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The shame in singing covers

Musket 28 Jun 14 - 05:23 AM
GUEST,Don Wise 27 Jun 14 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,Desi C 27 Jun 14 - 06:21 AM
Rob Naylor 26 Jun 14 - 11:13 PM
Rob Naylor 26 Jun 14 - 11:01 PM
Big Al Whittle 26 Jun 14 - 08:56 PM
Musket 26 Jun 14 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,Peter 26 Jun 14 - 07:53 AM
Vic Smith 26 Jun 14 - 07:33 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Jun 14 - 04:41 PM
Vic Smith 25 Jun 14 - 01:35 PM
Don Firth 24 Jun 14 - 03:47 PM
GUEST 24 Jun 14 - 02:58 PM
GUEST 24 Jun 14 - 01:32 PM
PHJim 24 Jun 14 - 09:23 AM
GUEST,Desi C 24 Jun 14 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,John P 23 Jun 14 - 08:00 PM
GUEST,Desi C 23 Jun 14 - 05:01 AM
Big Al Whittle 22 Jun 14 - 04:06 PM
Ole Juul 22 Jun 14 - 03:43 PM
Musket 22 Jun 14 - 03:32 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Jun 14 - 08:55 AM
Johnny J 22 Jun 14 - 07:42 AM
Doug Chadwick 22 Jun 14 - 07:12 AM
Big Al Whittle 22 Jun 14 - 06:04 AM
Doug Chadwick 22 Jun 14 - 05:49 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jun 14 - 06:11 AM
PHJim 20 Jun 14 - 11:50 AM
Musket 20 Jun 14 - 11:37 AM
Big Al Whittle 20 Jun 14 - 10:54 AM
Musket 20 Jun 14 - 08:03 AM
GUEST,Stim 20 Jun 14 - 08:00 AM
Musket 20 Jun 14 - 07:12 AM
Big Al Whittle 20 Jun 14 - 05:36 AM
Musket 20 Jun 14 - 03:35 AM
Don Firth 20 Jun 14 - 03:07 AM
PHJim 20 Jun 14 - 02:06 AM
Tootler 20 Jun 14 - 01:26 AM
Ole Juul 20 Jun 14 - 12:57 AM
PHJim 19 Jun 14 - 11:26 PM
GUEST,Stim 19 Jun 14 - 11:04 PM
Big Al Whittle 19 Jun 14 - 10:23 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 Jun 14 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,Stim 19 Jun 14 - 08:17 AM
Hrothgar 19 Jun 14 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,Musket 19 Jun 14 - 03:18 AM
GUEST,Stim 19 Jun 14 - 01:47 AM
Larry The Radio Guy 18 Jun 14 - 10:52 PM
Big Al Whittle 18 Jun 14 - 10:29 PM
Jeri 18 Jun 14 - 10:25 PM
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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Musket
Date: 28 Jun 14 - 05:23 AM

I once heard someone sing a song of mine to a slightly different tune on YouTube. I liked it and a few nights later sang it in his style. Have done ever since for that matter.

Cover me, I'm going in!


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 27 Jun 14 - 01:37 PM

As the jazz song has it, "It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it...."

I live in Germany and play on acoustic nights at a local music club. I sing traditionals, songs by people like Richard Thompson and my own songs as well. Next month I'm giving a concert there which will be 90-120 minutes of my own songs, some of which, although 30-40 years old, have never been aired before in public. Not a question of 'quality', simply lack of opportunity. As a club member I'm not getting paid for the gig. During the interval the hat goes round and the money goes to swell the club funds so that singers like Colin Wilkie get a booking.

There's a nice story about a professional singer and the NTMC......but I'll leave it in the vault(!)


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 27 Jun 14 - 06:21 AM

Well PHJim Yes I did at least start to read the other posts, but as so often happens they soon go off in all sorts of directions which really have nothing to do with the original Subject/topic. And though you're right many of them may be sensible, the reference I made was re a post which commented on the original point i.e the ridiculous notion that performing covers is somehow shameful! Hope that clears it up for you ;)


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 26 Jun 14 - 11:13 PM

Vic Smith:One of his strong opinions is that singers of traditional songs have developed a 'ghetto mentality' and only perform their songs at folk clubs and festivals. He tries to make sure that as many of his gigs as possible are outside this comfort zone.

