A Comprehensive Guide to the Most Mind-Bending Beatle Song Covers – Part 2

Artists of all levels cover the Beatles’ music in nearly every genre, but my favorites are the ones that truly bring something of value to the song. As a lifelong fan, I’ve heard thousands upon thousands of good, mediocre, and terrible versions of the Fab Four’s output. The following is my list of the ones that really stand out as being well-done, unique, or in some way interesting and worth hearing.

Note: This is a 12-part series, broken out roughly by studio album (UK release) with songs released only as singles included in the general timeframe of a close album release. (Don’t get excited, purists, about which singles should belong where; this is just a convenience.)

My Rules: Songs must have been written and recorded by the Beatles and released as singles or on an album during their career. No covers of other artists or solo Beatles material are included. No members of the Beatles can be in the performance. No Tribute bands.

Songs from With the Beatles and other singles (1963)

This is the second article of the series. Also check out Part 1: Songs from Please Please Me (1963).

It Won’t Be Long

This is a hook-laden number that Paul McCartney claims was based on an idea that John Lennon had to use the double-meaning of “be long” and “belong”: “It won’t be long… ‘til I belong to you”.

Most of the covers of this song are total cheesy popcorn fare, but I stumbled on this gem on YouTube by The Black Lips. It’s better heard than described.

All I’ve Got to Do

John Lennon takes the most responsibility for this song. It’s another that he wrote in homage to Smokey Robinson. Taking this song somewhere else, more specifically to “the Canyon” (as in Laurel Canyon), I chose Louise Goffin, daughter of Carole King and Gerry Goffin, from her 1979 debut album, Kid Blue. I really love this version – it’s reminiscent of her mother, with hints of Stevie Nicks and Juice Newton. It nicely embodies the American female singer-songwriter vibe from the 1970s and early 1980s.

All My Loving

Paul McCartney has said this is the first song, and one of the few, where he remembers writing the words first before working out a tune. He imagined it as a Country & Western ditty while coming up with the lyrics, but it works very well as a pop song and even better jazzed up. One of my favorite singers, not only because of her presence and vocal chops but also her unmatched ability to interpret a song in her own style, still remains the late Amy Winehouse. This clip has remastered audio from live video, so while the video suffers in quality, the sound is very worth it.

Don’t Bother Me

The first song credited to George Harrison to appear on a Beatles album was reportedly written while George was ill and confined to a hotel room under doctor’s orders. It’s a sullen, lonely tune, but the version I found by Australian television darling Diane Horder at the peak of the swingin’ sixties makes it downright “groovy, baby.”

Little Child

This was an obligatory let’s-write-a-song-for-Ringo entry for the album. In reference to writing the song with John, Paul stated about Ringo: “…he could handle things with good con brio and spirito if they were nice and simple.” The Zodiacs were originally Liverpudlian contemporaries of the Beatles, and eventually filled part of the gap left in Germany by the Beatles’ exit and subsequent rise to fame. They even released two albums of Beatles covers under the moniker “The Kopykatts” in the German market.

Hold Me Tight

According to Paul, this was a failed attempt at a single, although it was a regular part of the Cavern Club sets. You can hear why – this short, up-tempo, catchy number must have been a blast to perform. To make it even more fun, we have a live cover by Todd Rundgren from his 1971 glamtastic heyday. Maybe he’s dedicating it to his corset.

I Wanna Be Your Man

This song was released by the Rolling Stones as their second official single just a few weeks before the Beatles’ version came out on the album. Paul and John had run into Mick and Keith and given them the song to record after originally writing it for Ringo. “On the Please Please Me album, he did a thing called ‘Boys’, which was very funny because it was a girl group, The Shirelles, that did it.” In that gender-bending spirit, I uncovered this ballsy rendition by the original tough chick Suzi Quatro (also known to American children of the ‘70s as Leather Tuscadero from Happy Days).

Not A Second Time

The one great achievement for The Beatles that this song provided was an acknowledgment by respected music critic William Mann of John and Paul’s instinctual feel for harmony and melody: “…so firmly are the major tonic sevenths and ninths built into their tunes, and the flat submediant key switches, so natural is the Aeolian cadence at the end of ‘Not A Second Time’ (the chord progression which ends Mahler’s Song of the Earth).” The review, which appeared in The Times in London in 1963, opened the door to subsequent critical acclaim and launched solid credibility of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting duo. John later admitted shortly before his untimely demise in 1980 that he had no idea what “Aeolian cadences” were and that they “sounded like exotic birds”. So who better to take on this song than rara avis Chrissie Hynde? The Pretenders are faithful to the song but still give it their signature charismatic alt-rock sound under Chrissie’s gritty-yet-smooth vocals.

Singles (1963)

She Loves You

This is the song that gave us “yeah, yeah, yeah” and it’s really difficult to cover without sounding absolutely ridiculous. Amidst a plethora of novelty covers, including Peter Sellars and The Chipmunks, I found artsy Italian beat band I Roll’s 33 version while sifting through garage rock compilation sites looking for nuggets.

I Want to Hold Your Hand

The first Beatles single to hit number one in America, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” paved the way for the British Invasion of the 1960s. “Every American artist, black or white, asked about ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ has said much the same: it altered everything, ushering in a new era and changing their lives,” wrote Ian MacDonald in the book Revolution in the Head. The seminal funk band Lakeside (yes that Lakeside who took us on a “Fantastic Voyage”) exemplifies the mind-bending point of this series of articles in their 1982 cover which hit the R&B charts. So slide, slide, slippity-slide your little hand into mine and enjoy.

Next time: Part 3 – Songs from A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

About Author /

Sunni K Brock writes about music, science, technology, art, food, and pop culture. Her fiction and poetry combine science fiction, horror, fantasy, and sometimes erotica. As one-half of the team of JaSunni Productions, LLC and Cycatrix Press, she creates genre film and printed media with her husband, Jason V Brock. If she had spare time, she would spend it researching genealogy, shopping at the farmer’s market, building tricked-out computers, and conducting experiments on controlled randomness.

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