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Subject: When is a song considered a cover?

Written By: ChuckyG on 08/19/15 at 9:37 am

This probably doesn't sound like a complicated question, but I think there's some interesting edge cases. Here's at least one.

If a song is written by someone and recorded but not released, is the first released version of the song considered a cover?

Example: Paul Pena, "Jet Airliner" wasn't released until 2000, Steve Miller had the big hit with it in the 1970s.


Subject: Re: When is a song considered a cover?

Written By: nally on 08/19/15 at 11:09 am

I wouldn't exactly look at it that way. I mean, lots of songs are written for other artists. And sometimes a person who writes a song for another artist will later record his or her own version of the song. Whichever artist records it first, I have usu. considered that to be the "original" recording.

Another example is "I'm A Believer", written by Neil Diamond and recorded by The Monkees, who took it to the top of the charts in 1966; Diamond recorded his own version the following year for his album Just For You; he later recorded another version of it for his 1979 album September Morn. Because the Monkees' recording of the song is the first recorded version, I consider that to be the original version, even though the man who wrote the song later recorded it for himself (even though he didn't have quite as much success with it)...but it might not be right to consider his version a cover. (However, in the early 2000s, Smash Mouth performed their own version, and that one is clearly a cover.)

Subject: Re: When is a song considered a cover?

Written By: whistledog on 08/22/15 at 7:15 pm

This is a very good question.  Can it be a cover song if you cover a song you wrote for someone else?


In 1994, Dan Hill had a Top 40 hit in Canada with In Your Eyes, a song he wrote which became a UK Top 10 hit for George Benson in 1983

In 1990, Michael Bolton had a #1 hit with How Am I Supposed to Live Without You, which he wrote in 1983 where it became a US Top 20 hit for Laura Branigan

Subject: Re: When is a song considered a cover?

Written By: whistledog on 08/22/15 at 7:29 pm

How about this ... Is it a cover song when a solo artist performs a song they originally performed with a band?  If not, is it considered a cover if they perform it with someone who had no part of the original recording with the band? 

Two examples:

Peter Cetera featuring Az Yet - You're the Inspiration (1997)
Co-written by Peter Cetera.  Originally made famous by Chicago in 1984
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Eric Clapton - Layla (1992)
Co-written by Eric Clapton.  Originally made famous by Derek and the Dominos in 1970
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Subject: Re: When is a song considered a cover?

Written By: Baltimoreian on 09/08/15 at 8:00 am

A song is considered a cover if it has the same notes and lyrics from the other song that inspired them.

Subject: Re: When is a song considered a cover?

Written By: nally on 01/24/16 at 7:09 pm

How about "As Tears Go By"?

That song was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards -- two members of The Rolling Stones -- and their manager Andrew Oldham. However, Marianne Faithfull recorded it first, in 1964, and it was a big hit for her in the UK. The Rolling Stones, however, didn't record their own version until the following year, and it also became a hit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_Tears_Go_By_%28song%29

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