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Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery: The Best Covers of Beatles Songs

Kurt Cobain performing his cover of “And I Love Her”

Often regarded as the most influential band of all time, it’s not hard to imagine that The Beatles have had their songs covered by other artists thousands of times. Their timeless repertoire proves its impact again and again each time an artist creates their own rendition of a song. Almost 60 years later, The Beatles’ music continues to be performed, evolved and cherished. While these following three songs are the most frequently covered Beatles songs, nearly all Beatles songs have been covered by other notable artists and I encourage you to listen to them. 

“Yesterday”

From their 1965 release “Help!” the Beatles’ “Yesterday” quickly reached number one on US charts and placed in the top 10 in several countries in Europe. Since its release, “Yesterday” has been covered more than 2,200 times and is likely to be the most covered song in history. Notable artists to cover the song include Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and countless others. All of these artists take their own creative liberties with “Yesterday”, providing their own personal touch and adding a new life to the song. While each of these artists does a brilliant job, no cover of “Yesterday” is quite like Aretha Franklin’s. Performed live in 1979, Aretha Franklin delivers a beautiful, soulful rendition of the classic that fans will never forget.

Aretha Franklin performing “Yesterday” live from YouTube

“And I Love Her”

Short and sweet, this Beatles classic from their 1964 release “A Hard Day’s Night” is the perfect love song to be reworked over and over again. Famous covered versions of  “And I Love Her” include the renditions of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Sarah Vaughan, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and Bobby Womack. Each of these covers creates an entirely different interpretation of “And I Love Her,” providing the chance for the listener to hear the song from the perspective of several different genres, from jazz to reggae. Although it seems that “And I Love Her” has been manipulated every way possible, an important facet of the song would be missing without Kurt Cobain’s cover. Cobain’s beautiful rendition of “And I Love Her” was released in 2015, years after his passing, and peaked at number two on US charts and number one in the UK. His dark, profound cover is the perfect chilling counterpart to the original light, airy Beatles version.

Kurt Cobain’s Cover of “And I Love Her” from YouTube

“Blackbird”

Written and performed as a solo piece by Paul McCartney, “Blackbird” was released in 1968 as a part of the Beatles’ double self-titled album, known commonly as “The White Album.” The song “Blackbird” peaked at number nine on US charts and was ranked similarly in the UK and other European countries. With hundreds of covers, “Blackbird” continues to be a beloved Beatles song. Notable renditions of the song come from Carly Simon, Zac Brown Band, Phish and Anderson .Paak. In the 53 years since its release, “Blackbird” has been performed as a country song, an R&B ballad and everything in between. A perfect addition to the wide array of “Blackbird” covers is the performance of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Less defiant of the original recording than covers of other genres, Crosby, Stills and Nash perform a simple and touching cover of “Blackbird” with beautiful harmonies.

Crosby, Stills and Nash performing “Blackbird” live from YouTube

By Hannah Moxey

Junior at NCSU studying Communication Media
Lover of classic rock and strawberry ice cream