Five-Star Fridays

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Slate goes looking for great covers of Leonard Cohen, and oddly can’t find many. My favorite below. But there are others. Willie Nelson does a great version of the same song. The English band James does a wonderful version of “So Long, Marianne.” Unfortunately, I can’t find it online. I also like Beck’s interpretation of “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye,” and Matthew Ryan’s understated “I’m Your Man.” Finally, I must of course mention Tom House’s cover of “Suzanne,” which he recorded from my couch.

I’m still waiting for someone to do “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On.”

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20 Responses to “Five-Star Fridays”

  1. #1 |  Robert | 

    Seems like everyone and his brother is doing coves of Hallelujah these days. My favorite of those is by John Cale.

  2. #2 |  Dwight Brown | 

    I’ve given up reading Slate, but: do they just not like Jennifer Warnes’ album “Famous Blue Raincoat”?

  3. #3 |  BoogaFrito | 

    I like Madeleine Peyroux’s Billie Holliday-esque version of “Dance Me to the End of Love.”

  4. #4 |  Professor Coldheart | 

    I put together a Spotify playlist a month ago of Leonard Cohen covers other than “Hallelujah” (trolling my Twitter feed for articles, Slate? ;) )

    Some hidden gems:

    * Joe Cocker, “First We Take Manhattan”
    * Til Bronner w/Carla Bruni (yes, that one), “In My Secret Life”
    * Michael Buble (!?!?!), “I’m Your Man”
    * Ebba Forsberg, “Dance Me to the End of Love”
    * The Vogues, “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye”

  5. #5 |  Pete Guither | 

    I’m a huge fan of Roberta Flack’s version of Suzanne. This recording quality isn’t the best – – but it gives you a sense of it (album recording is better).

  6. #6 |  Andrew S. | 

    Seems like everyone and his brother is doing coves of Hallelujah these days. My favorite of those is by John Cale.

    Yeah, but nothing, not even the original, will ever come close to touching Jeff Buckley’s version.

  7. #7 |  damaged justice | 

    The Bobs do a great a capella version of Bird On a Wire.

  8. #8 |  AJP | 

    The suggestion that there are not a lot o great Cohen covers out there seems off base to me. One of my favorite albums of all time is “Tower of Song”, which consists entirely of fantastic covers of Cohen’s songs.

    Every song on the album is good, but the highlights are the covers by female singers – Trisha Yearwood (“Coming Back to You”), Tori Amos (“Famous Blue Raincoat”), and Jann Arden (“If It Be Your Will”) (probably my favorite song on the album). Best male vocal on the album is probably Sting (“The Sisters of Mercy”), but really, the entire album is fantastic.

  9. #9 |  Greg Beaman | 

    I’m glad I’m not alone in saying (as David Haglund does) that Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” is the best Leonard Cohen cover. I think it’s still true, though I can hardly believe that it was released 18 years ago.

  10. #10 |  Mark | 

    The Pixies did a great cove of “I can’t Forget”.

  11. #11 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Glad to see Jeff Buckley get some props here. When one factors in how his career was tragically cut short, it seems to be even more meaningful. Happy Friday all!

  12. #12 |  Evan | 

    Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds did a great cover of Avalanche on their first album, and Cave’s version of I’m Your Man in the film of the same name is superb (one of Cave’s best personas is a drunken lounge singer, and I doubt you can arrange that song in a way that doesn’t demand to be performed thusly).

    The worst is Rufus Wainwright’s version of anything.

  13. #13 |  JdL | 

    Judy Collins covers many Cohen songs, and very nicely IMHO.

  14. #14 |  FridayNext | 

    I’ve always been particular to Concrete Blonde’s version of Everybody Knows.

  15. #15 |  Devin McCullen | 

    I’m a big fan of Emmylou Harris’s “Ballad of a Runaway Horse” (a slightly altered version of “Ballad of the Absent Mare.”)

  16. #16 |  HV | 

    One more – The Civil Wars cover “Dance Me to the End of Love” –

  17. #17 |  Silver | 

    I’m with Robert at #1, I like Cale’s Hallelujah the best.

  18. #18 |  Sean | 

    Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” was my intro to Leonard Cohen.

  19. #19 |  gruseom | 

    John Cale’s isn’t just another version of Hallelujah; it was Cale who reinvented the song and turned it into a standard. Jeff Buckley wasn’t covering Cohen, he was covering Cale. When even Cohen does the song today, he covers Cale’s version.

  20. #20 |  jimn | 

    You should check out Greg Dulli’s (Twilight Singers, Afghan Whigs) cover of “Paper Thin Hotel”.