I think that's true to a large extent. At various open mics I attend, which are generally not very "folky" I try to bring in traditional songs.

Songs I've done recently are "The Trees they do Grow High" and "Banks of the Sweet Primroses" which both went down very well...People are interested in them as they've not heard them before, and frequently ask "who did that then?" I usualy say something like "I think that was on the CD 'Now That's What I Call Music 1759' " which gets a bit of a chuckle.

On the other hand, somewhere like the Tunbridge Wells "Local and Live" festival is actually advertised as local bands, live, doing their own songs, so a covers band from 50 miles away would be unlikely to get a booking!


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 26 Jun 14 - 11:01 PM

Guest: I happen to sing one of this songwriter's songs (not recorded) and I am sure that some of the words have changed since I started singing it. The meaning of the song - as far as my understanding of this song goes - remains unchanged; its just that some words scan easier or lend themselves more to singing for me.

I think that's fine as long as it's changing of unimportant words for a specific reason such as easier scanning, but when words are changed through simple ignorance or mis-hearing, I'd diagree. Three that immediately come to mind are:

Ewan MacColl's "Joy of Living" where his description of a string of hills and mountains in the UK is often rendered "cool big Scafell" (implying one large chilly hill) rather than correctly as "Cul Beag, Scafell" naming 2 mountains, one in Scotland and one in England. This was even propagated in Mudcat until I corrected it a few years ago.

Donovan's "Catch The Wind" where the 3rd verse start is almost invariably sung as "When rain has hung the leaves with tears
I want you near to kill my fear" though the original lyrics are " When rain has hung the leaves with tears I want you near to quell my fear" which to me is a much more appropriate word. I sing "quell" when I do the song, but in the last 10 years I can't think of once when I've heard anyone else sing anything but "kill".

And another MacColl song, "Dirty Old Town", where almost everyone sings "by the gasworks wall" instead of "by the gasworks croft" which to me takes away from the "crafting" of the song as "by the factory wall" comes so soon after "gasworks" that it sounds plain clumsy to use "wall" twice, and does a disservice to the songwriter, IMO.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Jun 14 - 08:56 PM

yes I could provide names having spent the last fifty years going to folk clubs. I am not going to as I don't go round fighting evil. I leave that to Spiderman. neither do I gratuitously insult or hurt people. people who run any kind of folk clubs are goodies in my book.

having said that, there are plenty of ways to make people as unwelcome as a fart in a spacesuit without writing it in the club rules. over the years I have witnessed most of them in traddy clubs. not always directed at myself - I know enuff trad songs and though I don't perform them to a professional standard - certainly well enuff to pass muster.

nowadays I don't play my own or contemporary songs if I visit a traddy club. its bad manners. people are entitled not to have favourite music evening intentionally screwed up - but it still leaves people who wander in out of the cold, and people who wouldn't know a traditional folksong from Barry Manilow - there are more of them than you would think.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Musket
Date: 26 Jun 14 - 10:26 AM

As a teenager, I played violin in a youth orchestra and my personal favourite memories were Vivaldi's Gloria, Mussorgsky's Night on a Bare Mountain and Mozart's 40th.

Of course, you may disagree as we were playing covers.

Concerning Gloria, I recently purchased the John Eliot Gardiner adaptation of it, together with his take on the Handel Gloria. It tends to be a bit up tempo and using no modern instrumentation at all! Howsabout that for a cover!

I shall inform the police.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 26 Jun 14 - 07:53 AM

@Big Al Whittle
Could you provide names to support your claim about "traddy" clubs? The description doesn't match any that I have been to.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Vic Smith
Date: 26 Jun 14 - 07:33 AM

Big Al Whittle -
"traddy clubs have been regulating their performers repertoire for years"


My personal experience is that this is not so. None of the many clubs and festivals that we have been booked at have ever made any suggestion that Tina and I regulate our repertoire in any way. Similarly in 50 years of running folk clubs, I have never made any demands on what guest performers should include in their performances - beyond the occasional request to perform a item that I particularly like.

