The Original vs. The Cover – “The Chain”

For this edition of The Original vs. The Cover, we are going to explore the Fleetwood Mac song “The Chain” which was covered by the band The Highwomen for the soundtrack to the movie ‘The Kitchen’ back in 2019. I could’ve picked other covers by maybe Tantric or Evanescence, but I really liked this version. The song was written by all of Fleetwood Mac and this is certainly true as the song is pieced together from parts of several different unused material from all members of the band.

The opening intro was from an old Lindsey Buckingham song called “Lola (My Love”, the lyrics are from Stevie Nicks and other elements were worked in from Christine McVie’s song “Keep Me There”. The final section of the, including the bass progression were written by Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. It is a Frankenstein’s Monster of sorts and quite wonderful.

Let’s take a look at each version and see which one is the best.

FLEETWOOD MAC

The Fleetwood Mac version is so well known, it would be hard to top it. The opening guitar picking by Buckingham is damn near perfect. Lindsey and Stevie’s vocals together are always so perfect together as their tones play off each other so nicely. Mick’s drumming is so precise and played for the song. Not one drum hit is out of place. When you get to that bass progression towards the end, the song is really hitting on all cylinders as the tempo picks up and the energy as well. The vocal harmonies are what sets this song apart. It is one of those songs where each instrument is so critically placed and if pulled out the song would suffer. I’m telling you, it don’t get much better than this.

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The Original vs. The Cover – “Jolene”

For the next installment of The Original vs. The Cover we are giving some love to “Jolene” written by Dolly Parton. In fact, she wrote this song the same day she wrote “I Will Always Love You” which would make another great The Original vs. The Cover post. The song was recorded on May 22, 1973 and released October 15th of the same year which became her 2nd #1 solo song. The cover is from The White Stripes and we are going with the studio cover and not the live version as a tough comparison with the live track. The studio track was originally the B-Side to their song “Hello Operator” but was finally issued on their greatest hits album.

The song was inspired by a bank teller that was flirting with Dolly’s husband when the two first got married. Apparently it really bothered her. The physical description of Jolene and here name though were taken from a fan of hers that came running up on stage to get an autograph. The song has Dolly pleading to Jolene to not steal her man as she can’t compete with her beauty, but we know that Dolly and her man are still together today. So she won out in the end.

DOLLY PARTON:

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The Original vs. The Cover – “Let The Music Do The Talking”

For this round of The Original vs. The Cover, we are battling out with “Let the Music Do the Talking” which will pit The Joe Perry Project against Aerosmith. Wait, isn’t Joe Perry in both of those…why yes he is!! The Joe Perry Project released an album in March 1980 with this song as the lead off track and the name of the album. Aerosmith did it 5 years later as the lead off track as well on their 1985 album ‘Done with Mirrors’.

How did this song come about? Well, Joe Perry got in to a major fight with Steven Tyler and the band over their wives, plus drugs and other band issues. He left the band and immediately started work on an album. Columbia Records was real hesitant on giving him a deal with all the struggles he had with Aerosmith. But they did and this song just kind of came in to being. Joe had a lot to prove that he could make it on his own and he felt the music should do the talking for him rather than shooting off his own mouth. And he was right. When he rejoined Aerosmith, the band loved the song and wanted to cover it, so they did.

Which one is better? We will see.

THE JOE PERRY PROJECT:

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The Original vs. The Cover vs. The Cover – “Without You”

This version of The Original vs. The Cover is going to be 3 songs. The song is the classic “Without You” and we will kick it off with the original by the band Badfinger. Now, I have to admit, I thought the original was by Harry Nilsson and didn’t realize his was a cover. So, Harry is up next. Lastly, we will throw in one of the most successful covers by the great Mariah Carey. The song was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans from the band Badfinger.

Pete Ham was originally writing a song called “If It’s Love”, but the song didn’t have a good chorus. When he was getting ready to leave the studio one day, Tom Evans stopped him and said he had an idea for a song. Peter was supposed to go out with his girlfriend, well his girlfriend knew him well and knew he would not be able to focus so she made him stay behind. Tom was working on a song with the chorus “Can’t live if living is without you”. The two parts were like chocolate and peanut butter. Apart they are good, but together they are perfect. The two didn’t think much of the song but apparently it has now been covered by over 180 artist.

On a side note and after effect of the song, Both Ham and Evans later committed suicide due to legal and financial reasons. Evans reason for the suicide seemed to be related to the royalties on this song which makes it a pretty sad tale.

