14 Beatles Covers You Should Totally Listen To Right Now
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There are very few musicians who can boast of being so thoroughly covered throughout the years. And it’s pretty tough trying to confine them into a list because there are versions that really stand out and rival the original. So if you’re looking for something new to add to your Beatles playlist, here are some of the scintillating renditions you’ll surely love:
14. “With a Little Help from My Friends” by Joe Cocker
It’s not an easy task to cover a Beatles classic and make it as your own. But when you’re Joe Cocker, anything is possible. Plus, he basically turned it into his very own masterpiece. His work is phenomenal. Robert Christgau summed it up accurately when he wrote in The New York Times: “With a Little Help From My Friends is the major triumph of rock interpretation thus far.” There’s something so exquisite about this version – it made us thankful for the gift of his music. It gets to you on a visceral level and he just set the bar so high for others to follow. This is exactly how you perform a cover. And this live performance is nothing short of outstanding. At one point, we were like, “This is freakin’ unbelievable.” He’s a real master and his work is that of pure brilliance. It doesn’t get any better than this.
13. “Hey Jude” by Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman
It’s a killer version. You don’t come across gems like this very often. It’s so good even Eric Clapton was blown away. He said, “To this day, I’ve never heard better rock guitar playing [Duane Allman] on an R&B record. It’s the best.” Now that’s a serious compliment right there especially coming from a guitar god himself. To have impressed one of the greats is truly an accomplishment but there’s something else that tops that off – the fact that Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman managed to record an unbelievably outstanding version of “Hey Jude.” If we only have to describe it in one word, it would be ‘sublime.’ We could put this on loop for sure because the only part we didn’t like is that it has to end. Music like this should just go on and on. It will hit you right in the feels – as if they’re singing to your soul.
12. “Penny Lane” by Elvis Costello
It will take your breath away. Elvis Costello owned it and boy, we can’t be more impressed. It’s pretty groovy though but we absolutely like it. Think about it, he was performing at an event in the White House in honor of Sir Paul McCartney. So basically, Barack Obama and the legendary Beatle were watching him from the front row. Talk about pressure! But Elvis said, “Paul was great. He sat in that room all afternoon while we were rehearsing, so that cut down the intimidation factor by about 50%. But still it was pretty weird playing ‘Penny Lane’ to him in that room with George and Martha Washington on the wall and a marine in full dress uniform playing the piccolo trumpet.” The trumpet solo is so good it will move you to tears. It’s definitely up there – among the best versions of this song. It’s hard to match a masterpiece but Elvis accomplished it flawlessly!
11. “Got to Get You into My Life” by Earth, Wind & Fire
Let us just put it out there – the horn section is insanely sick. If there’s any proof that this rendition is anything but perfect, it won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s). It’s probably one of the most ‘70s songs out there and for good reason. The intro alone is spine-tingling – like it’s giving you a sneak peek into something so awesome. However, if that didn’t get to you, there are still plenty of parts that are guaranteed to make you love them. When you listen to this and to the original version of The Beatles, you’ll realize they are two very distinct songs with no other similarity aside from the lyrics. What’s not to love about this phenomenal cover? It gives you that feel-good vibe – like a burst of sunshine. Seriously, we love these guys. What a bunch of very talented dudes. BRB as we put this on repeat.
10. “Oh! Darling” by Florence and the Machine
This lady has some golden pipes! To be fair, her covers are magnificent and her music arrangements are way too good. Her voice is simply magical. For the record, this is one of our favorite Fab Four classics. But did you know that while The Beatles were recording this song, Paul “wanted it to sound as though I’d been performing it on stage all week” mostly because he thought his voice was too clear for it. He also added: “I mainly remember wanting to get the vocal right, wanting to get it good, and I ended up trying each morning as I came into the recording session. I tried it with a hand mike, and I tried it with a standing mike, I tried it every which way, and finally got the vocal I was reasonably happy with. It’s a bit of a belter, and if it comes off a little bit lukewarm, then you’ve missed the whole point. It was unusual for me, I would normally try all the goes at a vocal in one day.” Ah yes, the ever-perfectionist Paul. But aren’t we glad he was satisfied with the result?
9. “Helter Skelter” by U2
It’s pretty tough to say that this is better than the original because the 1968 classic is an absolute masterpiece. Perhaps we can thank Paul McCartney’s competitiveness which is the main reason he even thought of creating something that’s not exactly their ‘thing.’ According to Paul, “That was really all I wanted to do – to make a very loud, raunchy rock ‘n’ roll record with The Beatles. And I think it’s a pretty good one.” Well they did manage to accomplish that. U2 apparently took it upon themselves to perform their own rendition of this explosive track. And man, it IS loud. You can try listening to it during their concert and by the next day, you’d probably experience some hearing loss. They did a mighty fine job. It’s a heavy track and something that’s not easy to sing but hey, U2 nailed it.
8. “Get Back” by Ike & Tina Turner
Such an explosive performance! This is probably one of The Beatles’ greatest legacies – anyone can cover their songs in any genre and it will still sound amazing. And her voice is just spell-binding. It fits the classic perfectly and we can’t help but fall in love with her rendition. It’s so full of grit and soul and simply did justice to the song. We like everything about this, by the way – from the fabulous hair and dress to her dancing. Tina is utter perfection. We’d prefer not to compare this to the original piece because they’re just way to different. Besides, her covering this track is to pay homage to the Fab Four and we’ve no doubt they’re all happy and proud that Tina did an amazing job. She has so much power and energy and it’s like she channeled those things to the audience. What a lucky crowd indeed!