Prominent on our website and on the club notice board was our policy statement which began
The events that take place every Thursday in the well-appointed upstairs room at the Royal Oak in Station Street, Lewes, East Sussex are intended to encourage the performance of traditional music and song. We operate throughout the year apart from August.
This is not a club as such; there is no membership, rather a number of like minds who come together to celebrate and enjoy a wide range of musical traditions in a convivial, socially conducive atmosphere. We believe that we try to make all newcomers feel welcome.
Guest artists are booked to appear virtually every week; we do have a very few 'Open Nights' during the year. Within our limited financial resources, we try to present artists from a range of musical backgrounds and experiences who are talented and display a love of their chosen music or styles......

I think that we were always aware of these statements in our booking policy. Certainly, I am not of the opinion, like many organisers, that folk music stops at Dover and looking through our records, I see that in our last ten years we booked touring artists from Australia, Canada, France, The Gambia, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland (very many), Mexico, New Zealand, Romania, Scotland (very many), Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sweden, USA (very many), and Zimbabwe.
We did not book very many British singer/songwriters because in the view of the managing committee there were few of these whose writing and performing were of the standard or nature that we were after. However, such varied songwriters as Leon Rosselson, Pete Morton, Dave Goulder, Reg Meuross and Adrian May were amongst the songwriters that we booked regularly.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Jun 14 - 04:41 PM

yes that's a newish development ....clubs as well. first time it happened to mewas about five years ago in Weymouth - the bloke running the evening came up to me and checked - you do original songs...this is for songwriters.

well to honest I wouldn't have chosen to sing my own song - after driving miles to get there. I said okay, I wasn't going to start arguing with him - and tell him that I sung what I bloody well liked, seeing as it was a floorspot and he was getting mt for free.

still it went. okay and I played the place last month and next month

you know what they say Vic - sauce for the goose - traddy clubs have been regulating their performers repertoire for years. there was bound to be some sort of a reaction to it. neither stance makes much sense to my way of thinking - but I have heard both Richard Bridge and Jim Carroll go on about going to English folk clubs and never hearing a folksong.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Vic Smith
Date: 25 Jun 14 - 01:35 PM

A friend of mine sings traditional songs to his own guitar arrangements. These are original without being flash. His accompaniments and his own way of approaching traditional songs brings out new qualities in the songs and makes him for me a really substantial artist and I never miss an opportunity to hear him sing.
One of his strong opinions is that singers of traditional songs have developed a 'ghetto mentality' and only perform their songs at folk clubs and festivals. He tries to make sure that as many of his gigs as possible are outside this comfort zone.
He sent a demo to the bookers for a well-established mainstream festival in the south of England. He received a fairly swift reply to say that his demo seemed to have hit the mark. Those who had listened had been impressed by both the songs and the performance. Just one question; the demo did not say who had written the songs.
My friend replied that they were all traditional songs and nobody knew who wrote them.
He received another fairly swift reply. This told him that the festival could not book him as they did not book artists who sang covers!


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Jun 14 - 03:47 PM

I agree that it doesn't take a musician for some pre-pubescent to sing a Justin Beiber song, doing his damdest to sound exactly like Justin Beiber. But—

Last night I was watching Classic Arts Showcase on television (a sort of MTV for adults) as I often do, and among many other things, I watched a bravura performance by young violinist Sarah Chang, of Zigeunerweisen, written, not by her, but by Pablo de Sarasati, and accompanied by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Placido Domingo.

And as I understand it, the piece was not, strictly speaking, actually written by Sarasati, but is a collection of gypsy airs and dances which he arranged for the violin.

Sarah Chang began her violin studies at the age of 5 (her mother was a violin teacher), Sarah made her first recording at the age of 10 on EMI Classics, subsequently graduated from Juilliard School of Music in 1999 at the age of 19, and did her solo concert debut with the New York Philharmonic.

Placido Domingo is a renowned operatic tenor, generally considered by opera aficionados to be one of the world's finest tenors. Within recent years he's been adding couple of a new strings to his bow by orchestral conducting, which requires a thorough knowledge of music and the musical scores he conducts. He has been guest conductor for several well-known orchestras. He was also appointed General Director of Los Angeles Opera, and as he grows older and his voice deepens a bit, he is beginning to add baritone roles to his repertoire, including "Rigoletto," and Athanael in "Thais."

