I was searching for songs I hadn’t heard by my favorite aggro-synth band Funker Vogt on Googtube and stumbled into a song called “Am Tag als Conny Kramer starb”. It just had this catchiness to it and took an immediate liking to it even though it was just kind of over-the-top.
After a while I got curious about the song title and lyrics – the title in English is “The day that Conny Kramer died” and while looking for lyrics, discovered that it’s actually a cover of a German pop star in the 1970s named Juliane Werding. Werding rewrote lyrics for the song talking about someone who died from a drug overdose, which was commentary about a heroin epidemic that was occurring in Germany at the time. It’s a bit of contrast with Funker Vogt’s rendition, but a very beautiful song nonetheless.
Some more investigation and I find out she was covering the music of a US band called, well, “The Band”, who had originally wrote the music and the lyrics were about the last days of the Confederate States during the US Civil War, called “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. The music and lyrics were both covered by Joan Baez, which I’m listening to now (for some reason I could never really get into Baez, dunno why)
In subsequent years, it turns out that a number of other groups have covered this song as well. I vaguely remember hearing the original a few times but never knew who performed it or what it was about.
This reminds me of whenever I discover that a song I thought was an original by a band ends up being a cover and I end up discovering the music of a whole new band I didn’t know about.
This also reminds me of how much great music I’ve run into just listening to rap and hip-hop and then catching the sample in the original song while listening to an oldies station or something. Particularly James Brown. His band came up with so much innovation it’s sick.
Also, Johnny Cash (God bless him) took this to a new level in his later years, covering artists across a broad spectrum of genres from Depeche Mode to U2. This after a lifetime of cranking out country and pop hits!
Edit: turns out Johnny Cash covered The Band’s original as well.