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Definition of a Cover Version

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Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 at 19:50 
Alan:
 
Don's reading of the various concert reviews has prompted him to release a statement on the incorrect use of the term "cover version":

ON THE INCORRECT USE OF THE TERM “COVER”

The word “cover” is now used by music writers and music fans incorrectly. They use it to describe any attempt by an artist to perform old songs or previously recorded material. The use of this term gives them a bit of authority since it makes them sound like they are in the music business. They are in fact ignorant of what a cover version of a song really is.

Back in the days of black radio stations and white radio stations (i.e. segregation), if a black act had a hot record the white kids would find out and want to hear it on “their” radio station. This would prompt the record company to bring a white act into the recording studio and cut an exact, but white, version of the song to give to the white radio stations to play and thus keep the black act where it belonged, on black radio. A “cover” version of a song is a racist tool. Many examples can be found from “Sha Boom” to “Good Lovin’” It is NOT a term intended to be used to describe a valid interpretation of an old song. In that case every pop singer is nothing more than a cover artist (a derogatory description if ever there was one). I am not a “cover” artist and I do not do “covers”. The Crewcuts were cover artists.

The term has morphed into its present misuse and I suppose I’ll not see this change anytime soon but I do hope the readers of this website and fans who are kind enough to write concert reviews will not use this term.

Madonna did not “cover” American Pie, she just sang an old song, and made an old songwriter mighty happy.

Thanks,

DON McLEAN

August 26th, 2004.

 

Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 at 23:05 
david:
 
Very valid comment and do whole heartedly agree with it...though do note that Madonna just "sang an old song" well part of it!! so not a "valid interpretation"?
Must say any song Don has ever done an interpretation of has been great, but us "old fans" do still want to hear his own songs, am sure thats what the people mean and words do often loose their original meaning over the years. So don't be to upset about it and just sing what ever makes you happy, we'll still listen and enjoy!!

 

Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 at 23:07 
Karman:
 
Thanks for the information on where the term comes from, Don. It's going to be a challenge to eliminate it from our everyday speech because it has become so widely used and it's a handy way of saying "someone sang someone else's song" in one word. I guess we can make the effort, though, if it annoys you!

 

Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 at 23:08 
Lawrence:
 
Don's statement prompts me to to try to open up another discussion. I have always loved his own songs. They have and always will stand the test of time. I am however fascinated by the way he always manages to put the Mclean "stamp" on songs he sings which were written by other people. I found Dons response to Ron Bucks Guitar questions to be a real insight. I would love to read a similar in depth Q/A about how he always seems to make these songs better than the originals. I know Don is in the middle of a world tour at the moment but I would love to think that he would be interested in this at some time.

By the way I would also love to provide the questions

Thanks for reading this post
Law

 

Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 at 23:29 
Martin:
 
I have read and reread Don's words several times - but feel he is getting het up about something quite trivial indeed.

To state that the term 'cover version' is a rascist tool is ott in my book.

I think Bronco Bill is on his high horse ...

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 00:29 
david:
 
Martin, am sure he meant to say "was a racist tool" as the rest of the message is set in the past context. We can all get on a high horse at times!!

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 02:50 
fanfare:
 
DM was only commenting on the state of American society at the time, Martin. Segregation was common in America in the 1950s, and black rhythm and blues were looked down upon. I think Don makes a valid point.

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 05:03 
Fuzzy:
 
Thank you, Don, for telling us the origin of the term 'cover version', and I'll try not to use it in any discussion of your singing if you don't like it.

However, it is probably too late to stop the use of this term, since it's already gone into several reputable dictionaries, including the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and the Encarta World English Dictionary

The history of words and terms is such that many original misuses become acceptable usage over time. I don't think people who use the term 'cover version' because they don't know its original meaning are necessarily trying to show they know the music business more than they do, or belittle the singers they write about.

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 09:52 
Kenny:
 
Fuzzy has hit the nail on the head and presented the facts in a highly intelligent way.

IMHO, Mr McLean's comments are political correctness gone mad. Even worse, it is political correctness presented in a pompous and patronising manner.