A couple of hours of watching clips on Classic Arts Showcase will expose you to many people who have devoted their lives to music, developing a knowledge of music indicating years of study, and a technique that can be acquired only through hours of dedicated daily practice over a number of years.

And these people do not write the material they play or sing.

And you, Michael Pender, are telling me that because these people did not write the music they perform, they are performing "covers" and are, therefore, not really musicians?

I snort in the utmost contempt! It is obvious that YOU know nothing about music and real musicians. Shame on you!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jun 14 - 02:58 PM

This is one of those interesting threads where there is a genuine case for every side of the discussion, just depends on personal preference and ability when it comes down to it.

I play material I've mostly picked up from other performers but I find most satisfaction when I go back to the original a few weeks/months/years after learning it and find how much it's evolved into my own. Occasionally I've moved very little from the original but I'll still preform it, my voice will always be different from the original anyway, sometimes it's just a bit harder to move away from the original guitar arrangement, probbaly because it was so good in the first place. Hopefully never 'karaoke' but I can live with the influence being apparent to the listener.

Just sing whatever you like and in whatever manner you like I say, there's enough of us around to keep everyone happy some of the time..


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jun 14 - 01:32 PM

I was reading a thread on Facebook yesterday, which started with a complaint by a contemporary songwriter who was displeased that a band (noone I know) had recorded her song with variations in the lyrics. She was agonising over whether to tell the band that they had gotten it all wrong or just let go. I suppose that from a songwriter's point of view, one may wish to hear the exact words as you wrote them. But in my view a song takes on its own life the moment other people cover or interpret it, and it would be very hard to control this process. I would venture to say it is also not the ideal to strive for. I happen to sing one of this songwriter's songs (not recorded) and I am sure that some of the words have changed since I started singing it. The meaning of the song - as far as my understanding of this song goes - remains unchanged; its just that some words scan easier or lend themselves more to singing for me. Now that I know that teh songwriter gets so upset about changes, it leaves me feeling unconfortable singing her song, which is a great shame. I don't aspire to sing a song exactly as it was written. I strive to give a rendition that feels true and alive.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: PHJim
Date: 24 Jun 14 - 09:23 AM

GUEST,Desi C, Did you actually take the time to read all of the posts in this thread? I agree that Guest,John P made some good points in his post, but disagree that his were "the only real sensible comments...to this thread."
A quick skim turned up some sensible posts from Hrothgar, Joe F, Johnny J and I'm sure many others.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 24 Jun 14 - 08:29 AM

: GUEST,John P Well Said John P, the only real sensible comments I've read in reply to this thread


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,John P
Date: 23 Jun 14 - 08:00 PM

It's interesting reading this thread soon after the "why do musicians work for free" thread. I have some friends who made their living for several years playing exact reproductions of famous rock songs. They toured glitzy lounges. It was their job. When they weren't at work, they played whatever they felt like, mostly music with little or no income potential -- folk, blues, jazz. They had a skill that allowed them to use their passion to make a living. So on the one hand they had the "shame" of playing covers (what a stupid concept!), but on the other hand they didn't have the "shame" of playing for free (another stupid concept).

In my case, I've tried to play exact reproductions just for the fun of it but have always failed miserably. I can get the notes right, but I always seem to insert too much of myself into the interpretation, and I can't bring myself to spend the time getting the electric guitar tones just right or the finding the correct synth voice. I also improvise a lot no matter what kind of music I'm playing and flights of fancy are usually much more interesting than the existing arrangement.

There is a real skill to playing exact covers, and it's one that many musicians don't have or haven't developed. Perhaps we should extend the OP to say that if you can't reproduce a piece of music you also aren't really a musician . . .

I've also heard that if you can't read music you aren't a real musician, if you always read music you aren't really a musician, if you can't pick up tunes by ear you aren't real, if you can't harmonize you aren't, if you can't sing you aren't, if you don't play an instrument you aren't, and that drummers aren't real musicians. These concepts are all as stupid as the OP.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 23 Jun 14 - 05:01 AM

I object to the title of this thread 'the shame in singing covers' This so called 'shame' is a figment of some demented mind with a superiority complex. Not every musician CAN write songs, but there's no rule that says they SHOULD, it doesn't make them any less musicians. There is NO shame in singing covers, the shame is that anyone thinks there should be!


