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Author: Subject: Musicians playing the same songs over and over and over again

Ultimate Peach





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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 08:50 AM
I was listening to some of my Santana live discs this past weekend. A great show from Fillmore East 1971, great version of "Black Magic Women/Gypsy Queen." Then I listened to a show from the Beacon Theatre in 1976. Another great version of "Black Magic Women/Gypsy Queen." Then i listened to a show from the Bottom Line in 1978. Another version of "Black Magic Women/Gypsy Queen." Then a show from the 90s which featured another version of "Black Magic Women/Gypsy Queen." Then a show from last year which I just downloaded. Guess what was on the disc? Another version of "Black Magic Women/Gypsy Queen."

After the listening I said to myself man Santana must be so tired of playing "Black Magic Women/Gypsy Queen" show after show after show after show after show. One day I figure he's going to smash his guitar down to the ground and scream "I can't stand this f*ng song anymore!!!" and walk offstage.

But I guess that's the nature of live popular music. If you want to please the audience, you have to play the same songs to each crowd you go in front of. Gotta keep playing those damned hits!! So if you're doing 200 shows in a row, you'll be performing the songs 200 times apiece.

Any musicians who perform onstage? How do you deal with playing the same songs over and over again? Do you continue to enjoy the experience or do these songs become annoying and stale? Just wondering how you deal with this problem, if it is a problem



A photo of Carlos Santana playing "Black Magic Women/Gypsy Queen" for the 5,384th time!


[Edited on 9/30/2010 by BarrySmith]

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 09:12 AM
I think that immediate audience feedback upon hearing the first few notes of the song feeds the inspiration to play it to the best of one's ability.

I just play in a classic rock cover band and there are some songs that I just dread when I see them come up on the set list ("Brown Eyed Girl", "Mustang Sally", "Sweet Home Alabama" are the "big three" for me...like the songs, but I've just played them more times than I can remember)...but, when the dance floor fills up during the song intros, that takes all dread away and kicks me in the butt to play the song the best I can.

 
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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 09:44 AM
Too funny... I was you tubing last night...watched a couple of different abb performances...one from that ABC special -post duane, pre berry- and they cranked up 'one way out' and I thought to myself...how bad that must s u ck to rip into that song after playing it for 40 years! Man... but like you say...if the crowd responds...theres gotta be somethin deep down in there that brings you satisfaction. As the guy above mentioned...used to be in a bar band...i CRINGED when i heard our guitarist hit the opening notes of PURPLE RAIN...but man...people LOVED that stupid thing. It made it a lot easier to play when you saw how much people liked it. But i sure got sick of playin it. I really wonder though...these mega-successful people...does it break their heart that nobody gives a s hit about their cool 'b-sides' and all they want to hear is the FM staples..? Geez...think about poor jimmy buffet or peter frampton!

Oh well...i have to admit, you cant top standing in front of the ABB and hear them break into whipping post or whatever, even though you've listened to it a million times!


 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 10:09 AM
I'm in a classic rock cover band and we prefer to play the more obscure classic rocks tunes (isn't that an oxymoron!) but like everyone says, as soon as folks start to boogey on the dancefloor, it perks you right up. As a 6 piece band, we often have difficulty deciding on tunes because some folks want tunes that get people moving, which are often the overplayed, boring songs to cover while others want songs that challenge us as a band, people like these songs, but they don't neccessarily dance to them, so it's often an argument of "who are we playing for".
Personally, I love to play and even if it's a song I don't like playing or have played too many times, I still feel like I can learn from it and it can take me to a new place if I let it.

It reminds me of Joni Mitchell who, upon hearing people scream out requests, replied: "That's the difference between musicians and artists: No one screamed out, "Hey Van Gogh, do Starry Night again!"

 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 10:27 AM
Neil Peart had a good line about this. "People ask me if I'm sick of playing "Tom Sawyer." Absolutely not. That song is really hard to play. It's still a challenge to get it right."

