15 Best Cover Songs of All Time

Prince’s name was on a lot of great records in the 1980s, including the 1985 self-titled album by The Family, which featured members of fellow Minneapolitans The Time. And in spite of what the album sleeve says, Prince wrote every song, including ballad “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which at the time went mostly unnoticed. That all changed when Sinead O’Connor recorded her own version and made it a hit, thanks in large part to her emotional vocal performance and stark, teary video. It went number 1 on the Billboard charts in the U.S. and those of 12 other countries — not bad for an obscure album track.


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  1. Lots of excellent choices here, in the original list and in the comments. I’d nominate Emmylou Harris’s version of Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty.” (And re. Hallelujah — I’ve always preferred Cohen’s understated original, but whatever version you prefer, plesae, I beg you, don’t add any more — let the poor song be.)

  2. I’ve got to say I love the covers that Cassandra Wilson has done; “Hellhound On My Trail” (Robert Johnson), “Death Letter” (Son House), “Harvest Moon” (Neil Young), “Tupelo Honey” (Van Morrison), “Last Train to Clarksville”, “If Loving You is Wrong”, just to name a few.

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