15 Best Cover Songs of All Time

An emblem of chaotic, rock and roll mayhem, “Louie, Louie” is more or less a party song, but in 1964, it earned its place in pop music notoriety. Originally written by Richard Berry in the fashion of a Jamaican ballad about a sailor returning to his paramour, The Kingsmen made it louder, messier and completely indecipherable. This led some concerned parents to complain about its supposed “obscene” content, which prompted an FBI investigation into the song. The Feds came up empty of course, but for a brief moment, “Louie, Louie” was the most dangerous song in America.


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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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