There was a 90-minute discussion on the Coverville podcast, episode 450, about cover music. Brian, the host, posed several questions of the panel of fellow podcasters of cover music. I listened to it some weeks ago, so not all the particulars are fresh in my mind. Still, here are a couple questions inspired by that podcast.
1. What IS a cover version? For instance (and this was on the show), is Eric Clapton doing Layla considered a cover of the Derek and the Dominoes version? The panel thought not.
2. How about when a songwriter writes the song, gives it to another artist, THEN records it? I believe Gene Pitney’s Hello Mary Lou, recorded by Ricky Nelson before Pitney recorded it, would qualify. Which one is the cover? I don’t know.
3. Or what if Ronnie Spector took a Ronettes song such as Be My Baby and sang background vocals on a more contemporary artist? I think that WOULD be a cover?
4. What makes a good cover song? Sometimes, but not always, a different point of view – a female singing what had been a song previously performed by a male – will help. It cannot be a slavish imitation of the original; what’s the point? Often the remake features faster or slower tempos, unusual instrumentation or other qualities.
5. What is the first cover song that you really enjoyed that you recognized as a cover? Motown folks were always covering each other, but mine was We Can Work It Out, Stevie Wonder’s cover of the Beatles’ tune.