At the Kennedy Center Honors, December 2009, singing Reign O'er Me to honor The Who.
It's hard to imagine anyone else singing a Who song and making it their own. But damn if Bettye LaVette doesn't do it. Look at how visibly moved Peter Townshend is, and for those of you skilled at lip-reading, even Barbra Streisand turns to him and says "That was fantastic," and then actually had the nerve to ask him if he really wrote the song. Apparently, Townshend came up to LaVette after the ceremony and offered to write a song just for her.
Can you think of another artist covering someone else's song and doing so well that the original artist would love it?
UPDATE: Our own Mike Finnegan played with Bettye LeVette last October and sent me this:
I played with Betty LaVette at Jerry Wexler's memorial in NYC last October. Jerry produced an album for me back in the 70's and we remainrd close up until his passing. It was a great honor to be invited to play in the all-star aggregation assembled for the occasion. We did this tune with Bettey without a rehearsal, but as one of the cats said, "if anybody up here doesn't know "Drown In My Own Tears," they got no business in this band!" You can't see me. I'm behind the damn horns!
I could listen to this woman all night long. Beautiful.