Bob Potemski

Bob Potemski was born in New Jersey, grew up in New York, and now lives in Kansas, where he enjoys a semi-retired life with his girlfriend Polly and their dog, Damon. An avid concert aficionado, Bob has attended over 1000 live music performances in his life, including working behind the scenes at hundreds of shows as a venue manager. Bob also enjoys volunteering, movies (especially quirky ones and music documentaries) and working with animals. You can follow him on Twitter, if you like.

Mar 032020
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Midnight Rider covers

In today’s musical environment, which more often than not comprises manufactured stars singing over-produced, Autotuned, formulaic pop tunes, it’s easy to forget that for many classic artists, fame came neither quickly nor easily. It’s almost a cliché to think about rock and rollers struggling through the most challenging and meager of circumstances, waiting for that elusive big break. For some artists, adversity is destructive; for Macon, Georgia’s Allman Brothers Band, it was formative. The band’s hardships drove them closer together, cementing their commitments to each other and to success. Their persistence paid off. They were awarded multiple gold and platinum albums, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and ranked #52 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

If you’re looking for a signature song that represents the legacy of these elder statesmen of Southern Rock, “Midnight Rider” is, arguably, the best choice. It was a concert mainstay since it was first recorded in 1970 and, according to Secondhand Songs, has been covered nearly twice as many times as “Whipping Post,” and over three times more often than “Ramblin’ Man.”

While many great versions of “Midnight Rider” are out there, many of them sound overly similar to each other. Dozens of solo acoustic covers and numerous country versions exist; far fewer take the song in a different direction. We’ve selected three of those departures here. Three distinct versions, each one adding its own little bit to the legacy of the Allman Brothers Band. Of these three outstanding versions…
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Feb 142020
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

What I Like About You covers

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

In the 1962 John Ford western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, newspaperman Maxwell Scott finds out that the actual facts about the storied career of senator Ransom Stoddard (played by Jimmy Stewart) weren’t quite as colorful and exciting as tradition had made them. Realizing that reporting the truth would not be in his best interest (because the better story would sell more papers), he tears up his notes and delivers the line above. There’s a bit of that story in the history of The Romantics; we’ll see it in a moment.

The Romantics hail from Detroit, Michigan, and were influenced both by local musicians such as the MC5, Mitch Ryder, and the Stooges, and by the raucous, hard-driving sound of British punk. In both cases, it was the energy and spontaneity of the music they were listening to that captured their imagination. They steered away from the negativity inherent in some of the lyrics and ethos of the time, choosing instead to keep making music as much fun as possible. Shunning the “new wave” label, they chose instead to describe their music as “English pop with an American energy.”

They played their first gig as a band on Valentine’s Day 1977, and here’s where much of the rock press has decided to “print the legend.” The legend is that the band took its name from the holiday spirit surrounding that first gig. When asked, though, the band will tell you that the real inspiration for the name came from a Creem magazine about another artist they admired: Bryan Ferry. Ferry was describing Roxy Music’s current project, and used the term “romantic” a number of times, which clicked with them, and the name was forged. So there’s the truth, not quite as catchy as the legend.
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Feb 032020
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

come on let's go covers

A long, long time ago — well, sixty-one years ago, anyway – the direction and course of music was altered forever when Charles Hardin Holley, Jiles Perry Richardson, and Richard Steven Valenzuela were killed in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa, in the early morning hours of February 3rd. Better known as Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens, these early rock and rollers were taken before they reached levels of success that most people projected for them. How significant was this loss? Well, there’s a reason February 3, 1959 is called The Day the Music Died. The music, though, lives on. What really died that day was the opportunity for these artists to influence the direction of the music they loved, going forward.

Perhaps the most acute loss that day was that of Ritchie Valens. At the time of his death, Valens was a mere 17 years of age, had been performing for less than a year, and had only a couple of hits. But he was a true pioneer, and is widely considered the first musician of Mexican descent to achieve crossover success in mainstream popular music. Despite his tragically truncated output, his influence in the field of Latino-based rock can be felt through the years, in Hispanic artist like Selena and Los Lobos; even Jimi Hendrix cited him as an influence.

One of Valens’s best-known songs is the oft-covered “Come On Let’s Go.” The question here is, which of these covers comes out on top? There are many from which to choose, some by bigger names (editor’s note: Paley Brothers & Ramones for me!), but the three selected for inclusion here all have something interesting to offer.
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Jan 152020
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

In 1982, talented multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield was looking for a change. It had been nearly nine years since Virgin Records had released his debut Tubular Bells, with a title track that had gone on to be featured as the theme to The Exorcist. His follow-up releases had followed much the same format (minus the somewhat creepy distinction): long form, avant-garde, eclectic orchestral pieces, with names like Hergest Ridge and Incantations. While his records were critically praised, commercial success was proving to be elusive.

In 1979, Oldfield started writing songs that were shorter and more commercially viable, in addition to some longer pieces. 1982’s Five Miles Out featured five songs: the nearly 25-minute “Taurus II” and four shorter songs, including the breakout hit “Family Man.” Oldfield wrote all the music to that song; five other writers are credited with the lyrics. This synth- and echo-heavy tune featured Scottish vocalist Maggie Reilly (one of the credited lyric writers; she would remain a regular collaborator) on vocals, ostensibly telling the story of a prostitute attempting to pick up a man in a bar. The man continually turns down her propositions, protesting that he’s a “family man.” The intensity increases with each verse, reflecting the female’s growing frustration with his repeated rejection. Neither the single nor the album charted in the US, although the single did reach #29 in Canada.

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Jan 112020
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

Neil Peart, the deep-thinking, world-traveling, book-reading, book-writing, virtuosic drummer and primary lyricist for the Canadian power trio Rush, has died at age 67. Peart died of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, that had first affected him just over three years ago. He joined Rush in 1974, replacing original drummer John Rutsey, who had to leave the band due to health-related issues. Peart was a drummer’s drummer, with dozens of industry and press awards and hundreds of accolades from his peers. While his technical prowess is beyond impeccable, he received nearly as much attention for the lyrical direction in which he steered the band. As we mark his passing here at Cover Me, we’ll look at cover versions of Rush tunes that honor both of these equally important contributions.
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Jan 012020
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

U2 War

Happy 2020 to you!

U2’s “New Year’s Day” was the first international hit song for the band that would go on to become worldwide superstars, both musically and in the realm of socio-political activism. Perhaps a response, at least in part, to the turbulence and unrest of the early 1980s, “New Year’s Day” heralded the beginning of a more focused effort on the part of the band to use their platform to call attention to issues much larger than those typically addressed in popular music of the time. Though it was originally conceived as a love song, the lyrics take on a much deeper, starker meaning when you look at them through the lens of Bono’s inspiration: Solidarity, the labor union/social activism movement that was instrumental in ending Communist rule in Poland. It’s a popular song for bands to cover; secondhandsongs.com lists over 40 versions. From the three selected here…
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