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The shame in singing covers

GUEST,Michael Pender 14 Jun 14 - 11:36 PM
Mark Clark 15 Jun 14 - 12:05 AM
GUEST,Guest - Lin 15 Jun 14 - 12:05 AM
Joe Offer 15 Jun 14 - 12:37 AM
Gurney 15 Jun 14 - 12:59 AM
Larry The Radio Guy 15 Jun 14 - 01:16 AM
Dave Hanson 15 Jun 14 - 02:01 AM
GUEST,Erich 15 Jun 14 - 02:22 AM
GUEST,Musket 15 Jun 14 - 02:58 AM
GUEST,Marianne S. 15 Jun 14 - 03:05 AM
GUEST,Michael Pender 15 Jun 14 - 03:12 AM
Megan L 15 Jun 14 - 03:21 AM
GUEST,Marianne S. 15 Jun 14 - 03:29 AM
GUEST 15 Jun 14 - 03:30 AM
GUEST 15 Jun 14 - 03:38 AM
GUEST 15 Jun 14 - 03:46 AM
GUEST,DMG 15 Jun 14 - 03:47 AM
GUEST 15 Jun 14 - 03:47 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 15 Jun 14 - 04:03 AM
DMcG 15 Jun 14 - 04:05 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Jun 14 - 04:13 AM
GUEST 15 Jun 14 - 04:18 AM
DMcG 15 Jun 14 - 04:19 AM
Acorn4 15 Jun 14 - 04:35 AM
Tootler 15 Jun 14 - 04:49 AM
Sir Roger de Beverley 15 Jun 14 - 05:06 AM
Ole Juul 15 Jun 14 - 05:12 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Jun 14 - 05:20 AM
DMcG 15 Jun 14 - 05:23 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Jun 14 - 05:39 AM
Leadfingers 15 Jun 14 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,Fyldeplayer 15 Jun 14 - 07:07 AM
Johnny J 15 Jun 14 - 07:13 AM
Joe Offer 15 Jun 14 - 07:23 AM
Nick 15 Jun 14 - 07:31 AM
JHW 15 Jun 14 - 08:01 AM
Backwoodsman 15 Jun 14 - 08:57 AM
Bat Goddess 15 Jun 14 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,# 15 Jun 14 - 10:12 AM
Jamie McC 15 Jun 14 - 10:34 AM
Jeri 15 Jun 14 - 10:46 AM
Jason Xion Wang 15 Jun 14 - 01:19 PM
Jason Xion Wang 15 Jun 14 - 01:36 PM
GUEST,Musket 15 Jun 14 - 01:57 PM
GUEST,DTM 15 Jun 14 - 02:12 PM
PHJim 15 Jun 14 - 02:54 PM
Amos 15 Jun 14 - 03:30 PM
Jack Campin 15 Jun 14 - 05:45 PM
Johnny J 15 Jun 14 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,Peter mudcat "Stallion" 15 Jun 14 - 07:02 PM
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Subject: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Michael Pender
Date: 14 Jun 14 - 11:36 PM

I get really pissed when I hear performers singing covers. Cover versions are like photo copies and to watch someone perform a cover seems to be a fraud. No one lauds painters who only copy the work of other painters! If you can't write your own material don't pretend to be a musician.

Mike


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Mark Clark
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 12:05 AM

That's one of most ignorant opinions I've ever seen expressed. Throughout history there have been composers and performers. Some performers spend years of study and practice just to be able to do justice to the music of composers. Some composers are also skilled musicians but many composers have spent successful careers writing music that they hope others will want to perform. That's the dream of a composer; to have everyone want to perform and record his or her music.

Or maybe you don't mean "composed" music. Maybe you mean "folk" music that is handed down through generations of musicians. What would happen to folk music if people limited their performances to compositions they'd personally written?

Wake up and smell the roses.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Guest - Lin
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 12:05 AM

I understand to a degree what you say about people singing covers.
I think what bothers me more is that most covers are songs that have been sung to death like Joni Mitchell's, "Big Yellow Taxi."

Not everyone has the talent or ability to be a writer but I feel that it doesn't mean that they are pretending to be a musician if they do covers. I think it would be much better if singers doing covers would do covers that are not very well known by an artist. There are many songs on albums by well known artists that are not the well known songs. Another example, John Denver. There is a song that John Denver recorded called, "Rhyme & Reason" Not especially a very well known song - but a truly great song! Yet everyone covering John Denver's songs will sing, "Country Roads" and other extremely well know songs.

