As I took another listen to Rod Stewart's rendition of "Fooled Around and Fell In Love" today, I realized how many artists he's introduced to me by default. It's like he was an older brother watering down songs so that people like me could find out the original versions. Strange, but I find a lot of his choices for covers to be that way.
Back when I wasn't attuned to rock critic speak and the mindset behind it, I watched a lot of MTV without prejudice. Every once in a while, a Rod video would come on. Over the years, I'd hear plenty of his originals, like "Some Guys Have All The Luck" and "My Heart Can't Tell You No," but also "Downtown Train," "People Get Ready," and "This Old Heart of Mine." Many years would pass until I'd hear the respective originals by Tom Waits, the Impressions, and the Isley Brothers, but I think it was good to hear the cover versions before the original versions.
I guess that in my youth I would have passed off the Impressions or the Isley Brothers as sounding too "old." Now I listen to those versions and just marvel at how they sound and how they sound more sincere and real. But when I listen to Rod's version of "People Get Ready" now, it feels as outdated as me taking a class in 4th grade.
So the opposite effect has occurred, but I don't regret hearing all those covers back in those days. Now, the decision to hear Rod's version of "Tom Traubert's Blues" a few years after I heard the original by Tom Waits is a different story.