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Friday, February 8, 2008

A Passionate Plea To Anyone In A Band

Psst, hey you. Yeah, you over there, without a record deal with the guitars and the amps and the drums working your ass off to get your music heard. Do you and your band do any covers in your set? Unless you're Bob Dylan, Fred Eaglesmith or Billy Joe Shaver, I betcha do a cover or two. I've got a little advice for you.

Doing covers is a fickle thing. It's hard to do them justice when you do them straight up and other times it seems like you're a genius when you re-tool an old standard. You know...speed it up, slow it down, turn a rap song into a country song (Thank You, Gourds!), make an old country standard a punk song (Thank You, Social Distortion!).

If you're doing the speed-it-up/slow-it-down/musical-reincarnation of a song, I will give you leeway to do whatever you want. But if you're doing the tunes straight up without much differentiation from the original, I have a list of songs I would like you to avoid at all costs. Because everyone and his brother and his band is doing these. If we all gave these songs a rest, I think that'd be swell. They've earned it.

Truck Drivin' Man
Six Days On The Road
White Freightliner
Hey Good Lookin'
Folsom Prison Blues
Rock Island Line
Good Old Boys (Dukes Of Hazzard theme song)
Whiskey River
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain

and above all else...stop doing Wagon Wheel (aside: whoever that guy is who put Wagon Wheel out as his first single should ashamed of himself)

You wanna do a Johnny Cash song? Do "I Never Picked Cotton".
Dylan? "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall", "Shelter From The Storm" or "I Shall Be Released".
Waylon? "There Ain't No Good Chain Gang" or "Waymore's Blues".
Willie? "Shotgun Willie" or "I Gotta Get Drunk".
Townes? Don't cover Townes unless you knew him personally.

My point is simply that there are hundreds of thousands of songs out there to cover. You don't have pick a song off the top of the pile. Especially if you've heard someone else cover it already. I am available to give council to anyone needing help selecting a cover.

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