Tune du Jour: “God Only Knows” – The Beach Boys
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: David Bowie vs. Elvis Costello & The Brodski Quartet vs. Dave Edmunds
Broc 3 - Cover Me Impressed

Everybody’s Dressin’ Funny … Cover Me Impressed!



“I drink to make other people more interesting.”

  Ernest Hemingway




The Original

The Beach Boys:


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes


David Bowie vs. Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet vs. Dave Edmunds
David Bowie:

Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet

Dave Edmunds:

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. It is your solemn responsibility to decide which cover song prevails. In other words … Which Side Are You On?!!? 


  1. Arnold Plotnick says:

    This was a tough one, but not in the way you think. It was tough because I really didn’t like any of the three covers, despite all three artists being well-known, something that you don’t often find here on CMI. I expected to like Bowie’s version, but it started, and he was crooning it in that late-in-his-career-weird-deep-voice mode, which just didn’t sound right. Dave Edmunds’s version was strange to me. The concept of Edmunds releasing a guitar-only album is interesting, in that he’s not high on the list of guitarists with such a unique sound and style that it merits this kind of attention, and I think his version shows that. It’s just a guitar instrumental, and a song like this, with the voice and harmonies and nice lyrics… you can’t just ignore them and turn this into an instrumental. Elvis, with the strings, and more straightforward singing style, captures the mood of the song best. I don’t think his voice is truly up to the task, but he gives it a great shot. And the setting he’s in, on stage right there with the audience, is so intimate… he gets my vote.

    By the way… if you haven’t seen the movie The Trip to Spain, check out this video. These “Trip” movies are hilarious, as two friends, Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden, travel together, indulging in fabulous food while having hilarious conversations where they impersonate a variety of celebrities, including musicians. Check out this conversation they have about Bowie, including two spot-on impersonations: https://twitter.com/skyatlantic/status/855378338449309696?lang=en

    Copy the link and paste it in your browser. You’ll laugh your head off.

  2. Cuspid says:

    As much as I like Bowie’s voice, I don’t think it works at all for this song. I like Elvis’ singing better, and the arrangement for quartet is interesting. But in the end it’s not very satisfying. Edmunds wins by default by letting his guitar do the vocals. Maybe only Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys can do justice to this song.

  3. RDubbs says:

    I just don’t get the Beach Boys. Sure their harmonies were beautiful but is that all that’s required of a great band? There’s a reason so many teeny-boppers adore the Boys … bubble-gum pop.

    Given my disinterest with the Boys my preference of covers was difficult to determine. Okay, Bowie. Why? God Only Knows …

    • Cuspid says:

      I think the BBs were usually promoted as bubblegum pop for marketing purposes. It was a way to sell a lot of records. But among his contemporary other musicians, Brian Wilson was one of the most respected of all. A lot of his arrangements and harmonies were cutting edge at the time, and he had a lot of influence on people who would go on to write music that I like better than the BBs. That said, when I look back over the last 50 years of music I nevertheless still think his influence is a bit overrated. And Pet Sounds is the only BBs album I ever owned.

  4. Kerry Black says:

    I didn’t know Bowie covered this, but I’m not too surprised as I’m not the world’s biggest Bowie expert. Sort of a dramatic reading, and interesting, but not enough to get the vote.

    Dave Edmunds’ instrumental cover was more of a surprise in that the vocal harmonies are such an integral part of the original. I ended up liking this more than I thought I would.

    Vote goes to Elvis. That guy is at home at more genres than anyone I can think of off the top of my head. Again, considering the importance of vocal harmonies in the original, he has a tough task singing solo here, but he pulls it off with power and clarity.

  5. Pete Black says:

    I haven’t read what you have said yet but this one turned out to be more interesting as I listened more carefully and a cursory first go round. First it surprised me how disappointing Bowie’s version is. I thought this could be in his wheelhouse. I never knew he did this song but upon looking it up, there are nine songs on this album, five of them have Iggy Pop attached to them, this song, a Leiber/Stoller oldie and two Bowie sole penned, one of which was Blue Jean, the hit from this album which Allmusic calls one of his worst. Also I thought dave Edmunds take was surprisingly effective. Beautifully done with the guitars, arrangement, keeping the best part of the sweeping melody. Alas, this was Elvis Costello’s win.

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