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#1646141 - 07/08/05 09:49 AM It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
rainbird Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/25/05
Posts: 138
Loc: Seattle
I'm a keyboard player who is in the process of gracefully exiting one band and gently being added to another. When I made the decision to leave Band #1, part of it was due to being bored with the material we have been flogging to death over the last 2 years. Innocently, I imagined that at least I wouldn't have to play Mony freakin' Mony, Brown Eyed Girl, and Mustang Sally again...at least not for awhile...

Guess again. \:\)

So...what to do?

The drummer loaned me the Commitments soundtrack
and said "see if you can play horns, piano, organ and sing backup on Mustang Sally at the same time."

...oooo-kay....

In a situation where one has only two hands,
the possibility of switching between four patches
quickly, and one brain, it's always a matter of a trade-off...deciding which part to bring to the fore to get the point across....and suddenly, Mustang Sally is actually a CHALLENGE to play, and
it's going to be fun.

I would *never* have imagined this outcome in a bazillion years.

I am having a similar experience with much of the material in this band - stuff I'd done in other bands more years ago than I want to admit I've been alive...I'm listening to the original versions and realizing that now that I can do a credible job on horn patches, I can have some serious fun on these tunes. And actually LEARNING them instead of just slogging through them as had been the mode for years.

The jury is still out on "Mony Mony" and "Brown-Eyed Girl"...but at this point, I realize it's ME,
not the song, that needs a little extra.

Anyone out there made this realization lately? Just curious!

LS

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#1646142 - 07/08/05 10:52 AM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
Tedster Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/21/00
Posts: 5935
Nope. Those songs are tired. You've struck a nerve with me, a nerve not all of us on this forum share.

Let me clarify. People love those tunes. I feel every musician needs to know those tunes. BUT...I also feel it's our sacred (okay, SOLEMN, Phil O'Keefe) duty to (ahem) "gently" steer audiences away from those tunes.

Allow me to clarify.

The year is mid 70s or so. I'm at band rehearsal (we're "Band A"), when our other guitar player bursts in and says "Hey, I just got this new record called "Sweet Home Alabama" by some new band called "Lynyrd Skynyrd". It's a great song, three chords, we can work it up in no time. And there's this other song called "Old Time Rock and Roll". EASY!! Great tunes!!!

So we work up these "great new songs" and add 'em to our playlist. So do all the other bands in town.

Our band breaks up after a couple years. I team up with the bass player and drummer from Band B, and the other guitar player from Band C. We want to get gigging as soon as possible. What songs do we all know together?

You guessed it. "Old Time Sweet Home" etc. We choose the shortest, easiest path to get into the bars, and besides, the people seem to dig those tunes.

Our band breaks up again. Same thing. On and on...until we just have a list of those same old tired "Boot Scootin' Three Steps to my Old Time Sweet Home Brown Eyed Mustang Sally". By now, it's almost like every band has the same setlist, and audiences expect those worn out songs.

Remedy? Keep those songs somewhere just below the surface, but do some other tunes first. Pull "Brown Eyed" out ONLY as a last resort. Rather than "Mustang Sally", do some other soul tunes, like "I Can't Turn You Loose", "Hold On", or "Who's Makin' Love". Still popular tunes, but not worn out. Yeah, do some Seger, but do "Feel Like a Number" or something else, perhaps one of my favorite Seger tunes, his remake of the old soul tune "Tryin' To Live My Life Without You" (would make a good segue into "The Long Run" by the Eagles, BTW). Steer the crowds away from those tired old songs. It's your, OUR, solemn duty!!!
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#1646143 - 07/08/05 03:29 PM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
rainbird Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/25/05
Posts: 138
Loc: Seattle
Tedster - your point is well made, and were I in a position of power over the setlist, the dancers
would just have to go somewhere else for those
tunes. No doubt about it. And I will *always* lobby for, as you said, a song in a similar groove
which ought to get them up and dancing, without being...one of THOSE tunes.

It DOES sort of bum me out, I will admit...to see
the dance floor suddenly fill up when we launch into one of my least favorites. But as I've got to
do them anyway, I might as well find a way to enjoy it.

Until I have my own band. \:\)

LS

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#1646144 - 07/08/05 10:53 PM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
Botch. Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/17/00
Posts: 8149
Loc: Ogden, Utard
I have to admit most of my left-hand technique was learned by playing a bonehead song over and over with my left hand instead of my right. It doesn't make the tune any more enjoyable to me but at least I'm developing something.
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#1646145 - 07/09/05 01:50 AM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
Dennyf Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 11/17/03
Posts: 1231
Loc: Virginia Beach, VA
Quote:
Originally posted by rainbird:


It DOES sort of bum me out, I will admit...to see
the dance floor suddenly fill up when we launch into one of my least favorites.
That's the bottom line for me.

