My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Create a covers album

georgestraitThere are some songs that are so closely associated with their original performers that they just sound foreign coming from the mouths of even the best singers. Covers albums can be a blessing or a curse for this reason. And in my opinion, some get it right and some don’t. Some artists make a covers album that stays very true to the original recordings of the songs and others take the tracks, change the arrangement and make them their own.

Two that come to mind are Alan Jackson’s Under The Influence and Wynonna’s recent release Sing: Chapter One. While both Alan and Wynonna mostly culled their songs from the songbooks of 1970s country music, the arrangements the two put on their respective albums are vastly different. Alan Jackson elected to record a selection of country classics and didn’t variate from the sound of the originals much. For instance, the music track on ‘Once You’ve Had the Best’ from Under the Influence is virtually interchangeable with George Jones’ original recording of the song. Jackson still gives the lyric a worthy reading and the entire album is still a favorite of mine. To the contrary, Wynonna – whose picks on her own covers album were about half country songs and half R&B, blues, and rock and roll chestnuts – took country standards like ‘Are The Good Times Really Over’ and ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ and put a very contemporary spin on them.  I am not saying one way is correct, or that one is even better than the other.  It’s really a matter of personal taste on the part of the artist and the listener.  

Martina McBride and Patty Loveless have recently released covers albums with very traditional material and production, but one of them seem to be much better-suited for singing hard-core country than the other.  So should the singer’s actual catalog be taken into account when they’re recording an album of material previously done by others?  Case in point:  Timeless was by far more of a stretch from the albums Martina McBride had been making than Sleepless Nights was from Patty Loveless’s recent records.  So were Martina’s fans unreceptive to the traditional sounds of her album?  Would she have fared better with tracks from the likes of Reba, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, or even Alabama?  Certainly her fans would have been more familiar with those names than Ray Price, Lynn Anderson, or Ernest Tubb.  It’s my opinion that artists like Alan, Wynonna, Patty, and Martina have an obligation to their fans to stay true – and pay homage through their music – to the artists, songs, and sounds that came before them and defined the genre they call home.  But that’s another post entirely …

My question to you is this:  Who would you like to hear a covers album from?  And what songs would you like them to include on it?

I will start:  I would like to hear a covers album from George Strait.  And just a few of the songs I’d like to hear Strait’s take on would be Conway Twitty’s ‘This Time I’ve Hurt Her More (Than She Loves Me)’, Hank Williams’ ‘Cold, Cold Heart’, and maybe even the B.J. Thomas tune ‘(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song’.

20 responses to “Create a covers album

  1. Razor X June 4, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Lorrie Morgan usually included a cover of a classic country song on each of her albums. I really enjoyed her take on “A Picture of Me (Without You)”, “You And Me”, and “Standing Tall” — not to mention her contributions to some of the 90s tribute albums. Her rendition of Haggard’s “I Threw Away The Rose” was excellent. I’d like to hear a covers album of country classics from her.

  2. Occasional Hope June 4, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    I would have liked Randy Travis to do a covers album while his voice was at its peak. My ideal songs would have included:
    Your Cheatin’ Heart
    BLue Eyes Cryin’ In The Rain
    Long Black Veil
    Today I Started Loving You Again
    Almost Persuaded
    You Don’t Know Me
    The Window Up Above
    Help Me Make It Through The Night

    This may not be a very imaginative list 😉 but they’re all songs I would love/have loved him to do. You’d have to add in some tempo variation, but these are my core tracks.

    I thought Alan Jackson’s covers album was a bit like Martina’s in being really rather polite – it was all about paying respect to his heroes, which is fine, and I appreciated that and liked the album. But Patty’s Sleepless Nights was on a different level, in that she managed to make herself part of a *living* tradition in the way she interepreted the songs.

    • Brady June 5, 2009 at 12:40 pm

      I hadn’t ever made the connection before, but I saw Joe Nichols on TV the other day and he sounds fairly similar to Randy Travis at times. Having him do a similar covers album would be a step up from the material he’s been cutting.

  3. Paul June 4, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    I would love to hear Emmylou Harris do a cover album or Tim McGraw. Not sure which songs I would love them to do, but it would be interesting to say the least.

    • Occasional Hope June 4, 2009 at 5:26 pm

      Emmylou’s always done a lot of covers on her usual albums. I think a covers album per se would have to have some special hook to distinguish it from what she’s done all through her career.

      I think Tim McGraw picks some interesting material, but I don’t personally find him a particularly compelling singer. I’m not sure that a covers album by him (at least of the classics variety) would quite work for me.

      • Michael June 5, 2009 at 7:48 pm

        Yeah, Tim McGraw has released a few covers over the years (Tiny Dancer, Please Remember Me, Suspicions, When the Stars Go Blue) and they’ve all been acceptable. None, however, have blown me away enough to desire an entire album of covers by him. I’m not sure what kind of remakes would best suit his voice either. I’m fine with him just tacking on one cover song every album or two.

