Who uses it: Musicians
What it means: Performing or recording a song made famous by someone else.
How you can use it: It's not karaoke, it's a cover band...
It's not as if anyone who reads this blog wouldn't already know this term, but I like it for several reasons. First, take a minute to think about the infinite flexibility of English: the word "cover," which means putting one thing on top of the other, gives us terms that mean everything from summarizing a screenplay to a military officer's hat.
I started thinking about this last night, when I was listening to Mary Lou Lord's beautiful acoustic version of "Thunder Road." I would never say it's better than Bruce Springsteen's, but it is exactly what a good cover should be: a rendition that honors the original while filtering it through the singer's own unique voice.
It would take me too long to figure out a list of best cover versions, but here are ten I particularly like. Add your own in the comments section.
Ten Great Cover Versions
1. Johnny Cash, "Hurt." Trent Reznor's original is personal; Johnny Cash's remake is universal. Amazing. Also, Johnny Cash, "One" (U2).
2. Jennifer Warnes, "Bird on a Wire" (Leonard Cohen)
3. Pearl Jam, "Crazy Mary" (Victoria Williams)
4. Social Distortion, "Ring of Fire" (Johnny Cash)
5. Kirsty McColl and The Pogues, "Miss Otis Regrets/Just One of Those Things" (Cole Porter)
6. Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch, "I'll Fly Away" (traditional)
7. Barenaked Ladies, "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" (Bruce Cockburn)
8. Too Much Joy, "Seasons in the Sun" (Terry Jacks) and "A New England" (Billy Bragg)
9. The Waterboys, "Sweet Thing" (Van Morrison)
10. Cowboy Junkies, "Sweet Jane" (Velvet Underground)
Okay, that's 12, but it's my list. Oh, and I forgot Dolly Parton's "Stairway to Heaven." I'm not kidding about that, either. So that's 13. And Lyle Lovett's "Stand By Your Man." And...