Great songs and artists who virtually own them?

In professional sports, when a player does such honor to his number that nobody else can live up to the legacy, that number is frequently retired. My question is simple: Are their artists that performed a great song so right, that nobody else can touch it and do justice to it? e.g., Etta James - "At last"; Billy Holiday (Sorry Frank) - "One more for my baby". IMO
"What A Wonddrful World" by Louis Armstrong
"Wild Horses" by The Sundays
"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckly
"Come Together" by The Beatles
"Going To California" by Led Zeppelin
"Big Love (Live '97)" by Lindsey Buckingham
"With Or Without You" by U2
"Blue In Green" by Miles Davis
"Moonlight In Vermount" by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
"Imagine" by John Lennon

There are so many. I'll be checking back on this thread.... :)

I like your list, but was wondering about the "Live '97" reference on Big Love. It's one of my absolute favorite songs/guitar performances, but I'm not sure that I know this vesion. Album?


@Martykl: This version of "Big Love" is on the "Very Best Of Fleetwood Mac" collection from 2003. Here is a Wikipedia link:

I also think this version is on a live concert DVD and I've seen a few YouTube videos of the performance. My son has tried to learn how to play it on guitar, but it's too hard. Buckingham OWNS that song.

There is also a version of "Go Insane" from the same collection that is amazing.
Thanks for the reference, I'll check it out.
BTW, I wish anyone who tries to play this song the very best of luck. I could never master the rhythm line (much less both parts) so I gave up a loooong time ago.


PS The version on the 2006 Live at Bass Hall cd/dvd is also a stunner.
Nina Simone - "Just like Tom Thumb's Blues" If anyone hasn't heard this one, trust me...

Ballan, I too love Jeff Buckly's "Hallelujah", but can't agree that he wrestled it away from Leonard Cohen.

LOL - If we were giving away a prize for the most correct answer, you would win on technical merit. But we're not, so you're wrong laddy, you're just plain wrong.
My Way
We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions
Born To Be Wild
Purple Haze
Good Vibrations
Light My Fire
Jailhouse Rock
Mississippi Queen
Whiter Shade Of Pale

Most songs by The Beatles
Audiofeil, would that be Joey Heatherton and "Light My Fire"? Great songs but you didn't mention the artists who you believe own them.
BTW, If anyone is unfamiliar with Joey's talent:

My Way- Barak Obama
We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions- New York Jets
Born To Be Wild- Tiger Woods
Purple Haze- Robitussin
Good Vibrations- Indigo Girls
Light My Fire- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Jailhouse Rock- Lindsey Lohan
Aqualung- Philip Morris
Mississippi Queen- Rosie O'donnell
Whiter Shade Of Pale- David Duke
Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower
Agree with the Jeff Buckley pick, untouchable.
Agree with Timrhu. After Dylan heard Hendrix, he adapted some of the style.
Phaelon, I think that's Audiofeil point . . . you just know!
Very funny Audiophile, I should have elaborated. What I had in mind, when I initiated this thread, was more of an exploration of the standards which are performed by more than one mainstream artist, not so much the singles which are, and probably always will be, performed by one artist". Examples of standards might include: "Mack the Knife", "Send in the Clowns", "Green Dolphin Street", "I Remember You". You know, the classics that everyone seems to want to take a crack at but that only one artist, in your opinion, nailed.
Ncarv, I do get the point, but there are many songs that aren't "no brainers". For instance, some people prefer Jose Feliciano's version of "Light My Fire" to the Doors.
More picks....

"Subterranean Homesick Blues" by Bob Dylan
"Exit Music (For A Film)" by Radiohead
"Waiting For A Miracle" by Leonard Cohen
"West End Blues" by Louis Armstrong and the Hot Five (or Seven)
"Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor
"Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes
"Death Letter" by Son House
"Dust My Broom" by Robert Johnson
Rush Powned this Epic - even thirty years on I have never seen three people make so much music - sounds like an orchestral work. Today people use triggers and sequencers to do all that - these guys made all the sound.
Minutemen...DR WU on their "double nickels on the dime" (sst records) originally by Steely Dan. try it...the song is only like a minute long, wont take much time out of your life. disclaimer: they don't own it , but do a more than reasonable facsimile
Interesting call by Ballan on "Dust My Broom".
I know that the song is usually credited to Robert Johnson (and the song is so elemental that I can see why the choice was made) but...

I'd say that Elmore James OWNS that song (just MHO). I also suspect that he may have written it, (and that one is not JUST my MHO) since I'm not the only one with such suspicions. Google away.

'Creep' by Radiohead.

A detour to the original subject (soz) is a seriously good cover of 'Bridge over Troubled Water' by Aretha Franklin.