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MUSIC by RAR - Covers
I have never thought of doing covers of someone else's material to be a good use of anybody's time unless the cover adds something the original didn't have, or somehow makes it distinctive. The Beatles had to have been the greatest cover band in history, with a style so distinctive that the songs they covered became theirs. I can't think of any cover they ever did that wasn't greater, in most respects, than the original. So, if you can do that, you get a pass in my book.
By my own standards, I would fail to get a pass. The covers I have posted on this page are in no way original, inventive, or particularly good. They are just recording projects I put together along the way of figuring out how to do home recording projects. And that exercise has all been in service to trying to learn how to record my own original songs at higher quality levels.
That said, I hope you find something here to enjoy. It is a collection of covers that I have posted on the CCJ over the years.
This is a cover of Gerry Rafferty’s classic “Baker Street”, which I knocked off in my home studio over the weekend. My effort isn’t particularly great, but I did it because I haven’t had a chance to play with my toys in a while, and this song means a great deal to me. It was one of a few influences that led to my moving to San Francisco in 1984, which doesn’t really make any sense because the Baker Street in Rafferty’s song is in London, but there’s one in SF, too. There’s probably one in every city, which is part of the genius of this song, which is so evocative of those feelings so many experience after moving to the city with big dreams that don’t quite pan out. Rafferty did a good job of expressing disillusionment, enervation, and the yearning for a home where one could finally be happy. It’s freaking brilliant! And, in retrospect, it feels prophetic to me, like everything you hear in this writer’s experience was yours, too, and it is all down in two verses and two choruses.
For those of you who might be interested, I produced this recording in about 12 hours using Cakewalk Sonar Producer X2. I found a midi file on line, loaded it into Sonar, and used a bunch of its software tools to create the sounds you hear. I left the bass, drums and organ alone, but ran everything through RMixSONAR and the LP64_EQ, along with a compressor and another EQ. I ran the piano notation through TruePianos software. The sax notation was channeled through Dimension Pro using an Alto sax setting, and I futzed a bit with sound shaping options. I figure that whether anybody would find a wink in this cover to enjoy would depend largely on two components: the sound quality of the iconic sax line, and the iconic solo guitar section.
I played the guitar parts using a Squire Strat for the underlying rhythm, and a Jeff Beck signature Strat for the heavier chording and the jazzy intro lines. I'd play it all again if I had the time. For the solo section, I used a Digitech 200 on my Jeff Beck Strat, with the pickup on the up setting, and used a preset called “WhatsUp”, which has a pleasant, slidy sustain. I did not spend but 30 minutes or so learning and recording that guitar solo, and it isn’t exactly like the recording, but I sort of like it. That is, of course, me doing the moaning. This is all amateur home studio stuff, done at 3 a.m., when everyone in my house is asleep, and before traffic gets heavy and starts overwhelming my condenser mic with street noise. There is quite a lot of engineering done on these tracks, so that’s all my fault.
RAR Tribute to Classic Country
Something about the Winter months seems to put yours truly (RAR) in the mood for the slower tempos and sweet ruminations of what we now call "Classic Country". I grew up with this schmaltz, with particular exposure to the songs of Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Ray Price, Marty Robbins, Willie Nelson, and others who were likely to be played on AM radio in America's heartland. My first record, given to me by my paternal grandparents, who were first generation Nebraska homesteaders, was Reeves' version of "Billy Bayou", the story of a Louisiana boy whose fate seemed inextricably intertwined with quicksand. Check out the video below for a taste of what it was like back in the '50s. (And for the record, I was a dedicated Boy Scout, as were "we" all.) And then after you have recalibrated your silly meter with "Billy Bayou", please continue this journey through Classic Country right on into heartbreak land, with Willie Nelson covers and a RAR original.
Click on the covers shown above to hear the individual tracks.
My little tribute above includes two covers of classic Willie Nelson tunes leading to a RAR original, the last provided as an example of how the influences of my formative years have expressed themselves in my later creative life, which is most certainly an arc experienced by many of the readers of the site.
"Something to Think About" is an attempt to capture that strange feel of a Willie Nelson performance, with its scratch and jab guitar playing so free of technique and artifice that it feels inspired. I'm not sure that I achieved that, but the song achieves something poetic and great, as does "Hello Walls", a paean to abandonment and loneliness. I have an Arkansas cousin who as a kid used to go around singing "hewwo wahs", which speaks to the influence of this soundtrack on my very DNA and among my native kin (rather like Kenneth, of "30 Rock", and his brethren the "Hill People"). The "Hello Walls" cover is unadorned, just the bald honesty of the lyric against that beautiful, simple but dramatic melodic structure; beautiful even with me singing it. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I was rejected by TAXI when submitting this song regarding a request for classic country cover tunes. They didn't find the vocal up to snuff.)
YOU ARE ON THE RAR MUSIC - COVERS PAGE
The RAR Music pages are divided over several sections:
NOTE: The tribute below was posted in 2011.
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Copyright © September, 2019 Rick Alan Rice (RARWRITER)