear Prudence”: In her third and final appearance on this list, AJ is with 3 of her closest friends; Ariel, Mary Anne, and Megan. They formed the acapella group The Dolls while in college together. Their cover of Adele’s “Rumor Has It” using kitchen utensils went viral a few years. They rock and I’m not just saying that because I work with 2 of them. Their version of Dear Prudence is dreamy like the original but is also a unique take on the song.
Jim Sturgess-“I’ve Just Seen A Face”: This is also from the movie Across The Universe. Although the movie wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen I did very much enjoy looking at Jim Sturgess and his cute face for 2 hours. He even looks Beatlesesque. His voice is wonderful too. I included this particular song because not only is it adorable but it showcases his voice. I’m also including a second link. His version of the song “Girl”. I didn’t include it on the countdown because it’s only a short version of the original. I’m including the video though so that you can swoon over how cute he is. Enjoy!
The aforementioned video for “Girl”. Seriously, how cute is he!
Evan Rachel Wood-“If I fell”: The last song on my list is also from Across The Universe. Evan Rachel Wood doesn’t have the best voice , but I picked this version because I love the direction it takes the song. If you listen to the original it’s more upbeat and light hearted. The Spanish sounding guitar part and Paul McCartney’s voice make the plea of the song seem not too serious. But slowed down to this ballad like version really highlights how sad the lyrics actually are. The Beatles: deeper than you thought!
So there you have it! My favorite Beatles covers. I hope you listened to them all. (If you didn’t you better at least have listened to one of AJ’s and Gavin Creel’s or I don’t know what I can say to you.) If you haven’t heard the originals but liked what you heard here I hope you’ll give The Beatles a try!
Do you have any covers of favorite songs that you like more than others? Leave them in the comments!