Cover Songs vs. Interpretations: What’s the Difference?

In the music world, covers and interpretations are frequently mixed up. Most often, interpretations are mistakenly referred to as covers, ouch! Here, I’ll take you on a brief music etymology diatribe, so you’ll be ready for your next open-mic night.

A “cover” is when I learned how to play a Maroon 5 song when I began to play guitar and sing. A cover is yet another performance of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” at your nearest open-mic night. A cover is the “Tribute to the Beatles” cover band playing in Reno this weekend. A cover is often a tribute to the original song, group, or artist. A cover is when an aspiring musician performs a song in close likeness to the original. Vocal inflections, tone, time and feel all attempt to honor the most well-known recording of a particular song. Most musicians begin their musical careers with cover songs. Learn the chords for Nirvana, James Taylor, Taylor Swift or Adelle songs, and you’ve got a friendly list of covers to perform at the local bar on Tuesday nights.

gsk2oAn “interpretation” is when a musician creates a new song out of an old song. An “interpretation” is inspired when an artist believes they can make new art with another artist’s canvas. Musicians even compose and perform interpretations by their peers. An artist may love the original song, but she hears another version stirring within her, and the interpretation becomes her own. A well-known example of interpretation is Jimi Hendrix’ “All Along the Watchtower,” which was originally composed and performed by Bob Dylan. Interpretations have immense artistic quality, and the new music stands alone. Some pieces of music have historically had many successive interpretations. Even songwriters who perform their compositions are interpreting their own work! One music composition need never be performed the same way twice.

Next time you’re jamming with friends or enjoying open-mic night, knowing the right lingo can go a long way towards not sounding like a boob. If you’ve been working on a Mumford & Sons cover, say so. If someone just performed a soulful, acoustic interpretation of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” say “Hey guy, I like your interpretation…”

Singer-songwriter Joan Baez is the queen of musical interpretations, whether she’s interpreting her own works or the works of others. In 1964, Baez made Phil Ochs’ “There But For Fortune” a chart hit. I like this interpretation…

For more musical interpretations (and originals), visit my own music page!

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How to Verify the Truth of Things

We’ve all received those e-mails from our ex-sister-in-law-twice-removed, citing President Obama as a radical Muslim who refuses to recite the pledge of allegiance; or little Tammy Lynn from Edmonton, Kentucky who was abducted by a Canadian in a pink Miata (Quebec license plate # 72B381) and was last seen speeding towards the Mexican border.

What about the popular Gasoline Boycott Day that rears it’s putrid head every time gas prices rise more than 2¢ a week?  “Don’t buy gas on September 1st!  Don’t buy gas on March 31st!  Don’t buy gas on May 15th!”  Do you remember the last time that worked and gas dropped to 99¢ a gallon?  Neither do I.

Provided here, is a simple 3-step guide to verify the truth of all things.  All that’s required is a change of clothes into comfortable Yoga-type stretch pants and a loose fitting t-shirt.  Turn off all radios, CD players, iPods, smart phones, telephones, and don’t forget to unplug the rotary phone.  Three slow “in” breaths and three rapid and forced exhalations will expel the negative Ju-Ju in your body, and you are ready to discover the truth of all things.

1. Open your laptop and connect to the internet that Al Gore invented.  Point your web browser to http://www.google.com or a similar search engine.

2. Type in a few keywords pertaining to the news you just found out about Charlie Sheen’s heart attack or the raccoon that found and returned your neighbor’s cat.

For example, if you’ve recently received an e-mail claiming Obama as a devout Muslim who refuses to recite the pledge of allegiance, type “Obama muslim pledge of allegiance.”

If all your Facebook friends are ripping their hair out about the new Amber Alert and the tiny tyke from Edmonton, Kentucky who was abducted by a Canadian with the license plate #72B381, type in “Amber Alert Kentucky Canada license.”