 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 10:19 
Liz:
 
I wouldn't necessarily consider using "cover" in reference to a remade song as "misuse," myself. Its purpose is nearly the same now as it was 50 years ago, isn't it? Musician hears song, thinks, "Hmm, that’s a mighty nice song; I’d like to record that myself," makes whatever changes s/he deems appropriate for his/her target audience and, with the intent of publishing and promoting it in order to cash in on it, does so. (Or, we hope, does so as a tribute to the original artist.)

Granted, nowadays there's the legal factor involved; one must pay certain fees to get rights to remake a musician’s song, while in the case of reproducing African Americans' work for white radio, they obviously weren't paid, and that's unacceptable. But in some cases, even today, when racial discrimination isn't involved, the cover/remake/whatever you want to call it becomes the original, as far as the public is concerned (the origin of Killing Me Softly, for instance, has been mistakenly attributed to Roberta Flack in too many music articles and other commentary to count, when Lori Lieberman's was, in fact, the original).

Words and phrases naturally evolve. It happens. Just as "nitty-gritty," "good egg," "gyp," "gobbledygook," "rule of thumb," and, my personal favorite, "Yank," have evolved into common parts of our everyday language from formerly offensive origins, I think "cover" has succumbed to our weird language and become something not quite what it once was. That's no reason to say it's misused, nor to declare that the millions of people who use it are making an attempt to parade as one of the elite few of the music business – every one of whom, I assume, know the true origins of the term "cover," including Robert James Ritchie – by throwing it around.

But naturally, as this is the Don McLean website, the fans will comply with his wishes. (Well, the fans who've read this thread, anyway. Might want to make this one sticky as warning for any newbies who post here, lest they incur the Wrath of Don.)

So I won't say "cover" in this hallowed space any longer, though I somewhat disagree with it.

Just as I’ll ask foreigners not to call me a Yank.

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 11:22 
billh:
 
Well first of all I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to Don for stirring up such a can of worms...the forum's been a little dead of late!!

I came in late last night and saw Don's posting. I almost replied immediately but decided to wait till today when I had time to give a more reasoned response.

In the meantime I am delighted to see that the reaction of many people exactly mirror my own and I would subscribe my name to everything written by Karman, Fuzzy, Kenny, Liz, SJB (wb )and others in a similar vein.

Whilst it seems that these people do not completely accept Don's views on the subject, I think he should be pleased that he has such an intelligent fan base who are not prepared to accept that just because he said it, it must be correct.

Having written many reviews for the website, I am sure that I will have used the words 'cover version'. I must admit I didn't know the etymology of the words, but I used them in what is the generally accepted manner, whether Don likes that or not.

I intend to continue to write what I want in the way I want and submit it to the site. Where I live, that's called free speech.

If the site administrator wishes to remove anything because I have used words not officially approved by Don then they are at liberty to do so.



 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 11:37 
Alan:
 
"billH" - I have no intention of doing that.

I am sure Don didn't mean to offend.

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 13:47 
Alan:
 
MORE ON COVERS

Thank you all for thinking about this. I guess I have always hated this word (I do love words) and have been thinking about writing something for quite some time. I did not mean for my bluntness (of which I am sometimes guilty) to offend anyone. It is never my intention to insult or hurt anyone’s feelings or be on my high horse.

HOWEVER

If you just look at the word, it means to cover up the other record. By the current meaning (which I accept but think is incorrect) Pavorati, Heifitz and Horowitz are cover artists as would be all classical musicians. The current use of the word does not make sense and I think it should be used in the specific way it was intended.

Finally, if a song has been recorded many times, who is the last artist to do the song “covering”? The artist who did the tune last? The artist the tune was learned from? The first artist to do the song? Is the first artist to do the tune covering the demo made by the writer?

The expanded use of the term “cover” does not qualify as a useful term because it can’t be defined. If it can’t be defined it, in my opinion, is blather.

Let’s have fun with this and see where it leads.

Best Wishes,

DON McLEAN

August 27th, 2004

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 14:39 
billh:
 
Don

Maybe the idea to call the Madonna version of American Pie a cover was planted in our minds by this very site . To quote from the 'About Don McLean' section...


"In 2000, Madonna recorded a cover version of "American Pie" that upon release in the UK entered the official singles chart at number 1 and made the US top-30 on air play points alone. This prompted EMI to release a new "Best of Don McLean" CD that gave Don his first top-30 album chart entry in almost 20 years."


I guess Mr Howard will even now be frantically scanning the biography for the dreaded words!!