 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 10:31 AM
Well, I would much rather hear Santana do "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen" any day of the week, over "Smooth". I just simply cannot hear that song ever again. I suppose if an Artist has a huge hit with a song, in this case a cover of a old Fleetwood Mac tune, then they must feel obligated to play it. I also think that perhaps Carlos is playing it as a nod to Peter Green, someone who he respects very much. Who knows?
I understand what you mean, man. I have played Guitar for 20 years now, and its amazing how many people at Gigs, especially if your in a Cover/Bar Band, just want to hear the same ol songs over and over and over. A few come to mind right off the bat, (depending on the crowd) "Margaritaville", "Brown Eyed Girl" is in a league of its own, I have been asked to play that tune probably 10,000 times, "Mustang Sally" whether it's Wilson Pickett's version, or more likely, The Rascals version. (Thats the one that goes to the V after the Chorus) Then there is Lynyrd Skynyrd, which don't get me wrong, they are one of my fav's, but I would put "Gimme Three Steps", "Sweet Home Alabama" right up there. "Can't You See" by Marshall Tucker Band is another one. I suppose the list could go on and on....
Then again, there are cases of getting requests for tunes, that you really enjoy playing over and over...."Melissa" and "Blue Sky" would fall into this category.

 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 02:00 PM
About a dozen years ago I was at a somewhat run down Catskills resort on NY Eve. There was a blizzard, and it was questionable if the musical entertainment was going to show.

Just before showtime Buster Poindexter's bus rolled in. He did a fine set, and jsut before he sang "Hot!Hot!Hot!" he said that only once in your life do you get struck by that thunderbolt in the sky.

As Don McLean said when asked what American Pie Means he answered "It means I never have to work again."

That is one side of the coin

the other side is uncle Neil Young who once apologized at a concert I was at for playing nothing old. He said "you either go forward or you die."


 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 02:02 PM
I think if you're playing a note for note rendition night after night, it would become boring. But, if the song and style allows for a lot of improvisation, I would think that it would continue to be inspirational for most musicians.
 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 02:06 PM
Quilt, you nailed it. Although we, the Skydogs Band, play some tunes that come up in the set list, we improvise, create, and make em fun. You never know what magic will come out.

 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 02:09 PM
quote:
the other side is uncle Neil Young who once apologized at a concert I was at for playing nothing old. He said "you either go forward or you die."
And that's just one of the reasons I like Neil Young the person.
Neil's music has ALWAYS been on Neil terms.
Ya' reckon Dickey is sick of Ramblin' Man? Gregg of Whipping Post?

 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 02:49 PM
Interesting subject and as some have said there are two sides of the coin. The boredom that Santana must have playing Black Magic Woman, but more than any other tune, it made him famous. I think most of the music freaks here on this site could get through a Santana show just fine without hearing Black Magic Woman but we are in the minority.........think of the many casual fans at any Santana show, some of whom may be there for the first time, and would be really let down at not hearing it. Carlos is a pro and he understands that he has to cater to them. Just like ABB has to throw in Midnight Rider or Melissa and I'm sure Deep Purple rarely does a show without Smoke On The Water. I have no problem with Midnight Rider or Melissa, never get tired of hearing either, but damn, if I hear Smoke On The Water one more time..............

 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 03:09 PM
their are certain songs musicians have to play for the crowd every show. I love it when bands the style of their classic hits and not play note for note.
 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 03:40 PM
BTW

Listen to David Bromberg's rendition of "Mr. Bojangles" for a funny take on the topic (and a lot of topics) as he talks about how much jerry Jeff Walker hated playing it each night, and they'd tear it apart while sitting aroung playing. Also explains how Jerry jeff ended up in prison where he met Bojangles

 

Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 04:40 PM
I wonder if B.B. is tired of doing "The Thrill is Gone"? It seems that song shows up on everything released where BB plays.
 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 04:56 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24_tiGZgPP4&feature=related


 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 05:13 PM
Oh well...i have to admit, you cant top standing in front of the ABB and hear them break into whipping post or whatever, even though you've listened to it a million times!
quote:


I wouldnt mind hearing that bass line at the beginning of "whipping post" a million more times!

 

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  posted on 9/30/2010 at 11:29 PM
Every band has this dilemma. The audience is a huge factor and can help keep it fun. Attitude is also critical. If it becomes a job, then negativity rears its head. I've been through this several time in bands over the years. It's hard not to get tired of songs and there will be those nights where it just doesn't happen. For all the cover bands, bar bands etc, just finding time to rehearse as a band to bring new songs in is a challenge. But the bottom line is, making it fun and keeping positive attitudes.
 

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  posted on 10/1/2010 at 05:13 AM
That's why I am drawn to jam bands like the Allmans, Grateful Dead, Gov't Mule, Railroad Earth, New Monsoon, Widespread Panic, String Cheese. They play different setlists each show. Not sure I would have seen the Allmans as many times if Ramblin Man was played as an encore every show.
 

