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Playing a cover of a song offers musicians a unique opportunity

Playing a cover of a song offers musicians the unique opportunity to experiment with an established tune.
Playing a cover of a song offers musicians the unique opportunity to experiment with an established tune.

I’m just going to put this out there: If there is one song I could listen to every day from here until eternity it would be Eddie Money’s “Take Me Home Tonight.”

Each time it plays, I’ll dance, sing and play a sad version of air saxophone when the solo hits.

I requested the tune at a wedding once and was the only one on the dance floor jamming out to it.

That is just the way it is. In fact, you could do the same with The Outfield’s “Your Love” and I would shout ‘Josie’s on a vacation far away” as loud as I could every dang time.

I’m heading to Grand Falls-Windsor tomorrow and I’ll fire up both of those tunes five or six times each between here and there.

I’m not ashamed to admit any of that.

I’ve heard “Your Love” being played once at a bar and it might’ve been the best moment of my life.

Tonight at Whelan’s Gate, I imagine there will be people there who feel what I do, only they’ll be exercising their vocal chords with some of the ’90s favourite jams.

That is when they get to dust off their dancing shoes can do so and get down to a few sets by The Tamagotchis.

Now, the key to any good cover band is the tunes they play.

The set list, which they’ve been working on for some time, is sure to feature plenty of ’90s tunes that you might not hear every time you hit Broadway. So, don’t expect to hear a rendition of the Counting Crows’ “Mr. Jones.”

While that may disappoint some people, it is good news for those of us who rejoice at the news of a night lacking dozens of people shouting “Mr. Jones and me” as loud as they can.

The plan is to stray away from the normal arrangement of songs you might expect to hear at a bar show.

You’re bound to hear renditions of The Backstreet Boys, Macy Gray, Meredith Brooks and others.

Don’t worry though, there will still be a good mixture of the likes of Sloan and The Tragically Hip.

“We’re covering the gamut, but we’re keeping it light hearted,” said band member Nick Hamyln. “We’re going for fun.

Think Johnny Cash’s haunting version of “Hurt” or Hendrix’s blues-centric rendition of “All Along the Watchtower.”

For further evidence, seek out Ryan Adams’ haunting version of the Oasis classic “Wonderwall."

They’re artists who took an established song and put their spin on it. I think it works because people want to hear different arraignments to their favourite songs.

The Nine Inch Nails version of “Hurt” is vastly different from Cash’s and that’s OK.

Fearless Records has made a living off of their various Pop Goes Punk compilations that feature punk bands putting their own aggressive spin on some of pop music’s favourite cuts.

That is the beauty of a cover song, really. It can be whatever the performer wants it to be.

They’re not tied to a preconceived notion of what they’re supposed to play.

I find it interesting when I’m listening to a band play a song I know at a bar. I’m listening for beat changes or a certain guitar chord.

If that doesn’t come, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s the artists adding their personal touch to the tune.

It is an homage to the originator when you think about it. Just as they experimented with a chord progression to come up with a tune pleasurable to our ears, the guys you’re listening to live are doing the same thing.

Besides, consider the following.

“Who doesn’t want to see four bearded guys singing The Spice Girls?” said Hamyln.

I bet the answer to the question is all of us.

I mean, The Spice Girls are awesome.

Nicholas Mercer is the online editor with The Western Star. He lives in Corner Brook and can be reached at nmercer@thewesternstar.com

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