Come On Down To Coverville!

February 3, 2007

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I was bitching to Joe Klein of Podcast voice guys, about how few cover records I’ve gotten on my songs in recent years, and he told me about Brian Ibbott, the creator and host of COVERVILLE, who has one of the hottest podcasts around, with 40,000 subscribers, who ONLY plays cover records!

I’ve always been proud of the multi-million selling cover records I’ve been involved with over the years, which include “You’re 16” which I gave to Ringo Starr, “Rock And Roll Heaven” by the Righteous Brothers, and “Daydreamer” by David Cassidy. So needless to say, as a songwriter/ publisher who’s still running hot and heavy in the street, this program is very inspiring to me! As well as providing information on who’s doing cover records these days, I was surprised how many new versions of my favorite songs from the the 60’s to the present are spotlighted on the show. I heard covers of Elvis Presley songs I’d never heard before by the Pet Shop Boys, Cheap Trick, John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen. There were covers of Beach Boy songs by the Troggs, Elvis Costello, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra, John Lennon songs done by Eva Cassidy, Dream Academy and Roxy Music. Surprising covers of James Brown songs from The Who and Concrete Blonde. Even artists like Metallica, and Pink Floyd, had covers as well as hundreds of others!

COVERVILLE was the first place I heard Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line”, recorded by Fuel…whose arrangement was at the center of a controversy on “American Idol” last year. Chris Daughtry, a finalist in the competition, who currently has the number one album on the Billboard charts, performed Fuel’s version without crediting them for the arrangement. What The Fuck! When has anybody ever credited anybody for doing their arrangement on TV?

Before I got all worked up about it…I thought wait a second, all this controversy is over a cover? Maybe doing somebody else’s song is cool again?

It’s been a bitch trying to get a song recorded by a group who writes their own material, since artists and managers have long realized that song writing and publishing royalties are sometimes the only source of income from their”Multi-Platinum” CDs. Remember, the poor artist is usually charged with everything a company can get away including outrageous studio costs, touring expenses, promotion, and the making of million dollar videos!

I remember hearing stories about Beatle manager, Brian Epstein, sitting down with John Lennon and Paul McCartney and forcing them to start writing more original songs for economic reasons. I heard that Andrew Loog Oldham, The Rolling Stones manager, convinced Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to do the same, which changed the musical direction of two of the greatest “cover” groups of all time!

I was there with “Papa” Joe Jackson, the day that Michael and the Jackson 5 escaped from Motown, weary of being forced to do “covers” on their albums and”other peoples songs” on their singles. I was able to help Joe get a $25,000 dollar advance, within 48 hours for their sub-publishing around the world based on songs that were yet to be written by unproven writers.The deal ultimately included “Beat it”, “Billy Jean” and most of the compositions on the 65 million selling,”Thriller” album!!.

Okay…Okay, The world’s a better place because of these self-generating artists…but how many artists today are capable of really writing “Great” songs today? I asked Brian Ibbott, why do cover records seem to be coming back?

“I think because the reasons people cover songs have broadened. It used to be a purely financial decision to cover a song, but these days, many do it because it’s an honor, and a tribute to a band that helped shape their own music. At least, in an ideal world, that would be the most prominent reason.”

“Brian, you seem very committed to your podcasts and to cover records?”

“Second to my family, Coverville has turned out to be the joy of my life. I look forward to new episodes, email feedback from listeners, and the music they introduce me to. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing, if it weren’t for the show!”

Personally, I’d be happy as a music lover and consumer to have a couple of familiar songs, I could sing along with, on every CD that I buy. Am I wrong? Wouldn’t all of you like to hear more of your favorite songs performed by more of your favorite artists?

Copyright by Artie Wayne 2007

Check out Brian Ibbot’s “Coverville”, he’s got an archive of over 250 podcasts you can download. Hear what all the buzz is about! http://coverville.com

For Artie Wayne’s website and complete discography http://artiewayne.com

To see Sebastian Prooth’s inspiring video of Alan O’Day’s brilliant update of he and the late Johnny Stevenson’s classic, “Rock and Roll Heaven” https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/08/20/rock-and-roll-heaven/

For Joe Klein http://podcastvoiceguys.com

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On July 30, 2006 Top of the Pops, which has been on the air in the U.K. for 42 years, will broadcast its final show. I only saw the show once…when I went to London for the first time 40 years ago…

