15 Best Cover Songs of All Time

SOFT CELL, “TAINTED LOVE”: Gloria Jones’ 1965 recording of Northern soul single “Tainted Love” didn’t make much of a splash at the time, mostly going ignored until it gained some traction in UK clubs in the 1970s. But UK synth-pop duo Soft Cell reworked it into a stark, eerie, synthesizer-heavy version that made it to number one on the UK charts. Stripped of its Motown-influenced soul sound, Soft Cell’s take is considerably darker in tone, if still fun and campy.


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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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