15 Best Cover Songs of All Time

NIRVANA, “WHERE DID YOU SLEEP LAST NIGHT?”:
First published in 1917, though most likely dating back to the 1870s, folk standard “In The Pines” has a history longer than any other on this list. It’s sometimes listed as “Black Girl” or “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”, which is the name Leadbelly used when he recorded his famous version, as well as the name Nirvana used when performing it as the final song on their Unplugged set on MTV. Kurt Cobain’s performance of the song — an already chilling tune to begin with — is particularly intense, ending with its final verse screamed. MTV reportedly wanted an encore afterward, which Cobain refused. It’s hard to argue with that; I can’t think of a stronger way to close the show.

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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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