Now, when you get down to it, our band doesn't really do very many of those worn-out songs. "Mustang Sally" and "Bobby McGee" spring to mind, and there are a few more that aren't springing right now.

But there's no denyin' that even though "B.E.G.," "Sweet Home," and "Proud Mary" aren't on our setlist, I know 'em, when we get more than one request I play 'em, and damn if they don't fill the dance floor better than our usual set, despite our lackluster delivery.

I think you have a great handle on the idea of making it interesting for you. Kinda synergizes with my notion that there's no song your (my, whatever) band can't do with the right arrangement. Tired of doing the same old tunes? Make 'em interesting! Make your own arrangement! Change the m&th3rfnck3r up! Listen to Goldfinger's arrangement of "99 Red Balloons" and tell me you can't make something satisfying out of the schlockiest piece of . . . writing . . . that you can find. Richard Thompson's "Hit Me Baby, One More Time" is priceless.

There's no boring music. Only boring musicians.
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#1646146 - 07/10/05 07:46 AM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
Steve Force Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 03/01/04
Posts: 8764
Loc: Metro-Detroit, Michigan
My opinion, FWIW...

The audience likes these tunes, always requests them and so...

I agree with what Dennyf said.

Only way to avoid playing these standards? Play original music or don't gig.

And oh, BTW--if you think this is only a rock band issue, why are there some very good jazz fake books???
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#1646147 - 07/10/05 08:59 PM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
KHAN Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 05/08/00
Posts: 4062
Loc: Ceti-Alpha 5
I'm with Ted. We refuse to do any of those old worn out pieces of crap.

We're constantly getting folks thanking us for not doing the same tunes as all of the other bands. Different strokes I guess.
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#1646148 - 07/10/05 09:05 PM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
KHAN Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 05/08/00
Posts: 4062
Loc: Ceti-Alpha 5
Quote:
Originally posted by forceman:
Only way to avoid playing these standards? Play original music or don't gig.
Or look for clubs whose clientele don't have that 'skynyrd' mentality.
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#1646149 - 07/10/05 10:01 PM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
MidLifeCrisis® Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/01/03
Posts: 3104
Loc: Tampa, Fl
This is the endless catch-22

You play great music and nobody will book you. And even when you do gig the audience sits quiet and looks at you like you have three heads.

or you play crowd pleasers and sing alongs that you have been playing since you were 12.

We have recently made a very concerted effort to find great versions of old tunes.

We recently adopted the Wilson Pickett version of Hey Jude to freshen it up. We do Humble Pie's version of Honky Tonk Woman.

New versions of old worn out tunes can do wonders for your attitude when it comes to playing these for the 1 millionth time.
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A Lifetime of Peace, Love and Protest Music
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#1646150 - 07/10/05 11:54 PM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
Tedster Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/21/00
Posts: 5935
Actually, my line falls somewhere between Khan's and Denny's. I don't refuse to play the songs, really...but I do try to avoid 'em if possible.

No, it's not just a rock band issue. Why do you think there were so many old (50s and 60s) era comedy skits where the drunk at the bar would stammer out "Play 'Melancholy Baby'". "Melancholy Baby" was the "Turn The Page" of the day. Or perhaps, the "Wonderful Tonight"...

And it's not really a black and white thing...I mean, it's not a choice between playing "Close to the Edge" or "Margaritaville". There's plenty of room in between. I do agree with Denny that you can take a song and put your own original spin on it.

For example...I'll put forth a theory that many of those songs got to be that way for the simple reason that ANY band could play 'em. How many bands do "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin, or "Back In Black" by AC/DC? Very few...because not many folks can sing those songs and make 'em sound good. You don't need a Robert Plant or Brian Johnson to sing "Sweet Home Alabama". Another song I mentioned earlier, great dance potential..."The Long Run" by the Eagles. A lot of backup vocals, harmony slide guitar parts...a rather complex arrangement for, say, a three or four piece band to pull off convincingly. Why play that when you can play something easier with the same effect?

One band here in KC hit on a very creative solution...play "bastard versions" of songs. They do "Back In Sweet Home Alabama"...in other words, the riff from "Back In Black" with the vocals from "Sweet Home Alabama". It WORKS...and by the time you get over laughing at the joke, you realize it's not too bad an idea.