Seriously, I'm sure nobody is offended by your comments. They just like a good basis for a 'discussion'! Many of the people who visit here reguarly are addicted to words and their derivation. It is your intelligent and witty use of words that attracted many to your music, and which has kept them listening for 30+ years.

It is funny though how the use of certain words can get under people's skin. There are several that irritate me in exactly the same way! However,I have never even wondered about what 'CV' (abbreviated to prevent distress!) really meant.

I wonder how you think such songs should be referred to...simply as e.g.'the Don McLean version of Crying' or in some other way?


 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 15:01 
brianc:
 
I think most people (but obviously not our Don) would accept that in a musical context, the word "cover" means "to record a version of a song primarily associated with another specific singer." The word "record" is the key to it all.

So when Don re-recorded And I Love You So for the Classics album, he was in fact "covering" Perry Como. QED!

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 15:10 
Michael:
 
Hang on a minute 'billh' - you were agreeing that Don was pompous and patronising a moment ago....!!!

The following page provides some further background on the original usage of this term.

As almost always, fuzzy and brianc seem to have got it right.

http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Cover_version

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 15:13 
billh:
 
It's wonderful to see you back SJ ... your post made me laugh so much ('Actually I'd be suicidal'...

You are going to be one scarey lawyer....I wouldn't fancy having my words twisted by you in court when you 'pull your fountain pen'....


PS. isn't it 'millions can't avoid'?

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 15:30 
Alan:
 
I must say that I have always used the term "cover version" and have always taken it to mean a recording of someone else's song, hence the numerous references that could be made to its occurrence in this site and in the music store. Don's explanation of its real meaning and origin have been most interesting. While I won't be changing anything already present on the site, references to "cover versions" have indeed been removed from the bio!

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 15:49 
Karman:
 
This is turning out to be a really interesting discussion/thread, which is great because the Forums have been awfully dead lately. I've never seen a topic take off quite this quickly! Obviously, the fact that Don is participating in it is the big reason for that, but the discussion itself is very interesting, too.

It's good to hear from you, Sarahjane...

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 16:06 
Fuzzy:
 
In his second post on this thread,Don wrote:

If you just look at the word, it means to cover up the other record. By the current meaning (which I accept but think is incorrect) Pavorati, Heifitz and Horowitz are cover artists as would be all classical musicians. The current use of the word does not make sense and I think it should be used in the specific way it was intended.

There are two statements in the above quotation that I find contrary to contemporary ideas about the changing nature of language. The first is that a word or term "should be used in the specific way it was intended." The second is "the current meaning (which I ...think is incorrect)..."

Language is made by humans and alters according to their needs. The first person who uses a certain word or term cannot dictate what it should mean to all succeeding generations. And meaning, once it is generally accepted, cannot be "incorrect", however much one dislikes it.

For example, I do mind that the word 'gay' now has 'homosexual' as its most popular meaning. For centuries before the last quarter of the 20th century, it meant 'cheerful and carefree'. And now one does not dare to use it in its earlier sense for fear of being misunderstood. But I don't think the most popular current meaning is "incorrect". I've been told that the homosexuals like that term and it's a far sight better than the pejorative 'queer'. It's also easier to say "he's gay" than to say "he's homosexual", just as it's easier to say "Linda Ronstadt's cover of Roy Orbison's 'Blue Bayou'" than to say "Linda Ronstadt's interpretation of Roy Orbison's 'Blue Bayou'."

I can go on with other examples of words that have changed their meanings or acquired new meanings in the course of time, but that will take up too much space.

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 18:30 
Alan:
 
FROM ON MY HIGH HORSE TO BEATING A DEAD HORSE
MY DEFINiTION OF COVER RECORDING:


I’m going out on a limb here but since the current use of the term “cover" is undefinable, I’ll give you what I think is a good definition:

A cover record is a recording which is an exact duplicate of the same song released by a lesser artist on a lesser label. The cover recording is released as the original is about to take off. The cover is meant to do just that - bury the original because the new version has a major artist and a major record company and they already know the song’s a hit because they use the original as a “stalking horse’ (since we’re talking horses here). If this works out right the “cover” version takes off and with the superior resources of the major label artist, the original recording is buried or “covered” and the small label with the little artist is crushed thus solidifying the major label’s power and the major artist’s power as well.

