Song of the Day: “The Loco-Motion” by Grand Funk Railroad

This week, I’m going to share some cover songs that I like.

“Locomotion” is one of only a handful of songs to reach #1 Billboard by two different artists, and, to my knowledge, the only one to hit the top 5 by three different artists across three different decades (’60s, ’70s, ’80s). It’s especially peculiar that a semi-novelty line dance number pulled this off.

The original is the 1962 early rock gem by Little Eva. But, to my ears, the signature version of the song is Grand Funk Railroad’s 1974 rendition. (Kylie Minogue hit #3 with it in 1988.)

Grand Funk Railroad took Green’s high-performance song and turned it into something more: The production is crisp and clean. There’s no fogginess, no lack of sharp edge that often accompanies the low fidelity of early rock recordings. Grand Funk Railroad also added a fun looseness to accompany the upbeat rock tune. It makes this song a delight in any context: Singing along with, dancing to, or just blasting in the background.

One litmus test I like to use for the immediacy and accessibility of pop or rock music is how much kids seem to enjoy that song. “Locomotion” passes that test with flying colors: every one of my siblings loved this song, as did I.

Lastly, I also wants to call out the charm of Grand Funk Railroad covering a song whose title is a play on a word for a train.

Click here for the full list

Click here for the full list

Dan and Brian from Earn This now have a film review site and podcast:

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