But, I renew my call for bands to experiment. Sure, keep those songs on the back burner, but, IMO, they shouldn't be on ANY band's setlist AT ALL. Everyone knows 'em, you can pull 'em off at the drop of a hat...so why clog your setlist with 'em?

Funny (and true) story. A few years ago, I took my son and his then girlfriend (the same couple in my avatar ) to "Y'allapalooza" here in Kansas City. Willie Nelson was supposed to be the headliner...but, Willie got sick. Which meant that the guy who was next on the bill, Clay Walker, ended up filling not only HIS slot, but Willie's, too. Walker played through his set (at Sandstone, er, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater) in front of upwards of 10,000 people. Then he said, "Uh, we've got another hour or so to fill, and I'm out of songs". To the audience's general delight, Walker proceeded to turn the Amphitheater into the world's biggest bar, playing everything on our "hate list"...you name it, he played it...Margaritaville, Brown Eyed Girl, Old Time R&R, Mustang Sally, Sweet Home Alabama, Friends In Low Places, Boot Scootin' Boogie... Some of the audience left, but a lot stayed and had a great time. I was laughing so hard I thought I'd piss myself...
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#1646151 - 07/11/05 03:59 PM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
Connie Z Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 1243
Loc: New Orleans, Louisiana
Quote:
Originally posted by rainbird:

The jury is still out on "Mony Mony" and "Brown-Eyed Girl"...but at this point, I realize it's ME,
not the song, that needs a little extra.

Anyone out there made this realization lately? Just curious!

LS
Absolutely!

There is so much that can be done with all of these great old songs. Whether playing them note for note (which can be a challenge) or creating custom arrangments.

My new band has three vocalists, and they are wonderful at coming up with awesome vocal arrangements. And our keyboard player is very creative and is learning to incorporate horn parts and string parts, etc.

And I like to think of our arrangements as "what the original artist would have done with the song, if they had more time and more background vocalists!"

It makes the songs so fun, and the audience is very happy (and impressed.)

I am glad that you are taking this approach. It is good for the band, the audience, and the music biz in general.

... connie

Note: I do realize that after I've played these songs 1000 times, that I will be bored. So, hopefully, when that happens, we'll come up with some new arrangements!
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The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

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#1646152 - 07/12/05 02:10 AM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
Tedster Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/21/00
Posts: 5935
Quote:
Originally posted by Connie Z:
Note: I do realize that after I've played these songs 1000 times, that I will be bored. So, hopefully, when that happens, we'll come up with some new arrangements!
I've got an idea! I'll work up an arrangement of "Gimme Three Steps" so it sounds like "The Long Run" HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
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#1646153 - 07/12/05 09:28 AM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
jackcheez Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/27/05
Posts: 36
Loc: Long Beach CA
Quote:
There's no boring music. Only boring musicians.
Quote:
New versions of old worn out tunes can do wonders for your attitude when it comes to playing these for the 1 millionth time.
Some of you got your head on straight
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#1646154 - 07/13/05 12:06 AM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
Tedster Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/21/00
Posts: 5935
Let's look at the first quote...

"There's no boring music. Only boring musicians".

Let's take the first part of that, "There's no boring music". Exactly how much music is there? Let's think in terms of popular stuff...not some obscure band that released one album in 1972 and still has a cult following. Let's say only tunes that made the pop/rock top 30...from, say, 1965 to the present (that would include, say, Mony Mony and a bunch of other stuff).

How many tunes are there?

Okay, let's narrow it down a little bit. How many "dance-friendly tunes" does that encompass? Still hundreds, you say?

You're right.

What fraction of those tunes are represented by bands that play (on a regular basis, as part of their regular setlist) tunes like "Brown Eyed Girl", "Sweet Home Alabama", "Old Time Rock and Roll", "Margaritaville"...etc?

Probably close to 1/100th of one percent.

Why do these tunes regularly (the key word being "Regularly") if every other band in town is doing the same songs?

"Because the audience likes them"...you say.

I say, true, but more than that, it's that the audience expects them. Like Pavlov's dog, a band plays and they expect to hear "Wipeout" or something. The audience really likes not only these tunes, but hundreds of other tunes that bands don't play...because...putting this as gently as I can, most bands are LAZY. Why challenge yourself to be creative about your setlist when you can please the audience, get paid, and not have to work? If playing "Mustang Sally" is easier to add to the setlist, because you've all done it for years, rather than "Who's Makin' Love" by Johnny Taylor...(another oldie but goody) why strain your brain?

And, now, let's look at the second quote...

"New versions of old worn out tunes can do wonders for your attitude when it comes to playing these for the 1 millionth time."

