Uncovering Cover Songs

We all have those moments: when we realize that the iconic song by that classic artist is in fact just a cover. It’s a confusing and devastating time. For me this happened in the fourth grade when my mom casually dropped that Twist and Shout was written by the Isley Brothers and not the Beatles.

The concept of artists being given credit for the songs they cover is a pretty common phenomenon. Often, one artist makes a song a success in a way that the original singer or group could not. Maybe the modifications by the new artist make the song catchier or the song is re-released at the right time. Either way, countless cover songs are now attributed to those who cover them rather than their original owners. The time has come to uncover them. Here are just a few of these covers:

(WARNING: this information may be eye-opening and shocking and could cause disillusionment, existential crises, and the thought “Oh god I’ve been lied to all these years!” Please therefore proceed with caution and at your own risk.)

Hound Dog by Elvis Presley

ACTUALLY: This song is originally by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton and not the King and is regarded by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the most influential songs that shaped Rock and Roll. Although we know it to be one of the King’s greatest hits, the original 100% holds its own and is a masterpiece.

Respect by Aretha Franklin

ACTUALLY: Franklin’s iconic hit was first written and recorded by Otis Redding. The two tracts have very different feels. Redding reaches out and pleads with a woman to stay, while Franklin’s recording is much more upbeat and empowering. Both are worth a listen.

The First Cut is the Deepest by…

ACTUALLY: This song has passed through so many hands it’s ridiculous. It’s been sung by Rod Stewart, Keith Hampshire, and Sheryl Crow but was originally written by Cat Stevens (he also sang a cover) and sung by P.P Arnold. Artists slow down the song, Rod Stewart takes out the last line, and Sheryl Crow was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for this song (she lost to Norah Jones). All 5 versions are worth listening to, but here’s the original:

Torn by Natalie Imbruglia

ACTUALLY… You thought that this classic 90’s jam and favorite music competition show number was by Natalie Imbruglia, but in reality it was first performed by Edna Swap. The song is much slower and deeper in Swap’s edition and proves a nice comparison to Imbruglia’s classic pop song.