end of “definition”

The cover record at its worst was a racist tool used to prevent economic power from flowing to black artists and black enterprises such as radio stations and record companies. It later was used, especially in the 1950’s to keep little upstart record labels from gaining any traction against the major labels. Most rock acts in the late 40’s and early 50’s were on tiny labels. Muscling these record companies with cover records and many other economic tools only worked for a while until audiences got hip to the great original acts and their recordings. The dam broke and the pop charts hosted this great music from the pioneers of rock ‘n roll who finally triumphed. Herein, therefore, lies my distaste for the term “cover” which has been used by stupid music critics who are glorified groupies, and want to talk like a “music guy”. (there I go being blunt again). Alan Freed is the main man that needs to be given credit for the crossing over of many artists and the resultant economic benefits to their institutions.

Thanks for listening,

DON McLEAN

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 21:06 
Alan:
 
Here is Don's reply to SJB and Fuzzy's posts (read after he posted his last message). Any replies which stick to the topic of the thread are being read by Don and he is enjoying the discussion very much.

------

For Fuzzy; Of course our language is evolving. With each new meaning of a word the dictionary adds it with specificity. There can’t be logical discourse without the terms being used, even as they are evolving.

For SBJ. Your definition of Cover would make all artists, including the writer of a given song “cover artists". Do all artists “cover’ their songs? What the point of using this special word if it just means to perform or record. Aren’t the words perform or record good enough? I think those words are fine because they have specific meaning. I have given my definition of the word “cover”. It has a specific meaning and is not , I hope , blather.

The word as presently thrown around had a specific meaning and has morphed into a loose term which is really meaningless but to me, still carries a negative conotation (ie a “cover” as OPPOSED TO AN “original” version . Are all Sinatras recordings “covers”. I don’t think so.According to SBJ the Beatles recordings are covers of their own songs.

To say that words don’t need definition is a notion I reject. To say that because words are evolving they can have a con fused meaning is a notion I also reject. The meaning of the word “cover” is specific and the fact that people use it carelessly does not give the word new meaning. It just means, to me, that it becomes undefined blather.

Fuzzy’s example of the word “Gay” is a new use of an old word but the new meaning is very specific. The old meaning is not dead either. Since everyone is interested in this discussion i’d love to read a specific definition of “cover” from someone, instead of using the word itself as a definition.

Don McLean
August 27th 2004

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 21:23 
Bill N:
 
Interesting debate this and thanks to Don for a great insight into some of the tactics employed within the music industry.
Here in the UK we used to experience a different variation on the theme. It was common practice at one time for British record labels to muscle in on the success of American stars who had originated hit records in the U.S.A.
This was done by rushing out a British recording of the song by a British artist who often outsold the original artist. There are many examples of this but one which springs to mind is Singing The Blues ( coincidentally Don has recorded this one!)
Guy Mitchell made it a hit in America and Tommy Steele got on the bandwagon here in the UK and had a huge hit. This must have diminished Mitchell's return from his hit song. I can also think of Cilla Black getting in on Dionne Warwick's numbers.
Having said all this, there are very few British artists who have enjoyed a decent level of success in the U.S. and you suspect that blocking probably took place.

Don could no doubt relate many stories relating to his long journey through the shark-infested waters of the music industry. As a major artist and songwriter he will have been exposed to the sharks on all sides.

 

Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 at 22:17 
Liz:
 
Man.

Of all the weekends to be moving back to school...

I'll leave the fun part of discussing semantics to the likes of Fuzzy, BillH, SJ, and, of course, Don, but I'll continue to follow along (however loosely) until the topic's dead.

Have fun, guys.

 

Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2004 at 03:00 
kitkat:
 
*************************
Thanks for listening,
DON McLEAN
*************************

My dua or "=" cents ..
We all have been listening to his music and "words" and what we have this week is a defination of a word from the man himself. I respect his bluntness and frankness for his dislike of the word. Imagine the kind of discussion that would emerge when words in his famous song are disected. There would still be alot of disagreement even the man himself said this is what I meant!!

Dua and "=" have similar meaning if we understand the language it is written.

Have a good weekend.

