Song covers vs. the original version based on which you heard first

Sorry for the messy title, but it seems to me that between a song and a cover, the one I like better is the one I hear first (as long as I like the one I hear first that is).
So has anyone preferred the version of a song they heard second?

I usually end up liking the original version more. The only time that I liked the cover version better was Santana’s version of Black Magic Woman as opposed to the (Peter Green’s) Fleetwood Mac version.

Normally I would like which ever version I heard first probably out of habit from hearing it that way. My major exception would be Eric Clapton’s “Layla”. Knowing that he was in a heroin induced fog because he was in love with his best friends wife when he wrote it makes me think the song should express more pain than the original conveys. Does that even count?

I preferred Joe Cocker’s version of “The Letter” to the Box Tops’s original, and I heard the Box Tops first. Same with Cocker’s version of “Little Help from My Friends.”

I heard the Neighborhood’s version of “Big Yellow Taxi,” before Joni Mitchell; her’s is eons ahead of the cover. The newer cover is OK.

The original (Al Kooper) Blood, Sweat and Tears did a pretty nifty version of “Just One Smile.” Then I heard Randy Newman sing the song in concert. Wow.

So it all depends.

When I saw 311’s video for “Love Song,” I thought, “Wow, that song’s pretty good for 311!” I looked into it, and it turned out to be a Cure song. I listened to the Cure’s original, and, while it’s good, I don’t think Robert Smith puts as much feel into it as 311’s singer. The 311 version would be great if it didn’t have that reggae chocka-chocka thing. So yeah, in conclusion, I think I prefer the remake to the original.

It’s a toss-up between No Doubt’s “It’s My Life” and Talk Talk’s, but I’d have to give the edge to Talk Talk, which I heard after the remake.

I heard Cat Power’s cover of “Bathysphere” before Smog’s original, but I like the original better.

I also like Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren” better than This Mortal Coil’s cover, although I heard the latter first.

And I prefer Bonnie Prince Billy’s “I See a Darkness” to the Johnny Cash cover that I heard first (though I love Cash’s version too).

And Big Star’s “Thirteen” is better than any of the covers I heard first.

There are also some covers I like better possibly because I heard them first.

“Lake of Fire”, “Jesus Don’t Want Me For a Sunbeam”, “Love Buzz”, “Man Who Sold the World” and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” by Nirvana.

Sonic Youth’s “Superstar” and “Into the Groove”.

Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah”.

Husker Du’s “Eight Miles High”.

Cat Power’s “Moonshiner”.

It’s a lot harder to think of covers I’ve heard second and like better, but:

“You and Your Sister”, by This Mortal Coil, covering a Chris Bell song.

“Nobody Does it Better” and “Wonderwall”, by Radiohead.

I heard Our Lady Peace do The Needle and the Damage Done first, but Neil Young’s version is loads better(duh).
I saw the Toadies cover Don’t Let Me Down, but liked the Beatles’ one better.
Simon’s Hazy Shade of Winter beats the Bangles’.
The Who’s Baba O’Riley over Pearl Jam’s version.

When the Christian band Stryper released their last album, it wasn’t so Christian, and had the song Shining Star, which until recently, I never heard the Earth Wind and Fire origional version :o However, I’m more into hard rock than funk, so I prefred Stryper’s version.

Other remakes I’ve both heard first, and prefered over the origional…

Joan Jett - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
No Doubt - It’s my life
10,000 Maniacs - More than this
Orge - Blue Monday
Kim Wilde - You Keep Me Hanging On
Alien Ant Farm - Smooth Criminal
Jeff Beck Group - *Shapes of Things

Origionals I’ve heard first and prefered over the remakes…

Tears for Fears - Mad World
Nirvana - Smells like Teen Spirit
Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams
Don Henly - *Boys of Summer
Chicago - 25 or 6 to 4 over the remake by…Chicago, in the 80’s

Crap, my coding skills need some work apparently :eek:

I heard Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt” before Johnny Cash’s version, liked it, but not nearly as much as the man in black’s.

Here’s an interesting one for you: Misfit’s “Last Caress”.
The first version I heard was Metallica’s (I liked it), then the original (it was OK, but the recording quality was so bad I couldn’t really get into it), then AFI’s version. AFI’s is far and away the best.

Gary Moore’s “Over the Hills and Far Away” is worlds better than Nightwish’s cover.

Here are some that are related in interesting ways.

I first heard “One” by Three Dog Night. Then, 30 years later I heard the original by Nilsson, and I still consider that there isn’t enough oomph in it, while Nilsson fans regularly deride the 3DN version for being too theatrical.

On 3DN’s “It Ain’t Easy” LP, there is a cover of Randy Newman’s “Cowboy”, which he played and Harry Nilsson sang on “Nilsson Sings Newman”. I heard Harry do it first, and the 3DN version is more or less a waste of tape in comparison.

Continuing in the related theme, “It Ain’t Easy” was covered by a lot of people back around 1970-71. I’m not sure who did it first, as I have versions by 3DN, Long John Baldry and Dave Edmunds. I think it’s a tossup over which is a better version, the Baldry or the Edmunds. I like them both because they’re fairly different readings of the same song, but neither version is weak in any respect like the 3DN one is all over.

