20 Songs You Might Not Have Realized Were Covers

This is another Mental Floss list.  There’s one big omission in my opinion–and this is it.

Nirvana’s first-ever release on Sub Pop was “Love Buzz” in 1988.

But it wasn’t an original.  It’s a cover of a 1969 track by a Dutch group called Shocking Blue.

How did Kurt discover such an obscure song? He was most likely led there by Shocking Blue’s big hit which also came out in 1969.  It, too, has been covered a million times, most famously by Bananarama and all those lady shaver commercials.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

7 thoughts on “20 Songs You Might Not Have Realized Were Covers

  • October 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm
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    I would suggest two additional omissions:
    1) Black Magic Woman – Santana / Fleetwood Mac
    2) This Flight Tonight – Nazareth / Joni Mitchell

    Reply
  • October 29, 2013 at 5:22 pm
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    There are some other omissions:
    Piece of My Heart –Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin) recorded it in 1968 after Erma Franklin released it the year before
    What's So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding is always associated with Elvis Costello and the Attractions (1979) in my mind. but it was a Nick Lowe song recorded by him in 1970
    Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood; I always thought The Animals released it first in 1965, but it was a Nina Simone composition and she released it the year before, 1964

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  • October 30, 2013 at 6:31 am
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    "Take Me In Your Arms" by The Doobie Brothers was originally done by Motown artist Kim Weston

    Reply
  • November 6, 2013 at 4:26 am
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    Watching 'American Experience' -just learned that Hendrix was NOT the 1st to perform 'Hey Joe'. But can you really imagine anyone ELSE playing that song?

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  • November 13, 2013 at 3:27 am
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    My favorite cover: Bonnie Raitt's version of the Del Shannon classic RUNAWAY
    A churning, bluesy surprise

    Reply
  • November 28, 2013 at 3:09 am
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    Hold On – Santana / Ian Thomas
    Tainted Love – Soft Cell / Gloria Jones
    Hard Sun – Pearl Jam / Gord Peterson

    … we all there's more.

    Reply
  • November 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm
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    Not a cover per se, but I have yet to meet anyone else that knows Coldplay's song "Talk" was completely based on "Computer Leibe" by Kraftwerk. So much so that Coldplay had to give a writing credit to Kraftwerk.

    Reply

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