 

Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2004 at 12:13 
Fuzzy:
 
In answer to Don's request for a definition of the word 'cover' (presumably in its sense of 'cover version'), here is the Oxford English Dictionary's definition:

A recording of a song, etc. which has already been recorded by someone else.

This seems to me to be a neutral definition of the term, which many of us use, but which obviously, after Don's explanation, is not its first or original meaning.

The first written instance of this meaning of the word cited by the dictionary is found in Melody Maker of 23 July 1966:

This is a cover version of the new Beach Boys single from some friends and admirers, the Castaways.

I believe what is needed is for the dictionary editors to insert an earlier definition of the word, based on Don's definition. The present definition should stay because that is based on current usage of the word.

When I looked in the same dictionary for a related definition of the verb 'cover', this is what I found:

To make a cover version of (a song, etc.)

What interests me here is not so much the definition, but the first written instance cited by the editors, from Lang.Music Business written by L.Huntley (1965):

A phonograph record company is said to cover the recording of another phonograph record company when it releases a competitive recording of the same song.

This seems to be closer to, but not as specific as Don's definition. Yet it is not strictly speaking the dictionary's definition, but one of the written records it based its definition on.

Another and later quotation makes references to names in the popular music world. It comes from Rock and Roll is here to stay by Chapple & Garofalo (1977):

Mercury's Georgia Gibbs covered Etta James' 'Wallflower' with a cleaned up version called 'Dance with me Henry'.

It would be good if Don could write to the editors of this dictionary and ask them to include the information he knows as part of the etymology of this term. They should also, as I suggested above, include the original definition of the term 'cover version'. Don has the standing to do so. I don't know of a dictionary more comprehensive than the OED in the English language, and it would be good if those consulting it are told the background of the term 'cover version', as they are told the background of words like 'stonewalling' and 'gerrymandering'(both of US origin).

That being said, I'd still like to use 'cover version' in the sense it's used in the definition above, just as I'd like to use the word 'nice' as a general term of approval, despite its earlier more specific meanings of 'fastidious' and 'scrupulous' and (horrors!) its original meaning (commonly used in the 14th and 15th centuries), of 'foolish, stupid, senseless'!

Finally, Don, in this sentence from your last post but one,

Herein, therefore, lies my distaste for the term “cover” which has been used by stupid music critics who are glorified groupies, and want to talk like a “music guy”

I trust you weren't referring to your fans who post reviews of your concerts here for other fans and also for fun!

 

Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2004 at 17:01 
Alan:
 
SOME FINAL WORDS

The “definition” of cover from Oxford is the same as Webster’s , a 12th definition and a slang definition. They are both wrong since they do not understand the words' slang meaning. This word is an adjective,verb and noun and it all flows from the original meaning. The current use, since it is undefined and indefinable, is blathar.

If you called an artist a “cover” artist it would be offensive to that artist.By the current slang ‘definition” most artists are ‘cover’ artists.

SJB is not offended by this term becAusE HE DOES NOT think words have to have specific meaning. This alone would disqualify him from being called “Grammer Gestapo’ or having any association with grammar. My version of “When You're Down and Out” I learned from Bessie Smith as did Josh and neither of us covered this song since it was one of her biggest hits.

I would ask prople who write to this site not to use this word with regard to my work, or me regardless of the fact that they may choose to use the word elsewhere in its blather form.

There will be stories in Alan’s bio of how I have been covered in the seventies and how this tool was used to damage me in some markets.

Don McLean

August 28th

 

Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2004 at 23:13 
Lawrence:
 
Ok - my interpretation of a "cover artist" (this is from my early youth) is someone who were not the real deal(ie they were not original artists.They basically did straight copies of other peoples work.) They may have found some sort of querky fame for reasons which has nothing to do with music.

Real artists who interpret other peoples songs are NOT cover artists.This can apply both to artists who have never written a single line of a song to great songwriters.

I go back to my earlier post. Lets get back to the real point here about how great artists can take other peoples songs and make them fresh and new .

So if you read this Don - Give us a few hints...

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 00:15 
hannah:
 
Well I'm amazed to find this thread because I've been playing Don's Marty Robbins CD a lot lately and also some Marty Robbins tracks plus some - um I'm not sure what to call them now.....recordings of Don's songs by other artists - and was thinking about commenting on them. I'm jolly glad I didn't because undoubtedly I'd've used the dreaded "c" word.

