Our Top 10 Chris Cornell Cover Songs list presents ten amazing cover versions of songs done by one of classic rock’s greatest vocalist of all time. It’s heartbreaking on so many levels that we lost Chris Cornell a few years back. No other rock singer had ever bridged the golden era of classic rock into the modern rock world. His band Soundgarden were our favorite of the grunge era and it’s because of Chris Cornell that we always loved that band the most. His work in Audioslave took his art to another level. And of course there were his very special solo albums that we always felt were underappreciated. His Higher Truth album was one of the best rock records released in the past twenty years.
Great rock and roll artists are inspired by the masters. It’s what makes them great. They truly understand the art form as they have studied it their entire lives. Chris Cornell proved what a brilliant student of classic rock he was by the songs he choose to cover throughout his career. In his coverage of those songs he proved time and time again why he was also considered a master. He was a true rock and roll legend who always brought his own spirit, soul and talent to the songs he covered. His voice would cut right through you stopping you wherever you were when your heard him sing. It still does………
# 10 – Thank You – Led Zeppelin
We open up our Top 10 Chris Cornell Cover Songs list with one of his best covers of all time. If there was one singer that Chris Cornell always reminded us of it was Robert Plant. Chris and his band Soundgarden had the spirit and feel of Led Zeppelin in so many ways that was indeed organic. You can’t really say that about many other bands. So it’s fitting that we open up our Chris Cornell songs list with a song from Led Zeppelin in which Chris Cornell captured the true essence of the song while bringing his own voice so beautifully into the fold. There are so many versions of Chris Cornell performing this classic Led Zeppelin song. For our article, we have chosen the officially released version recorded in Canada in 2011.
# 9 – Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen
There are no two artists as different as Bruce Springsteen and Led Zeppelin. Yet they are both two of the biggest rock acts of all time. I was stunned when I first heard that Chris Cornell had been covering Bruce Springsteen’s“Thunder Road,” in concert. “Thunder Road,” in our opinion is Bruce Springsteen’s greatest composition. Chris Cornell sounds nothing like Bruce Springsteen compared to the comparisons he had always heard to Robert Plant. Nonetheless, like we all know, Chris Cornell would take songs from so many different types of artists and make them his own. Nowhere is that more apparent than what he did on “Thunder Road.” With his own original rhythmic vibe and that haunting phrasing style, Chris Cornell took “Thunder Road,” to a place it had never been.
# 8 – Peace Love and Understanding – Nick Lowe
In the number eight spot on our Top 10 Chris Cornell Cover Songs list we present the song entitled “Peace Love and Understanding.” This great song was written by the legendary Nick Lowe. The most popular version of the song was recorded by Elvis Costello in 1979. Chris Cornell replaced the new wave vibe of the original version of the song with his stirring acoustic version in a way that only Chris Cornell could make work.
# 7 – Hey Baby (Land of the New Rising Sun) – Jim Hendrix
In the number seven position on our Top 10 Chris Cornell Cover Songs list is the song entitled “Hey Baby (Land of the New Rising Sun).” The song was originally released by the much loved Jimi Hendrix. The cover version here was recorded by Chris Cornell along with Mike McCready, Jeff Ament, and Matt Cameron. These four musicians who had formed the band Temple of the Dog and released one brilliant album and broke up had actually reunited under the name M.A.C.C. to record this Jimi Hendrix song for the Jimi Hendrix tribute CD entitled Stone Free. The album was released in 1993.
# 6 – Ave Maria – Franz Schubert
It doesn’t have to be all rock songs on this amazing list of Chris Cornell cover songs. In many ways this one makes incredible sense. One of the most beautiful songs of all time gets this Chris Cornell treatment in this interesting version of the classic “Ave Maria.” Chris Cornell recorded the song with the group Eleven. The song was released on the album entitled A Very Special Christmas 3. The album was released in 1997. The musical background is all electronic, yet Chris Cornell’s vocals are as organic and beautiful as it gets.
# 5 -Watching The Wheels – John Lennon
At the halfway point on our Top 10 Chris Cornell Cover Songs list we take a listen to a cover of one of John Lennon’s last released songs entitled “Watching The Wheels.” What we love about this one is the laid back approach Chris Cornell took in recording this beautiful song of deep meaning. The Chris Cornell cover version was issued on the album entitled No One Sings Like You Anymore, Vol. 1. The album was released in 2020. We could have filled this entire list with songs from this monumental cover album. It’s just so good.
# 4 – Nothing Compares 2 U – Prince
At the number four position on our Top 10 Chris Cornell Cover Songs list we turn back once again to the 2020 Chris Cornell Cover album and the classic song “Nothing Compares 2 U.” This is easily one of the best songs ever written by another lost rock star we all knew as Prince. Sinead O’Connor had the huge hit with the song back in 1990. Yet, Chris Cornell recorded what we believe was the ultimate version of the song.
# 3 – Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Continuing along on our Top 10 Chris Cornell Cover Songs list we present the astonishing cover version of Michael Jackson’s classic hit single “Billie Jean.” Now this is how to do a cover song. Chris Cornell digs deep into the soul of the lyrics and sings them with every bit of heart wrenching soul that they should be sung with. It’s a complete and brilliant reworking of a song that was one of the biggest pop hits of all time. This striking remake was released on the Chris Cornell album entitled Carry On.
# 2 – Patience – Guns N’ Roses
Somewhere in between Led Zeppelin and Soundgarden was the band Guns N’ Roses. There is a rock and roll feeling that just connected those three bands in many ways. Between the vocals and guitars and drumming, three of the biggest bands in rock and roll history will always be three of the most loved. Chris Cornell’s cover of Guns N’ Roses “Patience,” sort of ties all three groups together in spirit and tribute. Its haunting, it’s passionate and it’s one of the best vocals Chris Cornell has ever recorded. The cover version of the Guns N’ Roses song was released on the album No One Sings Like You Anymore, Vol. 1. The song “Patience,” was released as a single before the album was released in 2020. It went straight to number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts.
# 1 – Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin
We close out our Top 10 Chris Cornell Cover Songs list with one of the most iconic rock songs of all time. We opened up this list with a Led Zeppelin song so it’s fitting that we close it out with another Led Zeppelin classic. Chris Cornell teamed up with the extraordinary talents of Carlos Santana for this screaming and raging remake. When you hear Chris Cornell scream “Love,” at the song’s break your bones will rattle and shake in rock and roll joy. It just keeps getting better as you listen to this one. The song was released on the Carlos Santana album titled Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time. The album was released in 2010.
Top 10 Chris Cornell Cover Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021