I love cover songs. Sometimes I love a cover more than the original version, which makes me feel a little blasphemous. I know some people hate to hear their favorite songs reinterpreted. Once I played a friend the stunning version of “Comfortably Numb” by Dar Williams and Ani DiFranco, and he complained that they had “ruined it.” I strongly disagree, of course. If I’m going to enjoy a cover song, it can’t be just a rehashing of the original. I believe that it takes real artistry to present another musician’s work through your own musical lens.
So today, in honor of cover bands everywhere, I’m going to share with you four of my favorite live covers. Studio versions of cover songs would be much too difficult to narrow down to four or five. These are just a few that have crossed my path and made me smile in the last year or so.
Taylor Swift: “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay
Taylor Swift is one of my not-so-guilty guilty pleasures. This song suits her voice very well, and her simple rendition allows me to appreciate the lyrics in a new way. Plus she sings within my (very limited) range, so I can feel cool when I sing along.
Tegan and Sara: “Dancing In The Dark” by Bruce Springsteen
Skip to the 1:05 mark on this video, unless you long to hear about how Tegan and Sara’s stepdad loved Springsteen. I had to include this one in honor of my Karaoke at the Reub partners. Our rendition can’t be topped, obviously, but this is a close second.
Avril Lavigne: “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha
I won’t try to convince you that Avril really brings out the nuances in Ke$ha’s lyrics. Still, the song and Avril are well-suited for each other. If nothing else, you can covet her sparkly microphone.
Ani DiFranco: “Angel From Montgomery” by John Prine (and Bonnie Raitt)
The clip is just audio, but it’s well worth listening, I assure you. Sometimes I forget that Ani DiFranco has pipes. If you only listen to one of these songs, let it be this one. She will break your heart and make you like it.