So is there another word that we can use for songs that have been written by one artist and subsequently recorded by another which won't get on Don's nerves? On Radio One I once heard them use the term "rehash" but that sounds a bit derogatory. "Another artist's interpretation of the original" is a bit of a mouthful and makes it sound as if the original was incomprehensible. Likewise, remake suggests that the original is falling apart! Fuzzy - is there another word in that dictionary of yours that would fit the bill? Or we could just make one up. How about giving them a nice name like "accolade songs" as they're really an accolade to the original since another artist has deemed them worthy of performing?

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 00:30 
Karman:
 
Well, I'm not Don, but I do have a suggestion, Hannah - how about calling them "interpretations" rather than "cover versions?" It would work much the same way; it's not too long and wordy; and it wouldn't get on Our Hero's nerves, at least I hope not (hee hee).

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 00:52 
Tony:
 
How about 'Rendition' ? That may cover it!!

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 01:06 
hannah:
 
Thanks for that Kar but I still think the word "interpretation" makes it sounds like you can't understand the original! And there are millions of "interpretations" of American Pie fr'instance but they're not cov....they're not other artists versions of American Pie - so that could be confusing.....!!

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 01:21 
hannah:
 
Tony

Better. Yes I like it.

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 02:41 
Karman:
 
So, my brilliant suggestion got shot down - boo hoo! I do like your suggestion, Tony - it's more succinct than mine was and more precise in meaning, which also works well. We'll have to see what Don thinks, I guess...

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 02:53 
D. Marie:
 


Don,

You are a scholar and a gentleman for conducting yourself as you have throughout this thread while trying desperately to get your message accross in spite of all that has come your way. I highly respect you for that.

You wrote:
Quote: I would ask people who write to this site not to use this word with regard to my work, or me..

Of course, I will be happy to follow your wishes. It may be easier for me because I never heard the word "cover" until about four years ago and I thought it sounded foolish. I have always sought to use other expressions because "cover" just wouldn't roll off my tongue naturally - in spite of the fact that I never knew its true origin. (Thank you for that.)

That being said, I will admit something very honestly: After double checking all the posts I made which deal with this issue, I was amazed to find that I did, in fact, go this route on one occassion recently. The reality is that anyone will find this description consistently and repeatedly used throughout this site for whatever reason and I succumbed somehow...and I'm not easily swayed! I understand, more than ever, why you're concerned; I feel your time is well spent and I will be more careful in the future.

Soooo...

On the "American Pie extra lyrics" thread I wrote:
Quote: You said that "American Pie" came on. Was Don McLean singing it or was Madonna singing it? If it was a college party and they used Madonna's cover of Don's song, then...

Yesterday, I edited it to say:
Quote: If it was a college party and they used Madonna's recording of Don's song, then...


My daughter read your posts with great interest and admiration, also. (I get such a charge out of that!) At eighteen and moving forward in the music industry, I know she'll abide by your request and enlighten others along the way.

After this, how could fans not think of your input, no matter what they decide?

Please post again on other topics. We loved it!!

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 02:57 
Tony:
 
The thing that is bothering me the most about Don’s post is his lack of response to the comment from by Fuzzy. She asked who Don was referring to when he wrote..

..Herein, therefore, lies my distaste for the term “cover” which has been used by stupid music critics who are glorified groupies, and want to talk like a “music guy”...

I can only interpret this as a rather insulting and very scathing attack on the people kind enough to spend time writing reviews for this site’s World Tour page, and other former tour reviews. Many fans have travelled incredible distances and spent unbelievable amounts of time and money to attend these concerts, and I have never once felt anyone was trying to be a serious music critic or music guy. There are a few very talented musicians on this site who can legitimately be critical of musicianship, the rest of us just do these reviews in the spirit of fun!!! I hope I am totally wrong in my thinking here, and can only hope Don will clarify his thoughts about this for me and everyone else. I’m sure none of us like being labeled by him as ‘glorified groupies’ or stupid music critics!

Administrator's Response: It is clear that Don is talking about music critics, not fans who kindly contributed reviews to this site which Don greatly enjoys reading. He has already clarified this in his second post.

