There’s just something about breathing new life into an old song that simply works.
And I know what you’re thinking… the original is always better than the cover. Fact check: (usually) true.
But sometimes, when a current artist covers an old classic or does a spin on a traditional country song, it gets people excited all over again. And I think we need more of it.
Yes, I’d love all of the young people listening to country radio to just up and decide to go put on a Waylon Jennings or George Jones record, or Brooks and Dunn CD, but the odds of that happening are pretty low for the average person.
It really got me thinking when Riley Green released his version of “Where Corn Don’t Grow”, which was originally a Waylon Jennings song included on his 1990 album, The Eagle. Of course, it became a hit when Travis Tritt included it on his album The Restless Kind 1996 and would eventually crack top 10 in 1997.
But, think about all the people that heard the song for the first time because of Riley’s recording. An actual, professionally done, studio recording. Not just some grainy video shot in the dark at a concert with muffled audio. Obviously, I love those kinds of covers too, but sometimes it doesn’t do the song justice.
Plus, when it’s recorded as a studio version, it goes to streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music and becomes a lot easier for people to access, which is why it’s so important.
And there’s so many other massive hits, like Reba’s “Fancy”, or Blake Shelton’s “Ol’ Red”, or Brooks and Dunn’s “My Maria”, which were all covers originally written and performed by other country artists like Bobbie Gentry, George Jones and B. W. Stevenson, respectively.
That’s just to name a few. And, all of those songs are at least twenty plus years old. Which brings me to my point: we need more covers of country songs by newer country artists that can be released to streaming platforms and on records.
The most recent, mainstream example I can think of is the aforementioned “Where Corn Don’t Grow,” but Miranda Lambert also included an Emmylou Harris song on her album “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” in 2007.
And maybe the best example of them all to make my point is brought to us by the one and only Chris Stapleton. His version of David Allan Coe’s 1981 song “Tennessee Whiskey” was eventually certified 6× Platinum in 2019 after hitting 6 million units in combined streams and sales.
Every single person I know, even my friends who unfortunately force me to listen to Cardi B and Lizzo every time I’m in their car, knows that song and gets excited every time it comes on.
That’s the power of a well-done country cover, no matter how old the song actually is, when it’s done right by an artist today.
Just check all of these that are pure gold and tell me I’m wrong…