Famous Live Songs?
May 7, 2010 3:42 PM   Subscribe

What are some examples of live versions of popular songs that are more well-known than their studio counterparts? Perfect example of this is Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me," which is most often heard as the At Budokan live version.

I don't think I've ever even heard the studio version of "I want You to Want Me". Another good example is Peter Frampton's "Do You Feel Like We Do" from Frampton Comes Alive.... This is heard much more often than the original studio version off of Camel. One more: "Turn the Page" by Bob Seger.

Example of songs that don't count: songs that were originally released live (ex: "The Load Out/Stay" by Jackson Browne).
posted by Ike_Arumba to Media & Arts (44 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The 1986 live version of Candle in the Wind is the version most people have heard, simply because of wider radio airplay; the original was never released as a single in the U.S.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:51 PM on May 7, 2010

"Surrender" by Cheap Trick is mostly heard as the live version. Same with "Traveling Man/Beautiful Loser" by Bob Seger
Also "About A Girl" by Nirvana.
posted by SisterHavana at 3:52 PM on May 7, 2010

Grateful Dead "Dark Star"
posted by Crane Shot at 3:54 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Folsom Prison Blues
posted by hovizette at 3:58 PM on May 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

Once in a Lifetime (the "water flowing underground" song) and Girlfriend is Better (the "stop making sense" song) by Talking Heads are better known for the live version from the Stop Making Sense film than for the original album versions.
posted by idiopath at 3:58 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you covered the big ones in your question. The only other ones that comes to mind is the live version of Whippin' Post by the Allman Brothers, though I'm not sure if it gets more airplay than the original (owing to its length). CSN released a version of Dark Star (different song) that was live, and it's what made it into the boxed set.

I checked on America, by Neil Diamond, but was surprised to see that the crowd noise in that song was added in the studio. Great question, by the way.
posted by jquinby at 3:59 PM on May 7, 2010

The charting version of McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" was a live version that was released about six years after the original.
posted by quarterframer at 3:59 PM on May 7, 2010

"Bouncing Around The Room," by Phish. I've only heard the live version.
"Looking For A Love" - J. Geils Band
"I Do" - J. Geils Band
posted by SisterHavana at 4:02 PM on May 7, 2010

As far as I can remember I've only ever heard live recordings of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" and The Eagles' "Hotel California" played on the radio.
posted by jedicus at 4:02 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

All Apologies by Nirvana is usually the mtv unplugged version.
posted by ish__ at 4:06 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also Layla by Derek and The Dominos/Eric Clapton
posted by ish__ at 4:09 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

maybe zz top's 'cheap sunglasses'?

also i think everyone prefers the live version of 'low spark of high heeled boys' by traffic.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 4:14 PM on May 7, 2010

Bauhaus' 'Bela Lugosi's Dead'
posted by supermedusa at 4:14 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

how about "jane says" by jane's addiction?
posted by kelegraph at 4:18 PM on May 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

The live version of "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac (from The Dance) is the one most people I know have heard, and it's the only version I've heard on the radio since... My youngest sister did not even know it had been on an album.

Also, I am not sure if this counts, but "Because the Night" as done by 10,000 Maniacs on MTV Unplugged is much more often heard than any of the other version, including the studio versions, but AFAIK the original release of the song by Bruce Springsteen was a live version, and it's only cover versions that have been studio versions.
posted by shamash at 4:20 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Almost forgot... "No Woman, No Cry" by Bob Marley.
posted by Crane Shot at 4:20 PM on May 7, 2010

"Sunday Bloody Sunday" (the Under a Blood Red Sky version) by U2. Same goes for "40."

"Cocaine" by Eric Clapton

"Show Me the Way" by Peter Frampton
posted by 4ster at 4:32 PM on May 7, 2010

"Shout It Out Loud" and "Beth" from Kiss Alive II. \m/

Jimi Hendrix's "Star-Spangled Banner", of course.

Eric Clapton's cover of JJ Cale's "Cocaine".

And of course, WHAT SONG IS IT YOU WANNA HEAR? "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:35 PM on May 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I would also nominate Seger's "Kathmandu".

