Cover vs Original Bands observed

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by noname_dragon, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. noname_dragon

    noname_dragon Tele-Meister

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    Lately I’ve been thinking back on my life as a guitar player/singer, and ruminating on what it means to be creative. It’s a big subject and I’d like to hear what others are thinking about it all.

    I’ve learned just about everything I know about performing while playing in cover bands. Cover bands are where you learn all aspects of stage craft: learning to play songs from recordings, memorizing lyrics, chasing tone, how to use your gear, functional association with others, professional behavior, performing for an audience, negotiating engagements, getting paid. Delivering a song with conviction. All our skills are forged and sharpened here.

    I’ve played in cover bands since junior high school which was 50 years ago(yikes). I’ve experienced all the thrills, excitement, travel, romance, misery, and rock n roll glory one guy can have. Dances, bars, taverns, clubs, moose lodges, army bases, county fairs, backyard parties, concerts, every kind of situation one can imagine. I’ve met many a sunrise with a song in my heart and a beautiful girl beside me. There’s a creative glass ceiling playing, or emulating, other artists’ music, but one can learn so much there. A good song is a good song no matter who wrote it!

    On the other hand, playing original music live is ART. It is unique, one of a kind performance art. There are no limits or rules. Songwriting is at the heart of this endeavor, and it helps if your songs are good and you can perform them in an interesting and professional manner. The original bands I’ve played in went places cover bands can’t go. There is a different level of respect if not much money. You are treated like an artist. Folks are open minded and receptive to hearing something new and seek it out. The downside is you can’t easily get the paying gigs a cover band can get, because the general public wants to hear and dance to songs they know, and rightly so. You have to find the venues that showcase original bands. When you DO find an audience that likes your original music, they will give you their rapt attention and respect.

    Way short of becoming a RnR star, I’ve found creative bliss in playing original music.

    NO judgement here, just personal observations. What say you? What’s your experience? And thanks for reading.
     
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  2. johnnylaw

    johnnylaw Tele-Afflicted

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    Write if you can.
    Cover if you must.
    Lots of great stuff from which to choose!
    Some of which has yet to be penned.
    Just tune first.
     
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  3. zeedoctour

    zeedoctour Tele-Meister

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    I could never make it in a covers band. I just can't do the whole covers like they originally sounded thing. I also get so much joy out of creating original music and sound that I'd never be my best unless I was pursuing that. You can't do everything, at least *I* can't. Having said that, I do cover other peoples songs. I just don't try to do them exactly like the originals because I doubt I ever could ... but yeah covers are great. I love doing original stuff and I try to treat covers in the same manner because it's easier for me to stay where I find the most joy. Really good covers band players have my eternal respect because that's a kind of good I can't be.
     
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  4. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    I do both. I don't view my originals any more "art" than well done covers. Many a mega star has become that with covers and their unique arrangements.
    There are 3 chords in music. Everything else is embellishment or arrangement over those.
    OK, that's a step too far but you probably know what I mean.
    Many a song, cover or original, can be done mechanically with little soul or can make you cry.
     
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  5. P-Nutz

    P-Nutz Tele-Afflicted

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    I suck at originals ... even though I'm partially a "writer" by trade, I do no good at music ... on the other hand, I can cover the stink out of songs, and have for almost fiddy years ...


    Gave a guitar recently to a friend who had his backup stolen, and he is an amazing songwriter, soloist and improviser ... I commented that I wish I were as fluid as he, and he said that he admired ME because he didn't have the discipline to play covers ... go figure ...

    Peace.
     
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  6. dlew919

    dlew919 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Covers are great. I rarely do ‘note for note’, ‘sound for sound’. Some solos and riffs you have to of course. But generally if it’s overdriven any overdrive in the ball park works etc. as long as the crowd recognises them you’re generally fine.

    Originals are great. But it’s hard to get original gigs in Sydney. It can be done. But you won’t make a short term living from it




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  7. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Tele-Afflicted

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    ^^Nailed it. If I had more time, and talent, I would write and play originals. But I don't have either, so I find songs I like and play those. I appreciate players who try to do their own spin and familiar songs. There is a certain amount of creativity in that, too.
     
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  8. zeedoctour

    zeedoctour Tele-Meister

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    I totally get this. I am your friend.
     
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  9. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    I never planned on being ( or identifying myself as...) a ' cover player'.
    I just wanted to learn how to play guitar ( and years later sing) on a whole lot of styles of music, and perform it. Still do.

    Except for a few bluegrass/ folk blues progressions, I'm not a songwriter, but I have put a lifetime of effort and hard ( fun!) work into really learning some great music. Calling it 'cover band' IMO just seems a bit condescending to my experience.
    Like " Are you a real artist, or do you play covers? "
    I'm an artist playing great music, keeping it alive- is how I look at it as it ( and we) are indeed aging.
     
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  10. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    only ever been in original bands
     
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  11. Axegrinder77

    Axegrinder77 Tele-Meister

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    Did original stuff in my twenties.. Was fortunate to have a creative singer in our band who wrote stuff on the fly.

    Now in my 40s with a job and a family, I'm happy to just play music. Cover bands afford me this pleasure, as the time and energy requirement, while still present, is far less.

    Doing the originals was no doubt the highlight of my music life, even though I'm a better player now. Covers are limiting creatively, no matter what anyone says.
     
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  12. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    the trio I was in played a mixture of covers and originals..... I enjoyed playing our originals more than the covers....

    though, we never played note for note covers we kept them as close as we could...;)

    I liked the creative process of coming up with basslines...
     
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  13. adjason

    adjason Friend of Leo's

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    originals for sure BUT I don't make a living playing music
     
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  14. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I studied composition and do some writing, but bottom line is, I like playing music I like—I don't care who wrote it. :)

    I don't get the notion that, for example, Andrés Segovia is not an artist.
     
  15. bendercaster

    bendercaster Tele-Holic

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    Unless you are playing solo or writing as a group, it is kind of an artificial distinction. It is easier for me to play songs I wrote. I don't have to learn how to play it because I made it. But when one of my band mates brings in an original song for the band to play, it feels like I'm playing a cover and vice versa. I wonder about bands like the Rolling Stones, playing the same songs for 30 plus years with several non-original members--some of them are playing "original music" I suppose, but is Ron Wood?
     
  16. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Poster Extraordinaire

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    I was in an all original band back in the 70s for about three years. It was okay, not great.
    Then when I quit they got another singer/guitarist and became the Stompers and did very well.
     
  17. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity

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    I think playing any music live is Art. I'm creative and I write my own things also but I play in a band that doesn't perform original music for the reason you've already made clear. I think the idea that playing original music is some higher level is false.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
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  18. GuitarKid

    GuitarKid Tele-Holic

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    I have written a lot of stuff and recorded on my own over the years. The problem with playing original music is convincing your bandmates that your song is good as long as they agree to commit to it a little bit. Generally when one writes a song, he/she has pretty much all the vision in their heads as to what that song really is, what the potential is - if they are good experienced musicians and not just some freaks with illusions of grandeur, which I've seen a lot too. It's not like I want to be a dictator, but please don't suggest me to completely change my song and give it some stupid chorus just for you to feel "part of it" and "democratic".

    It's all such a subtle, dynamic art, to be in a band that wants to create music. It's so easy to overstep into somebody's lines. Bandmates have to really know themselves before they venture to suggest a verse or a line to somebody's music. It can't be just "I must have a line in, whatever cr@p it may be".

    I mean, ideas have to be pertinent. People need to understand context. I'm more than happy to allow a good idea in a song of mine. I'm also happy to support a friend perfect their own ideas without necessarily demanding my stupid line to be put in.

    This is why most bands break up. The thing is to try to keep the ball rolling while it can.
     
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  19. Geo

    Geo Friend of Leo's

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    The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds and other famous bands started out doing covers.
    It certainly honed their vocal and musical abilities or skills prior to becoming original.
     
  20. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    It's not really that a player of Segovia's caliber wasn't an artist (which is still open to debate), it's that cover bands barfing out semi-competent versions of shopworn classic rock tunes aren't artists.


    I think you're conflating writing with arranging. Listen to Hendrix doing "All Along The Watchtower" or Coltrane doing "My Favorite Things". They didn't write those tunes, but they definitely made them their own- that's arrangement. When somebody in a band brings in a song, it's usually up to the other guys to arrange it- come up with their own parts, and thus make the song their own. One of the classic examples of this is Mike Campbell coming up with the signature lick to Tom Petty's "Breakdown"- that was arrangement, not writing. Mick Taylor played "Satisfaction" differently than Brian Jones did, and Woody plays it differently than either.

    Sure there are control freaks who map out every note for every instrument, which really would be the same as playing a cover since you'd be playing a part someone else arranged for you. I wouldn't find that terribly interesting, either.
     
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