Sep 10, 2008

Songbook Shuffle

If I did more theater than I do, I think it's safe to say that one of my favorite parts of the process would be crafting the pre-show music mix. I know that was the case with the Garland Awards I used to put on, as well as my recent nuptials. And it's certainly the case with my upcoming Ars Nova show (which is likely to be an excellent evening, if I may say so).

Well, because the concept for my show is other great singers interpreting my "songbook," I started to make a mix exclusively of some of my favorite cover versions of great songs--Mary J. Blige singing "One," Johnny Cash singing "Down There By the Train," Nouvelle Vague's "Making Plans for Nigel," George Burns croaking "Fixing a Hole"...you get the idea. But then I stumbled on Dylan's tin-eared but somehow endearing cover of the Beatles' "Yesterday," and a light bulb went off. What if I made a mix that was a daisy chain of songwriters covering each other's work? There would be two rules:

1. No song can be performed by its writer.
2. Each song must be written by the singer of the previous song (except, necessarily, for the opening track).

Whether or not I end up making my pre-show mix this way, this makes an awesome game. Here's one hypothetical iteration:

1. "A Taste of Honey," sung by Paul McCartney...
2. "Yesterday," sung by Bob Dylan...
3. "The Times They Are a-Changin'," sung by Paul Simon (& Art Garfunkel)...
4. "The Boy in the Bubble" sung by Patti Smith...
5. "Dancing Barefoot," covered by U2...

Next I could have used Blige's take on "One," but that's a dead end, since I don't know of any covers of Blige by other artists. So instead...

6. "One," sung by Johnny Cash...
7. "Folsom Prison Blues," sung by Bob Dylan (a version so obscure, and probably a bootleg, that it's not linkable online, but trust me--I've got it)...
8. Dylan's "I Threw It All Away, " sung by Elvis Costello...
9. "The Comedians," sung by Roy Orbison...
10. And finally, the Orbison-co-authored "Handle With Care," covered by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins.

Whew! That's a 10-track, 9-writer chain (the writers of "Taste of Honey," Robert William Scott and Ric Marlow, don't count).

Can you, dear readers, do better?

6 comments:

Adam said...

I love it!

gruyere said...

I didn't do this myself, but a few years ago, Music for Kids Who Can't Read Good did a chain of 16.

Rob Weinert-Kendt said...

Oy, this game can eat your brain. With the help of that Secondhandsongs site, I came up with this mega-mix, but this is it for today (I swear!):

1. "Stand by Me," Tracy Chapman

2. "Baby Can I Hold You," Neil Diamond

3. "Chelsea Morning," Joni Mitchell

4. "Big Yellow Taxi," Bob Dylan

5. "The Times They Are a-Changing," Simon & Garfunkel

6. "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Johnny Cash

7. "Get Rhythm," Little Richard

8. "Long Tall Sally," The Beatles (Paul McCartney singing)

9. "Lovely Rita," Fats Domino

10. "Valley of Tears," Buddy Holly

11. "Everyday," Don McLean

12. "American Pie," Madonna

13. "Into the Groove," Ciccone (Sonic) Youth

14. "Death Valley 69," The Flaming Lips

15. "Do You Realize?," Beck

16. "Asshole," Tom Petty

17. "Free Fallin’," Stevie Nicks

18. "Landslide," Smashing Pumpkins

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

1. "A Taste of Honey," sung by Paul McCartney...
2. "Yesterday," sung by Bob Dylan...
3. "The Times They Are a-Changin'," sung by Paul Simon (& Art Garfunkel)...
4. "The Boy in the Bubble" sung by Patti Smith...
5. "Dancing Barefoot," covered by U2...
6. "One" covered by Mary J. Blige
7. "Real Love" covered by Mike Doughty
8. "Blue-Eyed Devil" covered by Low
9. "Monkey" covered by Robert Plant
10. "Dazed and Confused" covered by Nirvana
11. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" covered by Patti Smith
12. "Because the Night" covered by Bruce Springsteen
13. "I'm On Fire" covered by Johnny Cash
14. "I Walk the Line" covered by the Everly Brothers
15. "Wake up Little Susie" covered by Simon and Garfunkel
16. "The Boxer" covered by Bob Dylan
17. "All Along the Watchtower" covered by Jimi Hendrix
18. "Purple Haze" covered by Sting
19. "King of Pain" covered by Alanis
Morissette
20. "You Oughta Know" covered by The Dan Band

Rob Weinert-Kendt said...

Pretty awesome, Mark. I'll point out one technical foul: Bruce co-wrote "Because the Night" with Patti. And, if we're quibbling, it's better not to have any repeats...but I don't want to spoil your victory lap.