Barry Manilow sang – I write the songs that make the whole world sing – except ironically, he didn’t. Well, he wrote a lot of songs, just not that one but does it really matter?
Elvis Presley – The undisputed King of Rock ‘n’ Roll – wrote none of his hits, but he’s still the King, and always will be. It wasn’t until much later in his career that he co-wrote a few songs, a quick google search tells me that he co-wrote ‘Let Me’, ‘That’s Someone You Never Forget’, ‘We’re Gonna Move’ and ‘You’ll Be Gone’. Many of hits can be credited to the writing of Leiber & Stoller, but does it diminish his status? Not at all, in my opinion.
Aretha Franklin had a hit with Respect, and more so than that it stands as the definitive version of the song, however she didn’t write it. Otis Redding did. Aretha’s version added the iconic R-E-S-P-E-C-T refrain but the song writing credits stay with Otis.
Blinded by The Light is another that pops into my mind, I’ve heard that song for years and I didn’t even know who it was by. The version I’ve known for all this year turns out to be by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, neither here nor there in my opinion. Good song. I was pretty shocked recently to discover that this too was a cover and it was written and originally performed by Bruce Springsteen on his first album – Greetings from Asbury Park. I’ve listened to the Springsteen version a few times having strangely only just started getting into his music, but I have to say I prefer Manfred Mann’s version.
These aren’t the only examples of the cover version being the definitive version, Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’, Jimi Hendrix with ‘All Along the Watchtower’, ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ by the aforementioned Otis Redding and a notable mention goes to Joe Cocker for his version of The Beatles ‘With A Little Help from My Friends’. Now I’m not brave enough to suggest that he out did The Beatles, but I do love Joe’s version.
In We Are Troubadour, we actively try and stay away from doing covers. We have 2 ‘bits’ (sorry for going technical on you there) in live versions of songs - If you know what they are and in which songs, get in touch and we’ll give you a prize – but apart from those we’d rather play our own music. We feel that if we were to cover a song that we must do it our way, not a straight cover a la most pub/function bands and in order to do this, we must first earn the right by making our name with our own music.