You're already a country fan, you just don't know it yet

14587__earle_lI’ve read the comments on my "I Can Get You to Like… Country Music" track list, and while I still stand by the selections — which I thought would appeal to EW readers’ love of wit and, well, Kelly Clarkson — I concede that I’ve could’ve included at least one artist like Steve Earle (pictured). His song "Goodbye" literally makes me forget to breathe every time I hear it. (That ever happen to you? I guess my brain is just so focused on the sound of his voice that it forgets to function.)

But on to my point: perhaps I’ve come up with a country-fan recruiting tactic that even those of you with zero tolerance for "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" can get behind: How about showing people how universal country songs and artists can be by naming the best cross-genre cover performances you’ve ever heard? I’ll start: the White Stripes doing Dolly Parton’s "Jolene" and Johnny Cash taking on Nine Inch Nails’ "Hurt." Now you…

addCredit(“Steve Earle: Paul Natkin/”)


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  • lora latham

    I saw Steve Earle in concert, and was eagerly looking forward to it, as I’d heard such great things about him. He may have great songs, but since I couldn’t understand a word that he growled, I woulsn’t know.I talked to others after his set, and no one else could understand him, either.

  • EC

    Steve Earle really dropped off the radar after “guitar town” (a phenominal song).

  • Sarah

    How about Dolly Parton’s version of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”?

  • Sean

    Dave Matthews Band doing Johnny Cash’s-Long Black Veil

  • sleepy

    the white stripes’ “jolene”? are you kidding? nope. the song was done best by the geraldine fibbers. other great country songs covered by the fibbers: george jones’ “the grand tour,” willie nelson’s “hands on the wheel” (and don’t forget carla bozulich’s entire _red headed stranger_), bobbie gentry’s “fancy,” etc.

  • Heather

    Gary Allan’s “Best I Ever Had” is one of the newer ones that is absolutely phenomenal (for those that don’t know, which is probably many, his wife committed suicide and that was the song that he found himself listening to the most in the year after her death, so he recorded it himself – you can HEAR the pain in his voice on that song).
    And it’s not cross-genre cover, but it is cross genre: Loretta Lynn and Jack White on Portland, Oregon. That song ROCKS. Plus yielded one of the funniest award speeches from Loretta calling Jack a little boy and him “ma’am”ing her the entire time out of genuine respect.

  • Michelle

    Whitney Houston’s version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”

  • Pitchmeister

    Garth Brooks covering Billy Joel’s “Shameless”

  • Andrew

    Allison Krauss’ version of The Foundations’ “Baby, Now That I Found You.”

  • CountryQua

    I stopped listening to country music ever since the Dixie Chicks opened their mouth.

  • Gem

    “Best I Ever Had” was originally done by Vertical Horizon, and as was said, Gary Allen did a wonderful job with it.
    Two fo my personal favorite cross-genre favorites are both by Dolly, her rendition of the Eagle’s “Seven Bridges Road” is breathtaking and she does an excellent version of Collective Soul’s “Shine” as well.

  • brandonk

    I love Dolly Parton’s version of “Both Sides Now.” It’s a great combination of a fantastic singer and a beautiful song.

  • MattR

    The new Me First & The Gimme Gimmes album
    Social Distortion’s cover of “Ball & Chain”

  • dan cullinane

    grant langston — fat bottom girls
    cowboy junkies — thunder road (okay maybe not cross genre but amazing reinterpreation)
    and the aforementioned dolly covers, particularly shine and i’d also toss in her bluegrass version of me and bobby mcgee

  • Jess B.

    I agree with Sean — DMB’s version of “Long Black Veil” is killer.
    Also, add Coldplay’s acoustic version of Johnny Cash’s “Kingdom Come.” I know it sounds odd, but it’s totally good.
    Oh, and Ryan Adams’ vaguely-countrified cover of “Wonderwall” is beautiful.

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