If you’re wondering whether or not those gasoline boycott days really work, type in “gas boycott days,” and Snopes, MSNBC and other sources will get you in on “the know.”

3. Start clicking on results!  Search results will reveal themselves from factcheck.org, snopes.com, urbanlegends.about.com, Wikipedia and many more.  Find out what most sources are saying, and draw your own conclusions.  Google Magic will reveal new truths to you that you never thought possible.  This is why Al Gore invented the internet.

If you’re still uncertain, you can always go directly to the source with a few more clicks and keywords.  Though it may take a few more minutes, you can get a more definitive answer for your nagging ex-sister-in-law-twice-removed.  You might even find out if there’s a real Active Amber Alert or what President Obama really said.

So before you make a fool of yourself by shouting “No thank you! I do not want that Muslim stamp on my letters!” at the post office; before you throw flour on a curling iron burn; before you dial #77 in an emergency, spend a moment with Google.  It usually takes less than a minute to get to the bottom of things, and your friends and family will be grateful you didn’t waste their time with insatiable nonsense.  At the very least, you won’t be known at the family reunions as the gullible Godmother who always “FWD:FW:FWD:FW:FWD!%#@*&$%!”

Feel free to respond to gullible Godmothers with a link to this article.

All photographic and written materials © 2011 by C.L. Quigley

10 Social Services We Don’t Need

I’m sick of paying taxes on irrelevant social services. It’s my hard earned money, and I ought to be able to do what I please! Why should I have to take care of my dumb neighbor’s kids? Here is a list of basic public services that proud moderate and middle class Republicans will finally rejoice in being without, when the United States is completely controlled by the “Tea Party.” Okay…so there are a few things here that I’m hoping my super-rich Teapartier best friends will help me pay for.

School. Hey at least kids will love it. 365 Snow Days a year! If you can’t afford private school, try teaching your children about the water cycle, long division and Mesopotamia at home. There are lots of fun kits and workbooks out there.

Fire Department. Next time dad burns dinner and catches the house on fire, who you gonna call? George Bush? Let’s get our church together and do a bucket brigade from the local lake or stream.

The American Red Cross and other emergency response groups. Yes, these guys get funding from the government too. Where are you going to go when the bucket brigade fails to put out your burning house? Or if the Loma Prieta or Katrina happens again?

Public Transportation. Walk. And don’t complain if you’re overweight, out of shape or disabled. Sometimes, it’s the only way to get from point A to point B. When life deals you a leaky radiator or a vehicle accident, I hope you’ve got a backup car.

Libraries. Where are new home school teachers going to buy $300 text books? Oh wait, the library had a copy of that…

City and County Parks. Like Disneyland, you might have to pay to walk across the street and use the swing or kick a soccer ball on a grassy field. Careful, those homeless bums who lost their house to a fire last week might be sleeping in the spiral slide.

Planned Parenthood. If you’re a good mother, like Sarah Palin, and you teach your children abstinence, then these types of clinics will become obsolete anyway. Oh, and if you’re worried about that lump in your breast or the unusual bleeding from down under, I hope you’ve got enough money to find out what it is!

Sewage Treatment Plants. We’ll have to find somewhere to throw our poo! In the middle ages, people used to throw it into the streets, so I’m sure that will work just fine.

Environmental Protection. Grampa, how long ago did deer become extinct? Next time there’s a raging wildfire, try that bucket brigade thing again. National Forests, Parks and other public lands? Forget it. Allotments will be auctioned and sold for wealthy folks to do what they please. An OHV park? You’ll have to ask permission, or pay a hefty fee if you want to sled, hike, boat, bike or camp on that land.

Street and highway maintenance. Who needs pavement? Dirt streets will be more porous, allowing sewage to seep into the ground faster. You’re not going to sue if the church’s snowplow nicks your Hummer, are you? After all, they’re only volunteers, if they even get to your street.

This list compiled and copyrighted © 2011 by C.L. Quigley