Beatlemania, Nashville Style

BeatlesI’ve been working my way through the Beatles Remasters that were released earlier this week, thoroughly enjoying myself in the process. As I listened to Help!, I heard Ringo Starr doing his best Buck Owens imitation as they covered “Act Naturally.”

It’s pretty darn cool that the Beatles covered Buck Owens, and plenty of country artists have returned the favor ever since.  With the Beatles all over the media these days, it seems as good a time as any to look back on some of country music’s biggest and best takes on the Beatles catalog:

Rosanne Cash, “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” and “I’m Only Sleeping”

Cash is the only country artist to score a #1 hit with a cover of a Beatles song, as her take on the Beatles For Sale track “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” became her eleventh and final #1 hit in 1989.  An even better listen is her take on “I’m Only Sleeping” from her Retrospective release. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a much better song than “Party”, pulled from Revolver, arguably the best album the Beatles ever made.

Nickel Creek, “Taxman”

This progressive bluegrass band sounds great on record, but you don’t really get the full experience of their talent until you’ve seen their live show. Perhaps all of those royalties from their platinum-selling debut album pushed them into a higher tax bracket, as “Taxman” –  another Revolver highlight – soon became a staple of their live shows.

Emmylou Harris, “For No One” and “Here, There and Everywhere”

Her first two solo albums included one Revolver cover each. She turns “For No One” into a pensive ballad on her debut set Pieces of the Sky and gives a gorgeous rendering of “Here, There and Everywhere” on her sophomore effort Elite Hotel.

Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, “Yesterday”

It really does sound like a Haggard and Nelson song when Haggard and Nelson do it.

Anne Murray, “You Won’t See Me”

Amazingly, John Lennon said this was the best Beatles cover he’d ever heard.

Those are some of the most notable country Beatles covers I could think of. What are your favorites? Least favorites?

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19 Comments

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19 Responses to Beatlemania, Nashville Style

  1. James S.No Gravatar

    A couple of my favorite Beatles covers are Sweethearts of The Rodeo’s take on “I Feel Fine” and David Ball’s version of “I’ll Follow The Sun” that he did on the Come Together tribute album.

  2. SheldonNo Gravatar

    Dolly did “Help” on either “Great Balls of Fire” or “Heartbreaker”

  3. SheldonNo Gravatar

    couldn’t sleep till I tracked it down… – “Help!” was on Dolly’s “Great Balls of Fire” LP

  4. MichaelNo Gravatar

    Lorrie Morgan covered “Eight Days a Week” on 1989’s Leave the Light On.

    There was also a tribute album called Come Together that was released in the mid 90s but I don’t remember any of the performances being very good.

  5. CMWNo Gravatar

    Randy Travis does an impressive version of “Nowhere Man.” I think it originally appeared on the tribute album mentioned by Michael, but I haven’t heard that recording, so I can only vouch for the live version I heard at one of his shows a couple years ago. Good stuff.

  6. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    I really like Steve Earle’s version of “I’m Looking Through You” from his Train A Comin’ album, which is an all around great acoustic project, by the way.

  7. RussNo Gravatar

    “Things We Said Today” by Dwight Yoakam from his Under The Covers album is a good listen. For the most part, I always prefer the Beatles version of a song though. They were so talented and innovative, they don’t leave a lot of room for improvement on their songs. They were done so exceptionally the first time, most of the time it is an act in vain to improve on the song.

  8. Kevin J. CoyneNo Gravatar

    I can’t believe that I forgot the Dwight Yoakam cover of “Things We Said Today.” That’s my favorite album of his.

    Kathy Mattea does a nice job on “I Will” and as Sheldon pointed out, Dolly Parton covered “Help!” I like her version of it.

  9. Paul DennisNo Gravatar

    During the 1970s many country acts covered Beatles songs (especially as album tracks). I don’t recall any of them being huge hits but many of them were good tracks

  10. BobNo Gravatar

    Collin Raye covered “Blackbird” on his “Counting Sheep” cd.

  11. TexasVetNo Gravatar

    Anne Murray covered “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You” that reached #23 on the Billboard country chart in 1980. She also recorded “Day Tripper” on her Highly Prized Possession album.

  12. SDNo Gravatar

    I actually really enjoy Reba’s cover of “If I Fell”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfZRyBMwd80

  13. LanibugNo Gravatar

    While not a true Beatles track, I love Dolly’s version of Imagine….

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  16. William WardNo Gravatar

    Taxman is on the Telluride Bluegrass Festival album from 2005 if you (or anyone else) don’t have it Kevin.

  17. I second SD’s comment about Reba’s version of ‘If I Fell’ – I always liked that recording of the song.

  18. JoeNo Gravatar

    Love “You Won’t See Me.” She re-recorded it as a duet with Shelby Lynne on that last album she did.

    About Lennon’s “amazing” quote: don’t forget, Anne was pretty hip (hep?) back then. We’re talking about something like 1972, right?

  19. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    Actually, it was the summer of 1974 when Anne had that cover of “You Won’t See Me” out (it got to #7, I believe). It is, in my opinion, one of the best covers of the Beatles by anybody, done in a solid R&B style.

    The Dillard and Clark Expedition (led by ex-Byrd Gene Clark and bluegrass banjo master Doug Dillard) covered the Fab Four’s “Don’t Let Me Down” on their 1969 bluegrass/country/rock album THROUGH THE MORNING, THROUGH THE NIGHT.

    And if memory serves me right, Johnny Rodriguez also covered “Something.”