Re: Guest Post: Undercover

1

Maybe it's because the OP lowered my expectations, but I'm really digging the cover of "Rikki".

My previously-encounter favorites from this series are They Might Be Giants covering Chumbawamba and Low covering Toto's "Africa".


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 1:35 PM
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+ed


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 1:36 PM
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And good goddamn, this is a special kind of awesome: GWAR covering Kansas' "Carry on Wayward Son"!


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 1:39 PM
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This post is earworm hell.

3 that is a special kind of awesome.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 1:40 PM
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Maybe it's because the OP lowered my expectations, but I'm really digging the cover of "Rikki".

Awesome. I wanted to link to performances that I thought were at least worth watching.

Obviously I have my preferences, as stated, but I do think the linked songs provide an interesting range of approaches. Obviously GWAR is another, entirely different style.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 1:46 PM
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I'm going to tell Kenny Loggins on you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 1:52 PM
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I have a feeling a ton of this is going to be pop songs from the era when I was sitting somberly indoors listening to the Brandenburg Concertos and I'm not going to get as much out of it. I don't think I know "Blue Jeans" for example.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 1:54 PM
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I don't think I know "Blue Jeans" for example.

Mentioned in the archives.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 1:57 PM
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The Neil Diamond song?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 1:57 PM
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Oh, Danger Zone = song from Top Gun preview and presumably movie, which doubtless I saw, and the other song from which conjures horrid middle school dances. Also, hello Calexico singer guy!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 1:59 PM
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Now I have Neil Diamond playing on my head and I like it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 1:59 PM
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Another good one: The Punch Brothers covering The Cars' "Just What I Needed".

And I'd like to retract part of 1; the Low's Toto cover is not as good as I remembered.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:01 PM
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I'm going to tell Kenny Loggins on you.

I don't know how strongly he feels about "Danger Zone." Searching I find this interview.

Kenny Loggins: ["Danger Zone"] turned into one of the biggest songs of my career, so I do still sing it in concert. People love it! I didn't expect that song to be the type of song that would hold up for almost thirty years. At the time, it seemed like a pretty simple piece of rock and roll. I just really wanted an up tempo thing for my show, and I thought it would be fun to have a movie song. It would kick the show in gear, and it sure did.

Also, hello Calexico singer guy!

He is surprisingly good looking, isn't he? I've listened to some of their music, but that's the first time I had seen an image of him.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:02 PM
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And I'd like to retract part of 1; the Low's Toto cover is not as good as I remembered.

In the meantime, any reactions to the performances linked in the post?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:03 PM
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Huh, I wouldn't have thought Danger Zone was even close to a good enough song to produce that good a cover. Good work Calexico.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:10 PM
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Bob Mould covers a song by Sugar. Ha.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:14 PM
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14 - The Calexio "Danger Zone" version is a valiant attempt at making a terrible song listenable. To be honest, though, I can't think of "Danger Zone" without thinking of this.

As for "Blue Jeans", I don't know the original, but the Jukebox The Ghost version is pretty good.

But as per 1, the "Rikki" cover is actually my favorite of the three.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:15 PM
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Lana. Lana. Lana! Lanaaaaaaa!


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:15 PM
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Proving that the principle of, "An insecure commenter is a good commenter" generalizes beyond unfogged.

So much to disagree with in one sentence.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:20 PM
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Bob Mould covers a song by Sugar. Ha.

Was it one of the songs by the other guy in the band? I think Bob let 3 of his songs onto the Sugar records.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:22 PM
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Also, do these videos still have the annoying guy from the AV Club introducing the band? I watched I think one (the Low cover, which I disliked) and that was enough to stop me from watching more.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:28 PM
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Also, do these videos still have the annoying guy from the AV Club introducing the band?

Yes, but I found them helpful -- particularly for the Calexico and Lucero performances, hearing the introductory comments affected how I listened to the song.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:30 PM
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Lawyer Bleg.

If I have to cc an associate's superior, in this case a lawyer who is of counsel at a small firm, because the associate is not following up in a timely manner, what, if anything, should I ask to have taken off of the bill?

I've had plenty of billing for the associate's time when discussing strategy with the of-counsel lawyer or time spent reviewing a letter.

Now, the associate is covering her butt by cc-ing the Senior lawyer constantly.

