Go to any honky tonk, open mic night, "soon to be famous" bands garage, and you're bound to hear covers that you've heard a 1000 other times. That's cool ya know? Give tribute to the songs that got you into music. Play that song that you first learned on the guitar and really perfected. However, some of these cover songs just need to die. These are the ones that you just hear every single time you go out by dang near every single band trying to fill 60 minutes.
Now this is going to get touchy, because I know I have some great friends who may cover these songs, remember, no offense, just trying to help diversify the playlists.
The song that I think gets the MOST play, at least in my neck of the woods is:
OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW "Wagon Wheel"
Man, that's a cool tune. Don't hear much music like that anymore! Bluegrass, banjo, fiddle, stand-up bass. Not many people can even name another song from OCMS, but I'll be if every single band in the state of Texas doesn't know this one. I've heard some great covers of it, I've head some atrocious covers of it, but the fact remains, this song needs to be retired from being covered.
THE BAND "The Weight"
Another cool Americana groove that pretty much everyone can just get lost in. It strikes the debate about is the lyric "Take a load of FANNIE" or "ANNIE"? I don't think anyone will ever know for sure. But I am sure that this is one of those songs that would benefit being retired from the set of every jam band.
JOHNNY CASH "Folsom Prison Blues"
Folsom is the most often covered song from Johnny Cash, but this could also be a host of other songs. Johnny Cash is an absolute legend, an American Icon, with an unmistakable voice. It's cool that you want to pay respects to him, but I don't think most bands realize that he had literally 100's of other great songs to choose from. If you DO cover Cash, keep in mind that you will never, EVER do it as well as he did. So if you must, choose a song that not everyone & their mama knows and do it your way. Make it your own.
STEVE MILLER BAND "The Joker"
Yes, we all want to be called a Space Cowboy and Gangsta of Love, but enough is enough. The song came out in 1973, and by my rough estimates, that's about how many bands have covered this song, 1,973.
LYNYRD SKYNYRD "Free Bird"
This is the song that generally starts a riot from a band. Always some dude in the back of the bar screaming "FREE BIRD!" What an awesome song. It's really 4 songs all in one with all the different sounds. This was my class song and I've always loved it, but to hear Generic Band X at open mic night do it, is just a travesty. Same thing goes with "Sweet Home Alabama."
BOB DYLAN "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"
Yes, that's right I said Dylan, not Guns & Roses. GnR's version may be the most famous, but they covered it from the amazing Bob Dylan. This is the song that bands pull out when they want to show their bad-boy soft side.
Look, I'm not saying not to do cover songs, just be smart about the cover songs that you do. Don't be that cliche band who plays the same thing everyone else plays. As with what music should be in general, be yourself. If you pay homage to a hero, a legend, or just a cool song you fell in love with, try to make it your own, don't just do it like everyone else has heard a thousand times.
If you're a band looking for cool cover songs to do, let me know, I'll be glad to help you out!