So these covers get "sung to death." I just feel it would be better for singers to seek out the much lesser known songs to cover - the ones that for the most part are not very well known by most people.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 12:37 AM

Gee, it's kind of a dangerous thing to condemn "covers" on a Website that emphasizes traditional singing.

I tried singer-songwriter "folk" music in the 1990s, and found it unsatisfying. Most of the time, I'd buy a CD and get one or two songs I liked and find the rest boring. Traditional music is tried and true, songs shared over generations and often over centuries. And every singer does each song a little differently. What's more, I can sing along because I know the songs.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Gurney
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 12:59 AM

The thing about covers is that they are good songs, and that is why they ARE covered.
On the other hand, the vast majority of self-penned numbers may not be so very good, or else they WOULD be covered.

This, however, is the wrong site to volunteer opinions like Michael's, since it is a folk and blues site, staffed and peopled by folks who perform and like music that often has some historical background.

I base my opinion on songs by whether I like them, and whether other people like them enough to cover them.
CDs by comparative newby's are everywhere these days, as opposed to the LP days, when it was difficult and expensive to get something released that didn't look as if it would sell!

All the songs that I wrote weren't very good, but I DID realise that.
Eventually.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 01:16 AM

If nobody sang other people's songs, all those songs would die.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 02:01 AM

Ever hear of ' traditional songs ' eh Mike Pender ?

So according to your opinion, we would never hear anyone sing another Woody Guthrie song or a Ewan McColl song or any of the great songs by songwriters no longer alive, jaysus what an oaf you are.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Erich
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 02:22 AM

Most of my favourite singers in the folk-world (Roy Bailey, Iain Mackintosh) do cover versions and very often they do them a lot better than the original writers. It's the same with authors who can write wonderful novels but are not able to read their books to an audience.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 02:58 AM

It takes all sorts....

If you want to rant at me for singing Harvey Andrews songs, stop me playing Bach on my cello whilst you are at it.

Threads above the line are for those who are discussing music. This needs relocating to the bullshit section below.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Marianne S.
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 03:05 AM

You can only have covers if someone 'owns' a song. In traditional and classical music songs are free and can work for anyone! We don't do 'covers' we do 'versions'. People bring their own vision and interpretation to a song or tune. They go on doing this for years (in the case of Early Music, centuries) after the music was written.   The idea that a song is the property of the original performer and that any subsequent performer is merely copying arose when recording became possible.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Michael Pender
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 03:12 AM

Maybe I was too harsh in my last comment. There are many fine musicians who don't write their own material. What I get pissed with are people who copy a complete arrangement, even down to licks, phrasing and vocal accents. Sometimes to emulate a style or a particular performer is interesting but an entire performance copied from other performers is not art - it's akin to photo copying or plagiarism. If all you do is copy I can't see how you are musician!

Mike


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Megan L
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 03:21 AM

singing, playing an instrument, writing lyrics and composing music are four separate skills someone may be good at one without being good at another. some may be good at a couple of those skills fewer at three and far fewer are Good at all four. Respect the skills people are good at.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Marianne S.
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 03:29 AM

Michael - yes, that makes more sense. Copying a complete performance is different. However - 'There are many fine musicians who don't write their own material.'. That sounds as though they should be writing their own, but we can forgive them. The idea that people 'should' be writing their own material is alien to both trad and classical music. We don't look at it that way. We are just looking after the music and then handing it on the next generation. Some of us will add to it by writing new material, some won't, and everyone I know who writes songs/tunes is delighted if someone else picks up one of their songs/tunes.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 03:30 AM

Qnyone heard martyn josephs covers of bruc3 springgsteen songs?


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 03:38 AM

Flossiwe malavialle just does othere peoples songs very well. None of her own. The modern singer songwriter who just does his/her own material is likely to sing some bad songs as well as good. Do they get the critical feedback they need to improve.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 03:46 AM

In some ways I agree with Michael P, and in others I don't. There are some audiences who want to see, let's say, the Beatles, but obviously can't. So they like to see the best Beatles Tribute bands, who typically try to be as much a 'photocopy' of the originals as they can, since that is specifically what the audience wants. And some of them are extremely good at it, which requires a lot of skills, including musicianship and acting ability, and also a certain amount of luck, such as looking vaguely like the person concerned.

