Covers I Didn't Know Were Covers at the Time

MusicHave you ever been surprised to learn a song was a cover? Off the top of my head I can think of several songs I assumed were originals the first time I heard them. With many of these songs, it was years before I learnt they were recorded by other artists first.

Here are ten examples with a little explanation tagged on the end.

Don't Be Cruel - Cheap Trick
I thought I'd lead off with a rather embarrassing one. In 1988 I was still listening to top 40 radio on 680 CFTR. This Cheap Trick single was a hit and I had never heard Elvis Presley's version. I just assumed it was a Cheap Trick song. The fact is, I didn't hear any Elvis at home and my Elvis exposure at the time was pretty much limited to "Hound Dog".

If You Don't Know Me By Now - Simply Red
One year later, in 1989, "If You Don't Know Me By Now" was a hit for Simply Red and I just assumed it was a Simply Red song. It wasn't until fairly recently that I learnt it was originally recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes back in 1972.

Once Bitten Twice Shy - Great White
That same year, in 1989, I was enjoying this guilty pleasure by Great White. It wasn't until about six years later when I found Ian Hunter's Greatest Hits in my future wife's collection that I realized it was a cover.

I Saw Him Standing There - Tiffany
Early in 1988 I was actually skiing, something I haven't done in over 15 years, and I heard this Tiffany single over the loud speaker. I had no idea a little band from the UK had recorded "I Saw Her Standing There" back in 1963.

Red Red Wine - UB40
I loved this song back in 1983 when I was a wee lad of 9. Who didn't enjoy UB40's "Red Red Wine"? It wasn't for another six years that I discovered "Red Red Wine" belonged to Neil Diamond.

Respect - Aretha Franklin
I suspect a lot of people think the Queen of Soul first recorded this song. It's a classic and I know I was in my 20s before I heard Otis Redding's version. Otis deserves a little respect.

Hey Joe - Jimi Hendrix
Of all the songs on this list, I think I was most disappointed to learn that "Hey Joe" was a cover. I loved the version from Are You Experienced? and spun that CD like crazy. I just assumed it was a Hendrix song, but it was actually first a hit for The Leaves. Awesome song, but still not Jimi's best cover. That would be "All Along The Watchtower".

Blinded by the Light - Manfred Mann's Earth Band
This is the song that inspired this entry, because I just found out earlier today that "Blinded By The Light" is a Bruce Springsteen song. I swear, it's true. Listen to this.

Love Hurts - Nazareth
Honestly, how many of you know that "Love Hurts" was a cover by Nazareth? It was a hit for The Everly Brothers in July 1960 and I first picked up that little slice of trivia in the early 90s, many years after first hearing the Nazareth version.

Higher Ground - Red Hot Chili Peppers
I'm closing with this song because I really should have known better. At the time, I had graduated from CFTR to Q107 and "Higher Ground" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was getting plenty of airplay. That prompted me to pick up Mother's Milk, an album I still listen to regularly. I remember my buddy telling me it was a Stevie Wonder song and me saying "That 'I Just Called To Say I Love You' blind guy? No way." I was only 15 but I should have known better.

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Ajax Mike

I don't know when I learned that Respect was a cover, but I remember it surprising the heck out of me. I still haven't heard the original. Likewise for 'All Around the Watchtower'.

On the list above, Hey Joe and Love Hurts are news to me. I haven't heard either version of 'Once Bitten, Twice Shy', so I don't know if that counts.

If it weren't for the fact that Nirvana clearly announced they were doing covers, a lot of the stuff on their Unplugged album I would've just assumed were theirs too. I still haven't heard any original Meat Puppets or Lead Belly. Nor have I heard the Bowie track. Actually... I think I might've heard the Meat Puppets on Ongoing History of New Rock. Once.

July 24, 2008 @ 8:04 AM

Newmarket Mike

This seems like an opportune time to mention one of my favourite podcasts "Coverville" ( If you're a big fan of covers, you'll love it!

July 24, 2008 @ 8:14 AM

Toronto Mike

Lead Belly is seriously old school (40s) - I've got his 'greatest hits' at .

But yeah, I didn't know about the Meat Puppets until Unplugged in NY.

July 24, 2008 @ 8:53 AM

Stephanie Wilkinson

Okay, I was surprised by a couple of them, but TIFFANY?? I just can't believe anyone ever thought that she could do anything original. Haha.. That's a good one.

July 24, 2008 @ 10:35 AM

Hobo Joe

Going way back to the late 70s/early 80s, I remember always hearing Proud Mary, either by Creedence or Ike & Tina Turner. The weird thing is, especially being young and confused from right out of my mother's chute, I'd always thought they were different songs. They were both good, in and of themselves. Then when I got wise to it, I'd spent a long time wondering which was the original. I didn't bother really asking and there was no Internet easily available yet. And for any of you that may still be in the dark on it, it's Creedence.

Anyway, that's my mystery cover story.

July 24, 2008 @ 1:17 PM


I remember a young guy who was interning where I worked and he was stunned, I mean STUNNED to learn that Eric Clapton's unplugged version of "Layla" wasn't brand new.

And, I must say, the unplugged Jimmy Buffett-style of "Layla" completely sucks away the amazing heartbreak in Clapton's Derek and the Dominoes original.

July 24, 2008 @ 1:22 PM


Oh boy, now there's a Newmarket Mike? About time we got some more Newmarket representation on here.

Anyway, I had no clue Once Bitten, Twice Shy or Love Hurts were covers by those respective artists. Weird.

July 24, 2008 @ 11:12 PM

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