Ever heard of The Beatles?
Videos by American Songwriter
Just kidding, of course.
The band is thought of by many (most? all?) music fans as the greatest assemblage of musicians of all time. They’re commonly thought of as the top of the pyramid when it comes to rock and roll music.
That’s why their songs have garnered so many famous names covering them.
Check out our list of the best 10 Beatles covers you should be listening to. These songs come close to the originals while also offering a new take on the tunes.
1. “Yesterday” by Ray Charles
While The Beatles may be the best band of all time, Ray Charles might just be the best popular musician of all time. His voice is classic and timeless and he offers it on this cover of the song that was once named “Scrambled Eggs” when McCartney thought of it in a dream.
2. “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by Al Green
“Yeah, we got the feeling now! We got the feeling now!” “Shut up, Al Green.” Is there any better opening? Humor, self-deprecation. And then Green comes in with a rendition of this early Beatles hit with more soul than all of the heaven harbors. Check out Green’s supreme rendition below.
3. “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker
Any fans of the original television series, The Wonder Years, know this one from the big-yet-brittle-voiced Joe Cocker. It’s almost become more known than the original, which is a testament to the power of the composition and the skill of Cocker’s interpretation. Check out the soulful cut below.
4. “Across the Universe” by David Bowie
Bowie doing The Beatles, what could be better? Here, the glamorous, shape-shifting British-born artist takes on one of the most surreal songs from the former Mop Tops and he gives the performance an epic rendition. Check it out below. You might find yourself in space afterward.
5. “Helter Skelter” by U2
“Here’s a song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles,” says U2 frontman Bono. “We’re stealing it back.” The Irish band offers a rollicking rendition of the manic song from the Fearsome Foursome. While the song may have been appropriated briefly by the serial killer, it wasn’t for long. Thanks to the prowess of The Beatles and, yes, U2.
6. “Here Comes the Sun” by Nina Simone
From the Black classical artists’ 1971 album of the same name, this Harrison-penned number received a lovely interpretation from one of the greatest artists of the past 100 years. It’s bright, positive, and delightful. Check it out below.
7. “Hey Jude” by Wilson Pickett
This blues man with the powerful, broken voice sang this version almost as good (maybe even better) than its author, McCartney. That’s the power of a great cover: a musician can find new power in an already-written composition. This track, about Lennon’s son, Julian, is a classic made even more classic by Pickett.
8. “Dig A Pony” by St. Vincent
This live cut from All Points West Festival in 2009 by the skillful artist and guitar player St. Vincent will rock your socks off. She kills it on the six-string and does Lennon’s out there style better than most can even dream of. Check out the powerful offering below.
9. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by Regina Spektor
One of the most creative songwriters and performers on the planet, Regina Spektor offered her talents to the famed Harrison track, which includes unique instrumentation and prominent rhythms. Spektor is a gift to music and a gift to this song, too.
10. “And I Love Him” by Esther Phillips
Utilizing the same melody and general feel of the original, Esther Phillips offers her signature and delightful piercing vocals to this classic track. Phillips’ voice is like a vinyl record spinning with its cracks and breaks that do just that to your heart.
(Photo: Courtesy of Apple Corps Ltd.)