Then there are those musicians who are forced into it, as it were. Taking an example from a completely different field, there is an Indian restaurant near here who tried for several years to sell authentic meals in the style of the various districts. No luck: all the diners wanted, really, was generic stuff exactly as you could get in 90% of the other Indian restaurants in the country, so in the end they had to admit defeat and go for "the standard menu". That happens a lot with musicians as well: getting gigs playing known and standard material is a lot easier than with your own stuff (Since I raised it, all the early Beatles material is like that.)

Then there is the fact, as someone alluded to above, that a lot of self-written material is simply not very good, or (less judgementally) is not something that transfers well from the composer to others. A frequent cause of this is when the song is about some personal experience that the composer had. Since others didn't have that experience it can be difficult for others to sing it well. It is, in my humble opinion, part of the reason most traditional songs are in the third person, whereas most pop music is first person.

So those are some of the reasons why I partially agree with Michael. On the other hand, I much prefer to hear/sing traditional music (whatever that means), or a new song "that speaks to me", rather than a cover.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,DMG
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 03:47 AM

Sorry, that's me just above. Cookie crumbled.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 03:47 AM

However tribute bands can be most annoying when they try to impersonate the original singer songwriter.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 04:03 AM

I don't understand the shouldn't sing other people's songs attitude. It's like saying an actor shouldn't act in other people's plays and say lines that other people have written!

I also don't understand the anti singer-songwriter thing you sometimes see from certain people on here. Of course not every song is going to be a classic but that is same in every form of art.

I don't mind people doing the exact same arrangement as a better known version but I do object to people (and you get them) who object to me not playing the song exactly the same as the original. There is one guy at our club, a really good player and singer, who will almost always comment. "It isn't in the correct key" being one of the most common complaints. Why on earth would I not fit a tune to a key I am comfortable in?


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: DMcG
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 04:05 AM


However tribute bands can be most annoying when they try to impersonate the original singer songwriter


That's certainly true, and it is why a good tribute band needs to be exceptionally skilful. A riff that is nothing like the original may sound perfectly acceptable. A riff that is almost the same as the original but with one or two notes altered will stand out like the proverbial sore thumb and will annoy the whole audience.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 04:13 AM

Agree with most of what you write, DMG; but don't think that your claim that

"most traditional songs are in the third person, whereas most pop music is first person"

will stand up either æsthetically or statistically.

For a start, just try and count the traditional songs that begin "Come all ye [whevs] ... I'll tell you..." Even when it's an ostensibly 3rd person narrative, the narrator has to introduce himself [the "I/me" 1st person figure] to authenticate it. & that's just one genre. Think too of all the mal-marriée girls lamenting their state; all those fighting men giving 1st person accounts of the battles they've been in... How many "I"'s walked out in the Streets of Laredo or down by the Royal Albion?

~M~





~M~

~M~


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 04:18 AM

Which covers, in your opinion, are better than the originals?


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: DMcG
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 04:19 AM

I agree, MtheGM, as far as the first verses are concerned. So many are scene-setting, before the song-proper begins. "I was walking and I saw ...", followed by the body of the song between the maid and the sailor, or whatever. "I" then either doesn't occur again, or only in the last verse, when "I" reflects on what happened.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Acorn4
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 04:35 AM

Anyone remember "Embassy Records" ? you could buy them in Woolworth's and they were usually attempted cheapo carbon copies of current hits that didn't quite come off. Suppose they were the original tribute bands.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Tootler
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 04:49 AM

Anyone remember "Embassy Records" ?

I was thinking of "K-Tel" who did the same sort of thing


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 05:06 AM

I went to see Albert Hammond in concert a couple of weeks ago. He was on stage for 2.5 hours and wrote every song he sang - you would have recognised most of them as sung by other people. Although he has had a few hits under his own name, he is primarily a songwriter and is very happy that other people have "covered" his songs over the five decades since Leapy Lee had a hit with Little Arrows.

R


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Ole Juul
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 05:12 AM

I've heard a lot of covers of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. Still trying to find a copy of the original, but they seem to be rare in these parts.

Seriously, if the OP is going to rant against those who sing "other people's" songs. Then why not take it up a notch and complain about those who play the same thing twice. I mean, if it isn't improvised, then it's not original.

Even more seriously, let's just concern ourselves with wherein the music lies.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 05:20 AM

DMcG, that is indeed one of the many genres. But only one. Think of all the laments for lost loves; the "Sorry the day I was married" family; the "As we were a-sailing" ballads; the "I sit and mend shoes for a living" songs...

~M~


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: DMcG
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 05:23 AM

Well, we don't need to make a big thing of this, M - would you be happier with the suggestion that third person songs are far more common in traditional folk than pop?


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 05:39 AM

Well, OK. Tho I don't know on what statistics this may be based; and can't see quite what it's supposed to prove in relation to the theme of singing cover versions; which presumably applies to any sort of composed song, but doesn't really relate to traditional stuff at all AFAICS.

~M~


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Leadfingers
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 06:40 AM

Michael Pender - I notice you dont post a link to all the wonderful songs you must have written to come out with a comment like that !


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Fyldeplayer
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 07:07 AM

Leadfingers and I attend the same sessions and I can safely say his covers are nothing like the originals :-) and neither are mine. In that respect I agree with M.Pender, use the material but find a new approach.

We do have musicians who 'cover' songs to the nth degree, every riff, vocal mannerism ect. On some classic songs this is unavoidable, perhaps even required. I personally avoid Youtube, Spotify if possible when introducing song ideas to friends, rather learning and passing on a revised version. Its all subjective.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Johnny J
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 07:13 AM

Well, I prefer to use the term "interpretation" as opposed to cover.

Surely, people don't write songs or tunes with the express wish that no one should sing or record them other than themselves. Of course, they may have their own views on how these are interpreted by others and not always enjoy the result but that's a different matter.

If nobody else sang or played the songs and tunes, then they would die out along with the composer.

As for creating exact copies of a composer's work in terms of musical arrangements etc, etc, this, of course, is something which should be avoided. Everyone should interpret music and song in their own way.

However, until an artist develops their own style and and are learning their craft, they will inevitably be influenced by other musicians and singers. For instance, you can't become a traditional fiddler without checking out and practising at least some of the existing playing styles.
Of course, you may never need to study Donegal music, for instance, or old time American music to become a traditional fiddler especially if you are concentrating on Scottish music but the wider the influences are the better. You don't have to try to emulate all players or singers, of course, but nobody can learn to become experienced players and singers while living within a musical vacuum.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 07:23 AM

Michael Pender says: What I get pissed with are people who copy a complete arrangement, even down to licks, phrasing and vocal accents.

That, my friend, is what many of us would call "karaoke."


And we would join you in condemning it.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Nick
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 07:31 AM

Perhaps it's this Michael Pender

I very rarely write words so I don't have a repertoire of my own songs. I have quite a lot of tunes though just not the words to go with them.

Have to say that I have sat and listened to a lot of original songs which add nothing to what has already been written. But I suppose that they make the person who wrote it satisfied.

I play other peoples songs - some of them closer to the originals than others.

There is a song that I learned from the writer which I play very differently to the original. Have had negative comments from people who like the original 'as it should be' telling me off for doing it wrong. Luckily on tis occasion the person who wrote it approves of my version but it is an example of what people 'expect' of songs that they know.

I have sat in sessions where people do a version of a song and are then told how to play it properly - which can have some amusing reactions. Conversely I have sat and listened to people murdering songs by changing the tune and the words and the timing and ...

I am quite musical and been called a musician by people who I hugely respect as players (some who write their own songs) but I still play other people's stuff.

Perhaps I should stop as I am not worthy? *sniff* *wail* * weep*

I have a friend who wants to learn a particular song that they have been struggling with for years - perhaps I'll tell them not to waste their time!

It strikes me though that wanting to replicate a song is a huge compliment to the person who wrote it/arranged it/did the definitive version. It also perhaps reflects how difficult it is to re-arrange a song to give it a new and different life outside of the original that at the same time adds something to the original while still acknowledging it and being true to the song. I used to find it hard to envisage anyone doing 'Fire and Rain' other than how James Taylor did it. That's until I heard Richie Havens do it.

I pay Vincent Black Lightning 1952 and listened to Richard Thompson's version recently. He doesn't do it like me. We play a lot of similar bits but it isn't the same any more. When I started playing it it was closer but it seems to have wandered over time into something else. I also realise that I can probably play it in four or five different ways depending on my mood.

