You might be surprised who wrote your favorite song
I was looking at the music charts and recently Susanna Hoffs from the Bangles celebrated a birthday, she turned 62 . Susanna, if you remember, sings lead on the hit Manic Monday. Manic Monday was written by Prince and I had never heard Prince do that song and sure enough thanks to YouTube I saw a grainy version of how the author performed that song. It was good. It got me to think to revisit other great covers, how about Whitney Houston covering Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You; both women do a great job on that song.
There’s Manfred Mann’s number one hit Blinded by the Light version that Bruce Springsteen wrote. Bruce laughs that in the song the line “wrapped up like a deuce” (meaning deuce coupe, like a car) was translated by Manfred Mann to “wrapped up like a douche” (like a female hygiene product), can’t make that stuff up. There’s Billy Idol’s version of Mony Mony the big Tommy James hit which was written by Tommy James and Richie Cordell and other band mates, a group effort.
The Beatles had lots of covers although they were the most prolific songwriters in the history of music. Bert Berns and Phil Medley wrote Twist and Shout which was originally a hit for the Isley Brothers and the Beatles made that song a huge hit. The Beatles also covered the song Rock and Roll Music, written and performed originally by Chuck Berry.
UB40’s hit of Red, Red Wine was written by Neil Diamond who wrote many songs for The Monkees, Jay Black and the Americans and other rock and roll groups. The number of cover songs that Carol King wrote are significant such as: Grand Funk Railroad's Loco Motion and Little Eva, The Drifters' classic Up on the Roof, which Carole originally titled My Secret Place, She wrote the Animals' Don’t Bring Me Down, The Herman’s Hermits' I’m into Something Good and the Monkees' Pleasant Valley Sunday just to name a few.
Jimi Hendrix’s version of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower is a Rock and Roll classic. Bob Dylan had many artists cover many songs, some were big chart toppers including Peter, Paul and Mary singing Blowin in the Wind, Rod Stewart and Patti LaBelle both recorded Forever Young, a great song.
Bruce Springsteen recorded Bob Dylan’s Chimes of Freedom, George Harrison recorded If Not for You, another great cover and Mr. Tambourine Man by The Byrds was another big hit. Los Lobos did a great version of Ritchie Valens' La Bamba.
I could go on and on and on with all these great songs. Cover songs keep the originals alive. There are many covers that were written in the '60s that made their way to the charts in the '90s and 2000s. So the next time you hear a favorite tune, check it out, it could be written by somebody you’d never expect.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.