What song outside of the folk, Americana, country or blues tradition could be re-interpreted into a viable song of that genre?

Through the years I heard re-arranged interpretations of many songs that, when written, were never intended to be performed the way some artists performed them.


Some worked. Others didn't.


Many songs coming from outside of the realm of where they originated.


Elvis took "O Solo Mio" -- an operatic Italian pop song and turned it into "It's Now or Never" and rock audiences bought it. He did the same with "Sorrento," when he recorded "Surrender."


Now there's an old blues tune Bob Dylan reinvented in "Rollin and Tumblin'" yet, commercially, Presley had recorded that old blues song as a rocker with changed lyrics: "Tiger Man." So, this blues song has had many reinventions.


The Grateful Dead recorded "Ripple," and it became a Dead classic -- but it actually borrows from a song written much earlier from Joseph and the Technicoloar Dreamcoat -- "Any Dream Will Do." So in effect -- Deadheads are listening to a Broadway based song when "Ripple" is played.


This post is not to list songs already reinterpreted but to suggest songs that have NOT been reinterpreted.


Are there other Broadway show songs that could be rearranged into Americana, folk or blues songs? Are there any traditional Italian, Spanish or Jewish melodies that could be "borrowed" and tailored into a modern day song? Are there fast rock songs that could be slowed down into blues songs or folk songs now? Example: the differences between Johnny Cash's "Hurt" and Nine Inch Nails' original.


Look at how Herbie Hancock turned many Joni Mitchell songs into classic jazz pieces. Some of Joni's later songs were written jazzy, but "Both Sides Now" was not. Diana Krall sang "River" -- written when Joni was still a bit of a folkie -- and now this Joni song is becoming a jazz standard. It obviously works both ways. Could Billie Holiday's "Don't Explain" or "Fine and Mellow" be potential folk songs?


You get the idea. Suggest songs that could still be taken into a new direction, rearranged, slowed up or speeded up. An electric guitar replaced by a banjo solo, a sax replaced by a wailing clarinet, a Springsteen song that a Jimmy Scott or Billie Holiday could have sung -- and why it would work.






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I've always thought this one could be done in a Woody Guthrie style:

Yes!  This is exactly what I am talking about. Woody Guthrie does a Bad Religion song...and listening to these lyrics I can hear it. Excellent example T Hanssen.

William Elliott Whitmore did a great rendition of this song for a Bad Religion Tribute that came out last year. Here is a link to his version of the song:





Wow.  I have to admit I never looked for cover versions of it, I just always thought it would be very suited to a folk version.


Thanks for pointing me to this - very nice!

i've always wanted to re-interpet "Money Changes Everything" by Cyndi Lauper as a full on country weeper but i think she might have done it already

You might be interested to know that the songwriter, Tom Gray of Delta Moon, has his own blues-based interpretation of the song.



The first interpretation of a familiar song that I remember is Vanilla Fudge's slow version of The Supreme's "You Keep Me Hangin' On."   It blew me away. 

     I used to play Sympathy for the Devil and Kung Foo Fighting on banjo....that worked pretty well. Sympathy is really spooky on banjo, Fighting runs out of novelty after a verse and chorus, though.

   My choice would be Rainy Night in Georgia, by Tony Joe White. I've never heard it done, but I'd imagine it would sound great as an acoustic, Americana ballad.         Mike


Lola by the Kinks into bluegrass

Already quite a bit of banjo and other country-sounding instrumentation on the Lola album, so makes perfect sense. And then of course on Muswell Hillbillies they went even further…

I wonder if there are any Beach Boys tunes that could successfully make the transition. If they could do "Cotton Fields," surely someone could do something with oh, I don't know, "You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone"…

It occurred to me one day while driving, listening to You've Got Another Thing Comin on the radio, that this 1982 metal classic by Judas Priest would work as a John Lee Hooker style blues. I got home, broke out the acoustic, and sure enough; solid boogie-woogie gold!



think Robert Johnson's "Crossroads works well -our band Runaway Train just recorded it and it seems to get great response.




I'm used to  thinking the other way--playing traditional country and blues songs faster and louder until they become punk.  But I have wondered if it would be possible to work up a western-swing version of the Replacements' "I Will Dare"...


Actually, I think a lot of songs in the Replacements catalog might lend themselves to country interpretations:  "You're Getting Married," "If Only You Were Lonely" (which is almost country anyway), "Waitress in the Sky"... 



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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.