Is there a song you'd like to hear someone cover? I'm your man. I can never promise quality. And I certainly can't promise you'll like it. So suggest a song and if I pick it, you'll hear my interpretation.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July's Cover

So this thing has hit a wall, huh? It's not you guys, it's me. I'm liking the cover challenge. It's surprised me. I've learned of new songs/bands, and even uncovered (get it... un...COVERED) some new ideas about recording and such. And though life has been pretty hectic lately, it's about to get hecticocitified by a trillion billion. Though, I vow to have a cover done in July. All 1 week of it. But the suggestion does come from last months comments. And just so you know, I have had a few other suggestions. But I'm not going to post them now because there weren't many. Not for the want of quality of the suggestions. Some very cool, very unique suggestions (Sorry, Joe).

But this month gets a heapin' helpin' of me vs. Terence Trent D'arby. My sister suggested this jam. She had the record when it came out and played it like crazy. Is that the chick from Law and Order in the video? I hope so. That's one hell of a resume, if it is.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

You can't do that!

Like hell I can't! It's my cover challenge blog and I'll cry if I want to.

So the deal is I had something very specific in mind for "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes". But I may need to take a counterpoint class before I start thinking I'm Brian Wilson. So about the 20th of June I realized it wasn't going to happen. Do I pick a song from the list? Do I just cover any old song I want? Then my weekends were gobbled up with my graduation and other exciting morsels and I had run out time. So all you get is this golden oldie. And when I saw "all" I mean, "you totally win".

In the spring of 2001 I was living with a friend in Mesa. I don't remember all the specifics, but for some reason I used a bunch of instruments that don't belong to me. And "a bunch" is really just a guitar and keyboard. The guitar was a nylon string that belonged to my friend Jon. We both loved the way it sounded, but you could never get it to stay in tune for an entire song. But intonation is optional and this song wouldn't be the same with a regular guitar. The keyboard is from my nephew, Alec. He was 6 or 7 at the time and was too old for this baby toy. I inherited it and put it to extraordinary use on this magic jam.

The song is a cover of "Let's Twist Again" by Chubby Checker. The lyrics are from memory as I was playing and singing kind of free-form. Then I overdubbed some keyboard chops that are sure to blow a mind or two. The background vox were more of a mistake. I think I was singing along while I was waiting for my big keyboard solo. When I went to mix down the song I left them in because they're kind of quaint. Like a country kitchen. Imperfect but homey. Enjoy.

Let's Twist Again by Eric VanAusdal

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June's Challenge

1) Simple Minds with Don't You (Forget About Me). It's taken me 700 years to like The Breakfast Club. And even though Ferris Bueller's Day Off is far superior, the soundtrack to TBC is immense.
2) Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys with any song of my choosing. I remember working at Virgin and Willie Nelson had an album of Bob Wills songs. My first question was "who the F is that?". Then I saw the beautiful Nora Jones do one of the songs on Letterman with a start studded band of people I don't remember. But Bob Wills now just makes me think of my brother, who wants to be one of Bob's Texas Playboys.
3) ZZ Top with I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide. This request came with special instructions - which is totally allowed. The instructions are to do this song in the vein of some Dwight Yoakum Bakersfield sound. Very interesting. This is the first of 3 tunes I had to look up because I was not familiar with it.
4) Duran Duran with Rio. You don't grow up in the VanAusdal household in the 80's without a heavy diet of Duran Duran blasting from your sister's Hi-Fi.
5) Some Velvet Morning with When I'm Straight. The second song I had to look up. But couldn't find a copy of it for review. This may be the best song ever written, but I'll never know.
6) M with Pop Music. In the late 90's when this song was getting played on VH1 and enjoyed an ironic resurgence, I actually was legitimately in to it. One of my favorite sounds is disinterested female backing vox. Think The Rentals. The less emotion, the better.
7) Throbbing Gristle with Something Came Over Me. The great thing about this dirty band name is this dirty song. The third song I had to look up to review. I love pop/rock with deceptively dirty lyrics. The idea of people driving around unknowingly singing dirty stuff is hilarious.
8) Gene Clark with Why Not Your Baby. This is a great song. Mopey and saturated with great vox.
9) Dio with Don't talk to Strangers. This was suggested as a way to pay respects to RJD himself. I should combine efforts and do change the lyrics of "Rio" to "Dio". "His name is Dio and his rides on tigers".
10) Gershwin with any song of my choosing. Gershwin. Talentless hack. Joking of course. But which song? Yikes. Kid in a candy shop, for sure.
11) A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes by Cinderella. Not that ridiculous hair band, the actual Disney broad. But how bad ass would it be if they did this song?
12) Prince with Paisley Park. In only 3 months of doing the challenge I've had like 5 Prince suggestions. How awesome is that?