For a long time, I thought "Good night, everybody!" were part of the lyrics.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:35 PM on May 7, 2010

Riding the Storm Out by REO Speedwagon was played live in my hometown constantly. In fact, I have never heard the non-live version. However, on their live album (Live: You Get What You Play For), this song was recorded in St. Louis, MO at Kiel Auditorium, so it may have been a local thing.
posted by beachhead2 at 4:49 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

beachhead2, I was just about to list "Ridin' the Storm Out"; it wasn't just a local thing.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:01 PM on May 7, 2010

Thin Lizzy - Still in Love With You (Live version from Live and Dangerous)
Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven (Again from unplugged)
posted by TwoWordReview at 5:10 PM on May 7, 2010

This may not count, but Queen's 1985 performance of "Radio Ga Ga" at Live Aid, although it wasn't released as a live audio track, has probably been seen/heard by bazillions more people than have heard the studio version. It's one of those iconic moments that get shown on every Greatest Live Performances countdown.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:13 PM on May 7, 2010

Add It Up and Kiss Off by the Violent Femmes
Ants Marching by Dave Matthews Band
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:20 PM on May 7, 2010

Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" was never released as a studio version, though both the Pointer Sisters and Robin Williams recorded versions.

And, of course, The Boss's live version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" blows away any recorded rendition. For those of us who grew up on Philadelphia radio in a certain era, Bruce's "Santa" may be the best-known and -loved live Christmas tune...
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:31 PM on May 7, 2010

Thanks everyone, some great examples here.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 5:32 PM on May 7, 2010

Oh, fuck me, how dumb am I?

Deep Purple, "Smoke on the Water"
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:35 PM on May 7, 2010

"What song is it you wanna hear?" Free Bird!
posted by gfrobe at 5:52 PM on May 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

"King Without a Crown" by Hassidic reggae singer Matisyahu from "Live at Stubb's" was a minor alternative radio hit. The studio version, from the album Youth, was not.
posted by purpleclover at 6:19 PM on May 7, 2010

"Benny and the Jets" is a fake live audience song. Not sure that counts.
posted by Mid at 6:33 PM on May 7, 2010

Some entire live albums are better than their studio counterparts. I'm old, so some of these probably don't count, but off the top of my head:

Jimi Hendrix & Buddy Miles doing Buddy's "Them Changes" on the Band of Gypsies album was infinitely better, and probably got more airplay.

The Allman Bros. version of Stormy Monday is the only one I ever heard on the radio, and is one of the definitive takes on a standard. (Hot 'Lanta & In Memory of Elisabeth Reed got more airplay from the live versions as well, and are truly sublime, though I don't know if they count as famous in your world, or just in mine)

Marley -- Really anything off of Babylon By Bus -- especially Jammin' which is the definition of divine (if you ask me) and I recall getting more airplay in the long run than the Exodus version in the long run.

Also, Dixie Chicken by Little Feat off of Waiting for Columbus. Can't say for sure it got more airplay than the original, but it got rotation in the 70's, and is vastly superior -- as is most of the rest of that album.

Also Also The Who, Summertime Blues, from Live at Leeds. They totally own that one.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:37 PM on May 7, 2010

U2, "Bad"
Paul McCartney (& Wings), "Coming Up"
posted by kirkaracha at 6:59 PM on May 7, 2010

AC/DC, "Whole Lotta Rosie"
posted by kirkaracha at 7:08 PM on May 7, 2010

Jacques Brel's signature tune Amsterdam was never released as a studio version.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:35 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Kinks, "Lola"
posted by kirkaracha at 7:52 PM on May 7, 2010

Would the Beatles' All You Need Is Love count? Limited studio audience, worldwide live broadcast.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:48 PM on May 7, 2010

Talking Heads - Burning Down the House
posted by trialex at 8:55 PM on May 7, 2010

Neil Young's Needle and the Damage Done was originally released as a live cut; the version on Harvest was recorded at Royce Hall at UCLA.
posted by incessant at 9:07 PM on May 7, 2010

Maybe Elvis' "Are You Lonesome Tonight," the one where he laughs throughout? At least I've heard that version even more than the studio recording.
posted by edlundart at 9:15 PM on May 7, 2010

I only seem to hear Stevie Nicks' "Landslide" live on the radio, never the album version.
posted by dzaz at 4:40 AM on May 8, 2010

Bruce Springsteen singing Streets of Philadelphia "live" as he walks the streets in the song's music video is much better than the studio version.
posted by jca at 8:31 AM on May 8, 2010

"Rock and Roll All Nite" by Kiss.
posted by solmyjuice at 12:15 PM on May 8, 2010

dj kool - let me clear my throat
posted by troutforbrains at 3:46 PM on May 10, 2010

baby I love your way - Peter Frampton
posted by Danila at 9:18 AM on May 13, 2010

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