With A Little Help From My Friends

I’ll admit, I put this post off for a long time. The Beatles are widely acknowledged as one of the most, if not the most, influential music band of all time. They’re a little intimidating to tackle. There are documentaries, tribute bands, theses and dissertations, dedications, theories, and anything else I can think of about this band. About the individual members, about their careers, about their music, lyrics, influences, hidden meanings, etc. Multiple movies have based solely on their music; Across The Universe, anyone? This is possibly the most talked about group in the modern history of music.

I’m not about to try and add to that mass of information with my extremely limited knowledge.

Instead, I’m going to share with you some Beatles songs performed by artists who are not the Beatles.

There is a massive amount of artists who have recorded or performed Beatles songs, ranging from just about every genre there is. I have heard their music redone as jazz, metal, rock, trance, soul, R&B, ukulele, piano, Hawaiian, bossa nova, blues, country… you name it and it’s been done.

I’m not really listing these in any order, and they’re not what I would consider a “best of” list either. These are just songs I liked. Many of them I have fond childhood memories of, some I found as an adult. Some are from movie soundtracks. Honestly, I heard lots of Beatles music before I ever knew who the Beatles were.

I’m pretty pleased with the variety of artists I was able to include in this post. So let’s get started.

“Across The Universe” – Fiona Apple’

This version of “Across The Universe” is well known and is likely the most popular of this list. It’s truly lovely to listen to, and I enjoy Fiona Apple’s voice immensely. This was on the soundtrack for Pleasantville which I remember watching in high school. Great song, great artist. It may just be the most successful Beatles cover song ever.

“With A Little Help From My Friends” – Joe Cocker

Legendary version of this song, it’s a soulfull, solid performance. I haven’t listened to a lot of Joe Cocker, but this song is so amazing I really should fix that oversight. The video above is from Woodstock 1969, the Beatles released the recording in 1967. A lot of artists all over the world recorded the Beatles music almost immediately after it was released.

“Blackbird” – Sarah McLachlin

As a teenager learning to play the guitar, I was always especially intrigued by picking patterns. I loved this song enough to learn how to play it (kind of similarly) on my guitar. I still have the picking pattern memorized, though it might take me a minute if I haven’t played it in a while. I always felt this was such a peaceful and hopeful song. Lyrically, there have been multiple accounts as to it’s meaning, but as with any art, the meaning you get from it yourself is the most important. I love this song, and Sarah McLachlin does a worthy rendition.

“In My Life” – Keali’i Reichel

When I was younger, my mom had this CD she got in Hawaii and I remember hearing it a lot as a kid in the 90’s. The music production is a little cheesy, but I have such happy memories tied to this music that it doesn’t matter to me. I haven’t listened to this for more than a decade, but I still love it. His songs in the Hawaiian language are quite beautiful, by the way.

“Hey Jude” – Wilson Pickett

If you like documentaries, watch Muscle Shoals. It’s such a good film, and shares a lot of history about an amazing time in music recording and sheds a lot of insight on musicians and the music industry. This song was recorded there and hearing the account of how it came about was amazing. Until I heard this version of “Hey Jude” I didn’t have a very strong opinion on it, it was good but I din’t really think about it; I love this song now. Wilson Pickett knocked it right out of the park with this one.

“Got To Get You Into My Life” – Earth, Wind, and Fire

So much fun! This is a very recent discovery for me (I heard it the first time getting ready for this post) but it’s a fun danceable song that feels right at home with Earth, Wind, and Fire. Seriously, I love those horns, they are so tight!

“Dear Prudence” – Siouxsie and the Banshees

I heard this one on my favorite local radio station. I don’t have a lot to say about it, other than I really enjoy the vibe in this song, and that it fits incredibly well with this band. I am beginning to think that songs by the Beatles are just well suited to be done in any style.

“Eleanor Rigby” – Aretha Franklin

I found this one when I was working on my Aretha Franklin post. I love this version, it gives it a lot of bounce and drive that makes it very fun. Aretha also sang a lovely version of “Fool On The Hill” and I highly recommend that one too. I won’t add a link here, but please check it out on your own! It’s very upbeat and so very Aretha.

“My Guitar Gently Weeps” – Jake Shimabukuro

This is one of the first “viral” videos ever. It has well over 16 million views, and for good reason. This is possibly the most beautiful version of this song I have ever heard. This man’s skill with his ukulele is amazingly impressive. The arrangement is complex and interesting with extremely well done build ups and payoffs. I have rarely seen someone shred so hard on a ukulele before, and never with this level of talent and skill. If you haven’t seen this video, for your sake watch it now.