I am contemplating letting the very senior BigLaw lawyer who referred me know that the associate was "not responsive." I don't know how they're going to bill this, but she's taken 7 months to do something that should have been done in 3. Not over billing. Just not doing shit.

She knows some of the regs in this area, but she's demanding some things in a semi-adversarial situation and does not seem up to the task. I wonder if I could have done a better job myself. Ugh.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 2:31 PM
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re: cover versions.

I've been enjoying this a lot recently:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2LhVazAFGY

As a cover of this ['Love is the drug']:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n3OepDn5GU

Does it count if it's a sort of 'self' cover?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 3:40 PM
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23: I'm not much of an expert on this one (never got too near the billing anyplace I worked), but while I would grouse about unresponsiveness and incompetence in as much detail as is practical, when haggling about the bill I'd do it in percentages rather than closely tied to individual screwups. That is "Nitwit Associate failed to do X and Y. Z should have happened four months ago. G and H were unsatisfactory, and she won't return my calls about J, K and L. For service like that, you've charged me a total of $Fee -- I don't think I should have to pay more than ¾$fee."

I think this mostly because when I've heard people complaining about being overcharged, they were usually right in general but wrong in detail -- the individual things that outraged them didn't sound unreasonable at all to me. So explaining your grievances and then tying them to generally reducing the fee seems more credible to me than from the outside figuring out exactly what items should come off the bill.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 3:50 PM
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Liked the cover of Carry On Wayward Son - reminded me of when I got The Best of Kansas LP in 1984. Awesome slapdash album art featurng John Brown etc. I believe I traded a mint copy of Blood on the Tracks for it. Wince - a low point of my record-trading career.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 3:54 PM
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26 last - Whoa. Are you sure you want to admit to things like that on the public internet??


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 4:02 PM
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To be honest, though, I can't think of "Danger Zone" without thinking of this.

How is that not a link to an Archer clip?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 4:12 PM
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Does it count if it's a sort of 'self' cover?

Sure, although I realize that part of what I find interesting about the AV Club covers are the rough edges -- you have bands covering material that's outside of their regular style and in a situation where they don't need to worry about fitting the cover into a concert of an album.

I think creates a situation in which you can really aware of the artist's style and the stylistic elements of the song co-existing without being completely reconciled. Which can work well when there's some care put into it.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 4:29 PM
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re: 29

Radio 1 in the UK has had a thing for a good few years now where they ask bands doing live sessions to cover someone else. Sometimes it's great, more often it's not. They tend to be predictable. Rock bands covering RnB or dance tracks, pop acts doing 'serious' songs.

So, just randomly picking a recent one, Vampire Weekend doing Robin Thicke:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Gb2Utjcv0k


List here:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/HCeJDDKbvG9q0/search?query=cover

There are literally hundreds going back years. Lots of British pop acts, but others, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 5:01 PM
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There's quite a nice Dizzee cover of That's Not My Name.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 5:10 PM
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26-27: What can I say, I was suffering Dylan-disillusionment at the time. Tangled up in blue.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 6:01 PM
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23, 25: Another suggestion, less tied to nonresponsiveness and more tied to apparently excessive billing for nonproductive tasks: ask whether the associate generated any work product for the time she spent on (e.g.) internal strategy discussions or reviewing letters, and if so whether the firm can share that work product with you since they have been charging you for the time she spent creating it. This will probably only work if there is a substantial amount of time on those tasks, but if so it can be effective.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 6:15 PM
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I expected to dislike it because David Bowie's voice and style are so distinctive that it's difficult to cover his songs

Isn't the Nirvana version of "The Man Who Sold the World" widely acknowledged as better?


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 6:37 PM
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24.2 At no time during filming does BF actually open his eye wider than a slit.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 7:10 PM
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Isn't the Nirvana version of "The Man Who Sold the World" widely acknowledged as better?

Probably, but in that case the original isn't all that good (not bad, but compared to the cover it feels not fully realized).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 7:12 PM
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A few hours ago I was trying to figure out why I suddenly had "The Man Who Sold the World" running through my head. But that was before 34 was posted. I guess I was subconsciously thinking of it because of "Bowie" and "cover".

But dammit, I'm fond of the Bowie version.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 7:19 PM
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Although I don't have much patience for the rest of the album, so it's possible my fondness for that one song is somehow Nirvana-influenced. Although I never listened to Nirvana much. Although although although.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 7:24 PM
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How is that not a link to an Archer clip?

