Friday Fifteen: The Beatles Covers

Juli Thanki | August 13th, 2010

Here’s a little dose of Beatlemania. Today’s Friday Five is three times larger than normal, but several covers still got left off, including Steve Earle’s “I’m Looking Through You” and the David Grisman Quintet’s version of “Because.” What’s your favorite Beatles cover?

  • Class of '6615. “Paperback Writer” – Floyd Cramer

    Back in the day, Cramer used to annually release albums featuring his ivory-tickling take on the year’s biggest songs. This cover comes from Cramer’s Class of ’66. It loses something without the sharp lyrics, but it’s still a decent instrumental.

  • Rock Me Back To Little Rock14. “Let It Be” – Jan Howard

    Jan Howard is one of the best female country singers of the past half-century. If you haven’t heard her golden vocals before, might as well start here.

  • One Time One Night13. “I Feel Fine” – Sweethearts of the Rodeo

    The sister duo had their last Top 10 hit with this song. Man, do I miss late-’80s California country.

  • Buck 'Em12. “Lady Madonna” – Buck Owens

    Buck and The Beatles go together like fish and chips: the Fab Four did a great version of Owens’ Number One hit “Act Naturally” in 1965, and, of course, Ringo and Buck teamed up for that new recording and wacky music video in the late ’80s. Owens covered this song in ’76, eight years after The Beatles released it as a single. It lacks the pep of the original, but even a so-so Buck Owens song is pretty decent.

  • Nashville Rebel11. “Norwegian Wood (The Bird Has Flown)” – Waylon Jennings

    Rubber Soul meets Chet Atkins. Maybe it’s not Waylon’s best–I don’t think his voice quite fits the song–but I appreciate his willingness to take risks. I also like how George Harrison’s sitar is mimicked.

  • Great Balls Of Fire10. “Help!” – Dolly Parton

    A couple decades before The Grass is Blue and her other roots records, Dolly gave this Beatles tune some grassy flavor. Check out this video, where Parton gets some help from “the twins:” her backup singers Dolly Parton and Dolly Parton. (What twins were you thinking about? Pervert.)

  • Beatle Country9. “Baby’s In Black” – The Charles River Valley Boys

    These bluegrass boys recorded a whole album of Beatles songs, Beatle Country, in 1966. It’s hard to pick one track off the record, but I’d have to choose “Baby’s in Black:” “baby’s in black and I’m feeling blue?” Sounds like a bluegrass song to me.

  • American IV: Man Comes Around8. “In My Life” – Johnny Cash

    There are places I’ll remember all my life/Some have changed/Some forever, not for better/Some have gone and some remain/All these places have their moments/With lovers and friends I still can recall/Some are dead and some are living/In my life I’ve loved them all.”

    I’m kind of a sap, so thinking about Cash singing those lyrics at the twilight of his life gets to me a little.

  • I'll Be7. “If I Fell” – Reba McEntire

    This cover is available on the compilation I’ll Be, which seems to have only been released in Europe. But if McEntire had ever released it in the States as a single, it’s easy to imagine it’d be another entry on her lengthy list of Number Ones.

  • Come Together: America Salutes the Beatles6. “All My Loving” – Suzy Bogguss and Chet Atkins

    Coming in at number six on our list is a song from Come Together: America Salutes the Beatles. Bogguss’ vocals paired with Atkins’ guitar is pure excellence, and the fact that they’re singing one of the catchiest pop songs ever makes it even better.

  • Seashores of Old Mexico5. “Yesterday” – Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

    Ray Price, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and more have recorded “Yesterday,” but who can resist the Willie/Merle combo?

  • Bluegrass Goes to Town: Pop Songs Bluegrass Style4. “I Will” – Tony Furtado & Alison Krauss

    The angelic-voiced Krauss joined forces with banjo man Furtado on this song for his early ’90s album Within Reach. The result is, quite simply, lovely. There isn’t any banjo in the clip below, but it’s still a must watch.

  • Hits 1979 - 19893. “I Don’t Want To Spoil the Party” – Rosanne Cash

    In 1989, Cash took this cover to the top of the charts, her last #1 to date. I’ve got to say, it’s rather considerate for her to decide to leave the party rather than be a Debbie Downer like these folks.

  • The Hits2. “Something” – Johnny Rodriguez

    Rodriguez’s smooth version of “Something”–a song written by my favorite Beatle, George Harrison–made it to Number Six on the country charts in 1974. Whatever genre it’s recorded in, “Something” is one of the finest love songs ever recorded.

  • Pieces Of The Sky (Remastered)1. “For No One” – Emmylou Harris

    Perhaps it’s sacrilegious to say such a thing, but I think Emmylou’s version of this song is the best one.

  1. Meredith
    August 13, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Glad to see Reba on this list. Her cover of If I Fell is lovely and I never tire of listening to it.

  2. Jon
    August 13, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Actually, the best version of “For No One” is by the Big Dogs – Tony Trischka, Harley Allen, David Grier, Debbie Nims & Andrea Zonn.

  3. Thomas
    August 13, 2010 at 8:39 am

    …this issue of “friday…” sheds possibly the brightest light on the rather pointless yet inexstinctable discussion, whether country has been too pop at any given time.

    it has not been. if you take the beatles as arguably the epitomal pop-band, then you find, just by going through the clips, that none of these country stars covering a beatles-song sounds even remotely country anymore. not even dolly or reba, whose voices seem to be so deeply rooted in country grounds. a real pop-song is never country and vice versa. certain forms of hybrids may exist but so do mules.

    what an eye-opener you provided here, quite accidentally. will it stop the boring argument – unfortunately not, in all likelyhood.

