Monday, June 09, 2008

Originals and covers, general thoughts

I was thinking about covers versus originals while watching the Nace Brothers out at the Olathe Concert Series May 30th. They had a half hour only. (It was a half hour of them, a half hour of them accompanying the Cate Brothers, and then Rodney Crowell with his band as headliners.) It was a short set, but it was great because it was all originals. (Well, I'm counting the one song they didn't write but did record.) Sometimes at those bar gigs they do, originals are few and far between. I don't so much like that. Oh, the show is still great. But I'd rather hear all originals than all covers.

On the other hand, there's some covers that they do that I'd sure miss if they stopped doing them. I wouldn't want to never hear them again. And I like those songs by the Nace Brothers, specifically, not just generally.

Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter, each of them I'm a fan of as a songwriter and as a singer. Jeff I first came to appreciate as a singer from him doing covers, not originals. Back when we only heard him sing (lead vocals) when Bob broke a guitar string. It's because they are such fine singers that it can be such a delight to hear their versions of songs they didn't write. And I've even discovered and bought CDs of some damn fine singer-songwriters from Bob doing their songs.

I'm plenty willing to admit I enjoy it when they do covers, because I'm a fan of them as singers and musicians. I enjoy the covers. But I'm also a fan of them as songwriters. In Bob's case, Bob's songwriting is how I discovered him and why I was drawn to him as a musician. I didn't listen to Skin (my first Rainmakers album, an album from 1997 that I bought in 2003, and the first album I had with Bob on it) and think, gee, what great singing. It was the songs. And I didn't, back in the 80s, like "Let My People Go-Go" for the vocals. It was the song.

The request/suggestion list I made at a recent show (my substitute for Gary's list) had more covers than originals. But that's because I'm there all the time, plus, so many of the originals I like they do frequently. They could do "The Other Side of the World" (a great song of Bob's from back in the Rainmakers days) every show and I wouldn't tire of it. But it wasn't on my list because they do it frequently anyway, so no reason for me to suggest it. On the other hand, much as I love Bob singing "Tupelo Honey" (the great wonderful Van Morrison), I wouldn't want to hear that every week. I like it as an occasional treat.

Now, if I were someone who doesn't come all the time, and I made a request list (of whatever length), it would be mostly originals. If I were to bother to request stuff, it would be the stuff I particularly want to hear at that particular show that I'm there in person for, and that would be mostly all originals.

So, I like both, I like the balance they've had, and I don't mind that the balance varies from show to show. Heck, that way, it's a treat when they do lots of covers, and it's also a treat when they do hardly any covers and mostly all originals. :)


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