10 Greatest Covers Of Beatles Songs

Reinventing the Fab Four.

the beatles get back

Coming up to 60 years since the release of their debut album, the cultural cache of The Beatles shows no sign of diminishing. Between Peter Jackson’s exhaustive documentary and Paul McCartney’s Fab Four-heavy Glastonbury set, we’re still getting our money’s worth from the Liverpool four piece.

And this extends beyond fans and listeners to fellow musicians, too. In pop history there has seldom been a band or artist with close to The Beatles’ influence, and this can be heard most directly in the myriad performers who’ve jumped at the chance to have a crack at covering one of the band’s finest.

More so than any other band, there are covers of varying quality, with entire albums dedicated to Beatles retreads that prove imitation isn’t always the sincerest form of flattery.

When Beatles covers work, though, they can transcend the original material. The songs are so famous that they’re almost standards by now, allowing performers the freedom to put their own stamp on the songs, to reinvent them or just to pay tribute to The Beatles’ finest work. These tunes don’t just pay tribute to the originals but allow us to hear them in a whole new light.

10. David Bowie - Across The Universe

A highlight of The Beatles’ swansong Let It Be, Across The Universe presents some of Lennon’s sweetest and most spiritually searching lyrics over a layered, predominantly acoustic track. It’s a gently performed, fragile track that stands out among the more schmaltzy ballads on the record.

Being a recording on his often strange blue-eyed soul record Young Americans, Bowie takes a substantially different approach to the tune. He layers his vocals over pounding drums and the piercing guitar work of Earl Slick. He pulls out all his best affectations as a singer, twisting and turning the deep lyrics into a fun showtune.

Giving the performance legitimacy is John Lennon himself, who keeps a piece of the song’s original intent intact with acoustic strumming and backing vocals. They get lost in the maximalist mix somewhat, but it’s comforting to know the songwriter is there, and that he approves of what’s going on (Lennon didn’t like the mix on the album, though he never got to hear the far improved 2003 remaster).

It’s admittedly not as good as The Beatles’ original, but the combination of Bowie in his ludicrous pomp and Lennon near-career best as a songwriter makes for a fun listen.

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Yorkshire-based writer of screenplays, essays, and fiction. Big fan of having a laugh. Read more of my stuff @ www.twotownsover.com (if you want!)