  4. Ollie
    August 13, 2010 at 8:43 am

    I’ve always loved Emmylou’s cover of Here, There and Everywhere. Check out this video of a very pregnant Emmylou singing it accompanied by her former producer and husband, Brian Ahern: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYWIDO-Nn3c

  5. Jon
    August 13, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Inexstinctable indeed.

  6. Paul W Dennis
    August 13, 2010 at 9:22 am

    The Dillards did a dynamite cover of “I’ve Just Seen A Face” that probably is my favorite Beatles cover – and it is quite country

    Several country artists covered “All My Lovin’ ” as album cuts some of them complete with fiddle and steel wailing away big time

  7. Stormy
    August 13, 2010 at 9:44 am

    a real pop-song is never country and vice versa.

    Go to Youtube and seach Kenneth Brian Sorrow. THAT started out as a David Bowie song.

  8. TexasVet
    August 13, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Anne Murray – I’m Happy Just To Dance With You.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdVqtllOoKM

  9. Dave D.
    August 13, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Fun list, although the original Beatles’ versions are too ingrained in my psyche for me to appreciate many of these covers.

    My favorite recorded Beatles’ cover is Willie’s One After 909, although Raul Malo does a great live version of Twist and Shout.

  10. Jon
    August 13, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Um, you do know that “Twist And Shout” is an Isley Brothers song, right?

  11. Thomas
    August 13, 2010 at 11:07 am

    …bowie might be more country than meets the naked ear, stormy. don’t forget his hommage to ground control (in houston?).

    no doubt, kenneth brian turned “sorrow” into a song that sounds really country.

  12. Dave D.
    August 13, 2010 at 11:26 am

    @JON: Acutally, it’s a Top Notes song, but it will always be a Beatles song to me.

  13. Jon
    August 13, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    That may be, but describing it as a Beatles cover to the world at large is a bad idea.

  14. Mayor JoBob
    August 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    David Ball ~ “Yesterday”

  15. Barry Mazor
    August 13, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Ms. Cash’s “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” certainly sounds like her sort of country. Partly because it was a country song in the first place.

    It’s worth remembering (briefly) that one reason the Beatles got signed as an act was that EMI producer George Martin detected that familiarity with country lurking in the band’s sound, maybe filtered through the Everlys and Buddy Holly and Elvis, but there–and he thought that increased the likelihood they could keep coming up with tuneful songs. (Not necessarily based on classic country sounds as understood in the mid-60s, but tuneful. “Spoil the Party” was the first original where everybody noticed the twang influence.

  16. Stormy
    August 13, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Marty Robbins also did a lovely version of Yesterday.

  17. Chris N.
    August 13, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Allison Moorer did a very fine version of “Here Comes the Sun.” One would almost say it was inexstinctable.

  18. prior
    August 13, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    dont cover the beatles…..ever.

  19. prior
    August 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    rascall flatts raped revolution.

  20. Thomas
    August 13, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    @ paul w. dennis

    …isn’t it the rockabilly undercurrent in “all my lovin’” that makes it so inviting to be countrified?

    from a lyrics-angle, most of the staff-writers here would probably struggle big time to write anything favourable about the tune.

  21. Ollie
    August 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Just curious– Do those who feel that country artists shouldn’t attempt to cover The Beatles also feel that The Beatles shouldn’t attempt to cover country artists? (I’ve never been a fan of Paul McCartney’s cover of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky”: see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXxuQleHKi8)

  22. Noeller
    August 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Collin Raye (??) did “Let It Be” on a 90s “Songs Of The Beatles” album, and I really really dug that version.

  23. Mayor JoBob
    August 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Oh wait a minute… David Ball didn’t do “Yesterday”, it was “I’ll Follow the Sun”! It was also on the compilation that Noeller just mentioned.

  24. Mayor JoBob
    August 13, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Also, Ringo was a huge fan of Country music.. “Don’t Pass Me Buy”, “Act Naturally” etc…

  25. luckyoldsun
    August 14, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Next you should do country covers of the Rolling Stones.

  26. Vicki
    August 14, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Nice to hear my favorite band of all time come out of mouths of my current favorite genre of Music.

    Terrific Reba! Terrific Allison-Gosh every time I hear that girl..the purity of her voice just shocks me. Terrific emotion with Emmylou

    This was a jog down memory lane and a remembrance of how brilliant, John, Paul, and George Martin were in amazing intricate chord use.

  27. Michael A.
    August 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Great list this week! One of my favorite Beatles covers that I haven’t seen mentioned yet is Lorrie Morgan’s take on “Eight Days a Week”.

  28. Peter
    August 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Lennon once said that Anne Murray’s version of “You Won’t See Me” was his fave Fabs cover, FWTW

  29. Howard
    August 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Too late I know, but just sitting with waylons “love of the common people” album spinning and it has a great version of ‘you’ve got to hide your love away’ on it. Like you say ‘norweigen wood’ doesn’t really suit his voice but this song really does.

  30. luckyoldsun
    August 24, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Maybe Lennon was kidding or was on halucinogenics at the time. Who knows?

  31. Pat Noonan
    October 16, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Hey just wanted to contribute a cover of Blackbird I did a few weeks ago. And in my humble opinion, the Beatles = best band ever.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Tcv3KyOv_k

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