You Can’t Ruin a Good Song
It’s one of my personal theories about music. If a tune is good, it’s always good, no matter what you do to it, whether it’s covered by another artist, remixed or mashed-up.
Perhaps the best example of this is Hurt by Nine Inch Nails. When Johnny Cash covered it, even Trent Reznor had his doubts. But after he heard Cash’s version, he said the following:
I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning — different, but every bit as pure
Not every cover version works, perhaps. A few, like the above, actually reinvent the original song and improve upon it. Others, like all the songs being covered on the TV show Glee try to retain the spirit of the original. I’m a huge fan of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ which has been on the show (and will be on the Season Finale tomorrow night). I also used to believe that some songs were sacred, but I do quite like the Glee cover. Is it because the song is so good that it works no matter who sings it? I think so.
Another (more obscure) example is the song Just Good Friends by the Scottish singer, Fish. He originally recorded that track for his album Internal Exile but later released it as a duet with Sam Brown. The original song was more or less a rock piece, but the duet was more country. Amazingly, re-recording the song as a duet added some layers of complexity to the song, changing it into something slightly different than the original, but just as good.
So, what do you think? Are there songs that remain good no matter what? Let us know!