“My Guitar Gently Weeps” – Regina Spektor

Not much can top the version of this song above, but this one is pretty dang good. If you haven’t seen the movie Kubo and the Two Strings you should absolutely watch it. It’s a fantastic movie all around, original and well written with great production quality and soundtrack. I loved this movie, and most people who have seen it feel the same. This version of the song, as performed by Regina Spektor, was a beautiful different take on it. I’m pretty happy to hear this one anytime.

“Fool On The Hill”, “Daytripper”, “Norwegian Wood” – Sergio Mendez & Brasil ’66

When I was younger, we had a CD by Sergio Mendez & Brasil ’66 that I adored. I listened to it a lot and that is probably where I got my love for Bossa Nova music. These three songs are fantastic renditions that bring a different world to mind. I imagine this would be the soundtrack to 70’s cocktail parties, or an old school visit to some South American beaches.

I heard these songs by this group before I heard the originals. So for me, this seemed the natural way it should be played. It was fascinating for me when I heard the originals and other versions as well. I will always have a special place in my heart for this music, any way it’s played.

“Two Of Us” – Aimee Mann

At some point after I moved out of the house I ended up inheriting a huge book of CD’s from a roommate who had left them behind. Among them was the soundtrack to I Am Sam which is comprised of Beatles cover songs. They are all great songs preformed by great artists. I won’t go into a huge amount of detail here, but I’ll put links to a few of the songs that I especially liked. “Two of Us” by Aimee Mann is the first.

“I’m Looking Through You” – The Wallflowers

“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” – Eddie Vedder

“Mother Nature’s Son” – Sheryl Crow
(Also check out the version by John Denver or the one by Jack White)

“Nowhere Man” – Paul Westerberg

That’s all I’m gonna share right now, but know that there is a ton more where that came from. If you want to hear more, check out the soundtrack for the movie I am Sam, or just do a google search, you’ll find a treasure trove, I’m sure.

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I find it fascinating how the culture of the music world has changed over time. Looking back to the 60’s and 70’s it seems as if anyone could perform or record any song, no matter the original artist. Going back further, it was unusual for most singers to write their own songs, which would have been written by professional songwriters. Today there are still plenty of singers whose songs are written by songwriters employed by various record labels and other companies, but people also seem to expect most musicians to write their own songs. Of course, this is all just conjecture based on my own observations and I have done absolutely no research into this subject. I would like to learn more about it though, so if anyone has any good resources, please send them my way.

I hope you enjoyed these songs, like I said at the top, these are not necessarily my favorites or what I consider the best, I just like them. There are tons more songs by the Beatles (they were pretty prolific for a band that was only together 10 years) and likely all of those songs have been recorded or performed by other artists over the years. Find what you like! If you have any recommendations for songs I didn’t include here, send them my way, I’d love to hear the songs and your thoughts on them.

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If you want to know more about the Beatles, go listen to them. Til next time, happy listening!

Childhood memory post-script: I didn’t post “Yellow Submarine” since I haven’t heard a cover of it I liked, but if Mary or Becca are reading this, I’m thinking of you 😉


Before we get started, it’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I adore the blues. You can reference my post on Aynsley Lister as well and you’ll see what I mean so I’ll try not to rhapsodize about the many virtues of Blues again. Wouldn’t want to be redundant.

On with the post…

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It is a well-known fact that B.B. King’s guitar is named Lucille.

B.B. King said Lucille was a reminder for him, both not to brawl over a woman and never to run into a burning building. There’s a great story there, and if you listen to his song “Lucille” you’ll hear it in his own words. Playing guitar was B.B. King’s life. It was such a part of him and his style seems to have a personality all it’s own, so I’m not surprised in the least that his guitar had a name. Lucille’s sound is very identifiable, and it was strongly linked to King’s singing voice as well. He would essentially sing duets with Lucille, trading off lyrics in his voice and soulful expression from Lucille.

B.B. King is the prototypical blues guitarist, and the way he plays that lovely guitar Lucille is something that guitarists have striven to emulate for decades. I myself am primarily a bass player, but one day I hope to be proficient enough on the guitar to play delta blues like B.B. King, though I know I’ll never achieve his level of skill.