  4. highwayman3 June 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    After the George Strait special, Keith Urban doing Marty Robbins songs would be great.

    But my main choice after hearing her takes on ‘Lord I Hope This Day Is Good,’ and ‘Someone I Used To Know,’ Lee Ann Womack would be great especially with older Dolly songs, as her voice would be well suited.

    Trisha Yearwood, who said she wants to do a covers album one day would sound great with Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, and Tammy Wynette songs.

    • Chris June 4, 2009 at 9:58 pm

      I completely agree with all three of those, they would all be great!

      It would be interesting to see what Carrie Underwood would do, but that won’t happen any time in the near future.

    • Naomi June 6, 2009 at 5:15 pm

      I was thinking the same thing about Tricia Yearwood. She is such a fan of Lindda’s. I wish Shelby Lynne would go back to doing western swing, or standards. I’d love to see her do a cover of old standards.

  5. Paul W Dennis June 4, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I’d like to hear Rascal Flatts do a cover album

    “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”
    “Love Is The Foundation”
    “Fancy”
    “Love Is Like A Butterfy”
    “Blanket On The Ground”
    “Happiest Man In The Whole USA”
    “Funny Face”
    “Cry”
    “It Matters To Me”
    “Breathe”
    “Seven Year Ache”

    oops – these are all women’s songs
    I’d better withdraw this suggestion

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  7. Erik June 5, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    I would love for someone to make a covers album of more recent songs, instead of just the old classics. I think LeAnn Rimes could do an awesome job with these:

    “And Still” (Reba)
    “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” (Reba)
    “Talkin’ To Myself Again” (Tammy Wynette)
    “Second Chance” (Trisha Yearwood)
    “Walkaway Joe” (Trisha Yearwood)
    “Three Chords And The Truth” (Sara Evans
    “Blue” (She should re-record this one)
    “It Matters To Me” (Faith Hill
    “Down From Dover” (Dolly Parton)
    “The Woman In Me (Needs The Man In You)” (Shania Twain)
    “Little Bits And Pieces” (Shelby Lynne)
    “Bye Bye” (Jo Dee Messina)
    “He Oughta Know That By Now” (Lee Ann Womack)
    “A Broken Wing” (Martina McBride)
    “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am” (Patty Loveless)

    …this would’ve made such an awesome album.

  8. idlewildsouth June 7, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Alot of these singers got their start singing demos for songs that later became hits. I was working at a publishing company a couple of years ago and stumbled across Gretchen Wilson singing the song “Train Without A Whistle” that Pam Tillis cut on her Rhinestoned album. I would love to hear an album of things like this. I think Garth would probably have the most success with something like that, but either way, I think itd be cool to hear these people singing the hits of people that are their peers.

  9. Steve from Boston June 10, 2009 at 2:48 am

    I’d love to hear Sara Evans do a cover’s album, whether Traditonal Country or Bluegrass, I know she could knock it out of the park.

    My evidence? A while ago, there was a youtube up of a young Sara singing at a Merle Haggard event, and she covered Leona William’s “You Take Me for Granted” and brought the house down.

    Also, she did a killer rendition of Muleskinner Blues at the Opry, again this video is no longer on youtube because of some stupid terms of use violation or something.

    And anyone familiar with Sara’s first few albums, including the Early Years, knows what an effective and deeply expressive voice she has for singing pure Country.

    I’d love to hear a Sara Evans covers album that includes ole Hank’s I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry…

    Along with Bill Monroe’s In The Pines…(which she already does in concert, along with Dolly’s Jolene)

    And Sara was asked once which song she would like most to record, but was pitched to another artist first, and she replied, “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me” recorded by Patty Loveless..

    I think Sara has the potential to be as great as Patty, and a good solid Tradional Country or Bluegrass covers album would be a “real fine place to start”!

    • Shelley November 9, 2009 at 11:26 pm

      Hi Steve,

      I have been searching and searching for the youtube of Sara Evans singing Leona William’s part of Merle Haggard’s “You Take Me for Granted”…..do you know where I can find it?

      Thanks,
      Shelley in Canada

      • Steve from Boston November 11, 2009 at 2:08 am

        Shelly, unfortunately that is another video that Youtube decided to take down due to “terms of use” violations.

        They really should relax their criteria for that, a lot of great stuff is going unshared because of overzealous watchdogs.

  10. Leeann Ward June 10, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Personally, I want to hear a whole album of people’s takes on “Muleskinner Blues.”:)

  11. Kama June 29, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Trisha Yearwood has been teasing us with a covers album for years. She does killer versions of Over the Rainbow, Midnight Train to Georgia (my favorite), Small Town, Sweet Dreams, Til I Can Make It On My Own and probably anything else she wants to sing.

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