During the trip down, I had a stray moment of rock star fantasy. Lately, my rock star fantasies take odd turns, like the one in which I front an English language mariachi band which somehow becomes an indie alternative to emo, or in which I found something outre and odd as cool as Ralph Records, but built less on the lyrical themes of Residents songs than on the cool sound of ball bearings in a plastic soda bottle. I love that now-defunct Anomalous Records artist guideline, which I'll paraphrase as "if it sounds like music, it's probably not right for us".
Today I thought about my two "cool cover" encore songs. If you've ever had a rock star fantasy, you may know what I mean. It's for that moment when you have done all your classics, and the audience is in the palm of your hand, and you do a cover of a song which is either obscure or not particularly obscure but somewhat hard to imagine you singing. You pick a song you love, even if it's a disfavored artist.
You get extra rock star points if the obscure cover is a song that people write off as not particularly "cover material". Let me give an example--Cobain's excellent version of The Man Who Sold the World", while cool, is a bit too obviously good a song for Nirvana to merit the "cool cover" designation. By contrast, Husker Du's cover of the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" theme ("who could turn the world on with a smile?") fits the bill perfectly.
Let's play a game, then. At the end of my hypothetical stunning rock concert,
my first cover would be Gary Numan's "Me, I Disconnect from You", and somehow, in my mind, I am doing a robotic dance. The second cover would be Sparks' "Cool Places", but I have not yet decided who might do the Jane Wiedlin part with me (maybe Alanis, or that woman Enya, but Enya would have to promise not to sneak in any MIDIs with layered sequenced voices--it has to be someone totally unlikely, and yet completely fun).
I think that many great rock acts missed their mark by failing to do unlikely covers. Imagine the Cocteau Twins doing the theme from the television sitcom "Green Acres". How about a Morrissey cover of Queen's "You're My Best Friend"?
I am not a good rock fan anymore, because that cool Eric Clapton has brought every guitarist to Dallas for a huge all weekend festival, from BB King to Neal Schon to John Mayer to two of my favorites--Brian May and Carlos Santana. But I'm going to probably skip the whole thing.
But tell me, if you would, the answer to my question. You're a big rock star. The
audience is in the palm of your hand. They're holding up little lights for you to appear. The spotlight comes on. The band strikes up. They're playing your First Rock Star Cover. What do they play? Then, they play the second Rock Star Cover!
The audience goes wild.
Which songs did you sing?