Off to a singaround this afternoon with a 60's theme so perhaps I'll do 'Needles and Pinsa' just in case.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: JHW
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 08:01 AM

Covers are not what we do. They surely belong to pop music and were as said what Woolworths did on 45 singles. Copying the Artist as well as the Song; to get on the bandwagon. In my scooter rallying days a band in Douglas IOM gave us superb copies of current hits. Unashamedly a cover band. Tribute unheard of back then, which I'd say is for emulating bands that we can no longer hear. Copying the sets of currently performing artists is cover and bandwagonning.

In a folk club I wince when someone gets up and proclaims he will treat us to a well known artist's* version of whatever song and I wonder why on earth would he not want to sing his own?

(* an allied niggle is those who propose to sing an 'artist name' song when that artist is not the writer)


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 08:57 AM

"Perhaps it's this Michael Pender"

Maybe, but I somehow doubt it. The OP talks about getting "Pissed with people", which is an Americanism. The British would say "Pissed off with people". "Pissed" without the "off" to a Brit means "drunk", of course.

Mike Pender is a Scouser, and would almost certainly have said "Pissed off".

IMHO.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 10:01 AM

There are some singer/songwriters whose songs and style are so dependent on the personality, identity, musical style, etc. that they really can't be performed by anyone else. I think some of Bill Morrissey's songs are like this. (Note this is MY opinion, not necessarily that of anyone else, although my late husband Curmudgeon also felt that way.)

If the songs can only be sung by the writer, they will die.

Linn


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,#
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 10:12 AM

Tribute bands--O, joy.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Jamie McC
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 10:34 AM

In the splendid 'Singing From The Floor' Tom Paxton says he wqs playing professionally for nine years before he did a whole show of his own songs. If it's good enough for Tom...

It seems to me perfectly valid to sing the songs you love. The original writers would generally seem to agree otherwise they wouldn't try and flog us the sheet music. And the whole notion of the writer/performer is relatively new - before the Beatles started writing their own stuff their was quite a division between the writers in Tin Pan Alley or the Brill Building or wherever, and the performers. It still made for a lot of great records.

I agree about carbon copies of recorded performances though - can't see the point unless it's a Bootleg Beatles sort of thing. I've enjoyed a few of those over the years but it's a different kind of experience, in some ways more akin to theatre, and really an exercise in nostalgia (for those who were there the first time round) or the the next best thing (for those who weren't). I do a lot of Jake Thackray songs because I love singing them and I think they should be heard (I share the view expressed earlier that a song is only truly alive if people are singing it). I don't do a Jake impersonation because 1) I don't have the talent or facility to do it, and 2) In any case it would just seem such a futile exercise - the very effort of impersonation would get in the way of engaging with the song itself and, for both audience and performer, the song, surely, is ultimately the thing.

As for covers that are better than the originals - give me Joe Cocker's version of 'With A Little Help From My Friends' over Ringo's any day of the week. A Beatle-fanatic friend of mine has also made a strong claim for John Tams's version of 'Girl'.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Jeri
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 10:46 AM

Not the UK, not the US.

What gets in the way of me enjoying a song is the feeling that the performer is just trying too hard. It can be deliberately trying to sound like the original, or deliberately trying to sound different from it by changing things. It's the "deliberate" part that gets to me. I think if someone sings another's song, they can't help sounding like themselves.

I recently went to a house concert, and the artist I saw did a song that was featured on the TV show "Nashville", which I haven't seen. I love the song, and I'm glad other people are singing it.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Jason Xion Wang
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 01:19 PM

Well, Michael, when I first saw your post I was shocked, because I suppose you were aiming at musicians like Pete Seeger, Odetta Holmes and Dave Van Ronk... Still I can't agree with you. I can't see why covering arrangement down to licks as something that should be condemned. On many occasions, a song should be divided into two parts - the vocal and the instrumental. Missing either would make it incomplete. To do a cover, you HAVE TO "copy" the arrangement down to licks.

Both Patrick Sky and Doc Watson have covered songs of Mississippi John Hurt - down to every single guitar lick. Happy Traum started a company called Homespun, where accomplished musicians teach people exactly how they played their songs. Pete Seeger, Jack Elliott, Roger McGuinn, Doc Watson, Bryan Bowers, Josh White Jr, John Hartford, Chet Atkins, Bill Monroe, just to name a few. It's obvious that those people would love to make others do their songs exactly the way they did - So, should all these musicians be next in line on your "pissing" list?

