Monday, April 15, 2013

on mistaking covers for the originals

After the Bobtown show last Friday night, I was chatting briefly with one of the singers (I think it was Jen McDearman) about their cover version of the Blue Oyster Cult song, "Don't Fear the Reaper."  I noted that, while I had heard of the song, I wasn't really familiar with what it sounded like.

Actually, I'm kind of puzzled here. I had this whole memory of Blue Oyster Cult having gotten heavy criticism because some teenager commited suicide and it was somehow blamed on the song. I was sure I could get some details by looking up the song on Wikipedia. But there's no mention of any real controversy. The closest I can find is a quote from Buck Dharma:
I felt that I had just achieved some kind of resonance with the psychology of people when I came up with that, I was actually kind of appalled when I first realized that some people were seeing it as an advertisement for suicide or something that was not my intention at all. It is, like, not to be afraid of it (as opposed to actively bring it about). It's basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners.
Maybe they were criticized for supposedly encouraging suicide, but weren't blamed for any specific suicide?

Anyway, Jen commented that it was a good thing -- I will always know that song for their version and not for BOC's. And that reminded me of growing up. There were several sopngs that I knew better via their cover versions than by the better known hit versions.

Prominent example? "We Gotta Get Out of This Place." I knew it as a Partridge Family song because it was on their Notebook album, which my sister had. It was only years later, when I saw an ad in a catalogue for an Animals compilation, did I learn of the better-known rendition. While I love the Animals's hit, I also have a soft-spot for the Partridge Family's version. You can listen to it here:

Another example was "Me And You and a Dog Named Boo," which I knew by the Brady Bunch version -- my sister had their album, Meet the Brady Bunch. I only learned of my folly when I was at a friend's house.Her older sister had a friend over, and they were listening to the radio. On comes Lobo's hit version. I said something like "That's a Brady Bunch song!" What a look I got. Unlike the Partride Family cover I mentioned above, this was a horrendous cover. Judge for yourself:
The Brady bunch cover of "American Pie" (yes, it was years before I learned that it was not their song originally) was even worse:
Of course, I remember at summer camp explaining to someone that "Daydream Believer" wasn't originally an Anne Murray song. So at least then I got to feel superior


  1. Someone besides The Partridge Family did We Gotta Get Out of this Place?????

    1. You are joking. Aren't you?

      While I love the Partridge Family version, I never felt that David Cassidy's voice was well-suited for such a downbeat song -- though I will admit that it fits nicely with the other songs I mentioned in a post long ago that are bouncy and upbeat and/or pleasant sounding but are actually bvery unpleasant if you look at what they're actually about. Nick Lowe's "Marie Provost" and Billy Joel's "Always a Woman to Me" come to mind.

      I think I recall seeing a video (what was then called a "promotional clip") of the Animals doing it. If UI can find it, I'll post that forthwith.

      Oh, by the way. I realize it wasn't "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" that prompted my cry of "That's a Brady Bunch Song!" at the F*****n girls' house. It was "Baby I'm A Want You," which is better known as a song by Bread. I think it was Bread. Maybe not. I don't care enough to uplook it.

  2. That Brady Bunch cover of American Pie is the worst thing I have ever heard. They should all go to Don McLean's grave and beg him for forgiveness. (When he dies.)


    1. Well, except that Don McLean gets royalties for their recording of it--no matter how bad it is. If anything, they should beg the listening public's forgiveness.