Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 26 20:40:59 UTC 2007

FWIW, I was long under the impression that the song, "Have Yourself a
Merry Little Christmas," was originally recorded by Frank Sinatra.
However, a few months ago, I discovered that the original recording
was actually by Judy Garland. Yet, I've never heard or read of the
Sinatra recording or any the many other recordings of this song
referred to as "covers" of that Garland original. That is, "more or
less obscure original performer" seems to be an essential part of
"cover" in the relevant sense.

Another example is the song, "It's All Over Now," originally recorded
by an obscure, black singing group, The Valentinos. However, the
best-known version of this song is the _cover_ by The Rolling Stones.
The success of the Stones' version led to versions by other well-known
rock groups, e.g. The Grateful Dead. (A difference in wording between
the Stones' version and the original version that appears in all
subsequent rock versions shows that these versions are based on the
Stones' version and not on the original version, even though the
change in wording makes no sense.) However, AFAIK, these versions are
not referred to as "covers" of the Stones' version.


On Dec 25, 2007 8:55 AM, George Thompson <george.thompson at nyu.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "cover"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I suppose that "cover" was reserved for occasions when one performer made the first-ever recording of a song and shortly thereafter another performer issued a recording.  Most likely, the first performer was more or less obscure, and the second either better known, or more vigorously promoted by a bigger label, so that sales that might have gone to the original recording were taken by the cover.  I also suppose that the cover was prompted by the fact that the original recording was showing signs of being a hit, and the cover was rushed through recording and production in an deliberate attempt to steal the success.
> This might justify the term "cover", too: the later recording covered up the earlier one.
> I dare say the situation seldom arises now, since most popular music appears in multi-tune albums and the post-recording editing process has become too elaborate to be rushed through.
> George A. Thompson
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Mark Sacks <msacks at THEWORLD.COM>
> Date: Sunday, December 23, 2007 11:01 am
> Subject: Re: "cover"
> > Mark Mandel, in asking
> >
> > > How did "cover" come to mean 'record a song that
> > > someone
> > > else has previously recorded'?
> >
> > clarified this meaning for me. If he is right, the term "cover" actually
> > means rerecording, say, Cole Porter songs or Schubert lieder.
> >
> > Another use of "cover" I remember from college: In more homophobic
> > times a
> > gay male and female would often appear in public together as if they were
> > a couple, the purpose (I think) being to protect the female from unwanted
> > male attentions. The term for the male in this dyad was "cover
> > faggot." I
> > suppose the term "cover dyke" would have existed as well, but I don't
> > think I ever heard it.
> >
> > Marc Sacks
> > msacks at theworld.com
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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                                              -Sam'l Clemens

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