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Cover Song

Posted by Bob on October 17, 2003

In Reply to: Cover Song posted by Nina on October 15, 2003

: : : Does anyone know the origin of the phrase cover song, or cover version?

: : : Thanks!
: : : JT

: : That's an interesting question. But I don't have an answer. I've looked in several references but none have a date for either "cover song" or "cover version." If I find anything, I'll post again.

: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
: cover version. A recording of a song that was previously recorded or made popular by another. Also called cover song.

Notorious in the early days of rock 'n roll, when black musicians would record music that would be conspicuously absent from many "white" radio stations, and white singers would "cover" the songs, making them blander, less risque, and more widely broadcast. The result seems almost laughable today when you compare Little Richard's energetic and earthy songs, compared to the ridiculous and well-scrubbed versions covered by the nauseating Pat Boone. Boone made a fortune, Little Richard got swindled. For a while, that is. Little Richard is still going strong. Also compare Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog" to the blander, cleaned-up version by Elvis. No comparison. Those racist days seems to be slipping away: the Billboard Top 10 hits the other day was the first one ever where all 10 artists are black... one pop tune, and nine hip-hop. (An alternate explanation, of course, is that rich white kids have learned how to download music for free, skewing the numbers.)