BADFINGER

The Badfinger song came out on November 9, 1970 and was on their album ‘No Dice’. It is was a guitar ballad and had some heavy bass and both electric and acoustical accompaniment. Ham and Evans both take on lead vocal duties. It has that classic 60’s/70’s rock vibe to it and there is a punch to as the song progresses. There is a yearning to the vocals and you can feel the pain of that broken heart. It is a rather effective song and why I wasn’t overly familiar with it before I have no idea.

HARRY NILSSON

Harry Nilsson covered the song a year later on his 1971 album ‘Nilsson Schmilsson’. The song was released on October 11, 1971 and the song went all the way to #1 on Billboard Charts. Harry’s version turns the song in to a piano ballad giving it it an airy atmostpheric feel. The bass groove that lies just behind the lyrics is impactful and soulful. And when the chorus explodes it is so much more dramatic and he owns the pain and sorrow in those vocals. It is almost cathartic and you know he feels better after singing it. The song might be even more effective than the original and he even shaved a minute off the song. Harry truly owns this one and has probably the most recognizable version…at least for 20+ years.

MARIAH CAREY

Then on January 24, 1994, Mariah Carey releases her version of the song from her 1994 album ‘Music Box’. A whole new generation would now be introduced to the song which only went to #3 on the Billboard Charts. Mariah’s version is based off Harry’s as it is mostly a biting piano song with some heavy, heavy bass added to it. Almost too much bass. Her vocals soar and hit notes that Harry would only dream of, however, her vocals, though beautiful, don’t capture the emotion of the song. I feel she is singing it, but not feeling it.

THE VERDICT

Based on the above, I am torn between Badfinger’s version and Harry Nilsson’s version. As I said Mariah, she sings it beautifully but she doesn’t feel the song. And if I am basing on who “feels” the song and makes it believable, I guess I would go with Harry Nilsson’s version. He truly owned it and made it his own. Changing it to a piano based song really turned up the feels and you believed he felt the pain and sorrow of those lyrics. Badfinger is a very close second as I do love the guitar and bass work on the original. I hate they didn’t get the recognition they truly deserved for creating such a beautiful and powerful song.

I am really interested in hearing what everyone else thinks of these two songs.  Let me know which version you like the best and why.  Feel free to leave a comment and talk about the song and tell me how right or wrong I am on this one.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

LYRICS:

“Without You”

Well, I can’t forget this evening
And your face when you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
You always smile, but in your eyes your sorrow shows
Yes, it shows

Well, I can’t forget tomorrow
When I think of all my sorrow
I had you there, but then I let you go
And now it’s only fair that I should let you know
What you should know

[CHORUS:]
I can’t live, if living is without you
I can’t live, I can’t give anymore
I can’t live, if living is without you
I can’t live, I can’t give anymore

Well, I can’t forget this evening
And your face when you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
You always smile, but in your eyes your sorrow shows
Yes, it shows

[guitar solo]

[CHORUS x3]

I can’t live, if living is without you.

The Original vs The Cover – “Big Yellow Taxi”

The song for this month’s The Original vs. The Cover is “Big Yellow Taxi” written by Joni Mitchell. The song is off her 1970 album ‘Ladies of the Canyon’. The song saw moderate success at the time going to #14 in her home country of Canada, but only #67 on the Billboard Charts. But in 1974, she released a live version of the song and it went to #24 on Billboard. We will focus on the studio song for this comparison. There have been many covers including a popular one from Amy Grant back in 1994, but I am going to put it up against the cover I know better which is Counting Crows’ version featuring Vanessa Carlton. The song was from their album in 2003 called ‘Hard Candy’. The song for them went to #42 on the Top 100, but did much better on the other charts going to #5 on Adult Top 40 and #2 on Top Adult Alternative Songs.

The song was inspired by a trip Joni had made to Hawaii. She arrived in Hawaii and took a cab to the hotel. I am assuming it was night, as when she woke the next morning, she threw open the curtains and saw such a beautiful view until she looked down and saw a massive parking lot. It was her political statement to the world about how we pave over everything that is beautiful. She even goes further talking about farmers and the use of the poisonous DDT chemical which is killing everyone.

She even puts a little humor in it as she jokes about the fact we take the trees and put them in museums and pay $1.50 to see them which was based on the Foster Botanical Gardens in Hawaii that she visited. There is even another line that a taxi took her old man away which either means he left her and drove away in a taxi or he was arrested as Metro Toronto Police cops cars were yellow at that time. I believe she is from Toronto so that makes sense as well. Enough of the backstory to the song, lets talk about each artist’s version.

