Comics Creators

Cover songs better than the original


The arrangement of Metallica’s version is derivative of but noticeably different from Thin Lizzy’s version, which is significantly different from the traditional version.


@davidm what he said, basically!


Ok, fair enough, if they copied the arrangement exactly then I guess it would be obvious!


Well, it is a cover of Thin Lizzy’s version of Whiskey in the Jar, it’s not like they went “we’re gonna do a metal version of this trad song” or anything.


The reason I was curious is because I listen to a lot of folk singers who all sing the same pool of standard traditional songs, but will usually tell you exactly who they learned the song off, so it would be valid to say “He’s singing Martin Carthy’s version of Scarborough Fair,” for example. But without that explicit introduction, you don’t know he’s singing Carthy’s version, he’s just singing “a” version that might sound a bit like how Carthy does it. One of the joys of collecting folk music is discovering new version of a familiar song and finding out who learned from whom and why there are differences.


I guess I could also just add that, just on the face of it, it’s far more likely that a group of Thai musicians who don’t even really speak English are far more likely to have heard anything by Metallica than Thin Lizzy (though we’re probably only ten years off from Metallica seeming like they’re a firmly old band, and yea I say that knowing it’s already been almost two decades since they released anything that mattered)


I don’t know trad well enough to say (you can get very tired about songs romanticising the killing of British people), but there’s basically two really well known renditions of Whiskey in the Jar in Ireland - the Dubliners’ one, which is faster and has a bit of a call and response element to it, and the Thin Lizzy one, which is slower, uses a bass-driven rock rhythm as opposed to the trad version’s string and-banjo driven one. You’d never mistake one for the other, even if you were to play an accoustic version of the Thin Lizzy one.

As an aside, pretty much anyone busking in Ireland singing Whiskey in the Jar will do a version close to the Dubliners’ one - it’s often popular with people singing unaccompanied.


I’ll always prefer Kate but it’s pretty amazing that a guy could get that vocal performance, he even takes one section an octave higher than she does.

Her songs are rarely covered because she has an idiosyncratic writing style that often breaks a lot of normal rules of songs by lurching up and down the normal vocal range (although the Placebo version of Running up that Hill is popular they flatten out the vocal).


If I’m not mistaken the Metallica version has a different opening line to the Thin Lizzy version and that is to do with the country of origin for the song. The Thin Lizzy one has an Ireland reference (Cork and Kerry mountains??).

I assume that is similar with the singers you are talking about @davidm as each singer learn slightly different versions based on who it has been handed down from.


Lyrics are the same between the Metallica and Thin Lizzy versions. The Dubliners use a slightly different version of the tale with small changes like the name of the woman (Molly vs Jenny). The Dubliners version does say “the far famed Kerry mountains” instead of “Cork and Kerry mountains” like the other two.


Yes, you’ll find variations in words and tunes, as they were transmitted by ear (often for centuries) before somebody finally wrote them down, so bits changed and then the changed versions ended up being the canon in a particular region as everybody learned it from a particular source. It’s literally an entire field of study that I’ve only got the dimmest knowledge of, though.

My favourite example is when I heard Martin Simpson’s version of “Little Musgrave”, and realised it was “Matty Groves”. The title had changed, the tune is different, and even most of the words were different, and yet it was unmistakably the same song. How on Earth did that happen?

(To keep on topic: technically both of these are covers, but neither is a cover of the other, and they are both equally good :wink: )


Gareth, was that your first time hearing that cover?

The guy (Maxwell) sang the whole song in falsetto which is tough…

At the time, all the Maxwell fans loved it but never realized it was a cover even when he said so beforehand.


No, I have heard it many times before. I am aware who Maxwell is.


Most tellingly from my perspective, Metallica uses a sliding octave interpretation of thin lizzys lead melody, which by its nature cuts out a fair number of the notes played by thin lizzy, and which to my ears sounds much more pleasing in its simplified form.


Speaking of Metallica.




Another? Another!


I forgot about that Fear Factory cover.


Numan plays a version very close to it live these days


Mare ageist bait.

Love Hurts, mid 70s version by Nazareth.


This is incredible. Not only better than Dylan, but I think possibly even better than Hendrix: