Tribute Songs That Aren’t Cover Songs

This was actually an impromptu lesson from the off-the-cuff “Rock & Roll History” class I teach my homeschooled daughter Sally. I explained what a cover song was (Sally already knew), then played her a bunch of songs which weren’t covers at all but whole new songs which were heartfelt tributes to great artists by artists they’d influenced. Didn’t prep for this, just winged it, and came up with oodles.

  1. Remember the Ramones by The Fleshtones (from the brand new album Wheel of Talent, which Sally’s been humming a lot this week).
  2. Mister Ramones by Mr. T Experience
  3. Bo Diddley by Buddy Holly (which of course Bo Diddley wrote, but Buddy Holly honored him with, shifting the subject from first person to third)
  4. Three Stars by Eddie Cochran (about the deaths of Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and Richie Valens)
  5. Pamela by Bobby Fuller (heavily in the style of Buddy Holly, by a devout disciple)
  6. Jackie Wilson Said—Van Morrison; then I played the Dexy’s Midnight Runners version, which is a tribute to Van Morrison paying tribute to Jackie Wilson.
  7. The Late Great Johnny Ace—Paul Simon
  8. Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War—Paul Simon

We didn’t get around to these (yet):

9. Rock Me Amadeus—Falco

10. American Beat—The Fleshtones (the version from the Bachelor Party movie soundtrack, with the long litany of rock greats at the end).

11. Killing Me Softly With His Song—Lori Lieberman (reportedly based on how she felt when listening to a Don McLean song, though “Killing Me Softly” was actually written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, and there’s some dispute about whether McLean was the inspiration).

12. American Pie—Don McLean

13. Alex Chilton—The Replacements

14. Paul Westerberg—The Gravel Pit

15. Keith Don’t Go—Nils Lofgren

…and I was just getting started.

In a previous lesson, we’d covered the evolution of Roll Over Beethoven from Chuck Berry to Beatles to Electric Light Orchestra, so I didn’t need to go there this time.

Any you’d care to add?