And the winner is...

I've actually kicked around the idea of covering this song for a few years now. It's such a killer melody. I have big things in my head for this. Which means I'll end up changing direction after 10 minutes and do something different. But if I can do what I hear in my head with it, this should end up being totally radical to the max.

But now for the lame news. This may be a June/July submission. Things at the VanAusdal casita have gotten very busy lately. Free time is at a minimum. It may take me 2 months to nickel and dime a full cover out of this. So don't give up on me. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cover Girl

I bought the New Kids on the Block cd back in 2002. They had it used at Zia for like $2.99. At that price, you can't afford to not own it. As I drove home that day, I listened to the album front to back. The first thing that struck me was the low quality of the production. Like they went to Target and bought some First Act keyboards. The next thing that struck me was "Cover Girl". I didn't remember that song. I only knew what was showcased on MTV and I'm not sure this ever had a video. You can see a performance (???) on the New Kids concert videos, though.

So it was a good choice for me. One of their deeper cuts, if you will. And I promise to do my next cover a little straighter. Or not. Sometimes you can't help what you do.

Let me know how you like it/hate it. I'm interested. And be sure to suggest a song for June's cover contest. We're off to a great start.

My cover:
Cover Girl (New Kids on the Block cover) by Eric VanAusdal

The original:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Progress Report #1 (Cover Girl)

When I pick a song for the Cover Challenge it's mostly due to how immediate I hear myself doing it. Kind of a "ooh! I could do a _______ version of this song". But with last month's The Trooper I went from Pet Sounds era Beach Boys to late 60's Kinks to something else (all I know is it didn't end up sounding like the Kinks). The same thing is happening with this month. When I picked the song I wanted to do it pretty straight. Give it some dirty, sloppy guitar and scratchy synth, but it would be basically everything you hear on the original.

Well, I got most of the guitar/bass down this afternoon and then just scrapped it.

I'm really pleased with how it sounds, but it does feel like cheating. The original melody is kind of weird and harder to sing than you'd think. It's to the point where the record just doesn't sound right. So either they were breaking ground melodically or they were just rushing to get product in the stores.

But I'm not beating them down. I once lived with a guy that was a GREAT musician. He was a performance major at ASU and in one of his composition classes everyone was giving country music a hard time. You've got to understand these are kids that would play the same 6 measures of a classical piece over and over again for 4 hours. Simple country music was beneath them. So their professor challenged them with a "If it's so easy, then you do it. You each need to have one country song in by next week". So my friend told me everyone in the class struggled with the assignment. Few of them actually even finished it.

Pop music is in the same vein. The New Kids, Backstreet Boys, Justin Bieber, etc get a hard rap from the music community. It gets ragged on for being simple. But the same rule applies: If you think it's so easy, then you write a mindless pop song that sells millions. And sure, the intense marketing helps these guys out. But for every bubble gum pop success there are 5 other acts that had the same marketing budget. But for whatever reason, a song like "Hangin' Tough" clicks and you can sing it 20 years later.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May's Cover is...

In 3rd grade I was already settling in to my role as the uncultured/uncool kid. The defining moment was when I told Lori Whatshername "The New Kids on the Block suck!". To which she responded, "You suck!". Touché. I don't remember why I told her they suck. I'm positive I didn't just say it out of nowhere, but it's still pretty lame to rip on her boys like that. I guess I deserved what I got.