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B.B. King (whose name was Riley, actually) was heralded as the King of the Blues, along with Freddie King and Albert King, and rightly so. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, and boy was B.B. an expert at the Blues. Something I don’t think a lot of people realize is how much work is involved in being a professional musician. B.B. King wasn’t a great guitar player because he was just naturally gifted. He wasn’t just “discovered” one day – he set out to make it happen. He was a phenomenal musician because he dedicated his life to being so, even at the cost of other things. For example, his two divorces have been attributed to his heavy work schedule, something like 250 performances a year. In fact, in 1956 alone he had 342 performances and three recording sessions. He played and performed until he died, just as he said in his song “Riding With The King”

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B.B. set the stage for blues artists for decades. And let’s be real, if your career is playing a genre of music spans 60-odd years, you probably have had some influence over a lot of musicians.

In fact, B.B. King has more albums on Spotify than Aretha Franklin, more than 70, and I’m not ashamed to admit I lost count. He led an incredibly long career, spanning from 1949 to 2015 when he died. He was a dedicated musician as well as a philanthropist. He was very public about being diagnosed with diabetes, and ultimately it was consequences from his diabetes that led to his death.

If you want to know more about B.B. King’s life and career, I really recommend the official BB King website, there’s a great article on the main page that gets into it a bit more.

I fell into a Youtube rabbit hole in getting ready for this post, and there were too many great videos for me to share. Please feel free to check out some of it, there are tons of amazing videos of him playing with other renowned guitarists. For this post, I’ll stick with this simple version of “Sweet Sixteen”

There are obviously a lot of great songs and albums in his repertoire, though a number of them have repeats and a number are live albums. If I were to suggest any of his Albums, I would first suggest his collaboration with Eric Clapton, Riding With The King, it is now one of my favorite albums ever. I would also suggest Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. B. B. King, as a fantastic collection of all his best tunes. Don’t disregard his earlier work either, I was jamming out even when I made it back to his albums from the 50’s and 60’s.

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As far as individual songs go, I now have 26 of his songs in my own music library, though I could easily add more. I’ll spare you the whole list and just give you my top 10 favorite tracks. This doesn’t include his collab. stuff, by the way, so feel free to check that out on your own if you’re interested, especially the album Deuces Wild.

Top 10 tracks:

“The Thrill Is Gone” – this song alone has something like 50 versions by B.B. King on Spotify.


“How Blue Can You Get” It took me a while to realise this was a song sampled in a super chill song I know called “Standing Outside A Broken Phonebooth” by Primitive Radio Gods.

“Ghetto Woman”


“Alexis’ Boogie”

“To Know You Is To Love You”

“Sneakin’ Around”

“Is You Or Is You Ain’t (My Baby)”

“Sweet Sixteen”

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Seriously go listen to some B.B. King. Right now. Don’t let this important part of your personal music education get away from you!

Sweet Soul Music

The only song by Arthur Conley I was familiar with, “Sweet Soul Music,” is likely the only song by him that many people are familiar with.

I bet most people don’t know who he was, so here’s a short bio for you.

Arthur Conley did not have an illustrious career, though he was active for about 30 years. Like many soul artists, he got into singing through gospel choirs and moved along from there to a group called The Corvettes and then to his solo career, and was mentored and produced by Otis Redding. Eventually, he ended up moving to England and then Amsterdam, changing his name so as to live in peace with his secret of being gay, though the Dutch didn’t seem to care about that. He had a Dutch band for a little while, toured briefly and passed away at home in 2008.

So there’s that for you. But what I would rather talk about is his music. Honestly, it all sounds pretty much exactly like what you expect of soul music of the early 70’s, but there are a couple of songs that stood out to me.

“Sweet Soul Music” is absolutely my number one favorite, and you should really check it out. In fact, here’s a video link for you:

It references a number of well known Soul artists such as James Brown, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, etc. and is very fun to sing along to. Plus, that trumpet refrain is just plain fun!

My second favorite is “Hearsay” and if you like that one, maybe take a listen to “You Really Know How To Hurt A Guy” and “Funky Street” as well.

Pretty good stuff, and if you are a fan of classic soul music, this is prime material to add to your library.

Thats all I really have for you today, so happy listening to that sweet soul music!

A Rose Is Still A Rose

First off, let it be said there is no shortage of Aretha Franklin music out there. I mean, holy crap, there are more than 40 albums on Spotify alone and that’s not counting the singles and compilations. Actually that’s why it took so long for me to post again; I was busy listening to that massive library of Aretha Franklin music.

