10 songs you probably did not know were covers

Great songs you may not know by the original artists.
Bowling For Soup Performs At Ace Of Spades
Bowling For Soup Performs At Ace Of Spades / Tim Mosenfelder/GettyImages
1 of 9

So I want it understood from the beginning that I know some of you do know that these songs are covers. The title of this piece should probably be “Ten songs – some of which some of you don’t know are covers.” But that doesn’t really flow sweetly off the tongue, does it? Doesn’t really make the kind of forceful statement you might want in a title. So accuracy be damned. I just wanted you to know that before I go any further.

With that out of the way, here are songs that you didn’t know were covers. I don’t need to tell you what a cover is, do I? I didn’t think so. But just in case you decide to forward this to someone not as musically literate as you, I’ll do it anyway. A cover is song that was originally recorded by someone else.

There have been approximately seven hundred billion covers in music history. In the early days of rock & roll, most bands did lots of covers until they got big enough to stick to their own original material. The Beatles did covers. The Stones did covers. Ten of the thirteen tracks on Bob Dylan’s first album were songs that had already been recorded by others.

10 covers you know by heart but might not know who the original artist was

That’s OK, because lots of people have gotten healthy by recording covers of Dylan’s originals. You probably already know that Dylan wrote and recorded “All Along the Watchtower” before Jimi Hendrix, and that he wrote and recorded “Forever Young” before Rod Stewart, and that he wrote and recorded “Mr. Tambourine Man” before the Byrds. I could go on. I won’t. Dylan’s too easy.

If you fancy yourself a musicologist, you may also know that Laura Nyro recorded “Eli’s Coming” before Three Dog Night took it into the Billboard Top Ten. Or that Laura Nyro recorded “And When I Die” two years before Blood, Sweat and Tears took that that song all the way to number 2. And you might even know that Laura Nyro recorded “Wedding Bell Blues” three years before the Fifth Dimension had a number 1 smash with it.

Come to think of it, maybe you don’t need to be a musicologist. Maybe you just need to be good friends with Laura Nyro. If she lets you cover one of her songs, you’ll probably have a hit.

But I didn’t come here to talk about Laura Nyro. I came here to talk about ten other songs – all of which I guarantee you didn’t know were covers. And eclectic sampling of hits, starting, as most things do, at the beginning, based on the best-known cover’s year of release.