Spend enough time around a group of musicians, and you’ll eventually get to the topic of artists that inspire them. Continue the conversation, and you’ll get around to specific songs — ones they will cite as having “changed their life,” or perspective, or something else equally dramatic. And eventually, at some drunken point, someone will pull out a guitar or another instrument and do a cover of one of said songs. Some of these are just done privately. Some of them are just done live. And then some of these covers end up being so good that they make it onto albums. In anticipation of Katy Goodman & Greta Morgan’s new joint-release punk cover album, Take it, It’s Yours, we asked them put together a playlist of some of their own favorite covers.
Nina Simone – Suzanne (Leonard Cohen)
Though Cohen is obviously one of the greatest songwriters alive, many of his songs were brought to their full glory by singers other than him. His songs have been covered thousands of times, but this is my FAVORITE version of ANY of his songs by ANY artist.
White Fence – Allison Road (The Gin Blossoms)
Thank you, Tim Presley, for drawing attention to a band that is so rarely covered and for bringing this tune to life with perfectly tasteful four-track charm.
Kevin Morby – Random Rules (Silver Jews)
Kevin introduced me to this band by playing me this song, and I’ve become a die-hard Silver Jews fan since. This song has possibly the best opening lyric of all time “In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection.” Another lyric that stuck with me is the “I gotta ask you, dear, about that tan-line on your ring finger,” which feels like an entire short story in one line.
The Smiths – Marie’s The Name of His Latest Flame (Elvis)
Katy is a Smiths-fanatic. Greta is an Elvis fanatic. This song was made for us.
Davila 666 – Hanging on the Telephone (The Nerves)
Blondie’s version of this song also slays, but this is a lesser heard gem that deserves some listening love.
Angry Samoans – Time Has Come Today (The Chambers Brothers)
The time has come today…. for you to listen to this cover!
Judy Collins – Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell)
Joni Mitchell’s version is gorgeous but leans into the melancholy aspect of the song, while Judy Collins’ arrangement feels unusually uplifting. Judy Collins leads us into end-of-the-rainbow, technicolor heaven. It’s like their arrangements are an exercise to look at “Both Sides Now” from both sides now.
The Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob Dylan)
Does anyone sing harmony better than The Byrds? Does anyone write a song better than Bob Dylan? This is the perfect combination.
Johnny Cash – Hurt (Nine Inch Nails)
I wept when I saw this music video as kid. The tremble in Johnny’s aged voice combined with the imagery in the video just kills me.
Bruce Springsteen – Dream Baby Dream (Suicide)
This song wins the award for “Most Interesting Song With The Fewest Lyrics”. It’s so repetitive that it becomes hypnotic… The whole thing almost feels like a mantra. “Dream baby dream / dream baby dream / dream baby dream.” The Suicide version is stunning, but the Bruce Springsteen version is equally magical.