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 04:06 PM

right to the end of Del's career, I heard club and festival organiser's pleading with him to finish off the evening, because some folk star didn't have enough oomph to provide a big finish to the evening. ususally -the star was on about ten times Del's money.

I am afraid you made the same mistake that many others did - you took him at face value. the comic songs were a minute if memorable part of his repertoire. check out the albums - most of the songs were of a serious nature - because he was troubadour and had thought of the meaning of each song - he could introduce them in a light hearted plus in a way that left the audience in no doubt as to the meaning of the song. in short, he could perform interpret folksong.

there was none of this croaking out some tripe and standing there and virtually calling the audience wankers because they didn't know the difference between a halyard shanty and bothy ballad.

Del always kept close counsel - I have seen him treated idiotically and disrespectfully - but never lose his cool - never anything but friendly and approachable.

he carried and imparted his great knowledge of folk music and his wonderful musicianship with like a gentleman.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Ole Juul
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 03:43 PM

I must say there's some nice writing in this thread, and I'm quite enjoying it.

Back to the core subject though, it just occurred to me that "covers" is all there was before we had recordings and radio. I've got a collection of Etude magazines from the first few 1900s. I'm sure many people here are familiar with those. You'd get the magazine, gather around the piano with mom (who could read music) and that was the radio. It's quite obvious that there was no other way to get the original composer/performer into your country, back woods town, or living room.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Musket
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 03:32 PM

I'm starting an Al Whittle tribute act. Might try a dummy run at The Brown Cow in Mansfield. My eldest lad lives 300 yd from the pub so I can have a sniff of the barmaid's apron and not have to drive.

I live reasonably close to Cleethorpes now, but it's years since I got to the festival. All I recall from the last time was we warmed them up for Les Barker.

Eyup Al. Derek was one of my heroes too. But learning Sir Quincy de Bas didn't quite make me an expert on Child ballads if truth be known... Put the old bugger up a few times though when we gave him his regular booking..

In the rock side of things, I certainly was pretentious and a bit rock & roll. Getting it out of my system allowed me to be a real me, warts n' all in folk clubs as we all tend to be. Pity I can't be normal on Mudcat. I'd just be too dismissive of some people when winding them up serves a far higher purpose.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 08:55 AM

I used to play at that Irish pub on the front at Cleethorpes. people used to ask me why I wasn't booked for the Cleethorpes folk festival. I really didn't have an answer. I suppose I was one of the gang labelled not really a folksinger - so the local folk programmes on bbc wouldn't play us -so we didn't get to become a name. Tom |Lane in Lincoln played us - but Folkweave wouldn't.

folkweave has gone the way of the Cleethorpes festival. I suppose the truth is, they got the chance to have us play for nothing and they didn't take it.

where I live now - I get more festival invites and radio plays most weeks than I did when I was in your area. if you don't nurture talent - you will be stuck with tribute acts.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Johnny J
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 07:42 AM

"... How else would we get to see the Beatles or Buddy Holly live? ...

We are not getting to see them live. We are getting to see a tribute act. "

Also, rest assured, if The Beatles, Buddy Holly or whoever were touring today they would either be playing new material or interpreting their old songs differently. It's very seldom that live bands faithfully reproduce their own hit singles note for note. Not the more imaginative acts, at any rate.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 07:12 AM

I might have been exaggerating when I said "all we ever get". We do have home grown talent, and very good it is too, but we are lucky if national tours by big acts come within 50 miles of us. Once we had the Cleethorpes Folk Festival but no longer. Last month we had the Cleethorpes Fake Festival with tribute bands Cold Placed, Kazabian (with a "z") and Blondied.

I am sure that, if people tried hard enough, they could find examples that prove me wrong but it is hardly a cultural Mecca and banners promoting tribute acts seem to be the norm.

DC


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 06:04 AM

where's that Doug, where theres only tribute bands. most places there are one or two original people.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 05:49 AM

... If you can't write your own material don't pretend to be a musician.

