I admit it! I am a sucker for cover songs. Whether it’s just a straight up effort to replicate the song itself or a parody a-la Weird Al or The Chipmunks.
When I collected vinyl and had a massive record collection back in the 80’s and early 90’s I had all kinds of cover tunes in my library.
One of my all time favorite bands was the Dickies. They were not a “cover” band per se, but they did quite a few covers in their career including some very Ramones-esque versions of songs like Secret Agent Man and Black Sabbath’s Paranoid.
In the very early 80’s I can remember going to see Nazareth live at the Sam Houston Coliseum and marvelling at their rendition of Grieg’s “In The Hall of the Mountain King.” Rock bands delivering up classical music was awesome, like going to see Yes in the 70’s and seeing Rick Wakeman bang out excerpts of The Six Wives of Henry the VIII on his massive set of keyboards or way back to Halloween night in 1977 when I saw Emerson Lake and Palmer live and seeing Keith Emerson deliver up Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at An Exhibition.”
It was a veritable feast for the ears and for the mind.
I think the most influential cover song I ever experienced was on a night in 1978. I was all of 16 years old. There was this ridiculously funny show on NBC called Saturday Night Live (yes, it used to be funny).
The musical guest was a band called Devo and I had never seen the like.
The yellow jumpsuits, the stilted body movements and well, the song…
In the 70’s there were some very sacred cows. Not the least of which was the institution known as The Rolling Stones. The Stones were the British invasion heir apparent to the throne that should have belonged to The Beatles.
But the Beatles had to go and break up so The Stones were it, baby and nobody messed with The Rolling Stones.
As a musician you didn’t just not cover The Rolling Stones, it didn’t even occur to you to cover The Rolling Stones, much less “interpret” or (gasp) parody them!
And here is this goofy looking band called Devo and they are not only covering Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones, they are making no effort to emulate Mick Jagger and this sure as hell doesn’t sound like The Rolling f’ing Stones!
It was a blow for freedom for anyone who just wasn’t “cool” or “with it”. It was slap in the face to the musical institutions that rock and roll were moving toward becoming. It was a wake up call and, to me, the birth of the American punk movement.
I remember buying all of their albums as the came out and me and my little brother recording our own radio show on a tape recorder and our station always played “Just the hits” which were Devo songs and only Devo songs.
In later years when I hosted my REAL music radio show called Wake Up and Smell the Coffee on KPFT during the 80’s and early 90’s I had a section called “Just The Hits” in which I would play only Devo songs in memory of K-Moose Radio (in downtown cowtown).
I also played a lot of cover tunes and parody songs and had a great time. What a fun show that was….
It was finding this amusing Starbucks commercial from last year. It features Survivor parodying themselves which I find incredibly humorous.
The commercial features an office worker waking up in his apartment, shaving, dressing and going to work to the accompaniment of hair rockers Survivor playing a parody of their song “Eye of the Tiger”
Glen! Glen Glen Glen!
Glen Glen Glen!
Glen’s the man, going to work
Got his tie, got ambition
Middle management is right in his grasp
It’s a dream he will never let die
Glen’s the man of the hour
He’s the king of his cube
Status quo reports have
finally met their rival
Burning the candle at both ends
on his way to the top
He knows one day he just could become….
As soon as Glen’s at the office Survivor move to their next target…
Roy! Roy Roy Roy!