November 14, 2002

From the Horse's Mouth

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Covers that surpass the originals:

“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley. Originally by Leonard Cohen. Despite Buckley’s omission of a crucial verse, the subtlety of his playing coupled with that Earth-shattering angelic voice stands above the original which is spoiled by the lush female choir on the chorus. The song, despite its poetic beauty, fell prey to Cohen’s awkward transition from fingerpickin’ folkie to lushly arranged crooner.

“Which Will” by Lucinda Williams. Originally by Nick Drake. It’s tough to top Nick Drake in anything but on this song Lu proves a simple open chord approach is better than Drake’s elaborate and usually unbeatable guitar work. Legend has it Williams recorded this in one take at 4 a.m., having not slept for two days and with a voice slightly plagued by bourbon. The song aches. For those 4 a.m.s — nothing beats it.

“Easy” by Faith No More. Originally by Lionel Richie. I’m easy like Sunday morning because of how good this song is. Faith No More, one of the most underrated bands of the nineties, surprised everyone with a surprisingly faithful cover that did the seemingly impossible — make this song cool.

“Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin. Originally by Kris Kristofferson. A bit obvious. I love Kristofferson, but man, in those last two minutes (“nanana