The Beatles gave the world some of the best and most progressive pop music ever made. Naturally, attempting to recreate the band’s music isn’t easy. Doing a bad cover of a Beatles song is basically blasphemy. Here are some artists, however, that made a commendable effort. Hopefully their work can provide you with some inspiration to make it through the rest of the week.
“Got to Get You Into My Life” — Daniel Johnston
For his cover of “Got to Get You Into My Life,” the lifelong Beatles fan Daniel Johnston strips away the full band and grandiose horn section. Working with just a reverberated, out-of-tune piano and his own emotive voice, Johnston emphasizes a desperate infatuation and draws out the song’s darker undertones. He uncovers a certain vulnerability in the song — pausing the music at times to find the correct chord structures — and places the lyrics within the context of his own wistful romantic history.
“Happiness is a Warm Gun” — The Breeders
Recording a Beatles cover for your band’s debut album may be a bold move, but Kim Deal and the rest of The Breeders were able to pull it off perfectly. Taking on the sinister “Happiness Is Warm Gun,” the band moves the arrangement into a more minimal territory, and Steve Albini’s matter-of-fact audio engineering only compliments the stark aesthetic. The band achieves a superb transition from the song’s explosive climax into an eerie, feedback-driven outro — doing justice to the cult favorite track.
“Strawberry Fields Forever” — Todd Rundgren
Todd Rundgren dedicates the entire A-side of his seventh studio album, “Faithful,” to a nearly identical reproduction of well-known rock ‘n’ roll classics. His goal, more conceptual in nature, was to treat rock music like European classical music, keeping the recordings as close as possible to the intent of the original composer. Rundgren borrows from “Magical Mystery Tour” with his cover of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and for the most part, all the intricate studio trickery remains spot on. His best John Lennon impression won’t fool anyone, but his devoted recreation still functions as a well-intentioned tribute to the most influential rock band of all time.
“Within You Without You” — Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth translates George Harrison’s Eastern-influenced masterpiece, “Within You Without You,” into a cacophonous wall of sound. The New York noise rockers, borrowing from their no- wave roots, do away with the delicate sitar in favor of primal drums and a brutal electric guitar — achieving a similar and tangential psychedelic effect. It’s hard to say whether or not this version gets any closer to full-on ego death; however, the band is able to add its own flare to the source material while retaining a necessary reverence for the Beatles original.
“Dear Prudence” — Siouxsie and the Banshees
The original recording of “Dear Prudence” feels serene and comforting; when placed into the hands of Siouxsie and the Banshees, the song takes on an expected tinge of gothic melancholy. Originally released as a single in 1983, the cover went on to become one of the band’s biggest hits at the time, and was later included on the US tracklisting of the band’s sixth studio album, “Hyæna.” The band speeds up the tempo, adding an angular and unsettling sound to the guitar arrangements, while frontman Siouxsie Sioux leads the song with her own mystical vocal performance.