Cat Power is notable both as a songwriter and as an innovative interpreter of other artists' songs. Her cover versions often ignore the melodies and lyrical hooks of the originals, as evidenced by her renditions of Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door" and Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", or alter the mood of the song altogether, as with her exclusive performance of Oasis' "Wonderwall" at a John Peel BBC Radio One session on July 20th, 2000. The music is similarly stripped down, often to little more than an electric guitar with a clean tone and her voice.
She often performs unreleased covers at her live shows. Her choice of covers over the years has revealed a widespread and eclectic taste in both new and old music, incorporating artists as diverse as Gnarls Barkley, the White Stripes, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, and Jessie Mae Hemphill. She frequently introduces new covers into her live performances, though the unpredictability of her live shows has made the performance of certain songs a rarity, as is the case with her rarely performed version of Will Oldham's "Wolf Among Wolves." In addition, her highly personalized version of "The House of the Rising Sun" is particularly notable in that it is an example of a traditional folk song being performed in the tradition of folk music, that of adding new lyrics to an old song to make it a more personal expression.