Why should ANY band play a song for the one millionth time...even speaking figuratively? Time to freshen up the setlists, folks. Sure, that might mean actually getting together with your band and rehearsing occasionally, adding a new song to the setlist every week or two. OHHHH the pain. OOHHH the agony...

:rolleyes: \:D

Does this mean you should NEVER play "Gimme Three Steps" again? Of course not! Just don't play it every gig. Play "Saturday Night Special" or "What's Your Name" instead for a change.
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#1646155 - 07/13/05 12:29 AM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
Connie Z Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 1243
Loc: New Orleans, Louisiana
Quote:
Originally posted by Tedster:
Quote:
Originally posted by Connie Z:
Note: I do realize that after I've played these songs 1000 times, that I will be bored. So, hopefully, when that happens, we'll come up with some new arrangements!
I've got an idea! I'll work up an arrangement of "Gimme Three Steps" so it sounds like "The Long Run" HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
LOL \:D

Well... I don't know how many other bands are doing "Poison Ivy" but my band's arrangement is the most adorable I've ever heard!

And we've developed a super deliciousely harmonized version of "Colour My World" that is to die for!

We are having a great time with those.

We are trying to add some that no one else is doing around town, but it's hard, cause there are a lot of cover bands around here. We are lucky though cause we have two female vocalists, which allows us to do more girl songs, which the other bands can't really do too much. And our guy singer is super awesome with ballads and love songs. (and he Rocks too.)

Tedster, I want to hear your Gimme Three Steps/The Long Run arrangement! I know you can do it. \:D

... connie z
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"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

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#1646156 - 07/13/05 12:44 AM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
Tedster Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/21/00
Posts: 5935
\:D
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#1646157 - 07/13/05 05:13 PM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
BluesWithoutBlame Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 774
Loc: Oslo. Norway
This is sooooo true.

I hated "Disco"...when it was new in the 70's and ever since.

But, I just found out that if I play the seminal Bee Gee hit "Stayin' Alive" on acoustic guitar with a boogie backbeat (ala john Lee Hooker) and sing it like an old blues, damn...it works great.

And the lyrics...I'd never heard them before, but when you sing them, they really are pretty good. Did I mention I HATE disco?

If I can make a song I like out of "Stayin Alive" you surely (don't call me "Shirley") can do it with a good song as a basis.

My band does a SLOW version of "I Feel Good" that I am still uncertain of...not sure if I like it better or not, have to see how an audience likes it, but it is NEW.

For me.
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#1646158 - 07/17/05 11:36 PM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
MidLifeCrisis® Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/01/03
Posts: 3104
Loc: Tampa, Fl
Quote:
Originally posted by Tedster:
Does this mean you should NEVER play "Gimme Three Steps" again? Of course not! Just don't play it every gig. Play "Saturday Night Special" or "What's Your Name" instead for a change. [/QB]
I'd much rather play "I Know A Little" \:D
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A Lifetime of Peace, Love and Protest Music
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#1646159 - 07/18/05 09:12 AM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
Tedster Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/21/00
Posts: 5935
Quote:
Originally posted by MidLifeCrisis:
Quote:
Originally posted by Tedster:
Does this mean you should NEVER play "Gimme Three Steps" again? Of course not! Just don't play it every gig. Play "Saturday Night Special" or "What's Your Name" instead for a change.
I'd much rather play "I Know A Little" \:D [/QB]
That one was on our setlist. We did it for a long time.

You'd be AMAZED at the people who holler "SKYNYRD!!!!"...so you play "I Know A Little"...and no one moves. After you're done, the same dopes come up and say "SKYNYRD!!"

It's really like the scene in "Blazing Saddles" where the dopey white guys (headed by Slim Pickens) say to the black road gang "Sing some work songs"...and Cleavon Little and gang start singing "I get a kick out of you" in close harmony...and the white guys go "NO NO...you KNOW..." and start singing "Camptown Races" and dancing around like morons.
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#1646160 - 07/18/05 09:55 AM Re: It's not the SONG that's tired...it's...
daddyelmis Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 704
Loc: USA
This phenomenon is not limited to rock . . . ask a classical musician about having to play Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" or Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" and you'll get the same reaction.

And how many major bands (guys with gold and platinum records) get hacked when their fans want to hear the old hits and not the new music?

I think at the end of the day you've got to find something about the songs to make them fresh to you -- becuase the crowds are always going to request them. My keyboard player wants to kill himself everytime we play a reggae tune because, for the most part, the key parts are just major/minor triads on 2 and 4 repeated ad nauseum. But, keeping that tempo "perfectly" for 4+ minutes is a challenge in discipline.
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