What are the Best Covers of Beatle Songs?
Lennon and McCartney, as songwriters, are still the most covered of all rock bands. The reason why you seldom have a Beatle song on a movie soundtrack is because of cost. Movie budgets are tight and the soundtrack is one of the least important. To add only one song with the Beatles doing it costs $10,000. It FAR cheaper to have a relatively unknown artist cover it.
John and Paul wrote at least 10-15 songs for other bands. Most of them were done by bands in 1964-6 period. Some of them appear as demos in their Anthology CD series. In most cases, these were deemed of less quality then and simply discarded. They really tried to put an LP together comprising of Top Ten material- that is, 10-12 songs that could achieve it.
There have been a few movies where the entire soundtrack is Beatle material. This is astonishing with so many songs to choose from. In, "I Am Sam" starring Sean Penn, he stars as retarded man trying to keep his little daughter in an Oscar winning performance. The movie is a heartbreaker. The soundtrack is performed by Sheryl Crow, Rufus, Sarah Mclachlan, The Vines, The Wallflowers, Black Crowes, plus unknowns, there 20 covers. While most do the OK, in some cases, where the band veered off the course (as in, how the Beatles did the same song) the cover is horrible. Most had been fans and heard the original and applied an "unwritten law" when covering a Beatle song: don't change it or try something new, just cover it in your style. The theory is, you cannot do better than the original-ever. That tends to be the case with Beatle songs, but not in all cases.
In the movie, "Across the Universe", again with an entire Beatle song soundtrack of covers- all 34. The movie is really about the 60's from the innocent years to anti-war riots and youth culture as the main characters move through their own lives. It was an academy award nominated film. The artists are largely unknowns, at least to me, but provide some performances that do offer the songs in entirely different light and in their own right, better than the original. The songs are covered by the cast (Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess and many others).
The stand out of all them is a testament to John & Paul. The song is "It Won't be Long". It was on their first LP in 1964. Their version is remains the best on the LP, a riveting rock number, with John and Paul switching vocals. It was never released as a single. In the movie, the rendition is sung by Woods and much different. In 2007, 40+ years later, the song was the #1 download on iTunes for several weeks. Other songs, like the iconic, " I Saw Her Standing There", the Beatles #1 song in the US in 1964, is now a beautiful, haunting, ballad (totally the opposite from the original) sung by Teresa V Carpio. It is stunningly touching. Who would have thought? Then, for some bluesy-raspy vocals there is Dana Fuchs who does best on "Why Don't We Do It In the Road?" from the Beatles 1968 White LP.
The soundtrack demonstrates one can stay true to the original in a very creative, different manner, which might even be better!