What songs local musicians really, really hate playing


recurring subject of debate among my musician friends concerns the value — or lack thereof — of playing in a cover band, a topic I will certainly hit upon in a future Knife. Some feel that “real” musicians only play originals, while others, usually more experienced working musicians, are adamant that all musicians benefit from their involvement in cover bands throughout their careers. What is agreed upon by both camps is that many covered songs are intolerable for any number of reasons. So this week I decided to survey some of those friends and ask them what songs popularized by other bands they hated, more than any other, to play during their gigs. Here’s what they said:

Richard Palmisano, singer for Circle of Influence: “Crazy Bitch,” Buckcherry

“It’s the 2000 version of ‘Mustang Sally,’ in the sense that it got overplayed to the gills by every working cover band. Now it’s just looked at as it should be: A white trash anthem.”

John Parkerurban, guitarist for Parker Urban Band: “Sweet Caroline,” Neil Diamond

“The first songs that come to mind are all of Nickelback’s stuff, ‘Superstition’ — I love Stevie [Wonder], but people play this song too much without doing it justice — and Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline.’ During the chorus, after the line ‘Sweet Caroline … ba ba baaaa.’ Oh my God, that note interval is emotionally so depressing.”

Bea Gayle, drummer for Ivey West Band & JacksonVegas: “Friend of the Devil,” Grateful Dead

“I could give you a hundred, but since you only need one, currently I am hating on ‘Friend of the Devil’ by The Dead, because it’s hella boring, and brings no challenges to the table. And as we all know, we need each song to be fresh, fun, challenging and exciting to play, so as not to go completely postal playing the same tired songs 50 times a week.”

Samantha Jo Bishop, drummer for Chilly Rhino: Too many to decide

“It’s very hard to narrow it down to one. I’d have to say either ‘The Joker,’ because it’s too
long, lame and slow, or ‘Brown Eyed Girl,’ because it’s extremely boring to play and I’m tired of every chick in the bar dancing and pretending the song is about them. There’s also the Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet shit, because everyone seems to think they only wrote those two or three annoying songs. It’s time to let it die. Take your pick.”

Jeremy King, singer & saxophonist for Fat Cactus: “Mustang Sally,” Mack Rice/Wilson Pickett

“There are so many for different reasons, but if I must pick one, ‘Mustang Sally,’ because I’ve been playing that song since I started gigging as a teenager. I’m just tired of the song. People who request it often complain about a 12-bar blues song being boring. Why? Because they want to hear a 24-bar blues instead? I love playing the blues more than almost anything else, but really? ‘Oh, you don’t hire blues bands, but you want us to play “Mustang Sally”?’ All right.”

Tommy Bridgewater, bassist for Groove Coalition: “Happy,” Pharrell

“Without a doubt, ‘Happy’ chaps my ass! It’s killing me. The song is great, but it is the worst song. Why do I need a song to make me feel happy? It would appear the song was offered to CeeLo Green and he refused it. It was a throwaway song. But it ended up on the Despicable Me soundtrack. It’s really elementary and easy to play. People with no rhythm and totally drunk can look totally cool dancing to it. I guess, because I have so much respect for Pharrell Williams as a producer and an artist, I hate that this will be his legacy. This is what he’ll be known for.”

Brian Jenkins, drummer for Ginormous J & kLoB: “Margaritaville,” Jimmy Buffett

“The intro to ‘Margaritaville’ curdles my blood. ‘Margaritaville,’ for sure. When I’m on a pick-up gig and the guitarist or the keyboardist kicks in to the intro of that gem of a vacation anthem, my blood curdles, my fight-or-flight mode engages, but my sense of gigsmanship won’t permit either, so I begin to shrink, wishing I had a magic turtle suit in which to hide.”

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