Taking it to the extreme, where would that leave song-writing duos?
                Music by ………….. Lyrics by …………..
If they were performing individually, would one of them get stuck playing instrumentals and the other have to read out the words as a poem? Even worse, if the lyrics were the result of collaboration, would the singer have to leave gaps when he got to the other person's lines?



I do agree, though, that hearing someone rip off somebody else's act is less than satisfying. In the area where I live, all we ever get is tribute bands. We don't even have a proper venue to bring quality acts to – just an auditorium which is supposed to double up as a sports hall. The trouble is that people who have been born and brought up here, have known no better and seem to find it perfectly acceptable.

... How else would we get to see the Beatles or Buddy Holly live? ...

We are not getting to see them live. We are getting to see a tribute act. No matter how good they are, don't fool yourself that you are seeing anything else. If you want to hear the original, then buy the record.

DC


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 06:11 AM

it was abit the opposite with me Musket.

I was always in awe of artists. people who could write poems etc. I always considered myself to earthy a character, too uneducated to be a creative.
I was deeply influenced by Derek Brimstone - a singer who didn't ostensibly have any pretensions - but infact cared deeply about acoustic guitar playing, and had profound and clever thoughts about the true nature of folk music. not fashionable - all the pressure was to tune the guitar in DADGAD and assume a rustic/Carthy style of vocal delivery.

idealism snuck up on me. I developed pride in what I had done with my life. and an indifference to the official folk world


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: PHJim
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 11:50 AM

It's hard to let a cool song sit idle just because you didn't write it. Here's what I consider an improvement on the original (even though I love the original)

Sarah sings Tom - Come On Up To The House


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Musket
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 11:37 AM

And there was me, a tiresome little trot, singing protest songs and promising to change the world with my guitar.

Don't mention Tom Robinson's motorway. The Loch Fynne Monster hasn't polluted this thread just yet, don't get him started.

If name dropping is in vogue, here's Ken Dodd. If you aren't a socialist at 20 you are a fool. If you are still a socialist at 30, you are an even bigger fool.

I like it, although it is about as reliable as his book keeping.

If you are the only one still reading this read, I may as well be honest for once. I had so many battle scars in that period and beyond, especially during the strike, that I stopped letting ideology lead me and started leading myself. I am neither a socialist nor a Tory. On balance, I have only ever voted Labour but that is going through the motions.

I'm a beer monster with a huge willy. That's about as political as I get. I advise government bodies, help hospitals improve and lecture to medical students on structured service improvement. Other than the academic bit, I don't even do that from the end of the month. I am trying out semi retirement and have ended my work. Scary but my family are having side bets as to how long before I get bored and start interfering again.

Writing songs is a hobby and diversion. I don't necessarily put my own views in them. Play to the crowd instead.

Oh, and sing lots of covers. Harvey Andrews is in my personal vogue at present, the other month it was Si Khan and in any event, most folk clubs I do mainly traditional ballads.

This is about singing covers yeah?


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 10:54 AM

I can see that - late 70's - Clapton was telling everyone to vote national front, Weller of that period told all his fans to vote tory.

all you folks who sit and whine
should have been there in the winter of '79
                                  Tom Robinson


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Musket
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 08:03 AM

I'll blend in nicely then.

The bulge in my trousers is a bit of a giveaway, not to mention asking at the bar for champagne, but I can sing socialist nonsense with the best of 'em.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 08:00 AM

I am long past learning anything, Musket. Not to worry on that account. as to ""It would be a shame if some of mine were sung by old men with beards, it just doesn't cut it.. Especially as over 90% are rock and punk songs," I have been looking around, and, though exclusively the music of young people, rock and punk seem to be dominated by old men with beards...


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Musket
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 07:12 AM

My dog does not go to restaurants where the rhubarb and custard tastes of garlic snails if you don't mind.

I don't know Al, being in a punk band on a Saturday night and playing at a folk club on the Sunday was a simple carry on. A poster I designed was printed in Melody Maker circa 1978 with the lines, "Here'a a chord. Here's another. A third one for good measure (cue drawing of Gmaj, Cmaj and D7.). Now form a band."

