18 Cover Songs That Transcend the Originals


(via Purple Clover) by Kevin Haynes

First released January 11, 1971, Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” redefined the limits of cover song success. Here, we celebrate Janis’ classic version and other artistic interpretations gone right.

‘Me and Bobby McGee’ — Janis Joplin

Kris Kristofferson’s vagabond road song was first recorded in 1969 by, appropriately enough, “King of the Road” Roger Miller. But Joplin’s only No. 1 hit, completed days before her death on October 4, 1970, is the ultimate trip down memory lane—a soulful, cinematic look back at love gone by.

Kristofferson, who’d been dating Janis, first heard her version of the song shortly after she died. “Afterwards,” he recalled in a recent interview, “I walked all over L.A., just in tears.”


‘I Shot the Sheriff’ — Eric Clapton

Slowhand played fast and loose with Bob Marley’s sly profession of guilt and innocence—hey, he didn’t shoot no deputy—propelling this reggae groove to No. 1 in September 1974.

‘Twist and Shout’ — The Beatles

The Fab Four didn’t just shake it up, baby, they incited a dance riot in 1963, a year after the Isley Brothers got the party started with their first Top 20 hit. (Bonus points if you knew the song was introduced in 1961 by the Top Notes.)

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