Wednesday, July 16, 2008


There’s a difference, I think, between a cover of a song and a different version of a song, but for convenience sake they’re usually lumped together under the term “cover”.

Take Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” for instance. The song was actually record several times by other Motown artists before Marvin Gaye, but none of those recordings were released. Then his wasn’t released.

Then Gladys Knight and the Pips recorded it, changing the lyrics to make the song from a woman’s point of view, and Motown released it finally in 1967. It was a huge hit, reaching #2 on the charts (behind the Monkees Daydream Believer). It’s a great song:

But it’s not really a cover of Marvin Gaye’s version. It’s a completely different version.

Motown released Marvin Gaye’s version the following year, 1968, and it became Motown’s first #1 hit. Imagine that: 2 versions of the same song hitting the top of the charts in two successive years:

(If you liked that one, check out him doing it a capella here.)

But Marvin Gaye’s version really isn’t a cover of Gladys Knight’s because his was recorded first. But Galdys Knight’s is so different and it came out first. It’s not a cover either. So what are they? I guess they’re just different versions of the same song, and there’s no short word for that.

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 10-minute version however, is definitely a cover of Marvin Gaye’s version. And brilliant in it’s own right. (Link)

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