Dave Edmunds covered Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land”, back when he was learning to replicate the sound of old American records. Maybe it’s listening back through rose-colored headphones, but I think Edmunds managed to capture the Chess Records and Chuck Berry sound in his cover better than Chuck did, because when I finally heard Chuck’s version, I was disappointed in how lame it was.

Long John Baldry did a completely pointless, ridiculously lame cover of his own “Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll” on one of his later albums, that first came out on his “It Ain’t Easy” LP.

I’ve heard “Reason To Believe” by a handful of people over the years, but nobody beats Rod Stewart’s version, which was a cover.

Wow, I could go on here if I did some research, but I’d be monopolizing the thread. So that’s mine for now.

Jeff Buckleys - Hallejuah - better than original
Dylan - Mr Tambourine Man - Original better than Byrds
Bowie - Man who sold the world - better than nirvana’s cover
cake - i will survive - better than the original
steve harley and cockney rebel - here comes the sun - original better(you really need to hear this cover if you havn’t, it defies belief that someone could listen to the original and then re-interpet it like that. Im not saying its bad, just amazingly different).
Perhaps the hardest one to call is Jimi v Dylan for All Along the Watchtower.

This seems to be the general consensus, but I hold Cohen’s original just a bit higher. I do wonder if that is because I heard Cohen’s version first, 'cause Buckley’s “Hallelujah” is really heartbreaking.

I second Cocker’s “With a little help from my friends”. His version *has * had a bigger role in my life (and I was introduced first, I belive), but I have intensively and diligently compared the cover to the original version, and I just simply enjoy Cocker’s version more.

I heard the Talk Talk and Cure version way before the remakes. And while I like the remakes since they are pretty faithful to the original song, I like the original versions better. I’m just glad they were faithful but coming from 311 and No Doubt I wouldn’t expect anything less. There is nothing a hate more than a cover that completely destroys the song.

I guess I’m like many others in that I enjoy the version I heard first more.

I liked the Prong version of Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck before the Grinspoon version, but I like Grinspoon’s a lot better.

I heard Journey’s Faithfully performed by Lucky 7 (unsigned pop punk band) before I heard Journey do it, and I like the Lucky 7 version much better.

John Lennon’s version of “Stand By Me.”

I hate Joe Cocker’s version of A Little Help From My Friends. He uses shudder gospel backup singers. :mad:
I feel like dedicating a thread to that sin, so maybe I’ll do so.

I actually can think of one time I’ve liked the one I heard more second. The version of U2’s One with Michael Stipe singing I like much more than the original.

Songs I like the cover of better (the original author in parentheses) :
Nirvana- The Man Who Sold the World (David Bowie)
The Pixies- Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain)
David Bowie- Pablo Picasso (Jonathan Richman)
Lapdog- Father Christmas (The Kinks)
Echo and the Bunnymen- People Are Strange (The Doors)
Johnny Cash- Hurt (Nine Inch Nails)
Nirvana- Here She Comes Now (Velvet Underground)
Nirvana- Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam (The Vaselines)
The Replacements- Around and Round (Chuck Berry)
And there’s several more, but I have ADD and want to move on to something else.

Songs I liked the original of better (cover band in parentheses) :
Any Beatles song ever
The Pixies- Cactus (David Bowie)
New Order- Blue Monday (Orgy)
Nirvana- Smells Like Teen Spirit (Tori Amos)
Echo and the Bunnymen- Lips Like Sugar (Coldplay)
Joy Division- Love Will Tear Us Apart (The Cure)
David Bowie- Young Americans (The Cure)

Ones I like about equal:
The Meat Puppets- [those songs covered by Nirvana]
Toad the Wet Sprocket- Crowing (Covered by Hootie and the Blowfish… yes, you read that right, they did an awesome job)
David Bowie- Ziggy Stardust (Covers by Toad the Wet Sprocket and Bauhaus)

I’ll think of more later if I feel like it.


Years ago I picked up the first album by Yo La Tengo (Ride the Tiger) where they covered “Big Sky” by the Kinks. That was the first time I had heard that song and it knocked me on my ass. So much so, that I immediately went out and bought “Villiage Green Preservation Society”, because I had to hear the original…the album was amazing, but I found myself liking the cover a bit better…probably just because I heard it first.

I’ll second the person who mentioned “8 Miles High” by Husker Du…I really like the original, but that is probably one of the best covers I have heard. But, I am a huge Husker fan. (they also did a kick ass cover of “Ticket to Ride”)

I love the Clash,and I like what they did with it, but I find myself enjoying Junior Murvin’s version of “Police and Theives” more.

I didn’t like what the 10,000 Maniacs did with “Because the Night”. I think Patti Smith’s version is MUCH better.

The Counting Crows suck and their cover of “Big Yellow Taxi” is god awful IMO.

oh yeah, and Robyn Hitchcock did a lovely job on “More Than This”.

I heard Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” before I heard Dolly Parton’s, but I think Dolly’s blows Whitney’s out of the water.