Regards from China, Jason


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Jason Xion Wang
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 01:36 PM

And, if you listen to Glen Campbell's rendition of "Time in a Bottle", you'll find it almost the same as the original, despite the fact that it's in a higher key. Actually, as a singer-songwriter Glen himself only wrote a handful of songs. Most of his songs are covers.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 01:57 PM

I doubt I could condemn something that people are enjoying, regardless.

A tribute to Christy Moore does the pubs and clubs in County Cork. I've seen him. He's a bloody good night. Looks like Christy, sounds like Christy but the songs without the polarising politics in between. Enjoyed every minute.

It's nice to say people should adapt and evolve a song but one nice thing about singarounds is the spread from semi pro singers trying things out to a bloke with no voice and a sheet of paper. What I love is that a year on, the bloke with no voice has slowly got one. Peer group stuff. Wonderful.

But to tell some poor bugger with three chords and a strum on a catalogue guitar he should arrange Tom Paxton songs to be unique.... I congratulate him for getting up in the first place.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 02:12 PM

Michael caught a lot of fish with that fly.
Fwiw, I sing my own songs mainly cos I'm not very good at covers ;-)


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: PHJim
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 02:54 PM

Like Jason Xion Wang, I also thought of people like Pete Seeger, Odetta and Dave Van Ronk when I read the original post. Dave has a footnote in his autobiography about folks who belittle singers who don't write all of their own material.
I also think of folks like Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Joe Williams, who did wonderful things with songs written by others, in fact sometimes the performer shows as much , if not more, creativity as/than the composer. People don't seem to complain about Frank's "cover" of Paul Anka's My Way. Leonard Cohen has said that k.d.lang's version of Hallelujah is his favorite and he now considers it "her song". Pete Seeger has said that Peter, Paul & Mary improved If I Had A Hammer in their arrangement and he sang their changes to the song.
I am not a prolific writer and could never do a whole set of material that I have written myself, but have had a couple of recordings made by others of my songs and have adopted some of the changes made by others to my songs. I am always flattered when something I have written is played by someone else.
Others have already made the obvious point that if no one sings songs that they didn't write themselves, the songs die with the composer.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 03:30 PM

One argument in defense of the Xerox school of covers is that it makes it easier to play with other musicians on an ad hoc basis if you are working from the same template as they are when you trot out "Down in the Easy Chair" or "Love Me Baby Like a Wagon Wheel". But like Michael I grow weary of those who adhere strictly and only to popular renditions which must be duplicated correctly.

I am a ferocious adapter of songs, and I make my own arrangements and tweak them until they suit me well. But I think it has to be said that 99% of folk music and its child forms are covers of songs done by another and written by another. There's no shame at all in singing such a song. It's just not something to get mesmerized by.

The poetry of a song is the thing that must be carried forward.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 05:45 PM

One argument in defense of the Xerox school of covers is that it makes it easier to play with other musicians on an ad hoc basis if you are working from the same template as they are when you trot out "Down in the Easy Chair" or "Love Me Baby Like a Wagon Wheel".

Both of those feature regularly in a session I go to. I've heard them many times and can easily play along with them in several different ways on different instruments - usually either C melody tenor sax or washboard played in a style like a drumkit. But I don't think I've ever heard the recording of either that made them hits, or even name the artists who did those recordings. As far as I'm concerned they're something from anonymous aural tradition - and if I want to put in a sax break, it's of no concern to me that there wasn't one on the vinyl.

The "Xerox school of covers" reaches its apotheosis in Highland bagpipe music. If you do a different D throw in bar 2 you better be able to explain that Donald Macleod did it that way.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Johnny J
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 07:01 PM

"Down in the easy chair"    or its correct title "You ain't goin' nowhere and "(Rock me mama like a) Wagon wheel" were actually Bob Dylan compositions.

However, the best known versions were by The Byrds and Old crow Medicine Show respectively. In fact, the OCMS actually completed the song and added new verses.

So, the cover versions are p4oba ly more definitive than the originals in the case of these songs.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Peter mudcat "Stallion"
Date: 15 Jun 14 - 07:02 PM

There are thousands of "singer songwriters" and few good ones, there are a lot of good songwriters with a voice not good enough to do them justice, it takes all sorts, having been around for a while I heard a guy sing "The Boxer" and with your eyes shut would swear it was Paul Simon, another guy we called Ralph Mc Mel, on balance I would rather listen to those two than a singer songwriter performing self penned drivel.


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