Sometimes you can hear a cover and have no idea that it is not the original work. This is especially easy in the case of a song originally performed by a relatively obscure band and then reproduced by a big name. It happens more often than you may think. Remember Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn"? It seemed difficult to turn on VH1, MTV, or the radio and not hear the song back in the end of 1997 through 1998. But unbeknown to most listeners, this song was actually a cover of "Torn" by Ednaswap. "Torn" was Natalie Imbruglia's most famous song, as she was, in the music world, what many may refer to as a one hit wonder.
However, what many would consider the most popular song of a number of artists are covers. Aretha Franklin's "Respect", Whitney Houston's "I will always love you", Soft Cell's "Tainted Love", Quiet Riot's "Come on Feel the Noise", Joan Jett's "I love rock and roll", Cyndi Lauper's "Girls just want to have fun", UB40's "Red, red wine", and many other songs that often remain an artist's most famous work are covers.
Many have heard Johnny Cash's last song he recorded in studio, titled "Hurt". In case you haven't, here is the video:
This song, while not the most famous Johnny Cash song, was seen as his last legacy. It was his last song and somewhat of a musical goodbye to the world. However, it too, was a cover. The original version was written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. In an interview, Reznor described his reaction upon seeing the video:
"I was flattered...[but] it didn't sound right to me. You know, that was my song. And it didn't sound bad, it just sounded...alien...it really then wasn't my song anymore...[It is] an unbelievably powerful piece of work."
Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails
When covers become famous or seem to stand for something significant, sometimes the fact that the song is not an original work of that artist can be forgotten. It is an interesting phenomenon, and one that will likely continue.
Here is the original version of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails: