Back in the day, that day being the late 80s and early 90s, U2 did a whole lot of covers of different songs. I think they did more during that period than any other time, maybe all other times combined. Not counting the early days, when everything they did was a cover, I guess I should qualify it by saying they recorded more covers at that time, whether they released them then or later. Some of those covers turned out to be great, some of them meh, and some of them pretty terrible. Today we talk the latter category.
Everybody Loves A Winner was written in the 60s by a couple of guys called William Bell and Booker T. Jones. I had never heard of Bell, and only tangentially of Jones, and googling them didn’t help much either. Jones is moderately famous, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while Bell has had a successful career but not the same heights. I am sure they are both famous in their respective circles, they just happen to not be the same circles I hang in. Not that I hang in circles.
The song itself wasn’t even famous enough to get a mention on either of their Wikipedia pages, so I’m not sure how U2 heard about it. I think I read that it had been recorded by several other artists, and I’m pretty sure there’s a famous version of the song out there, but I don’t know who recorded it and when. It’s one of those really common phrases that are difficult to google, and given that the song isn’t that good in the first place, I’m not interested enough to find out more about it.
Everybody Loves A Winner was recorded by U2 and Maria McKee, someone else I hadn’t heard of. She was apparently around the band at the right time, her band Lone Justice opened for them a bunch during the Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree tours. There is a story that Bono sang Sweet Jane once with them live, although I don’t know anything about that. I have run into that song a couple of times this year, and a like it, so I might one day try and find it. Or maybe not, I’ll probably have forgotten about it tomorrow.
Anyway, she sings on this song, quite a lot actually, not just backing but at least one whole verse to herself. There are other parts of the song where it sounds like a woman singing, but it is Bono, who frankly doesn’t sound very good on this song. To be fair the rest of the band don’t either, it is just a slow and dreary song. I don’t listen to it much, and when I do I tend to get tired of it quickly and skip to the next song.
I also must admit that when I listen to it, for some reason “when a man loves a woman” pops into my head, is it the same music, the same tune, or just the same feeling of drudgery that infects the song? I don’t know.
My rating for Everybody Loves A Winner: 2 / 10