And she’s still going, by the way. Her most recent album was in 2014, and she still tours and performs.

It was interesting listening to the different styles and recording qualities as I listened backwards through time. Current era Aretha’s voice shows her age just a little bit. If you want an example, listen to her cover album Sings the Great Diva Classics.

00’s and 90’s era Aretha left me a little tickled. It sounds just like the rest of the R&B/soul music of that time that I remember. Recommendation: listen to the songs “Wonderful” and “A Rose Is Still A Rose”

80’s Aretha was par for the course (but don’t be fooled, par on this course is fantastic) though I would note she recorded a jazz album in 1984 that stood out. It’s called Aretha’s Jazz, and it shows off her voice in a beautiful way.

Classic 60’s and 70’s Aretha will probably always be my favorite. Her voice is and always has been incredibly beautiful and strong. There are so many amazing songs from this period, I would recommend all of it. Really, just check it out. If you want specific recommendations, I will include a list of some of my all time Aretha favorites at the end of this post.

When you get back into the early 60’s she was mostly recording Gospel tunes. As with many famous soul and gospel artists, religion was a huge part of her upbringing. Her father was a well known pastor and she had been singing in churches since she was a little girl. There are some excellent tunes there as well, a good collection of which can be found on the album Amazing Grace.

All in all, Aretha Franklin has earned her title as Queen of Soul ten times over. She is extremely talented and skilled. If you like soul music at all, you are probably already quite familiar with much of her music, but I would suggest checking out some of the deeper cuts.

However; if you want to just listen to a good sampling, there are many great compilation albums available that have the best of the best of her music.

Fun fact! She famously stepped in at the Grammys one year for an ill Luciano Pavarotti, singing the famous opera tenor piece “Nessun Dorma” and absolutely nailed it. Here’s a video clip: https://youtu.be/5PONptwUo-Y

She shaped a genre, her music moves people, and her legacy will last for a long time to come.

Happy Listening!

As promised, here is a short list of some of my favorite Aretha tunes:

“Today I Sing the Blues”

“Think” *

“See Saw” *

“I Say a Little Prayer”

“Chain Of Fools” *

“The Weight” *

“Fool On The Hill”


“I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You” *

“(You Made Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”

“A Song For You”

“A Rose Is Still A Rose”


“Rock With Me”

“Son of a Preacher Man”

“Love For Sale”

Well, that turned out to be longer than I intended. I starred my top 5, if you want a shorter list. They are all great songs, though. And there are many more! Go check it out!

St. James Infirmary

So a couple of weeks ago I was searching Spotify for a good version of “St. James Infirmary”, a fun blues song I was introduced to a few years ago. I have heard a few versions of this song by artists such as Louis Armstrong and Preservation Hall Jazz Band, but I was immediately impressed by Allen Toussaint’s version when I stumbled across it. The simple instrumentation combined with the minor key and well-placed subtlety made it a very nice arrangement.

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The only problem here is I had never heard of Allen Toussaint and I knew nothing about him. The solution? Listen to all of his music! And I gotta tell you, he has a lot of it; this guy was making and producing music from the ’50’s up until his death in 2015.

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Not all of his music is jazz. In fact, he has done quite a bit of R&B, Soul, Funk, and Blues. Apparently he has been an extremely influential figure to New Orleans R&B and composed a number of well-known songs such as “Fortune Teller” “Ride Your Pony” “Southern Nights” (this one was featured in the recent movie Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) and the frequently covered “Working In The Coal Mine” He also helped produce hundreds of fantastic songs such as “Right Place, Wrong Time” by Dr. John (one of my favorites for road trips) and the famous “Lady Marmalade” by Labelle.

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I am so glad I know all of this now! This guy has been a major player in 60’s and 70’s funk and R&B music, I can hardly believe I didn’t know him.

Of course, this does not mean I love everything he’s done. There was one particular album I listened to called Mr. Mardi Gras – I Love A Carnival Ball that was truly hard for me to sit through. Almost painful, really. I can’t even tell you exactly what I didn’t like about it, but I think it was probably a combination of musical style and instrumentation. It just sounded cheap to me, and I was glad when it was over.

