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Filtering by Tag: Bei Mir Bist du Schöne

Should songwriters perform cover songs?

Rae Hering

photo by Chad McClarnon

photo by Chad McClarnon

Over the years I’ve heard varying opinions about songwriters including cover songs in their live shows.  Some say having a sizable amount of covers (40-70%) is the best way to connect with listeners because it offers a measure of familiarity.  Others say adding covers dilutes the experience the songwriter is creating for their audience.

Should songwriters perform cover songs?

As a songwriter, I go to concerts to see musicians perform their original material because I’m passionate about songwriting!  But I know that not everyone is like me in this respect, so I posed the question to my Faceboook friends where a discussion got going...

Some folks said that performing covers can be a foot in the door and referenced Tori Amos (check out her version of Angie by The Rolling Stones) and The Beatles as those who have used this technique.  Others staunchly opposed including even one cover in a set or echoed that they only want to see original music performed.

The resounding majority was somewhere in the middle: people like hearing one or two covers from a songwriter if they can perform it in a way that’s unique to their artistry.  

I agree.  I think it's really cool when a songwriter whips out a badass cover and kills it.  For instance, when Ray Lamontagne sings Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” it sounds like a completely new creation.  However, if the cover outshines the original material, the unfortunate comparison can sure make the audience cringe!  Songwriters can find themselves with the opposite problem on their hands, too; if the cover song bombs everyone walks away remembering that one moment.  

Considering these two pitfalls, I've come to the conclusion that songwriters can’t rush the process of finding covers to perform.  It should be natural (almost accidental) coming across the right song - as though it fell into the your lap!  Great cover songs also come from the songwriter's history.  To offer a personal example, "Bei Mir Bist du Schöne" by The Andrews Sisters was my solo in my high school musical; I've loved it ever since and couldn't help but create an accordion version of this near and dear tune.  Now, it's become a highlight and audience favorite at shows.

When it comes down to it, songwriters have varying abilities and inclinations to perform cover tunes and there's really no "one right way."  I know of many songwriters who started their professional careers singing covers and transitioned to writing because, according to them, it felt more meaningful.  There are some bands that even lead double lives as a cover band and an original music band, like The Empty Pockets (read more in this CD Baby article). 

But for us songwriters that want to be known primarily as songwriters, we can't get caught up in representing ourselves differently!  If we're cramming to beef up our cover repertoire for that 4-hour long gig (I've totally been there and it wasn't pretty) or if we keep giving in to singing those covers that everyone is used to hearing from us, we won't ever be satisfied with our musical selves.  

Songwriters need to ask themselves this question: how do I want people to know me? and to realize that representing ourselves this way is not a future endeavor, it starts NOW.  Know who you are and stick to it!!


Absolute, total, HIGHLIGHT of the summer!

Rae Hering

As summer starts to wind down this Labor Day weekend, I got to thinking about the highlights of the past few months.  Waterfall excursions with friends, family reunions where I ate way too much, pool parties where I regretted that I ate too much, and even going on my first weekend tour with the band! 

But one thing really stands out.  On July 31st my husband Jonathan and I had the honor of curating a Nashville Fringe Festival event from the ground up.  We called it "Face to Face: An Up-Close Concert" because we wanted to create a unique atmosphere where people can come together and get to know each other while enjoying a free live music event.  Thanks to Jan Bossing with the Nashville Fringe Festival, we turned South x Sea recording studio into an East Nashville music venue and had a ball celebrating our Nashville Community!

Face to Face: An Up-Close Concert

Our M.C. Jason Marsden characteristically weaved his way through the audience (the word "stage" is a broad term in his book) and not only kept the laughs coming but spoke about the meaning of Community much more eloquently than I could imagine.  My favorite part of his monologue was when he passed out blank Thank You cards to everyone because - well, what better way to build Community that to send an old fashioned personal note, right?

Our local beer sponsor Little Harpeth Brewing came through with refreshing craft beer that was perfect for the summertime heat.  Also (you may have noticed this in the slideshow) we had two giant donuts - let me repeat - TWO GIANT DONUTS from Fox's Donut Den because, well, that's just awesome!!!! 

Yes, our theme was the Nashville Community for this event, but we didn't want to leave everyone else out!  That's where our friend Ford Heacock with FIREBREATHrecords came in.  He provided high quality lifestream for everyone, everywhere.  I regret we couldn't find a way to get our internet guests some of that delicious giant donut though...

I will leave you with one of my favorite songs from the evening.  It's a cover song I sing called "Bei Mir Bist du Schöne," originally sung by the Andrews Sisters.  We're having WAY too much fun in this video to be allowed, especially at the end when it gets all dramatic!!  Enjoy!

Rae Hering on accordion, Keith McGonigle on drums and Jonathan Morse on bass.  Video by Make it Pop.