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  posted on 10/1/2010 at 06:22 AM
As you can see Barry, you posed an interesting question. I find it funny that many working musicians responded that they were in fact tired of playing the same songs over and ... they didn't even write them ... receive no royalties everytime they are played ... of course the majority of bar bands don't ever pay the required fees for playing other peoples music either. Lol! So ... I'm sure even the originators of the hits get tired of them. It's well documented. Joe Walsh said, "I've played Funk 49 every conceivable way. Even backwards." However, if "Red Rubber Ball" or "Silly Love Song" allowed you to become a or continue to be a "professional musician," then by god it should be included each time you get the chance to play live for pay. That is kind of what it means to be a professional musician. When somebody continues to, night after night, do justice to a song; they ARE in fact professional musicians. Also as for Neil Young ... I'd take what he says with a grain of salt (as what any musician says for that matter) because ... although Neil may seemingly constantly reinvent himself, he isn't through playing "Heart of Gold."
It is interesting that Santana is brought up in the original post because he is one of the lucky artists that has such a huge catelog to draw from. Santana could easily play "Oye Como Va," "Europa,""Winning,""Hope Your Feeling Better,""She's Not There," etc., etc, ad infinitum ... Santana has the unique ability as witnessed by his new release Guitar Heaven that it doesn't matter what Santana plays. Most folks are just waiting for the solo. Lol! How enviable a position of a musician to be in? Most of the lucky ones know that there are thousands of folks who'd trade places with them in a heartbeat. The smartt ones never take that for granted.

 

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  posted on 10/1/2010 at 06:41 AM
An eon or so ago, I worked for Jerry Reed. If he did not play "When You're Hot, You're Hot" "Amos Moses" and "East Bound and Down" there would be a village riot. Jerry hated doing them on many shows but found ways to keep it fun. Many nights, just before he would kick it off, he would turn and tell the band something like "Moses in F sharp" and he would take off. The looks on the bands faces was enough to get him through it. He once played a matinee in Branson in his pajamas while laying on his right side at the front of the stage. Once, I asked him if he regretted having to do the same tunes over and over again. His response was that he might hate it while he played it, but he enjoyed riding down the road on the royalties (Literally, he gestured to his bus as he was saying it) and he liked having East Bound and Down as a roof over his head. Funniest part for the crew and the band was the fact that he had played them so much that he would forget where he was at in the song. More than a few times the band would have to flag him down as he approached the end for the fourth or fifth time.
Chris, on a technical note: it is not the bands responsibility for royalty payments when playing a club. It is the clubs responsibility to have a live music liscense for their establishment from one of or all three of the royalty organizations. Any one who tells you differently or tries to collect from you is a fraud.

 

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  posted on 10/1/2010 at 06:53 AM
I used to wonder the same about these songs that are played time after time. I read an article by Boz Scaggs where he said that he loves watching different people enjoying the song 'live' for the first time. The positive reaction from the audience makes the band enjoy playing whatever song it is. He also said that a song he wrote 30 years ago may have an entire different meaning for him 30 years later as his personal life changed.

I saw him in a small club and he seemed to still enjoy himself having some back and forth and laughs with the audience. It seems like the song is just part of a bigger picture and of course they are happy to be working also.

 

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  posted on 10/1/2010 at 10:16 AM
I saw an interview with James Taylor and he had a good appraoch. He said that even though he might be playing Fire And Rain for the umpteenth time, there were people in the audience who were seeing him play it for the first and perhaps only time, so he owed them a good performance and not a by-the-numbers rote recap.

As mentioned before, one way our favorite bands can play the same tunes again and again is to change things up, reinvent the song, and make something toally new out of it every time you play it. Obviously, that's much easier on, say In Memory of Elizabeth Reed than Midnight Rider, but avoiding the rote recitation helps keep it fresh.

 

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  posted on 10/1/2010 at 11:08 AM
Joe Dimaggio on why he never loafed after a ball no matter what the score was:

"There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best." Source: The Sporting News (April 4, 1951)

 

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  posted on 10/1/2010 at 11:15 AM
I like the Allman Brother's Band's approach. Play the tunes that people are familiar up, but change the arrangement and soloist every night. Same song, but never the same twice!

What I really hate is when an artist remakes his/her own song. Gary Wright's, "Dreamweaver" comes to mind. Personally, I didn't care that much for the tune the first time around. He must've sold a zillion copies of the first version. Why'd he feel the need to re-record it?

 

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  posted on 10/1/2010 at 11:24 AM
$$$$$.

 

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