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In 1964, when I became disillusioned with the music business
in the U.S., my friend Paul Simon [then known as Jerry
Landis], convinced me that I should go to London, where I
just had a top ten hit with Helen Shapiro, “Queen for
Tonight” [Raleigh/ Wayne]. At the time I was trying to get
some club work in New York’s Greenwich Village, Paul
introduced me to the folk scene and backed me up on guitar
at the Bitter End and Gerdes Folk City. He was tired of
plugging other people’s songs at E.B. Marks Music, and was
hoping his debut accoustic album with Artie Garfunkle,
“Wednesday Morning 3Am”, would put him on the map. His
producer at Columbia, Tom Wilson, disappointed with the
public and label’s response to the album, went in and
overdubbed the same electric group he used to record Bob
Dylan, which caused a controversy among folk purists!. I
remember, Paul shaking his head and telling me how much they
respected his music in the U.K. and how he longed to go back.

It didn’t take much to convince me that I too, needed a
change. My Liberty single “Where Does a Rock and Roll Singer
Go” [Wayne], had bombed out, money was slow coming in from
my songs, and Amy records, for whom I produced “Midnight
Mary” [Raleigh/ Wayne], was trying to take the Artist, Joey
Powers away from me, because I didn’t have any subsequent
hits.

As I was about to leave for London, I came down with the
chicken pox and had to postpone my trip. It was during the
next few weeks that I met Bess Coleman, one of the Beatles
Press officers, and started writing some songs with her.
When she said that she was friendly with the road manager
of the Rolling Stones, and Mick Jagger was going to be
staying at his apartment, I jumped at the chance to write
for the group.

We wrote a few songs…made a few demos…and Bess gave her
friend two songs to pass along to Mick. One of them, “It
Ain’t Me”, is the song I eventually sued over.

I knew the Stones were slated to record in Chicago, at the
legendary Chess studios, before they went to Hollywood,
where they filmed the “TAMI” show…so we crossed our
fingers and hoped we had made the session. We didn’t hear
back from anybody…so we uncrossed our fingers and went on
with our lives.

My co-writer, Bess Coleman, started preparing for the
Beatles to come to New York and introduced me to Jackie
DeShannon, who was the opening act for the Fab Four. As we
all hung out, it was Jackie, who re-ignited my desire to go
to London. She said she was going there on a promotion tour
in a few weeks, and it would be a perfect time me me to go.
I figured that I could still meet up with Paul Simon, and
play whatever clubs were left on his tour. When I arrived
at Paul’s publisher’s office, however, I found a note from
him saying that he had to go back to the States to promote
the reworked single of “Sounds of Silence”.

I wasn’t too upset, since It gave me the opportunity to go
to recording sessions and TV shows with Jackie and her new
co-writer, Jimmy Page. I had time to hang out and jam with
the Animals and the Moody Blues, play guitar with “Howlin’
Wolf” and “Sonny Boy” Williamson, participate in a
“kidnapping” of Cilla Black, from the Palladium, by her
pals, Mike Millward and Billy Hatton, of The Fourmost, and
go on the “Beatles for Sale” promotional tour.

It was at “Ready, Steady, Go”, while chatting up one of the
dancers, I heard a few familiar lines being sung by the
Rolling Stones. It sounded like the song Bess and I had
given their road manager to pass along to Mick. They were
celebrating the success of “Little Red Rooster”, which was
their first number one record, and this was the b-side,
“Off the Hook”. After the performance, I went over to Mick
and told him how much I enjoyed the way he did my song…he
just looked at me somewhat astonished and just walked away,
without saying a word!

The next day, when I bought a copy of the record, “Off the
Hook” and I saw that it credited Nanker Pheldge [Jagger and
Richards] as the writers! I hired David Jacobs, one of the
Beatles’ lawyers, to put a temporary injunction against the
single. This came as a shock to everyone, bringing a volley
of threats against me.

I decided it would be safer for me to keep a very low
profile for the remainder of my trip to London…and I hid
out with a couple of “Birds” who lived on the floor below
Charlie Watts in Ivor Court.

I heard that a lot of unsavory characters were out looking
for me, but I managed to escape the U.K. and get back to
New York unscathed. For the next five years I spent
thousands and thousands of dollars seeking justice in the
U.S. courts, but ultimately lost the case. It seems that
the defendants claimed they wrote their song a week before
I wrote mine and sang it to an engineer friend, which in
the U.K. constutes a common law copyright! Although my case
prompted a change of the U.S. copyright law, I was
devestated, traumatized and lost my will to write. This is
when I started working for an array of publishers, showing
other people’s songs.

It was years before I was able to write again…but now,
forty years later I can talk about it… and hardly feel
any pain.

Regards, Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.com