JONI MITCHELL:

Joni’s version is more acoustic and folksy as that is who she is. The song is only an acoustic guitar and some percussion and I think that is all I hear. Her majestic vocals are all you really need anyway. Her voice sounds almost childlike in its tone, but is so smooth and beautiful. The background vocals add more depth to the overall sound. It is a soft, yet upbeat sounding song despite the fact it is a song talking about such sad imagery. I love at the end where she goes real deep with vocals and then laughs. It shows a lot of humor and I think adds to the beauty of the song.

COUNTING CROWS (Feat. VANESSA CARLTON):

Counting Crows version plugs the band in and adds more drums, a great bass groove and some good old electric guitar. Vanessa Carlton is on backing vocals duties with a lot of “ooh bop bops” which actually is a nice touch. Adam Duritz vocals are strong and his tone is really cool as well. He lacks a little of the humor that Joni had which I think makes the song slightly less impactful. The Crows version adds a little vocal break at the end where Adam sings in a little scat like way with Vanessa adding more backing vocals with some great fills. It is still a really great version of the song.

VERDICT:

It isn’t really a tough choice. I do really like the Counting Crows version a lot as it was the first time I really remember hearing the song. But Joni’s version is the best, hands down. Joni’s smooth, childlike, innocent vocals are just so hard to beat. The acoustic version gives it a more poignant vibe and I really loved the little bit of humor she threw in to the song which I think helped bring home the point how ridiculous we are paving over our world and taking away everything that is beautiful about it. I see it everyday where I live as the farms that are near us are disappearing and all the trees are getting cut down to build, yet another, subdivision. Just what we need.

I am really interested in hearing what everyone else thinks of these two songs.  Let me know which version you like the best and why.  Feel free to leave a comment and talk about the song and tell me how right or wrong I am on this one.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

LYRICS:

“Big Yellow Taxi”

They paved paradise
Put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?
They paved paradise
Put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
Put ’em in a tree museum
Then they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?
They paved paradise
Put up a parking lot

Hey, farmer, farmer
Put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please!

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?
They paved paradise
Put up a parking lot

Late last night I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi took away my old man

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?
They paved paradise
Put up a parking lot

I said
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?
They paved paradise
Put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
Put up a parking lot
They paved paradise
Put up a parking lot

The Original vs. The Cover – “With A Little Help From My Friends”

For this episode of The Original vs. The Cover, we are going to discuss the incredible song “With A Little Help From My Friends” originally by The Beatles and most famously covered by Joe Cocker. The song for The Beatles was off their 1967 album ‘Sgt. Pepper & the Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and it was never released as a single until a re-issue of it in 1978. Joe Cocker’s version was off his 1968 album of the same name. His version went to #1 in the UK and only #68 in the US but is a signature song for him.

The song was written by the great writing duo of McCartney and Lennon and according to John Lennon, the song was mostly written by Paul with a little help from his friend. They wrote the song specifically for Ringo Starr who sings lead on the track. I found where the original working title of the song was called “Bad Finger Boogie” because Lennon played with only his middle finger on the piano as he hurt his forefinger. That title is said to have inspired the band Badfinger. Now, only believe this if you believe everything wikipedia tells you.

The song is said to be about drugs as even former U.S Vice Presidential candidate, Spiro Agnew, stated it was and wanted the song to be band. That claims is completely denied by the band. The song could be just about how no matter hard it gets, you can make it through it with the help of your friends. I mean John and Paul wrote the song for Ringo so that was helping their friend. Let’s get to the music.

THE BEATLES:

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The Original vs. The Cover – “I’ve Done Everything For You”

For this installment of The Original vs. The Cover we are going to discuss the Sammy Hagar track “I’ve Done Everything For You” which was later covered, more successfully I might add, by Rick Springfield. The original release of the song was a live version from Sammy back in 1978 on his live album ‘All Night Long’ which did not chart. Rick’s version came out as a single in 1981 and was the follow-up to his massive hit “Jessie’s Girl” and as a result went all the way to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song had been a constant in Sammy’s live shows which is why a live version was released. The studio version was done in 1979 and released as a B-Side to the song “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” an Otis Redding Cover. It finally saw a release in 1982 on his greatest hits compilation called “Rematch” which was only done because of the popularity of the Springfield version.

The song seems to be about a relationship/an affair that was really one-sided. He gave everything to her, but she didn’t return that favor. I’ve also heard that it could possibly be about a manager or label where Sammy worked his ass off for them and got nothing in return. I am not sure which is true, but I am leaning to the relationship as it is spelled out specifically in the song, but Sammy could be using that as a pretty damn good metaphor. Either way, I like it.

SAMMY HAGAR

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The Original Vs. The Cover Vs. The Cover – “Hanging On The Telephone”

For this edition of The Original vs. The Cover, we are discussing the song “Hanging on the Telephone” originally performed by the band The Nerves. We are going to do two different covers with the first and most famous being that from Blondie and the other cover is from Def Leppard. The song was written by Jack Lee of the band The Nerves back in the 1976 and was released on their debut E.P. The song never charted and the band was short lived as they didn’t do much after that.

Blondie heard the song while sitting in a taxi in Japan. The song was given to them by Jeffrey Lee Pierce of the band The Gun Club and they popped in to listen to while in that cab. They really liked it and decided to record it. Blondie reached out to Jake Lee for permission to record it and since Jake was facing financial ruin it was a very easy decision. The answer was yes and Jake made a little money that was much needed.

The song is about a man that sounds quite obsessed with the woman he is or was seeing. He keeps calling her and calling her and calling her so he can hear her voice again. The woman’s mother says she can’t see him any more it sounds like and that seems to make him quite angry and he won’t stop trying to get in touch with her. Very stalkerish if you ask me. I think someone might need a restraining order in place. Still no denying it is a fun song.

THE NERVES:

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The Original vs. The Cover – “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”

For this episode of The Original vs. The Cover, we are going to battle it out with the song “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”. The original was done by the band Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes which has Teddy Pendergrass on lead vocals and The Cover is done by the band Simply Red. Both artist did really well with the song as Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes took the song all the way to #3 on the Billboard Charts in 1972 and Simple Red went all the way to #1 in 1989.

The song itself was written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. They were a pretty mighty songwriting team with over 175 Gold and Platinum records between them. The song is a result of marital problems and those problems allowed them to touch in to a very heartfelt sentiment. They believed that if their spouse didn’t know them by now, they never would. Those marital problems certainly created an amazing song.

HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES:

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes didn’t actually play any of the instruments and only sang, but that don’t matter. The session musicians were incredible. The rhythm section of the song was incredible as they laid down a smooth groove and vibe. You had Earl Young on drums and Ronnie Baker on bass and both were stellar. The song was filled with a piano backing by the songwriter Leon Huff and a string orchestration from Don Renaldo. The tempo was slow, sultry and a little sexy. The song feels larger than life.

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The Original vs. The Cover vs. The Cover – “Last Kiss”

For this month’s version of The Original vs. The Cover, we have a triple bill of the song “Last Kiss”. We have the original which was written and performed by Wayne Cochran down at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA back in 1961. The 45’s were printed in Vidalia, GA…you know the town that gives you Vidalia Onions. I’ve been to that town, there isn’t a whole lot there but Onions, but that is another story. The first cover is by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers which was released in June 1964 and went to #2 on the Billboard Charts. The final version we will discuss is the one by Pearl Jam which was released on June 8, 1999 and reached #2 on the Billboard Charts as well. Three great versions. Yes, I know there are a bunch of covers of this song, but I settled on these three versions.

The song is said to be written by Wayne Cochran as well as Joe Carpenter, Randall Hoyal and Bobby McGlon but the later three were never officially credited on any of the releases. All four performed on the song. Speaking of the song, this is a song about a tragic car crash which seemed to be a big thing to do back in the day. Instead of trying to recap the story in my words, let me post what wikipedia says…

The narrator borrows his father’s car to take his girlfriend out on a date, and comes upon a stalled car in the road. Unable to stop, the narrator swerves to the right to avoid it, losing control and crashing violently in the process, knocking him and his girlfriend unconscious. The narrator later regains consciousness in the midst of a rainstorm, and finds several people at the scene of the accident. While partially blinded by the blood flowing from his injuries, the narrator is able to find his girlfriend, still lying unconscious. When he cradles his girlfriend lovingly in his arms, she regains partial consciousness, smiling and asking the narrator to “hold me, darling, for a little while.” The narrator then gives her the titular “last kiss” as she fades into death and enters the afterlife.

The song has been said to be a true story of Jeanette Clark and J.L. Hancock, who were both 16 years old when their car hit a tractor-trailer on a road in rural Barnesville, Georgia Here’s the thing. That accident occurred in 1962 and the song was written and recorded in 1961 so kind of hard to believe that theory. Okay, enough of that, let’s get to the song.

WAYNE COCHRAN

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