So, why play someone else's music? Why shouldn't people just always write their own? Especially now, when it's trivially easy for a song writer/composer to record and distribute their own work? Can anyone ever do more with a song than the originator built into it in the first place?
I used to think that covering music by other musicians was unimaginative, or at the very least, lazy. My opinion probably changed in my history of jazz class. So many of the musicians kept themselves fed at first by playing in clubs and cafes, where the patrons wanted to hear familiar tunes. It may be for that reason that so many jazz standard tunes are cheesy songs from musical theater. Try out this example of John Coltrane breathing life into a groan-worthy song from "The Sound of Music".
Outside of the jazz world, cover songs have showed great potential for artistic expression. Joe Cocker is probably best known for covers he did of other people's songs. His version of the Beatles' "A Little Help from my Friends" is one of my favorites:
The internet has added another chapter to the life of cover song as amateurs and hobbyists record and share their efforts. Check out this Earth Wind and Fire cover by Pomplamoose:
In my little music room I have fun covering songs, too. It's fun to take a song that I already love and find new ways to listen to it. New instruments, new rhythms. A few times I'm sure I bent them too far and broke them altogether, but it's still fun. Here are links to previous posts of my covers of:
My latest recording is a cover of a band called Death Cab for Cutie. Here's the original:
And here's my own version: