Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A rather thorough post which contains enough references to pose as some sort of pointless collegiate thesis. Grant money payable to Birdmonster LLC

We've been contemplating doing a few covers on New Year's Eve. You figure, hey, it's one of the top three debaucherous evenings of the year (along with Hallowe'en and the always rowdy Women's Suffrage Day), so why not learn something we can all sing along with? After all, a drunken, disorganized sing-along is a beautiful thing; kind of like a Canadian hockey game without the feathered mullets and the superior national anthem.

But, naturally, you have to be picky. A great cover is a rarity and you don't want to end up doing what the Ataris did: covering an otherwise fantastic '80s song, adding distortion, and butchering the vocals like Carl Lewis before a Bulls game. (If Don Henley was dead, he would've been rolling in his grave. Since he's not, he probably just cashed a royalty check and drank pink champagne on ice. Strange, but true). Of course, on the flip side of this coin are the Clash, Nirvana, and Aretha Franklin. London Calling (my top vote getter for "Best Album Ever") is laden with covers while Nirvana's Unplugged is nearly half other people's music, notably that Leadbelly song I can never remember the name of and a mean version of "Man Who Sold The World." And I mention Aretha Franklin because "Respect" is actually an Otis Redding song. Hell, Bobby McGee is a Kristofferson song but I really don't want to hear any version without Janis Joplin at the helm. (Barely related note: isn't it wonderful that the guy who wrote "Bobby McGee" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down" was also a psuedo-crippled vampire hunter who co-starred with Wesley "Yeah I cheated on my taxes but also I can kill you" Snipes? I think so. No. I know so.)

Okay: I digressed there for a moment. The point: covering someone else's song is a delicate challenge. If your version is too similar, you're wasting people's time. It's like Nickelback covering Creed. Would you even know the difference? And of course, the song has to be good, or what's the point of resurrecting it? There's a reason everyone covers "Let It Be." There's a reason no one covers "She Bangs" except William Hung, who, of course, is a genius. And no, I'm not kidding.

Which leaves us where, exactly? Well, with choosing a New Year's cover. The criteria is it has to be well-known enough that we can all sing along or at least slur through a chorus or two; it has to be someone we don't really sound like (no Limp Bizkit, in other words); it has to be, above all, fun. Nobody wants to hear a somber rehash of "Uptown Girl."

Right now, we've got a couple ideas, but since we aren't that far along, I thought I'd solicit some suggestions. If anything, it could make for an interesting at-work playlist. For now, we'll keep the decision a secret. It's called foreshadowing.

25 comments:

the girl said...

Hang on Sloopy!

birdmonster said...

Sloopy HANG ON!

Sabrina said...

I thought it was snoopy? hmmm.

I love BREAD, but that really dates me doesn't it? late 70's.

I think you guys could do a great "IF" but that may be a sleeper on New Years Eve and may make me cry.

Paul Simon "50 ways to leave your lover"

You've got a slight twang to you which may do a good CCR cover like "Bad Moon Rising"

America "Sister Golden Hair Surprise" obviously the love era and one of my favorites

Please don't do born in the USA. please!

What decade are you guys thinking of?

Webb said...

I think any DMX song would be worth covering, but I am having a hard time imagining a bunch of hipsters chanting, “Stop! Drop! Shut ‘em down, open up shop!”

So, if you’re looking for something a little more classic, and believe me, there are few things more classic than a Ruff Riders Anthem, then you should try “Heard it Through the Grapevine” or Jackson 5’s “I want you back*.”

You could also cover a song from this awesome band out of RB called Hornswaggled…

* You’re only allowed to play Jackson 5 if everyone is standing in a line and rocking their instruments back and forth in unison. I won’t have it any other way.

Sabrina said...

Sloopy it is! good ole Ramsey Lewis & to think all these years I've been singing Snoopy! What a dweeb. Thank you TGS/Birdmonster!

Sarah said...

If you could wrangle some horn-players, you could pull anything from Earth Wind & Fire's library - and folks will get down with it. Don't believe me? Go play yourself some Dancing in September and try to talk yourself out of grinning. It can't be done.

birdmonster said...

Sabrina: Ok. Won't do born in the USA. We'll do We Didn't Start the Fire. Your brain will explooooode. And, glad you've been clued in on Sloopy. That song has very little to do with Charlie Brown.

Webb: Good point about Jackson 5. Also, need denim vests. That match. Is that the one with the end that's all "baby, BABY, BAABY, BAAABY, BAAAAABBBYY, BAAAABBBAAAAYYY!!!" at the end? That part is brilliant.

birdmonster said...

Sarah: I will take your challenge. If I don't smile, you owe me gummi bears. If I do, I will be happy. I will not part with any gummis, however.

Sabrina said...

so now you're a Wise guy! I wasn't thinking of Charlie brown silly! I just thought it was her name. What's a sloopy anyhow?

My head just may explode..I'm trying to gain the appreciation the Boss deserves but I'm not there yet, I must admit that my favorite song from him is I'm on Fire, if my vote counts for squat it would be nice if you played this one.

Free cookies in the breakroom!

elvette said...

Here's my list in order from sublime to ridiculous:

Strokin' (Clarence Carter)
ABC (Jackson 5)
Always on My Mind (Willie Nelson)
Sister Christian (Night Ranger)
Hollaback Girl (Gwen Stefani)
Achy Breaky Heart (the mullet guy)

birdmonster said...

Sabrina: According to Wikipedia, Sloopy was the nickname of one Dorothy Sloop in Ohio. It's also the official rock song of Ohio. You live. You learn.

Elvette: You know Clarence Carter?! Bravo. Woulda chosen "Patches" personally.

Sabrina said...

I will now call you TEACHER! I think of Bruce Lee when I say this...

Here's some more to ponder

Proud Mary (Tina Turner)

Sexual Healing (Marvin Gaye)

Shout (Otis Day and the Knights)- The Bottom of the hill could turn into the Animal house. We should all wear Togas!

Sittin'on the dock of the bay (Otis Redding)

Every Breath you Take (The Police)

What I like about you (The Romantics)

Sweet Jane (Mott the Hoople)

Magic Carpet ride (Steppenwolf)

Shake it up (The Cars)

Leigh said...

throw the jew down the well?

i think so.

SOL's view said...

I can't really comment - but I will - since I have only heard one of your songs. Thought Foo Fighters would be a good place to start. Howzabout Monkey Wrench?

If you ever want to hear some strange covers, try Aussie Andrew Denton's Challenge stuff. .....Tex Perkins (The Cruel Sea) grating through Maxine Nightingale's Lovin' You......

birdmonster said...

Sabrina: Good choices all. Toughies too. I don't think we could out-do Tina or CCR on Proud Mary, but I'll take it as a compliment.

Leigh: What a coincidence! I'm wearing my white hood that night and ev'rything.

SOL's View: I'll check that out---sounds intriguing. Monkey Wrench brings back some serious memories for me...many of which involved "Wait. Isn't that the drummer from Nirvana?" Now? He's kicking ass in a new decade. With a great beard. And a mustache. Bra. Vo.

Sabrina said...

Just trying to keep you on your toes!
Are you gummiless already?

classy attire?
shirt and tie classy attire?
jeez I'll need to unbury a dress, if this is really the case. I've always wanted to dress like a flapper! Are we allowed to bring poppers? What about a good bottle of Champagne? I wanted to toast with Laurent Perrier Brut Rose this New Year. Yum!

Cherry said...

Ben Folds does some amazing covers, but I think it would be neat if someone covered him for a change. Maybe "Rockin' the Suburbs" or "Army".

Love your blog by the way!

Katie L. Thompson said...

I must confess that I am a huge Journey fan so any band that covers one of their songs (cheesy as it may be) gets major props. Thus far, I've heard moving renditions of Don't Stop Believin' by Badly Drawn Boy and Los Amigos Invisibles and probably a few others. Perhaps pick another Journey tune? Oh, but not Seperate Ways.

I've always wondered why more ska and punk bands haven't covered Buddy Holly. But you're not a ska or punk band so maybe ignore this.

I was just listening to the latest Chris Thile album and I immediately recognized a Gillian Welch tune and got excited. I took a look at the liner notes and figured out that he also covered the Strokes and the White Stripes who (shamefully) I've not actually heard before. That's an interesting concept, though; Thile managed to folk-ify these popular rock bands and I had no clue. Perhaps pick something from a totally different genre...?

I think on nights when crowds tend to be a little stiff, bands should break out with some Gap Band or something. Nothing like a little funky bassline to get the ol' ass shakin'.

Of course, I don't particularly give a shit because hey, I'm on the East coast so play what you will. (When you come back, I'd like to hear a cover of Frankie Smith's Double Dutch Bus.)

Gasoline Hobo said...

if you play "message in a bottle", i will set all of you on fire.

of course, anything by Sting will qualify, but you MIGHT get irony points if you cover "Fields of Gold".

sweet merciful baby jesus in an IHOP, i'm actually crying a little because i know that song.

Sindre Pedersen Bjørdal said...

This brings us to a discussion of what makes a classic song, in which I, as in any discussion, always point to transvestites.

Money quoute:

"I remembered an incident in a club... Robert Wace had been dancing with this black woman, and he said, ‘I’m really on to a thing here.’ And it was OK until we left at six in the morning and then I said, ‘Have you seen the stubble?’ He said ‘Yeah,’ but he was too pissed [drunk] to care, I think."

And which song is this, this song born from the fantastic scene of the drunken manager spending the night dancing with a black transvestite you say? No other than the fabulous "Lola" by the legendary "The Kinks".

Please, please do the transvestite song. Think about it, not only is it a great song, it's perfect for the late-night sing-a-long, it doesn't require matching denim wests or standing in a line and rocking your instruments back and forth in unison, but thankfully does not rule any of those out either. And finally, it's dealing with the eternal issue of the good looking "lady" with stubbs and a suprise beneath the skirt. It's perfect! Please!

emmy said...

I can picture you all doing a beautiful Rancid cover.

birdmonster said...

Oh, so many, so many.

Sabrina: I still have gummis. They've been (and continue to be) delicious. And yes. Us Birdmonsters will be finely dressed. It's New Year's. I like pretending that I have class.

Cherry: I love Ben Folds. "Last Polka" is a special favorite. What covers does he do?

Katie: The not-our-genre thing is important. You don't want to cover something that sounds near identical to the original. We're not playing a Bar Mitzvah here (although, come to think of it, I'd love to play a Bar Mitzvah. Especially when they put the guy on the chair). Furthermore, promise to not do Seperate Ways. Although that's a great song.

GH: Duly noted. I too know Fields of Gold. We should have a listening party. Or just do an a capela rendition on a Los Angeles sidewalk sometime. We could up-turn a fedora for the copious tips.

SPB: One of the all-time songs, my friend. Cool factoid: When you think about it "Lola" is the perfect title, isn't it? "Lo" being a romance language masculine article, "la" so often the feminine article. Or am I reading too far into this?

Emmy: Me too. "Olympia WA" is a mental frontrunner.

Cherry said...

I guess that you haven't heard Ben Folds' version of "Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman Mother*(#@" by The Darkness. It's great. you have to check it out!

Hannah said...

I second The Cars - Shake It Up! The song played a pivotal roll in my childhood development as a dancing fool. Weird how certain songs from the past -no matter how silly- will always be special.

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