Because I've never watched Archer.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 6-13 7:32 PM
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25 and 33, I think what would bother me is getting charged $500/hr for the Senior lawyer to watch the associate like a hawk, because she dropped the ball and didn't give me an update for 3 weeks when she promised me one soon etc.

Seriously, all she needed to do was get a facility to send me a complete accounting, rectify a situation where they weren't providing itemized bills and get them to change that going forward and most importantly provide me with the information about the number of subsidized units which cost no supplement and where they were on the waiting list. (Based on the residency agreement, I'm sure that they are in one now, but the facility wants to squeeze as much money out of one as it can.) They claim that they can not tell us specifically which ones are PACE units, because that would be revealing health care information. To be sure, she was dealing with a moron at the ALF, but now the corporate guy tells us that they come up, and there's a pool on a first-come first serve basis and they let whoever is ready to move go. What I think they do is drain down people's families/ trusts until there's nothing left but don't kick people out. She just took what the guy said at face value even though she had told me before that facilities are supposed to have a waiting list. The regs are confusing and not something that I can search easily myself. Nor is it clear what state agency I could report them to. (MA Consumer Protection laws do, in fact, require them to provide understandable bills.) The associate twittled her thumbs between April and June, only did anything when I sent reminders and then promised me an update soon. 3 weeks later, I e-mailed her and she sent me one line and said she would be back in touch. I e-mailed back 2 days later and got a vacation bounceback. I got the stupid answer yesterday.

Seriously tempted to ask her to cite the regulations, because I don't think she knows what she's doing. I don't like having to write e-mails which say "I said clearly to you in this e-mail of X dateand again on Y date point 5" and then getting billed for just reminding her to do her job.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:27 AM
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Obligatory mention of Nouvelle Vague here, whose French bossa nova covers of "The Guns of Brixton" and "Too Drunk To F***" are the source of some real whatthehellery when you hear them unexpectedly.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:56 AM
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40 sounds like a perfectly legitimate complaint and you could raise it with the partner in pretty much those terms. I'd do it by phone call rather than e-mail if you're comfortable with that. An e-mail is too easy for him/her to forward to the associate rather than dealing with personally. Also, you should not be billed for time spent resolving your unhappiness with the bill or with the quality of service provided, and if they do that you should promptly object and refuse to pay that portion of the bill.

Though, frustrating as it may be, I'm not sure I'd ask whether the associate actually knows the relevant regs because if you do that you run the risk of getting back a detailed e-mail or memo that she just spent five hours researching and writing. You could then arguably refuse to pay for that, if it's things that she should have known already, but that's more of a gray area.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 6:38 AM
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41 seconded. Some others:

Spoek Mathambo's "Control"
Pernett "Blue Monday" (Cumbia!)
Florence & the Machine "Addicted to Love"
DFB "Dont Fear the Reaper"
Mariachi el Bronx "Love Sick"


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 6:51 AM
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DFB "Dont Fear the Reaper"

See also: Alana Davis "Don't Fear The Reaper."

I realize that I should elaborate some of what I was thinking about that lead to this post. It started with a conversation with k-sky about covers in which he linked to this article.

I think that both the article and the cover song that it discusses are quite good, but I also think it fails to, "construct an elaborate theory of what makes a good cover." Rather one is left with the belief that, "there are as many reasons for a cover being good as for any song being good." But it would be nice to have some way to talk differently about what makes a cover song work compared to an original. I feel like that requires talking about the relationship between the cover and the original. But whenever I try that I find myself getting into the language of intention -- e.g., "the band knows that the audience will be familiar with the original and that will allow them to fill in the gaps." That's a perfectly reasonable thing to say, but difficult to defend, how would one offer evidence for what a band, "knows."

So that got me interested in listening to the AV Club covers differently -- to see if I could describe how they stand in relation to the original.

I could try more of that than I did in the OP, but since I don't have a very coherent response to offer I'm also curious what anyone else makes of it -- even just to know, "do you think there is any one of those 4 which stands out as reflecting a different aesthetic towards the project of covering a well-known pop song, than the other three?"


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 7:45 AM
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Performance vs recording seems to me like a pretty important dimension. For instance, The Mountain Goats do a lot of covers that don't sound all that interesting musically but which put the covered song in a new light, a transient reaction.

