Covering a Beatles song really seems redundant, since it was a band that always did it best the first time. And yet, there are countless covers of the band’s music floating out there, some amazing and some just pure garbage.
There are some pretty awesome covers of the Fab Four’s music. I came up with an idea of posting 10 of my favorites when I accidentally came across a video of The Melvins covering a Beatles song, and I really, really enjoyed it. So, that caused me to go down memory lane, as well as search the depths of the Internet to find some of my favorites. I decided to stick with alt-rock/modern-rock/whatever-the-hell-it’s-called-these-days because after five decades of covers, this would be a rambling mess to hit every genre or decade.
So here are 10 awesome Beatles covers.
1. The Melvins: “I Want To Tell You”
When I think of The Beatles, I don’t think I ever also thought of The Melvins, one of the best grunge/punk/metal/??? bands to come out of the Seattle/Washington scene in the late 80s and early 90s.
And this cover of a George Harrison tune from the “Revolver” album is so damn good. Gloomy and upbeat? Only The Melvins could pull off such a feat.
2. Paul Westerberg: “Nowhere Man”
I first heard this cover when I bought the “I Am Sam” soundtrack in the early 2000s. This was the highlight track to me, as the former Replacements frontman takes an acoustic approach to the classic John Lennon song from “Rubber Soul.” I love his vocals and the bare bones sound of this track. It isn’t the first time Westerberg gave a nod to the Fab Four, he incorporated elements of Beatles songs on “Mr. Whirly” from the Replacements’ “Hootenanny” album.
3. The Breeders: “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”
Oh, man, this cover still blows me away. I love The Breeders, and this cover of a Lennon “White Album” track is just so good.
The Breeders didn’t try to do a note-for-note cover, but incorporated their style into the song, which works beautifully.
4. The Pixies: “Wild Honey Pie”
I might as well follow up The Breeders with The Pixies (both bands feature Kim Deal). The band tackled perhaps one of the more odd tracks in The Beatles canon with “Wild Honey Pie,” a track that was pretty much Paul McCartney messing around in the studio.
Of course, it makes perfect sense that The Pixies would cover the second most bizarre Beatles track (the first being “Revolution 9,” which I know Phish kind of covered, but is otherwise an almost un-coverable track). And the best part, they make it pretty awesome with the band’s own manic, insane style.
5. Langhorne Slim: “I’ve Just Seen A Face”
I came across this randomly a few months ago on YouTube, and I just loved it. Just Langhorne outside a creepy white van sporting a Santa hat strumming away to this awesome McCartney track. It is a pretty basic cover, but I just love how he delivers the vocals and the guitar work.
6. St. Vincent: “Dig A Pony”
St. Vincent (AKA Annie Clark) continues to amaze me as a singer, songwriter and a guitarist. I mean, she is an incredible guitarist. And for this blog, I came across a video of her performing this somewhat obscure Lennon song from the “Let It Be” album.
Her take is quite a minimalist approach, with just her and her guitar. And I fell in love with this cover right away. Especially when she starts going nuts on the guitar. And her vocals are just beautiful.
7. Elliott Smith: “Because”
Like a lot of people, I fell in love with this cover after watching “American Beauty.” Smith’s work always had elements of The Beatles in it, but man, his take on this “Abbey Road” track is just so haunting and creepy and beautiful. One of my favorite covers of all time.
8. Trampled By Turtles: “Baby’s In Black”
These dudes from Minnesota took an early Beatles track and gave it a bluegrass flavor, which surprisingly fits with the mood of the lyrics. I came across it on one of those “Minnesota Beatles Project” CDS that come out every year or so, and this cover really got in my brain and stuck. The vocals, the instrumentation, everything fits with the track here.
9. The Black Keys: “She Said, She Said”
I have a love/hate thing with this band. When the band is on, they are on, but when they open their whiny voices about any given subject, I find these guys unbearable. But I really do enjoy this cover of “She Said, She Said” from The Beatles’ “Revolver” album. Just a cool, fuzzed out take on an already cool and fuzzed out song to begin with.
10. Regina Spektor: “Real Love”
This was another random cover I came across while searching the Web for this. Spektor’s vocals match up great with a song that was originally a Lennon demo that was used for the Beatles reunion during the “Anthology” project in the 90s. I have always loved this song, especially Lennon’s haunting demo version, which Spektor does justice to here.
So there it is, 10 pretty awesome Beatles covers. There are many, many more out there. And there are many, many terrible covers as well. But hey, when a cover works, I’ll take it.