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Cover Me: Musicians Rework Their Favorite Beatles Songs
We’re big fans of covers. More than just karaoke fodder (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) a true artist can make any song their own, while still paying homage to the musicians who influenced them.
And who has influenced more musicians than The Beatles? The Fab Four have inspired a legion of covers—a mere three million of them if our casual Google searches is any indication. We sorted through the sea to bring you our 10 favorites. Dive into the list below.
1. Richie Havens: “Strawberry Fields Forever”
The first musician to play at Woodstock, Richie Havens was forced to extend his set by three hours when other acts were caught in a massive traffic jam. Before he improvised his now signature song “Freedom,” Havens pulled this percussive Beatles cover out of the bag.
2. Echo and the Bunnymen: “Ticket to Ride”
Echo and the Bunnymen’s sincere cover of the 1965 Help track plays like a love letter from one Liverpool band to another. Recorded for Uncut magazine, The Bunnymen have all the swagger, and twice the synth.
3. Rufus Wainwright: “Across the Universe”
Recorded for the I Am Sam soundtrack, Rufus Wainwright’s “Across the Universe” cover finds the crooner at his best, all languorously elongated syllables and slurred refrains.
4. Stevie Wonder: “We Can Work it Out”
Stevie Wonder offers up the kind of cover that makes it difficult to remember that there was an original version. Under his soulful swagger and cascading horn section, the Rubber Soul b-side never sounded better.
5. Florence and the Machine: “Oh! Darling”
Leave it to Florence Welch to turn a light song into something more epic. Under the redhead’s hearty croon, no sentiment goes unexpressed, and no heart goes unbroken.
6. Oasis: “Within You Without You”
Paying homage to what may be one of their greatest influences, the Gallagher brothers tackled this Sgt Pepper track, offering up a surprisingly straightforward rendition.
7. Belle and Sebastian: “Here Comes the Sun”
Belle and Sebastian not only herald the sun, they bring its warmth to this cheerful/serene cover. Judging by the screams, it was quite a surprise to their audience as well.
8. Bob Dylan: “Yesterday”
Not that anyone has ever doubted Dylan’s conviction, but on his acoustic take of the iconic Help track “Yesterday” he manages to tap into a sincere sorrow, topped off with a creditable growl. Unlike his own material—where he’s often the victim of a two-faced woman—here he sounds utterly alone.
9. Ella Fitzgerald: “Hey Jude”
“Hey Jude” may have been written as a musical pep talk for John Lennon’s son during his father’s divorce, but when jazz queen Ella Fitzgerald sings it, it’s more like a command. You will make it better!
10. Oingo Boingo: “I am the Walrus”
1980s rock weirdoes covering 1960s heroes. It’s so crazy it works. Goo goo g'joob! Honorable mention goes to The Flaming Lips’ freak-out worthy cover (here).
Bonus: The Muppets: “Blackbird”
No commentary can enhance the experience of simply watching The Muppet’s interpretation on “Blackbird.” Delightful, and probably exactly what The Beatles had in mind.
Need more covers? Check out last week’s cover list where musicians paid tribute to Bob Dylan here.