The best Beatles cover ever?

Across_lAs a huge Beatles fan, I was really looking forward to the long-delayed musical Across the Universe (starring Evan Rachel Wood, left). Sadly, my expectations were shattered yesterday upon reading my colleague Owen Gleiberman’s review; he calls it a ”goofy, pompous, annoyingly boomer-myopic” mess. (Ouch.) But he does say that one of the better things about the film is Bono, who "has presence" and apparently at one point sings "I Am the Walrus" (goo goo ga joob).

This got me thinking about my favorite Beatles covers ever. Speaking of Bono, I kinda dug U2’s live version of ”Helter Skelter,” from Rattle & Hum. Also awesome in my book: Aretha Franklin’s "The Long and Winding Road," Billy Bragg’s "She’s Leaving Home," Stevie Wonder’s "We Can Work It Out," and, my all-time favorite Beatles cover (drumroll please, Ringo!) — the Breeders’ version of "Happiness Is a Warm Gun."

Your turn…

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  • marykate

    rufus wainwright… across the universe.
    or fiona apple’s version. either or. i’m flexible.

  • Jason

    Without a doubt: Daniel Johnston’s version of Gotta Get You Into My Life. 2nd place: Thee Headcoatees’ Run For Your Life, and The Damned’s Help

  • Brie

    It’s not a very original choice-
    but not only is Aerosmith’s “Come Together” my favorite Beatles cover, I think it’s a better version. I love the Beatles, but there’s something about Steven Tyler’s voice that’s perfect for that song.

  • Jack Fear

    Good call on Stevie Wonder. But Al Green’s version of “I want To Hold Your Hand” is just sublime; the band live in the studio, a loose, goofy mood, and Al singing with such joy. It’s sweet, because he obviously learned the words by listening to (and mishearing) the record, so when they get to the bridge he’s very clearly singing “I get high, I get high, I get high…”

  • Jack Fear

    Also: Elliot Smith did a lovely basement version of “Because”—the opening part is just overdubbed vocals in close harmony, and it makes the hair stand up on my arms.
    And I prefer Siouxsie and the Banshee’s “Dear Prudence” to the original—they way they put the chorus hook in half-time just opens it right up.

  • andy

    Fiona Apple ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by slowing it down and giving it her trademark emotional soul, apple brings new depth to this beatles’ classic.

  • Hayley

    Aimee Mann & Michael Penn – Two of Us, from the I Am Sam soundtrack.

  • Bobby Rowe

    When I was a kid I told my Dad to come upstairs because I wanted to play him this amazing song by Boyz II Men. It was called “Yesterday.” My Dad is a big enough Beatles fan to somehow have a copy of Meet the Beatles with his face added to the black space. I didn’t figure out that it was a Beatles song, or that he was humoring me, for years.
    There are so many good Beatles covers because the songs themselves are actually good. Thats an obvious statement but important. I agree about both the Rufus & Fiona covers of “Across the Universe” and Kelly Clarkson rocked Sgt. Pepper on the Idol finale (but everyone else butchered their songs). OH WAIT. Crosby, Stills, Nash (& Young?): Blackbird. Yea thats definitely the best.

  • Tom Brazelton

    There are bunch of Elliott Smith bootlegs floating around where he does covers of a bunch of different Beatles songs. His take on “Blackbird” and “I’m Only Sleeping” are rough around the edges, but still emotionally resonant. I very much view Elliott Smith as the lyrical successor to George Harrison.

  • Melissa

    I’m with Mary-Kate. I also really loved Aimee Mann and Michael Penn’s version of “Two of us.”

  • Janine

    Ike & Tina: She Came in Through the Bathroom Window

  • Ward

    Joe Cocker made most of his career by singing Beatles covers. my favorite? She Came in Through The Bathroom Window.

  • phredd

    I’ve always been partial to Lakeside’s R&B Ballad cover of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and I recently say on YouTube a performance of “The Long and Winding Road” by George Michael that was simply beautiful.

  • mumblo

    Wilson Pickett’s version of “Hey Jude” is pretty awesome.

  • Oliver

    Aretha Franklin’s “Eleanor Rigby” rocks! Her driving gospel piano and soulful, shouting performance, transforms the song from the somber to Sunday morning in a black Baptist church.

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