Jul 312010

While researching some performances by the briefly reunited McGuinn, Clark & Hillman I stumbled across this cover of “Almost Saturday Night” by Gene Clark and Carla Olson. As some of you know, I feel The Byrds are one of the most difficult decent ’60s bands for me to like (although I tend to like the Gene Clark-sang jangly hits best). As some of you also know, I don’t readily tune into country music. I do, however, love Creedence Clearwater Revival and indentify with sufferers of Fogerty Syndrome. This laid-back country cover of a solo Fogerty song I discovered through Dave Edmunds‘ balls-to-the-wall cover is very good despite all the hazards, for me, that went into its making. That suggests that the song may be impossible to screw up. I think it’s a combination of the comforting chord progressions, the harmony lines, and the identifiable themes expressed in the lyrics. Have you ever heard a bad cover of “Almost Saturday Night?” Could you imagine one?

Are there other songs you can think of that can’t be screwed up, no matter who covers them and in what style they are covered?


  13 Responses to “Songs That Can’t Be Screwed Up”

  1. Let me take another opportunity to plug one of my favorites, Rick Nelson. I love his cover of Almost Saturday Night:


  2. Hank Fan

    Sure. How about a version by Joanna Newsome?

  3. 2000 Man

    Wild Thing. You just can’t mess it up, even if you’re Jimi Hendrix and you’re apparently trying to mess it up. I know, it’s an all time classic live event by Jimi, but it isn’t as classic as this one:


  4. Mr. Moderator

    Rick Nelson provides one more good take on “Almost Saturday Night!”

    hank fan raises a good challenge to anything we might suggest.

    Sam Kinison…it’s been a long time since I’ve thought of that guy, but not long enough!

  5. misterioso

    I was going to say “Everlasting Love” by Robert Knight/Karl Karlton/U2 but I see there are a lot of other versions that I am, uh, a little dubious about without actually having heard them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everlasting_Love

    Still, it OUGHT to be indestructible.

  6. I’ve played Almost Saturday Night in a band. Sorry, it CAN be screwed up.

  7. The Searchers is my favorite, but I think Fogerty’s original is tops as well.


    As for Everlasting Love, I’ll actually comment on the version by Rachel Sweet and Rex Smith’s impression of Michael McDonald. I believe it exists precisely to prove that the song can’t be screwed up.

    Picking up on the vintage, how about “Needles And Pins?”

  8. Checking in from vacation.
    As a side thread, I think there are instances in which if you give the song an certain title, iyt will be a good song. Examples:

    Evangeline – the Band, Los Lobos, Icicle Works
    Ship of Fools – Los Lobos, World Pary, the Dead.

  9. alexmagic

    I had previously suggested “September Song” as a potentially bulletproof piece of music, but I think BigSteve successfully countered with Lou Reed’s version. Has anybody mangled “Stardust” yet?

    On cdm’s invincible titles concept, I’d add Matthew Sweet’s Evangeline as another winner, and throw in that “Shangri-La” is a song title that someone would have to actively work hard at writing a bad song around.

    And of course, we’ve previously at least discussed in passing rock’s most haunted song, the one that can not be successfully covered, “Dancin’ In The Street”. We may need to dig that up as a full-fledged topic for October.

  10. ladymisskirroyale

    How about “How Can I Be Sure?” I love the David Cassidy and Rascals versions.

  11. Mr. Moderator

    “Wild Thing” may be one of those bullet-proof song titles. That old rap song by that name is all right by me. Someone needs to try writing a third song with that title.

    Also based on a small sample of two (The Band and Neil Young), having “Cripple Creek” in a song title seems to ensure success.

  12. Cripple Creek is also one of the handful of good songs on Skip Spence’s Oar.

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