There are some songs that we feel should never be remade after the original artist made such an impression on us with the original rendition. Some things should just be left alone. Then every so often someone comes along and releases a version of one of your favorite songs that makes you pause in admiration. I can appreciate when someone takes their unique voice, instrumentation, and feeling and pay homage to a song that moved them as well as us…..when it is done right. You feel me?
For example, I know that I often ask the question, “Who sings If I Were Your Woman the best?” That question, despite generation gaps and preferences, almost always brings up a nice colorful conversation that leads to other points of great musical dialogue. In case you are wondering what my answer is to that question…here you go.
“There are only four people that I know that released that song on an album. I would put Gladys Knight and the Pips and Stephanie Mills at a very debatable tie. They both give such a unique feel in which you can tell that they felt the words that they were singing. I often play both versions back to back. Many years later, I learned that Denise Williams sang the song. She is ok…pretty good. Now, if you said Alicia Keys..sit your ass down somewhere. Period.”
The following songs are some of my favorite remakes. No disrespect to the original artists (for I still love those too), but the following are some of the best (in my opinion) rousing remakes of all time.
Song #1: Send for Me – Maysa (Original Artist – Atlantic Starr)
Let me bust your head open off top!! This song here…..this song here….THIS. SONG. HERE. THIS!! SONG!! HERE!! The Smooth Soul Diva from Baltimore took one of my favorite Atlantic Starr song’s and diva-tized it out something serious!
The instrumentation….wow! The background singer…boom! Maysa….ohh shit son!! I could put this one song on repeat for hours and sit still.
I could name a number of her remakes because she did the damn thing on each of them. Her rendition of “Send for Me” just did something to me though. If I ever saw Maysa in concert, I would probably propose to her right then. The soul that shines so brightly from this gorgeous woman…whew…will overwhelm you regardless of what type of day you are having. Her catalogue of music is tremendous so take a Saturday afternoon, with a chilled bottle of brown liquor and the one you are with, and immerse yourself in some true grown woman-ness. LOL.
While you check out the original and this version, make sure to check out Gerald Alston’s rendition. You will not be disappointed!!
Song #2: Forever, For Always, For Love – Lalah Hathaway (Original Artist – Luther Vandross)
I ain’t going to lie. I was going through some things when Lalah’s cover of this track came out. I really was… I somehow found some type of weird solace when I would play this. I remember hearing this on the radio one day and tearing up (it’s ok for men to cry…sometimes). The next day I bought the Luther Vandross dedication album in which her version was on. (RIP Luther)
Luther is the ‘King of the Remake’, but you HAVE to give props to Lalah on this one. Her deep voice touches you and lays in your lap. (Her lips though! Bruh!!) It’s kinda like she mixed in a little bit of optimism in this overall sad song. (Maybe it is just me.) Just writing this…I can feel some of the sadness of the past scenarios that made this song applicable in my life at the time. Wow..
Lalah has quite a few powerful remakes, so I may have to revisit her in this sub-series of the Seductive Mixtape Series…true talk. If you haven’t heard this one yet, it will become one of your favorites.
Song #3: Love Won’t Let Me Wait – Luther Vandross (Original Artist – Major Harris)
RIP to the great Major Harris! You sang the hell out of the original “Love Won’t Let Me Wait”. (Who can forget the moaning at the end? LOL.) This song transcends time and is probably one of the best LOVE songs made ever. You hear me? Ever.
Speaking earlier about the ‘King of the Remake”, this is one of the songs that many believed he was the original singer. I understand. He gave you the classic Luther that we all love to listen to and rocked the hell out of this one.
The strings at the beginning along with the piano, saxophone, etc. gives me chill even now when I hear it. Luther’s cadence of singing is slower than that of Mr. Harris. I like that. Luther stays true to the original yet he creates a vibe that is simply out of this world. My favorite part of the song is how Luther sings the part,
“I need your love so desperately,
and only you can set me free
when I make love to you,
we’ll explode in ecstasy,
and I won’t take the blame
cuz love won’t let me wait.”
Excuse me…correction. “We’ll exploooaaaaooaoaode in ecstasy”. LOL. You know the part I am talking about!! Hell yeah…
This has to be Luther’s greatest cover….EVER. Well….maybe it is a tie between this song and the remake of A House is Not a Home. Maybe. Maysa and Seal both have beautiful versions of this song out as well, but you gotta give to win to Luther for the best remake. I also recently learned that John Legend also covered the song. It’s not bad, but it’s not the version that I grew up with.
Shameless Plug Alert!!! Check out my podcast on the Onyx Truth Podcast Network, Southern Soulcast!! I have some true talk with some funny, opinionated, and informative guests about a myriad of topics. I also feature great music from independent artists and discuss great music like what is mentioned in the Seductive Mixtape Series. Feel free to send comments, questions and topics for upcoming shows (or for me), and questions about music to SouthernSoulcast@gmail.com