Late-Night Musings About Covers

Keith Jarrett - Over the RainbowCovers are frequently a way to pay tribute to other performers, or a means to demonstrate technical virtuosity. More interestingly, they can also be a way to explore new — even contradictory — meanings within a song, or rethink previous performances.

Midnight Special: sometimes even subtle shadings can add up to huge differences — Lead Belly sings this song from a deeply personal perspective, while CCR makes it into more of a universal parable — resulting in two very different, but equally remarkable stories.

  • Lead Belly
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival

‘Round Midnight: far too often, renderings of jazz standards by classical ensembles result in insipid, over-orchestrated mush — but then again, sometimes they can open a new window on even the best-known standards.

  • Thelonious Monk
  • Kronos Quartet

After Midnight: J.J. Cale wrote it, Eric Clapton made it famous — but it’s clear that Cale has rethought the song quite a bit over the course of two decades.

  • Eric Clapton
  • J.J. Cale

“Heroes”: sometimes, giving an artist the opportunity to strip away everything but the essentials of a song can bring out a whole new set of meanings.

  • David Bowie (1977)
  • David Bowie (1996)

Wild Thing: and then again, being able to expand wildly beyond the reaches of the original song can sometimes allow an artist to — literally — create new domains for music.

  • The Troggs
  • Jimi Hendrix

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