Most Covered Song of All Time

According to The Independent, Eleanor Rigby is the most covered song of all time. The initial work was composed by the Beatles and released both on the album Revolver and as a double A-side release with Yellow Submarine. A radio station once featured an entire 2 hour segment containing only Eleanor Rigby covers.

This favorite Beatles song of President Bill Clinton is in an unusual musical scale and possesses a poppy, upbeat feel along with somewhat doleful lyrics. Such a combination, along with the catchy string melody throughout, makes the song ripe for covers and artistic interpretation.

Below are a few examples of covers of the work from popular artists:

Aretha Franklin (1971)

Ray Charles (1984)

The Fray (2006)

However, the covers encompass all musical genres. From symphonic versions to hip hop remixes, all music lovers can find an Eleanor Rigby cover to enjoy.


  1. You titled your post "Most Covered Song of All Time." That's certainly an achievement. But what I think is even more impressive is that Eleanor Rigby has been covered by artists in so many genres. The emotional appeal of the composition was not just limited to the early rock age of the Beatles. Something about the mere musical elements - rhythm, melody, harmony, and lyrics (although not in the symphonic version) - lends itself to all sorts of styles.

    Aretha Franklin puts a boisterous female spin on the song with her upbeat tempo, backup singers, and play on the lyrics - "I'm Eleanor Rigby, I picked up the rice... I'm keeping my face in a jar by the door." The perspective of the song shifts, which produces an interesting effect.

    Ray Charles' version feels plaintive but insistent. The jangly percussion makes the message of the song seem sadly persistent. Charles takes more license in speed and phrasing than the rigid Beatles, giving the song a more freely agonized quality.

    The Fray's rendition is haunting. I felt that the "loneliness" was the most prominent here, perhaps because of the simple instrumentation and the breathless-like vocals.

    The classical and hip-hop covers are more radical takes on the song, but I still really enjoyed them. It was cool to see how the hip-hop artist gave Eleanor Rigby an extensive backstory. And I thought the classical version, without the lyrics, was perhaps the most dramatic of all.

    It is certainly a testament to the songwriting abilities of the Beatles that Eleanor Rigby has stood the test of time - and the test of genres. A very cool post.

  2. Pretty interesting how of all the Beatles' songs, Eleanor Rigby might be the most covered. If my wikipedia-reading-memory is working right, the song wasn't in the usual mode that the Beatles' write in, nor most pop bands/singers.

    Also interesting is that you find the beat to be poppy and upbeat. Oddly, I find it pretty somber -- catchy maybe -- but definitely still downbeat. And I was thinking maybe that was why it's been chosen as a cover so much more than other Beatles' songs; that sadness or loneliness is an easier emotion with which to sympathize, and therefore maybe an easier emotion to mold into your own creation.

  3. in other news I like this cover