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I can't get over how much he looks like Eriq La Salle.
Arguably as omnipresent as "I love you," the three words "all night long"

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A Few "All Night Long" Songs--and the Covers They Inspired

lionel-richie-all-night-long.jpg
I can't get over how much he looks like Eriq La Salle.
Arguably as omnipresent as "I love you," the three words "all night long" form an expression that's been permanently lodged in the minds of some of the world's best songwriters. Whether it's lyrical prose, part of a rhyming stanza, or just thrown in there, "all night long"--those three words in that order--is contained in the lyrics of countless songs. And for too many culturally significant reasons to list here, a lot of those songs have been covered and re-covered by various other bands. It's probably worth a deeper probe into the phenomenon; for now, here are some exceptional examples of the token idiom in one shape or another along with their corresponding cover versions.

"All Night Long," Lionel Richie, covered by My Morning Jacket. Yep, it's the first song I thought of as I was brainstorming this list (and then, when thinking of Richie's gleaming 'fro, I thought of this little jingle from Coming to America). My Morning Jacket nails Richie's megahit every now and then during a live show. Here they are performing it last year in NYC. Token lyric: "Come on and sing along/All night long (all night)."

"You Shook Me," Willie Dixon and J.B. Lenoir, performed by Muddy Waters and covered by Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin) and Jeff Beck (Truth), to name a few. Powerful stuff. Remember when you first heard Zeppelin's version? Token lyric: "You know you shook me/You shook me all night long."

"I Can't Get You Off of My Mind," Hank Williams Sr., covered by Bob Dylan for the 2001 Hank Williams Sr. tribute album, Timeless. Williams's wistful original is hard to top, but Dylan's rendition shows him at the top of his gravel-throated game. Token lyric: "I've tried and I've tried/all night long I've cried/But I can't get you off of my mind."

"Play It All Night Long," Warren Zevon, covered by the Drive-By Truckers. When performing Zevon's gritty ode to the dirty south, the DBT will often sing "Zevon's got cancer" or "Zevon died of cancer" instead of the original lyrics, "Grandma's dying of cancer." Token lyric: "Turn those speakers up full blast/Play it all night long."

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"The Coch"
"Life is a Highway," Tom Cochrane, covered by Rascal Flatts for the Cars soundtrack. So, yeah. Here ya go. Good luck getting it out of your head! Token lyric: "Life is a highway/I want to ride it/aaaaall/niiiiight/laaaawng."

"Rock Me Baby," B.B. King, covered by the Jeff Beck Group (on Truth, with super-bluesy vocals by Rod Stewart) as "Rock My Plimsoul." It's true! Rod Stewart was dead sexy once. Token lyric: "Rock me baby/Rock me all night long."

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"Pancho and Lefty," Townes Van Zandt, covered by Emmylou Harris (Luxury Liner), Steve Earle (Together at the Bluebird Cafe), and Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard (Pancho and Lefty), to name a few. It's a testament to Van Zandt that every damn cover of this song is heartbreakingly good. Token lyric: "Lefty, he can't sing the blues/All night long like he used to."

"Let the Good Times Roll," Shirley and Lee, covered by Harry Nilsson (Nilsson Schmilsson), the Animals (Animals on Tour), and Roy Orbison (recorded as a single), among others. There's, like, a million versions of this song. If you don't like any of them, then there's just no pleasing you. Token lyric: "Come on baby let the good times roll/Come on baby let me thrill your soul/Come on baby let the good times roll/Roll all night long."

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