Posted in music and the music business, rants - political and otherwise

to cover or not to cover

now playing: shane nicholson, “keep it together”

todays’ friday top five, all time list:

all time top five worst cover songs in rock and roll history

“it’s my life” – no doubt

there’s obviously an adage in the music business that if you can just get gwen stefani to inhale and exhale in quarter notes, you then have a song and all the other parts are irrelevant.

wrong. wrong. wrong.

“big yellow taxi” – counting crows

when you’re the debutante and your coming out party is august and everything after, you’re almost expected to be consigned to irrelevance with any effort that you put forth after that. adam duritz and company released a fine follow up in recovering the satellites, but lost it not long after that. frankly, i don’t think they’ve ever gotten it back.

the pinnacle of the post-peak blandness comes with this weak-assed “let’s do it for schreck” effort, that has none of the buoyancy of the original version and suffers from a bad case of overwroughtness. duritz never really pulls off the happy crooner, much as he tries in this song, and while no one wants to stereotype him, neither does anyone want to see him looking just plain silly like this either.

“layla” – eric clapton unplugged

how does an artist land on a list like this when they do one of their own songs? easy – by lounging it up and sucking the last drop of life from a once timeless and vital piece of work. when clapton and duane allman teamed up to do the layla and assorted love songs album, he personified the tortured artist – embroiled in unrequited love and playing some of the best guitar of his career. certainly, no one can maintain that frame of mind indefinitely, and artists are expected to have their peaks and valleys (neil young, anyone?), but the eric clapton that sat down with his martin acoustic on his knee in 1989 to bleed this song and a number of others of any real sense of urgency they may have once had wasn’t even in the same ballbark with the eric clapton that channeled his love for george harrisons’ wife into rock and roll immortality.

eric – let’s not do this again real soon, ok?

the entire pat boone heavy metal album

yeah, sure, an easy shot – but come on, man! this album is the lays’ potato chip bag of the list – how can you pick just one? everything on this record sucks, and after a listen or two, you start to get the idea that the album was essentially the end result of a huge practical joke set up to make boone look like more of a dweeb than he already did before the whole concept came to light.

even funnier is the fact that pat boone lobbied the rock and roll hall of fame some years back for membership on the basis that he made rock and roll safe for white, middle class kids and that he deserved to be in the hall of fame as such.

percy sledge was damaging enough to the hall’s reputation – that would be the cinder block that broke the camel’s back.

“baby i love your way/free bird” – will to power

whose list is this not on? sure, it’s another easy shot to take, but this piece of shit deserves every LAPD boot laid upon its Rodney King ass. take one mullet, add to one set of muscle & fitness abs, blend with one set of hair extensions and implants – baste with milli vanilli soulless vocals and serve with two thoroughly crushed rock and roll chestnuts and bake at room temperature until video becomes stale. remove from oven and rush to garbage can before the stink settles in.

there are people walking around out in the world today who actually went to the record store and bought this garbage. if you happen to be one of them, please don’t tell me.

let it be your little secret. i won’t mind.

honorable mentions:

“sweet child o’ mine”, sheryl crow

there are so many swings to take at this song, it’s almost unfair…while it is possible to occasionally pull of a cover of an established song in a completely different genre, this song is a huge swing and a miss.

there are certain bands that have so much of a signature that their songs are practically uncoverable. led zeppelin, for instance. you can count on your testicles the number of times that bands have pulled off successful covers of their songs (my personal favorite: train’s version of “ramble on”), and in all (both?) of those instances, it’ll be pretty faithful to the original in most ways.

this particular version of this song isn’t faithful to jack shit.

“boys of summer”, the ataris

play loud and carelessly. hit things hard. turn everything up all the way. don’t sing –scream. secretly conspire to become billie joe armstrongs’ bitch.
seriously, ask yourself for a minute – who’da ever thunk that covering don henley songs would be considered PUNK?

“stateshoro blues”, dan fogelberg

this is what happens when the person you see in the mirror bears no resemblance whatsoever to who you’ve become…

are you gettin’ the feeling that this could go on indefinitely?

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Author:

tom is a personally and politically malcontent musician, songwriter, sideman and session cat living in East Nashville, Tennessee.

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