Worked in both genres as I recall.

The pogo? What, with my pit moggy knees? You must be joking. Had to work in order to pay the instalments on the Rickenbacker guitar I bought after seeing Paul Weller playing his at The Porterhouse in Retford, (or could have been Nelson Mandella Hall in Sheffield. I worshipped The Jam regardless and saw them umpteen times).

Anyway, can't spend all day reminiscing with you. I need to see if my bid for a crate of Chateau Reynella Merlot 1995 was successful. Look after the pennies and all that.

I'll be back after a session staring in the mirror giving thanks to Clapton for my good looks, talent, huge willy, stocks and shares and trophy wife. (Sorry dear, just playing to the crowd.). If you have any thoughts regarding songs for a gig at Blidworth Bottoms Al, you may as well make yourself useful.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 05:36 AM

you see the problem Stim. Punk was never about disaffected youth and unhappy idealists like myself.

its all about snotty millionaires like Musket. you see the unsubtle way he tells us that he and his dog like cutting a dash. I think possibly he gets by on his good looks. but who knows perhaps pogo ing and gobbing at Musket along with all his devoted fans is your sort of thing. its crowded on the front row - the Queen, Tony Blair, John Major - the boys are back in town when Musket is up there gyrating.

didn't know that Heston Blumenthal and all those posh cooks like Musket, his wife and dog patronise had gruel on their menus.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Musket
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 03:35 AM

Can't have you listening to good stuff Stim, you'll end up learning something. That'll never do. We can't get rid of the all the entertainment around here...

I'm not from Worksop, but that's another matter. Lived there, worked there, but a Derbyshire sheep shagger at heart.

Anyway, this is about, according to the op, the shame in singing covers. It would be a shame if some of mine were sung by old men with beards, it just doesn't cut it.. Especially as over 90% are rock and punk songs, not what I would usually do in a folk clubs. I prefer to sing Al's songs in clubs, gives you something to apologise for other than the guitar going out of tune.......

Anyway, back to saving the world. Far better than sitting whinging about the world by the way. Château de Châtillon is something I see from the train when whizzing down for a skiing holiday in Tigne. The Savoire being my favourite part of France when it comes to ski, food and fairly quaffable local wine.

Far too good for the peasants, although the damn Russians are moving in around the valley at Val d'Isere. Keep going round and you get to some very exclusive slopes where only those who have made it such as songwriters of Al's calibre can afford to ski.

Oh, and the dog. He skis in such exclusive private resorts, hence Al knowing about the gold taps in his jacuzzi. I will excuse Al's lack of refinement all the same, as the taps are gold, not gold plated, peasant.... Mrs Musket and I eat gruel in order to keep that dog in jacuzzis, poodles and gravy bones. Where the hell the poodles come into his equation I don't know, because although he doesn't acknowledge the fact, he has had the swishing house bricks operation.

I may have mentioned in the past that his neutering explains everything you ever need to know about religion. He may not have balls, but he certainly still tries to lick them.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 03:07 AM

One of the first ballads I learned is "The Three Ra'ens" (Ravens), Child #26, from a folio of 20 songs sung by Richard Dyer-Bennet. Was the song as I sang it a "cover?"

Dyer-Bennet was a light tenor. I am a bass-baritone. Our voices are much different. So I had to change the key from the one Dyer-Bennet sang it in. This altered the bass lines and runs, and contrapuntal lines I played from chord to chord. So my guitar accompaniment sounded a bit similar to Dyer-Bennet's but it was really quite different. And considering the style of the period from which the song came, I ended it with a "Picardy third" in the final chord I play. An A major chord rather than an A minor. Dyer-Bennet didn't do that. He ended with the tonic minor.

The earliest (written) record of the song is Thomas Ravenscroft's Melismata, 1611.

Also, the song repeats the first line of each verse, and I felt that this cut into the dramatic impact of the song by making it unduly and a bit tediously long. So I telescoped two verses into one by simply not repeating the first line of each verse

Instead of
There were three ra'ens sat in a tree
Down-a-down, hey down-a-down.
There were three ra'ens sat in a tree,
With a down,
There were three ra'ens sat in a tree,
And they were black as they might be.
With a down, derry derry derry down, down.
I sang
There were three ra'ens sat in a tree
Down-a-down, hey down-a-down.
And they were black as they might be.
With a down.
Then one of them said to his make (mate)
Oh, where shall we our breakfast take?
With a down, derry derry derry down, down.
Two verses for the price of one.

