The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Covering Music

My recent post about appropriating music generated a lot of comments. My main points there were that there are Shiny Shoe J Music performers who cover other (generally non-Shiny Shoe) musicians' songs without paying royalties. I also noted that they frequently butcher the songs as well.

It is on this point that I want to elaborate.

What is the point of covering a song? Or, more to the point, what SHOULD BE the point of covering a song?

I submit that there are a few reasons why a performer would want to cover someone else's songs. First and foremost, the artist should think that the song is worth covering, i.e., that it has a certain beauty or depth that makes him want to sing it. Second, he should believe that he has a certain style, a certain way of interpreting the song that is different and that adds something worth adding. Stated another way, the covering artist should think of his work as a tribute to the original song; his unique way of showing his appreciation for a wonderful song by singing it in his own style. It should be done with care and trepidation that you are being true to the original artist.


The cover should also be true to the essence of the song. It should not take a song and change its "mahoos". It should not profane the song by changing its very nature from a beautiful and deep niggun to a prust and cheap one. It should not be done for the money. It should not be done because you haven't had a hit in a while and you're afraid you won't get any wedding gigs if you don't make a splash. It should not be done with a mindset of turning the song into your own and taking credit for its popularity.

And, of course, it should be done with the absolute commitment to pay proper royalties and not with the idea of misappropriating the song.



  • At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Like Hendrix' mangling of the Star Spangled Banner?

  • At 4:37 PM, Blogger The Anchorite said…

    which song on the williger CD are you refering to?
    I listned to the Niggun haneshamah clip on the lipa CD *shudder* I agree completely, this is sooo far of from the origional both in execution and "mahoos".

  • At 4:43 PM, Blogger The Anchorite said…

    speaking of covers...
    I know that you have mentioned this before, any chance of some michael shapiro covers on the new CD?
    I know that his particular brand of judiasim isnt exactly, er, "mainstream", but his songs - a diffrent story, from the soul to the soul.
    Imagine, Avraham Rosenblum covering "v'erastich li"... I'm sure you can see the possibilites

  • At 4:51 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…


    It's Niggun Nevo.

    My new CD is not going in that direction.

    However, I would love to cover some of Michael Shapiro's stuff. In fact, I had a hava minah to do a whole CD of his stuff but was politely advised by people whom I trust that such a project would not be a good idea. I will nevertheless consider covering some of his stuff in future projects. But, it won't start with V'eirasteich Li. No, I would start with The Sparkle of Sunlight or, perhaps my favorite, Elijah and Elisha. I cry everu time I hear it.


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