Hear 100 Amazing Cover Versions of Beatles Songs

If you’ve ever learned to play an instru­ment, espe­cial­ly the gui­tar or piano, odds are you’ve spent count­less hours try­ing to mas­ter the rhythms and melodies of your favorite songs. And odds are at least one of those songs was writ­ten by Messrs. Lennon & McCart­ney. If you’re any­thing like me, you prob­a­bly real­ized ear­ly in the exer­cise that The Bea­t­les weren’t only praised as great song­writ­ers because of their lyri­cism and social and roman­tic insights. Their songs are also packed with inge­nious chord changes, unex­pect­ed time shifts, unusu­al hooks, etc.

What may seem at first lis­ten like a sim­ple tune reveals itself as high­ly chal­leng­ing for the ama­teur musi­cian. I well remem­ber sweat­ing over two of my favorites—“Julia” and “Martha My Dear”—for many days.

Even in mod­i­fied ver­sions that sim­pli­fy dif­fi­cult voic­ings, I strug­gled to mas­ter the let­ter of the songs while still con­vey­ing the spir­it. Sure­ly, that’s a tes­ta­ment to my own lack of skill, and yet the trou­ble I’ve had pulling off my favorite Bea­t­les’ songs has giv­en me all the more respect for musi­cians who make it look easy.

Even a straight-ahead blues like “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road” ain’t easy to sell—far from it. But I’ve nev­er heard any­one do it bet­ter than Tul­sa, Okla­homa-born blues­man Low­ell Ful­som (top). Fur­ther down, St. Vin­cent does a stel­lar live ren­di­tion of anoth­er of my favorites, “Dig a Pony.” A great song can take all kinds of bend­ing, stretch­ing, and pulling and still retain its essence. In Pao­lo Nutini’s smooth, stripped-down, organ, voice, and drums take on Lennon’s “Don’t Let Me Down,” above, the pas­sion remains, even if the impas­sioned shouts have been tamed.

There are hun­dreds more great Bea­t­les’ cov­ers out there, and prob­a­bly hun­dreds of ter­ri­ble ones, too—and many an odd­ball inter­pre­ta­tion that sharply divides opin­ion in either direc­tion (such as Marc Ribot’s machine-shop “While My Gui­tar Gen­tly Weeps,” which I hap­pen to love). Just above, we’ve put togeth­er a Spo­ti­fy playlist of over 80 great cov­er ver­sions of Bea­t­les’ songs, culled from sug­ges­tions made by @openculture followers/fans on Twit­ter. (You can down­load Spo­ti­fy’s soft­ware here.) And in the list below, find links to 20 fab­u­lous cov­er ver­sions on Youtube. (Those weren’t avail­able on Spo­ti­fy, but they’re def­i­nite­ly worth hear­ing). In total, you’ll find 100 tracks, by artists rang­ing from Ray Charles, to Joe Cock­er and Sarah McLach­lan, to Pat­ti Smith, David Bowie, and John­ny Cash. It makes for 6 hours of Bea­t­les bliss.

If we’ve missed an essen­tial cov­er, let us know in the com­ments below, and drop in a link if you can.

Jimi Hen­drix — Sgt. Pep­per
The Pix­ies — Wild Hon­ey Pie  
David Gilmour — Here, There and Every­where
Alice Coop­er and the Bee Gees — Because
Kris Kristof­fer­son — Paper­back Writer 
Bryan Fer­ry — She’s Leav­ing Home
Pao­lo Nuti­ni — Don’t Let Me Down
The Fall — A Day in the Life 
Elliot Smith — Because 
Elvis Costel­lo — Pen­ny Lane 
Marc Ribot — While My Gui­tar Gen­tly Weeps
Ben E. King — Don’t Let Me Down
Ike & Tina Turn­er – She Came in Through the Bath­room Win­dow
St Vin­cent — Dig a Pony  
Peer Framp­ton and the Bee Gees — Sgt. Pep­per’s Lone­ly Hearts Club Band (sound­track)
Ray Charles — The Bea­t­les Cov­ers
Book­er T. & the MGS — McLemore Avenue (Cov­ers of Abbey Road)  
George Ben­son — The Oth­er Side of Abbey Road

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The 15 Worst Cov­ers of Bea­t­les Songs: William Shat­ner, Bill Cos­by, Tiny Tim, Sean Con­nery & Your Excel­lent Picks

Peter Sell­ers Cov­ers the Bea­t­les’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” “She Loves You” & “Help!”

Bea­t­les Trib­ute Band “The Fab Faux” Per­forms Live an Amaz­ing­ly Exact Repli­ca of the Orig­i­nal Abbey Road Med­ley

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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