Where Did You Sleep Last Night

Jen Kehl at My Skewed View and Kristi at Finding Ninee host Twisted MixTape Tuesday, a blog hop that’s all about music.  The premise is to create a five song mix based on the week’s theme.  (You can click on the button above if you’d like to play along).  Here’s Jen’s instructions for today’s topic:

It’s dealer’s choice again! Already? Yup already!

Its official…Christmas has well and truly kicked my ass this year.  Its our year to spend the holidays at my Mom’s house, so in addition to the usual holiday madness, we have to gear up for a roadtrip.  I’ve been a germ magnet and just when I thought I’d gotten over a double shot of strep, I get a good, old-fashioned cold and missed last week’s mixtape.  I wanna thank Jen for the showcase spot and kinda feel bad that it was on a week I missed.

So, once a month, Jen let’s us pick our own themes.  The first time, it was a painstaking task, as having set parameters helps me narrow my focus.  Of course, after the first one was published, I immediately came up with about ten more.  Now I have a stockpile of ideas and have to pick between them.

If you’ve visited my mixtapes before, you know I have a fondness for covers.  There are some cover versions that you just cannot compare like Hound Dog by Big Mama Thornton and the later Elvis cover.  Or they’re such different genres like Hendrix’s All Along the Watchtower vs. the original Bob Dylan.  Then there are some that you can’t help but put side by side and determine which is better.  In the case of the songs I selected today for my mixtape, these are the rare covers that are better than the originals (purely subjective to my ears, of course).

1.  Love Don’t Live Here Anymore – Rose Royce vs. Madonna.  I’ll preface this by stating that I’m not a fan of most Madonna work after 1990, with a few notable exceptions.  One of which is the remixed version of this song from her Something to Remember album in 1995 (not her original cover from Like a Virgin).  Madge wins this match up hands down.

2.  Black Magic Woman – Fleetwood Mac vs. Santana.  This is one that until a couple years ago, I didn’t even know there was a version other than Santana.  This is another one that’s no contest for me, Santana clearly did it better and the video posted is with the song’s composer, Peter Green.

3.  Me and Bobby McGee – Roger Miller vs. Janis Joplin.   Ok, so I learned something new while researching this song’s history.  I knew Kris Kristofferson wrote the song, but I thought he’d done the original recording as well.  Though he did eventually record it, he gave the original spot to Roger Miller first.  Either way, neither compares to Janis.

4.  I Fought the Law – The Crickets vs. Bobby Fuller Four vs. The Clash vs. everyone else.  Sometimes the most well-known version of a song isn’t exactly the first recording, such in this case.  Written by Sonny Curtis, it was originally recorded by The Crickets when he filled the role of lead guitar after the death of Buddy Holly.  The song never got played on the radio though until covered by the Bobby Fuller Four which then became a top ten hit.  Its been covered numerous times, but all are exceeded by the version recorded by The Clash.

5.  Where Did You Sleep Last Night – Lead Belly vs. Nirvana.  Originally a folk song, the lyrics tended to change over the years.  Of the two most well-known versions (the other being about a train by Bill Monroe) the Lead Belly interpretation is what’s usually thought to be the earliest standard.  The verses have been changed and recorded multiple times over the years, but Nirvana did an homage to Lead Belly’s arrangement for their MTV Unplugged show and killed it.  I remember reading somewhere that Cobain refused to do an encore at the taping because he felt they couldn’t surpass the performance they’d just given of this song.

Since we’re taking next week off from the mixtape, I wanna wish everyone a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays.

Dream signature

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31 comments

  1. elleroy was here (@modmomelleroy)

    Hope you’re feelin’ better. Something about this Christmas season…I feel like it’s kicking my ass too. I just wanna lay down with a drink in my hand and snooze. But first – I gotta say – love Lead Belly and Kurt. Both versions are so full of heart.

    • Dream

      I often feel stressed this time of year, but this year I just feel like I’m sinking. Out of all the comparisons, I’d have to say the Lead Belly vs. Nirvana was the closest and I think that was Cobain’s intention, to remain true to LB’s version.

  2. Louise

    I love the theme you chose for this post – so much fun! Totally agree re: Joplin and the Clash. I adore both those covers. As for Madonna covers – this one yes – but I always thought her Fever cover was a miss.

  3. canigetanotherbottleofwhine

    Wow, this is a great list. I didn’t know that Madonna redid that song. Enjoyed listening to these. Hope you’re on the mend!

    • Dream

      Originally her cover was on her second album, but I like the remixed version she did 10 years later (probably because it was remixed again and made into a club version).

  4. cynkingfeeling

    Had no idea that Fleetwood Mac had done “Black Magic Woman.” Of course, I always think of the episode of “Dharma & Greg” where Greg thinks the lyrics are “she’s tryin’ to take a pebble out of me!” And then he and Larry perform their version of the song at the end of the episode. Here’s a clip (the song is at 5:51): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZazF8Wxs-yk

  5. Lance

    amazing list

    we have so much in common musically. I’ve pitted these songs against the artists for years. I still say The Clash and Janis are better than the originals.

    • Dream

      I usually prefer originals, or can appreciate dual versions, but these were definite exceptions. And I put The Clash vs. everyone else because I just don’t see anything better on the horizon. I’ve noticed we’re kinda opposite sides of the same musical coin, same types of music with you appreciating lyrics and me the more the instrumental combinations.

    • Dream

      Most definitely, I considered using The Man Who Sold the World, but I just couldn’t choose between Bowie and Nirvana. They are both excellent for what they are.

  6. Marcy

    Cool idea for a theme. I agree with you on Santana–his blew that song away. I love the Joplin version best too, but I had never heard the Roger Miller version, so that was fun for me. Hope you feel better.

    • Dream

      I think Santana is one of the greatest of the underrated guitar virtuosos simply because he doesn’t really fit into any single “standard” musical genres.

  7. Jen

    This is a freaking mazing!!! I love it! Do you know I have a list on my kitchen counter for covers that r better than the originals? I was thinking if making it a topic, but now I will save it for a freebie. I love the Cobain and am a sucker for Santana. And although I am a HUGE fan if Roger Miller, I have to agree about the Janis. Loved.

    • Dream

      I could probably fill each week’s mixtapes with covers (there’s an idea I may try for a month’s worth of Tuesdays). My appreciation for Cobain (Nirvana) is still growing. I was one of the ones that while I liked the “grunge” style, I didn’t see what the big deal was about him. It was a couple years ago that I first started to understand why he was such a big deal.

  8. Sandy Ramsey

    Well, this is the first time I have linked up here and obviously missing an awesome party! I agree with you on every choice of bests. I loved Nirvana. Kurt Cobain was a tortured soul but it made for great music and I Janis Joplin’s Bobby McGee has always been one of my favorites. Great mix!

    • Dream

      I love all the new people I’ve met through this blog hop and hope you’ll be joining us again after the holidays. Janis is another one on my list that I had to mature in my musical appreciation to be able to love her voice and style.

  9. DonettaS

    Awesome list. I agree Santana does a much better version of “Black Magic Woman” and I love, love hearing Nirvana sing “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”. Who can argue that “Bobby McGee” is Janis’ song. I have always been a Madonna fan even through her many, many transitions. lol. Hope you have a safe and wonderful Christmas.