Others covers "just" take a familiar song with a different arrangement and singer to make a song that sounds good, that doesn't take so much context. I think Nouvelle Vague is like that-- beyond shock value, the sometimes succesful new songs are not really a reaction to the original, just using the original for parts.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 12:08 PM
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I think 44 is getting at something in that there has to be some sort of resonance involved in recognizing something as a cover. If I hadn't already known to expect it, I'm not sure at what point I would have recognized "Danger Zone" if I had at all. And yet when there's a cover of an Indigo Girls song that meant a lot to teen me there's something weird and awkward about listening to it (because I don't like it and it highlights some of the things I don't like about the song, but none of them have anything to do with the transcendent cover my best friend/penpal played in a coffee house when we were both 16 and so on) and I think there must be in covering it, too. I said elsewhere to someone here that hearing a (female) musician friend cover "Get Lucky" as a wistful little chanson made it more endearing, and then I like the song more when I hear it because of her.

I also don't know how to talk about my relationship to music and don't understand how it could have been so much of my life and internal language and then I could basically drop it for a decade. I guess I did that with writing, too, but I don't know if I'm weird or what.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 1:30 PM
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And yet when there's a cover of an Indigo Girls song that meant a lot to teen me there's something weird and awkward about listening to it

That cover is sort of awkward (or, at least, it feels awkward to me, and I have no prior association with the song).

Also, I don't know if this is coincidence or not, but the only songs which I cannot listen to because my associations with them are too strong are from a couple of Indigo Girls albums that my college roommate listened to a little too often.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 1:54 PM
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OK, I'll offer a theory of cover songs. There are three tiers. Attributes? Axes? Perhaps they are questions.

The first question is, "is it fun or interesting?" A fun/interesting cover song is mostly notable for having been done and generally has a novelty component. E.g. the soul cover of "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart", the Postal Service cover of "Against All Odds," the "Crazy in Love" cover by that Gray's Anatomy rock band. There are lots of these. It's often sufficient to just have a different sound or genre to pull one off. A satirical impulse can yield quick but fleeting rewards, especially for white performers approaching genres associated with black performers.

The second question is, "does it accomplish something as a recording?" The canonical example is Jimi Hendrix's "All Along The Watchtower." These elevate the material and often supplant it as a canonical version. I would nominate Ted Leo's "Since U Been Gone/Maps" as a junior (accomplishes something, doesn't supplant) although the jury is out.

The third question is "does it elevate the original song to songbook status"? Look at the way Nina Simone sang pop hits in a jazz context. She was expanding the Great American Songbook to include The Beatles, whose advent had originally been seen to be shutting that book. Nouvelle Vague accomplished this for "Love Will Tear Us Apart," although they were not the first nor may even be the best. It may be a cheat that they are actually performing it in a jazz idiom. Peter Gabriel accomplished this for "The Book of Love," although it was encoded in the song from the beginning.

This sidesteps the question of "what makes a cover good," which is less interesting and more dancing-about-architecture. Theorists would be better directed to ask "what makes a cover bad?"


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:22 PM
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For no good reason, a short history of cover songs attempted by my old band:

"Making Love Out Of Nothing At All," Air Supply -- ukulele and a country swing feel.

"Waterfalls," TLC -- tacked on to the end of our fan (friends') favorite, "After Yesterday's Crash," because it had the same chords as the chorus. Similar with "She Bop" and our song "Jenny Says," although sonically that one was more straightforward.

"Easy Lover", Phil Collins and Philip Bailey -- chosen for a Valentine's Day show. A difficult song, musically and vocally; a spectacular failure on our part.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:28 PM
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So, looking at the linked performances the last one (the Lucero cover of David Bowie) is interesting, doesn't elevate the original song, and probably doesn't accomplish anything as a recording.

Those are the reasons why I don't think I would have appreciated it as much if came across it on it's own, rather than while listening to a bunch of covers.

But, I would argue, it has the additional virtue that it inspires a good performance. I haven't heard anything else by them, but I believe that performance represents them doing what they do well.