7. “Come Together” by Aerosmith
Warning: Plenty of gushing ahead. We’re huge fans of both The Beatles and Aerosmith so when we heard this song, it felt like a match made in rock ‘n roll heaven. Who would have thought Steven Tyler’s raspy voice would fit the song flawlessly? It’s highly addicting, to be honest. They did make it their own and we love how Steven added his own flavor to it. Of course, at first, it doesn’t exactly seem like the best idea but after listening to it for the nth time, you just realize why Aerosmith is a legend. They took it to another level and they made it so fun to listen to! The Bad Boys of Boston will give you the chills with their cover. They just killed it! The Beatles and Aerosmith are rock gods but they had different styles so it just goes to show that music transcends all boundaries.
6. “A Day in the Life” by Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck does a cover of The Beatles? You know it’s going to be stellar. He’s the guy that makes you want to start playing the guitar. The stripped-down version will leave you speechless. It’s not something you hear on a daily basis. He’s a fearless musician and he’s never afraid to dip his toe in unfamiliar waters. Then again, it always pays off. Just check out his nod to this Beatles classic. It’s a treat to the senses – almost like a religious experience. It’s so deep and full of soul. John, Paul, George, and Ringo would definitely agree that this is a great piece. Beck is pulling out so much emotion from his guitar and that’s probably the reason why it will hit you right in the feels. Nobody does it like him – the unique style and feeling. Not everyone can do that which is why this cover makes it to our top favorites.
5. “The Long and Winding Road” by Aretha Franklin
What did we do to deserve Aretha Franklin? Wow. We don’t even know where to begin. There’s a certain kind of ‘kick’ she gave the classic and we just can’t get over how soulful this sounds. Paul McCartney wrote the poignant piano ballad at a time when the future was a bit uncertain for the band because everything seemed to be spiraling out of control and their relationships were deeply strained. He said, “I was a bit flipped out and tripped out at that time. It’s a sad song because it’s all about the unattainable; the door you never quite reach. This is the road that you never get to the end of.” It’s a beautiful, timeless piece and we’re so glad we found this gem from Aretha. She’s dripping with soul like it’s water and to say that she’s phenomenal would even be an understatement.
4. “In My Life” by Judy Collins
According to John Lennon, ‘In My Life’ “…was, I think, my first real major piece of work. Up till then it had all been sort of glib and throwaway. And that was the first time I consciously put my literary part of myself into the lyric.” It’s hard to think of it as anything but a masterpiece. Lennon poured out his heart and soul into it and the result is outstanding. And as if it’s not already an emotional song, Judy Collins sings a version that will make any grown man cry. Her voice shines like diamonds and there’s something else that’s hard to pinpoint exactly – something that makes you nostalgic. Well to be honest, she can sing the phone book and yellow pages and it will still sound magical. It’s an excellent take on Lennon’s work of art.
3. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by Elton John
There’s no way you can listen to Elton John’s cover of ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ and not love it. When he recorded it, John Lennon even provided the guitar and backing vocals for him. And of course, his version topped the charts. Elton John also said in one interview, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is a song that I never do in a set at a concert simply because it reminds me too much of John Lennon. This is the same with Empty Garden.” His voice is so nice and clean. The performance is timeless just like the song itself. We’ve listened to this many times and we still can’t get enough of it. People often get disappointed because they compare it to John Lennon’s version. It’s never going to sound the same because that’s what covers should be. It’s paying homage to the original artist of the song with your own take on it.
2. “Let It Be” by Joan Baez
This is so raw and pure we’re not sure we’re worthy of Joan Baez. It’s stripped down to the core and so powerful, it will affect you on a spiritual level. If anything, this is the solid proof that angels walk among us. When you have a voice like this, you don’t need an orchestra. It’s the kind of vocal performance that will stop you in your tracks. And she made it look effortless. Perhaps one reason (among a hundred) why we love this version so much is that Joan Baez did not overdo anything. Its simplicity was its greatest feature. Did you know how Paul McCartney came up with the opening lines of the song? He said he once dreamed of his late mom, Mary, offering solace to him. He also said: “I’m not sure if she used the words ‘Let it be’ but that was the gist of her advice.”
1. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by Eric Clapton
You are not human if this doesn’t make you feel emotional at the very least. You see, George Harrison and Eric Clapton were good friends. They fought over the same girl (Patti Boyd) and even had a drunken guitar duel once. Clapton eventually married Harrison’s ex-wife Patti who was the inspiration behind the classic hit, “Layla.” This live version is all sorts of beautiful. Paul McCartney perfectly cloned Clapton’s voice that it’s difficult to tell who’s harmony and who’s singing lead. But of course, it’s not surprising for Clapton to cover one of Harrison’s most loved songs. After all, one time, they shared the stage and he jammed alongside Harrison to this track. Clapton is a real god among guitar players. He’s really channeling Harrison here and you can tell he just performed one of his best solos in his entire career and boy, that says a lot. This did justice to a great track.