Cover-to-Cover: “Penny Lane” by David Bowie
I don’t have to tell you that David Bowie is a rock ‘n’ roll icon, known for dozens of original compositions in an array of styles – from “Space Oddity” and “Ziggy Stardust” to “Ashes to Ashes” and “I’m Afraid of Americans.” The list is endless.
Most prolific songwriters wouldn’t bother with covering other people’s songs, let alone frequently; but Bowie has always made a point of it, looking to sources like George Harrison, Jonathan Richman and even Bruce Springsteen and Nina Simone to mix things up a little bit.
From deep in the Bowie archives comes this 1967 version of The Beatles’ “Penny Lane.” It wasn’t uncommon at the time for emerging British pop stars to tackle songs that were already popular (people like Chris Farlowe pretty much made a point of it).
That’s where this track comes in. Up until this morning, I had no idea this cover version existed – some even deny its authenticity – but to me it sounds pretty much like you’d expect from ’67-era Bowie, when he was still trying to find his footing and hadn’t quite hit it big yet. I’ll let you be the judge.
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