Perhaps, as LW, suggests, that's a virtue in a live performance which is less valuable when considering something as a published recording.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:37 PM
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Interesting fact: there are only two good Billy Joel covers. The first is Dolly Parton's cover of Travelin' Prayer, which like most every pop/rock cover on her bluegrass albums, elevates the song to the songbook. The second is Tell Her About It by three of my friends who borrowed my four-track for the summer I was a camp counselor. Still holds up.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:40 PM
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42: Won't do it, but I'm tempted. I'd like to have the knowledge so that I can advocate for my parents myself when the facility starts to screw us in the future.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:43 PM
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Katy Perry should try "Downeaster Alexa".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:44 PM
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53 to 51.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:44 PM
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that's a virtue in a live performance which is less valuable when considering something as a published recording

I think that's right. A good cover in live performance is almost never yes to number 2, but usually a decent hit at number 1. I think it often provides a weak yes to number 3 in that it reminds the audience of songs they all know -- much more in the folk vein than the songbook vein, but valuable for creating momentary community in an audience.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:45 PM
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48 is very nice.

Theorists would be better directed to ask "what makes a cover bad?"

Easy. Excessive fidelity to the original. Unless you're a bar band I guess.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:47 PM
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52 to 53, by way of disclosing Bostoniangirl's identity.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:48 PM
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OK, I'll offer a theory of cover songs. There are three tiers. Attributes? Axes? Perhaps they are questions.

I think all this eggheadery about covers is wrongheaded. NickS has previously espoused the idea that a cover has to do something (which one could take as: answer "yes" to one of your questions) to ... well, be good, I guess, or be not a waste of time. I think that's silly. There are lots of covers I like that do something unexpected with the original, but there's nothing wrong with one played straight, or just better than the original, without reworking it close to radically. FOR INSTANCE, I really like Cul de Sac's cover of "Song to the Siren", even though it's played pretty straight.

No one cover is going to "elevate a song to songbook status", anyway. However, here's a nice cover of "Love Will Tear Us Apart".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:48 PM
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I want to hear a boy-band version of "A Matter of Trust".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:48 PM
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It's like you're thinking, well, if you're not playing your authentic song, you should at least play someone else's song your authentic way. What do you bring to it? Otherwise why not just listen to the recording? I scorn this attitude, and its holders.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:52 PM
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That said, perhaps this is the thread to mention an idea I had a long time ago and mentioned at the other time at the other place, namely, that there should be a girl group named Thrilling Pullet that would sing the songs set by modernist composers in the style of 50s girl groups, and the songs of 50s girl groups in the styles of modernist composers.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:53 PM
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Spoken like a man who is unfamiliar with a little concept called "recording." Nice 19th century attitude bro.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:54 PM
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46.2: we're both weird, then. I'm in almost exactly the same boat. You should in fact drop me an email if you want to talk more about this -- really.

(The flurry of posts here, incidentally, is directly connected to a looming dissertation deadline. There's an uncertain but I think real chance that, if I get tons and tons of work done by mid-September, I will be permitted to register on a filing fee or whatever it's called and save a lot of tuition money. I decided to tell myself that I'll use some of the saved money to buy the nice guitar I've "always" wanted (since 20 years ago, off & on). But this has turned out to create a distraction.)


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:54 PM
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62 to 60.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:54 PM
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there's nothing wrong with one played straight, or just better than the original, without reworking it close to radically

Yes, there are plenty of good covers. As I pointed out, I'm sidestepping what makes them good (that LWTUA is good!) and what they do.

No one cover is going to "elevate a song to songbook status"

I think I'm right about my examples, but I think that it's more often a process of accumulation (see "American Tune"), not of one cover. And it may require a strong genre-crossing, jazz vocal or country.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:55 PM
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Spoken like a man who is unfamiliar with a little concept called "recording." Nice 19th century attitude bro.

60 mentions recordings!

As I pointed out, I'm sidestepping what makes them good (that LWTUA is good!) and what they do.

You claim to be sidestepping it, but I don't think you are. You list three questions. What is the point of them? Suppose there's a cover and we say, "it's neither fun nor interesting. It doesn't accomplish anything [whatever that means—is "being a nice tune" an accomplishment?]. It doesn't render the song a classic." What then?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 2:58 PM
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It's like you're thinking, well, if you're not playing your authentic song, you should at least play someone else's song your authentic way. What do you bring to it?

Not quite. I am inclined to ask, "what do you bring to it?" about any song, whether it's a cover or not. But in the case of a song that a band has written the answer may just be, "we are sharing something we created." The similarly minimalist answer to "what do you bring to it?" for a cover would be, "we think this song is entertaining, and will play it in a way that highlights the entertaining aspects -- which may have already been fully present in the original."