10 years later Lori was in my graduating class at Ironwood. I made sure to tell her at least once a month that I was ahead of the curve on that New Kids sentiment. She'd stand by her boys, though. And that's something I've learned about the New Kids: Staying power. Almost 20 years later and they are quite literally hangin' tough. Their current tour has been a success and they're working on a new album.

I was kind of given a blank check with this one. And when you have one NKOTB jam to rock, you have to go with Cover Girl. I think the band's manager, Maurice Starr, is partly responsible for this song. One or two other New Kids had a hand in writing this. Which is kind of amazing, because some of the lyrics are totally weird. Weird enough to make you wonder why nobody spoke up. i.e. "I get up in the morning and I see your face, girl / You're looking so good, everything's in place". Everything's in place? WTF?

If you're not familiar with this song, watch this strange clip.

The little girl in this video will grow up to be in a "Friends" Ripoff.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May's Challenge

1) Working Class Hero by John Lennon. John Lennon does a great cover of this Green Day classic.
2) Kiss From a Rose by Seal. I've always loved the melody on this song. From that magical time when soundtracks made more money than the crappy movies they supported.
3) I Wanna Pick You Up by The Beach Boys. Stop what you're doing and throw this up on the YouTube. I'd never heard it before. It's crazy, sweet, and still totally brilliant.
4) Some Song by R.E.M.. Sorry. I can't remember the name of this song. Joe will correct me and I'll fix this tomorrow.
5) Manic Monday by The Bangles. This is the first of a few great tunes penned by Prince. And the Bangles had it going on. Hotties with Rickenbackers? I'll take 4, please.
6) Sexy M.F. by Prince. The irony of me performing this song is not lost on anyone.
7) Morning Train by Sheena Easton. Or, if you're from across the pond, "9 to 5" by Sheena Easton. They had to change the name in the States so people wouldn't go to record stores for Sheena and end up with Dolly. But it's a win/win, really.
8) Slide It In by Whitesnake. When my brother-in-law suggested this song, I thought he made it up. Too perfect. But silly me in forgetting that 80's rock made a living out of crossing every imaginable line. This song is very real.
9) Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley. If you ask my wife, this is the "we caught a trout" song, Which is awesome. It was a favorite when my dad would play his Elvis tape.
10) "Anything" by New Kids on the Block. Though they may have a song called "anything", this suggestion was more about me getting to pick anything from their vast, respected catalog. Kid in a candy store.
11) Disco Duck by Rick Dees. A testament to the fact that Americans will buy ANYTHING.
12) Besame Mucho by Various. I wanted to say that it was by "Various Rucker", but people probably wouldn't get that I was making a joke. Or it's just a dumb joke. This song has been covered by everyone. It also failed to land the Beatles a record deal. I'm looking at you, Decca.
13) Eternal Flame by The Bangles. Yum. More Susanna. I made a cd for my wife when she was in college. It was songs you'd hear in Cost Cutters or the Dentist. This track was on that disc and it was just as killer then.
14) Southern Nights by Glen Campbell. When the Rhinestone Cowboy isn't getting arrested in Phoenix for being out of his mind on fire water, he's slinging praises to those southern nights. Or doing concerts on PBS.
15) Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. If you've ever wondered why people went so bonkers for the Beatles in '63, listen to this track. The oldies station in town used to play this song a lot. I can only imagine what the beatniks thought about this song. But as much as it sounds like I'm ripping the song, I'd love to know how to get that bass sound.
16) Reading Rainbow Theme Song by Death Star. I don't know who actually did the song. Death Star would be a great name for them, though. And we're talking about the old school version. They've since changed the theme song. Same song, lamer version.
17) Diamonds and Pearls by Prince. I originally thought this track was the end of the funky Prince. But if you get the extended single for Diamonds and Pearls you'll see he still had the funk-o-meter dialed up to 11.
18) Raspberry Beret by Prince. The fourth (technically) Prince song and another absolute jam. One of my earliest memories is sitting in my oldest sister's room listening to music. Either Raspberry Beret or Yaz's "Only You" was my first favorite song.

Great suggestions everyone! I'll have my selection posted tomorrow!