From reader Conor Murphy:
I nominate Aretha Franklin’s cover of “The Weight” by The Band. Taking a song as moody and solemn as that and singing it the way she does transforms it in startling ways. Switching to a soul arrangement and foregoing the piano for horns creates an entirely new dynamic within the song, while the pure power and depth of her voice is almost overwhelming.
By the way, if you want to continue the Beatles covers, you could also use Franklin’s “Eleanor Rigby,” which is similarly incredible.