After recently being both amused and impressed by Carrie Underwood’s performance of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child Of Mine”, I started to think of the place of cover songs in country music. There are many people who love to hear cover songs. They are excited about the prospect of their old favorite songs being revived by new artists. Conversely, there are many others who feel that well enough should be left alone. They are doubtful that their favorite songs can be improved upon. I suspect, however, that most people fit in the third category and judge a cover song on an individual basis.

I suppose I fit in all three categories. Of course, I base a song on its individual merit, but I also feel both excited and reticent when I recognize a title on a new album that I buy. Likewise, there are times when I am disappointed by the reinterpretation of a song and then there are other cover songs that I end up thoroughly enjoying and find myself gravitating toward them more than the originals.

So, my questions to you are: What songs do you find that you like better than the originals? What cover songs just make you cringe?

Here are just a few of mine:

Cover songs I enjoy:

  • Gary Allan, “Best I Ever Had” (Vertical Horizon)
  • Rosanne Cash, “Tennessee Flat-Top Box” (Johnny Cash)
  • Reba McEntire, “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” (Vicki Lawrence)
  • Travis Tritt, “Take It Easy” (The Eagles)
  • George Jones’ cover of his own “White Lightning” from the Bradley Barn Sessions
  • Dwight Yoakam, “Understand Your Man” (Johnny Cash)
  • Charlie Daniels & Gretchen Wilson, “Jackson” (Johnny & June Carter Cash) I only like it because it’s different, not because it’s better than the original.
  • Alan Jackson, “The Blues Man” (Hank Williams, Jr.)

Cover Songs that make me cringe:

  • Jack Ingram, “Lips Of An Angel” (though I could live without either version)
  • Rascal Flatts, “Life Is A Highway”
  • Mark Chesnutt, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” (Aerosmith’s version was bad enough, but Chesnutt’s version?)
  • Olivia Newton-John, “Ring Of Fire”
  • Faith Hill, “Piece Of My Heart”
  • Travis Tritt, “I Walk The Line”