I don't think of, "what do you bring to it?" as a threshold that a band has to exceed, but as a way of contextualizing.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:02 PM
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(Are the Beatles considered part of the Great American [sic] Songbook? Wouldn't a "yes" answer mean that their songs are performed alongside those of Cole Porter? Or what would it mean?)

The examples you give of instances where you can answer "yes" to one of your questions all seem to be cases where the yes answer to the question supports a yes answer to "is this a good cover?".

Lyle Lovett's cover of Frummox's excellent Texas Trilogy hasn't elevated that/those song(s) to oft-performed status. I'm not sure what it accomplishes as a recording, or (as you know, now) what that question is supposed to mean. It's nice in that Lovett has a jazzier, more syncopated take on the vocals, and Lovett omits the spoken parts, for whatever reason. It's better recorded and warmer. But it's certainly not "interesting" the way the soul "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" was (though I don't think that cover was, in fact, interesting). I like 'em both anyway.

Basically, I'm not sure there is such a thing as being good qua cover, that "cover" is something with its own standards of excellence. Since your questions still presume that a "cover" is a special thing that we should assess in relation to the original performance, and, again, since your questions all seem to point towards something being a good cover if one of them receives a "yes" answer, I don't think you sidestep the question.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:07 PM
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I support the minimal answer in 67, but it's not an answer I would have expected from its authors, from previous discussions of covers!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:08 PM
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Suppose there's a cover and we say, "it's neither fun nor interesting. It doesn't accomplish anything [whatever that means--is "being a nice tune" an accomplishment?]. It doesn't render the song a classic." What then?

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darĂ¼ber muss man tanzen.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:10 PM
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See, now that's sidestepping a question.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:10 PM
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Lucian Souza covers "Down To You" (live).

Not particularly interesting conceptually -- not a major re-working.

I think it does accomplish something as a recording, but what it accomplishes is pretty minor -- shifts of emphasis from the original.

I don't think it elevates the song.

But it is sung well, and is pleasing.

I support the minimal answer in 67, but it's not an answer I would have expected from its authors, from previous discussions of covers!

I can't claim perfect consistency. I'm sure there are times when I've object on the basis of, "what does it add to have this version available" (see #3 in the OP). But, I think, that's a reason why I, personally, don't like it, not an argument that it was somehow an illegitimate cover.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:15 PM
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Basically, I'm not sure there is such a thing as being good qua cover

No, I said these are three questions about covers, and I think they are useful. It is perfectly plausible to me that there exist plenty of good recordings that happen to be covers. I think there's something more specific to be said about them that pertains to my #3, but it could just be the act of better-known musicians giving lesser-known musicians a nice boost. (e.g.)

I agree with you fully that there are good recordings whose cover-ness is not particularly interesting. Which is why I think theorizing covers should sidestep whether or not a cover is good.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:19 PM
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Off to potluck, but is Cleo Laine's version of Bach's two-part inventions a cover because of the genre change? Really I'm just putting this here so someone will be intrigued and search youtube so I don't have to.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:26 PM
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No, I said these are three questions about covers, and I think they are useful.

Useful for what?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:33 PM
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Describing.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08- 7-13 3:37 PM
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Somewhat relevant!

YouTube already distributes royalties for much of its content to copyright holders, but it sometimes lets MCNs like Fullscreen handle such complications on their own. ... Each music copyright has two parts, a copyright on the lyrics and composition and another on the recorded music. The NMPA is in charge of getting payments for songwriters and composers; the Recording Industry Association of America takes care of recording copyrights. ... Artists wanting to create cover songs can distribute them via CDs or other units of recorded music by paying 9.1 cents per copy of a song. That "mechanical license" is set by law, and the cover band doesn't need permission from the original artist. However, to create a music video, a "synchronization license" is required from the music publishers. ... The new lawsuit suggests that much of the royalty collection responsibility has moved away from YouTube and onto MCNs like Fullscreen. The NMPA already has an agreement with YouTube itself. The group sued YouTube in 2007 and reached a settlement in 2011 that allowed it to collect royalties on its songs.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 08- 8-13 5:11 PM
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Dubstep Cyndi Lauper cover! True fact: the singer was the first person who trained me as a (radio) DJ at WHPK.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-13 6:30 PM
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Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darĂ¼ber muss man tanzen.

I cannot think of any sentiment more foreign and inimical to Unfogged. Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darueber muss man sprechen. Ficken sie, Hanswurst.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08- 9-13 3:48 AM
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