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We all know I am a sucker for jazz and all of its varied forms. Jazz is at least a little bit present in or was an inspiration for many of today’s genres anyway, and I enjoy those for what they are, but there is still something special to me about listening to a small combo band playing bluesy or jazzy tunes like I would expect to find in some smoky underground bar downtown in a big city in the 50’s. Thus, the albums I enjoyed most on this journey were the ones that reflected style.

So if you are looking for a relaxing jazz album to listen to, check one of these out: The Bright Mississippi and American Tunes. There are some great tracks on those two albums such as “Singin The Blues” “Delores’ Boyfriend” “Viper’s Drag” and “Long, Long Journey”

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If you prefer to stick with R&B and Funk, check out the albums Southern Nights (really good) and Sweet Touch Of Love. As far as recommended tracks, I would have to go with “Last Train” “Victim Of The Darkness” “Sweet Touch Of Love” and “Southern Nights”

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I may have found Allen Toussaint for his jazz albums, but every time I listen to his Soul, R&B, and Funk I love it just a little bit more. He was truly a gifted composer, and I am so glad I got the chance to explore his music like this. After everything I have learned I am almost ashamed I didn’t know who he was, but then I suppose that’s kind of the point of this project, isn’t it?

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Águas de Março

Oh, how I have been looking forward to this post!

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As an avid music listener and an amateur musician I have opinions on many aspects of music, and the one we will discuss now is rhythm. Drum beats have a vast variety across the many genres. From driving and steady quarter note rhythms found in many rock and pop songs, to tripping little triplets in jazz, to alternate beats accenting reggae, to heavy half-time dubstep, rhythm is a huge indicator of not only the genre of a song but mood and emotion.

I have personally always enjoyed the subtle and intricate rhythms found in Bossa Nova music. Here is some sheet music of such rhythm for those of you that can read it.

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Bossa Nova emerged in the 50’s and 60’s from Brazil and is possibly the most well-known genre to have emerged from that country. It’s a very smooth sounding music, with gentle melodies and subtle instrumentation which typically consists of an acoustic guitar and drums with perhaps a few other instruments thrown in such as organ, piano, saxophone, flute, etc. It is in fact a jazz subgenre, and is a kind of combination of jazz and samba, making for a relaxed romantic music.

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But enough of me expounding the virtues of Bossa Nova, let’s talk about the artist of the day. Antônio Carlos Jobim, also known as Tom Jobim, was a Brazillian composer and musician and one of the more prominent factors in the emergence of Bossa Nova along with artists such as João Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto, and Stan Getz. As a jazz subgenre, and also true to its time period, these songs were often performed by multiple artists. As such, many of the songs I love by Tom Jobim have also been recorded by other Bossa Nova artists.

The songs composed and arranged by Tom Jobim are beautiful and relaxing, the kind of thing you would expect to hear in an upscale restaurant or at some fancy garden party, but I like to listen to it when I’m relaxing. Its a great way to let stress leave you and take life as it comes.

Even if you don’t think you have ever heard a Bossa Nova song before, I can almost guarantee you have at least in passing heard the song “Garota de Ipanema” or “The Girl From Ipanema” This song seems to be the most popular elevator/waiting room song in Hollywood, and I can think of a few movies off the top of my head that have used it. Indeed, Bossa Nova seems to be the quitessential elevator music.

For example, this scene in The Emperors New Groove. It’s hard to hear, but it is there in most of the scene.

Or in The Blues Brothers for this elevator scene.

Or how about this scene from Scrubs.

It really is just about everywhere. In fact, one of my older sisters once made a mixed CD with nothing but different versions of that very song on it, all of them very good. It’s an excellent song. Since I included all those clips above, I figure I might as well include the whole song, so here’s my favorite version:

But let’s not stray too far from the original point of this post. Bossa Nova is in my opinion, as you no doubt have figured out, a fantastic genre of music. I love the way Portuguese sounds when sung in this way (enough that I decided to start learning the language myself so I could sing it). Truly beautiful.

If I were to make a Bossa Nova basics playlist for you to listen to, it would likely include the following tracks: “The Girl From Ipanema” “Corcovado” “Wave” One Note Samba” “Agua De Beber” and of course my long time favorite, “Águas de Março” These are all amazing songs, but if you only listened to one of these songs, I recommend that last one. Here’s another video link for you. I especially enjoy hearing the smile in their voices at the end.

Well, you’ve probably had enough of the video links, so I think I’ll end this here. If you end up loving Boss Nova just as I do, happy listening! If not, well at least you tried something new, right?

So long, and thanks for the beautiful music, Tom!