By telescoping like this, I came up a couple of lines short. So I looked at other versions of the ballad (and there are many versions) and added a verse from another version.

I did not write the song, God knows. It's a ballad at least four hundred years old, probably a lot older--and is found in several languages, Norwegian, Swedish, German,Hebrew.... I learned it from Richard Dyer-Bennet's song folio. And I heard his recording of it.

Was I singing a "cover?"

I don't think so.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: PHJim
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 02:06 AM

Tootler is right. The original "cover bands" even copied the clams from the original arrangement.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Tootler
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 01:26 AM

My understanding of the original meaning of the term "cover" in the present context was that it was a recording of a song other than the original that attempted to copy the original arrangement exactly. Several of the "homogenised" RnR/RnB versions of the late 50s pretty much fell in that category. Also, over here in the UK we would quite often get a cover by a local artist of a song that had been successful in the US. These copied the original arrangement as nearly as they could though most of the time, they didn't really get it quite right but became hits because of delays in releasing US recordings over here.

More recently, like it or not, the term "cover" has come to refer to any recording of a song, professional or amateur, that was originally recorded by someone else regardless of how like the original it is. I think it's a misnomer but that's language for you. If the meaning of a word shifts there is very little that individuals can do about it.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Ole Juul
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 12:57 AM

All this talk about attribution reminds me of this:

A shopkeeper in London put out a sign: "Nephew of Baron Rothschild" which was not true. He received a letter from a solicitor demanding that he make a retraction, whereupon he put out a new sign: "Previously Nephew of Baron Rothschild".


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: PHJim
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 11:26 PM

Sorry to hear that Gerry Goffin died today.
I've heard many of the songs he's written or had a hand in writing, but never heard him sing any of 'em. If not for covers, he'd never have been heard of.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 11:04 PM

I had to look up a lot of the references in your post, Big Al, I know what dog is, but not the rest. I now know that Worksop once has sizeable coal seams, but would really like hear some of what's his name's music...


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 10:23 AM

yes he writes and performs music. dunno how he fits it in with reviving the british economy, saving the health service, and taking a brave stand against Ake, the evil genius of the north. not mention ski-ing with his dog.....how Hello magazine has missed him, I will never know!

he comes from worksop, and who a thought all these years later, me and musket would be drinking our chateau de chatillon....mind you we had it tough..


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 10:13 AM

well I don't really mind about the attribution business. it would be nice to get a few more shekels from prs - but I eat too much anyway. I think I get more pissed off when huge corporations don't pay me. there is nothing anyone seems able to do - certainly not the prs gang.

i'm old. I got more than enuff to eat. several decent guitars. a roof over my head - so no point in stressing about anything.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 08:17 AM

Oh, you play and write music, Musket? I had no idea.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Hrothgar
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 06:30 AM

Thanks, Larry.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 03:18 AM

Too true Al. Mind you, when you come across one of your own songs on YouTube with a bloke in his bedroom and a wonky camera, crucifying it you tend to cringe a bit.

Then read that he claims to have written it.....

I was nicely surprised when they agreed to take it down. It reappeared credited to "I heard this a few times in folk clubs around Sheffield" which was an improvement I suppose.

Not often I get precious and once disowned a song I wrote as a teenager, but hey ho.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 19 Jun 14 - 01:47 AM

It's true, Jeri. Consider that in the first years, some companies were recording on cylinders and some on discs(Edison continued to make cylinders till 1929). Obviously, cylinders and discs couldn't be played on the same machine. And different machines played at different speeds. they didn't settle on the standard 78rpms till the 20s. Also, some discs were vertically cut, and some were laterally cut, which required different types of needle armatures.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 10:52 PM

Thanks Stim. Interesting history.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 10:29 PM

I always like it when I hear about someone singing one of my songs.


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Subject: RE: The shame in singing covers
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 10:25 PM

Phonographs not being cross-compatible...


Huh?


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