So why can’t anyone make a good Beatles cover song? OK, there are a couple. But the good ones are usually good singers or good bands singing the same songs the Beatles sang. No one seems to be able to reinterpret these songs in a new way (at least not well–I have heard some attempts that sound hideous).

I mean, look at the Grateful Dead and the tribute album Deadicated for comparison. The cover songs there are awesome–they make you think of the songs in a whole new way. To hear Lyle Lovett doing Friend of the Devil is amazing. So why can’t anyone do that with the Beatles?

I think the answer is one of two things. My first thought is that the Beatles songs aren’t really open to new interpretation. Maybe they’re just done the only way they can be done–perhaps the Beatles didn’t write music that could be appreciated in new ways by creative recording. I’m betting (and hoping) that this is wrong. My second idea is that the Beatles catalogue is so powerfully ingrained in the mind of every music fan and performer on this planet that it is virutally impossible for a fresh version of a Beatles song to be produced.

I hope that’s the answer, and that we hear in the future some cool John, Paul, George, and Ringo tunes from, well, someone else.

Having said that, if you’re interested in some good Beatles covers, I can name some. The soundtrack from I Am Sam has some excellent covers, and the cover album Come Together has a couple of really good covers (Phil Keaggy and PFR do a great We Can Work It Out and Collin Raye does a solid Let It Be). The tribute to John Lennon just after September 11th had much of what I’m talking about, including Alanis Morissette’s version of Dear Prudence and Rufus Wainwright, Moby, and Sean Lennon singing This Boy and Across the Universe. Sean did a wonderful solo of Julia. Heck, Kevin Spacey did a (literally) rocking rendition of Mind Games (I am not making this up). Who would have thought it? That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about.