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 03:00 
Fuzzy:
 
Re "Some Final Words", the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of 'cover', meaning 'cover version' is distinctly NOT "a slang definition". Nowhere does the OED state that 'cover' or 'cover version' is slang. I'm referring to the full 20-volume OED which scholars use (2nd edition 1989). There is no mention there of 'cover artist'. I have a CD-ROM version which is easily searchable, so I can be sure of this.

Sorry, Hannah, I can't think of another word instead of 'cover'.

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 04:25 
D. Marie:
 

Fuzzy, you wrote:
Quote: ...And the meaning, once it is generally accepted, cannot be "incorrect," however much one dislikes it.

Sure it can be; it's a matter of opinion.

Scholars may entertain the notion that one hundred dictionaries can depict something that is incorrect due to "controls" of some sort or fear of an issue - fear of exposing the truth. (And that's why it's such a sad shame.) It happens in every aspect of life...all the time...worldwide. To think otherwise may be a little naive. (No hurtful intention meant at all.)

I think you hit the nail on the head (and I applaud you) when you wrote:
Quote: I believe what is needed is for the dictionary editors to insert an earlier definition of the word based on Don's definition.

I think Don and everyone here would be happy about that. In my opinion, this is, in fact, the REAL ISSUE...

...and it will never change.

Don isn't trying to change the world. All he can do is ask that things change on this (his) Web site. He deserves our considerations, don't you think? (I know you said you would grant him his wish earlier. That last statement was meant in general.)

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 04:52 
D. Marie:
 

If you're wondering why I have never heard of the term "cover" until four years ago, it may be because the particular artists that I have followed throughout my life know of this sad issue. They may have bypassed this word on purpose for the same reasons that Don has explained so well.

For instance, here is what Michael Johnathon wrote to me which can be found on the "Don and his banjo" thread:
Quote: Hey D. Marie,

I first heard the song Over The Mountain from John Hartford, who sang "my honey." I had a chance to open several shows for him a few years later, by then I heard Uncle Dave Macon's version on which, bad sound quality aside, he sang "Ollie." Don's version is true, though more tender and gentler, to the Uncle Dave version. According to John Hartford, "Ollie" is an Irish slang for " . . . honey, sweetie, darlin' or as Bill Clinton might say: "Monica." The version of the song that says "Eileen" is in dispute as no one is actually sure which came first, Ollie or Eileen. Hartford sang "honey" only because he was tired of explaining to audiences that ollie meant honey. He figgered he should just get it over with. And such is the road of a good folk song . . .

In any case, it is a beautiful melody. On my live album I recorded it with cello and mandolin which gives it an almost classical feel.

Hope this helps,
Michael Johnathon


 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 05:09 
D. Marie:
 

SJ, you wrote:
Quote: The learned lexicographers who put together the QED aren't "afraid to expose the truth."

What is your reasoning/explanation for the outright void of info that Don speaks of? There is a factual, valid and VERY important history here. What do you think one can do to change it?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The only way Don has erred on this whole thread was in thinking you were a male and not a female teenage.

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 05:47 
Fuzzy:
 
D.Marie, something that you may not be aware of is that the development of the English language is not controlled by a prescriptive Academy as the development of the French language is.

Even when there's a prescriptive body like the French Academy, it is the users of the language who finally determine what they'll use. My French teacher gave us an example. When the Walkman first became popular, the Academy ruled that it should be called 'balladeur'. But most of the French people feel happier calling it 'le Walkman'. So, bye bye Academy!

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 15:53 
D. Marie:
 

SJ wrote:
Quote: D. Marie, while I admire your resolve to agree with Don McLean at all costs...

My resolve is to stand by the truth at all costs. Don is speaking the truth here. To deny it is to miss a very important issue/point.

Some fans have gone to great lengths to lean heavily on using the dictionaries as evidence of what is acceptable or not (or what is right or wrong, in their opinion.)

The dictionaries, no matter if you believe them to be compiled by learned people or not, are, in reality, lacking on this subject. It appears from SJ's offerings that it is quite simple to have a definition/explanation/depiction entered into the OED, for one:
Quote: I believe that a usage has to occur in three publications over the space of five years before it will be admitted to the dictionary.

I truly believe that the intelligent people writing on this thread would admit that the usage of "cover" (as Don describes) would most definitely fit the bill and SJ gets pretty close to admitting it:
Quote: Perhaps the usage which Don claims to be the "correct" one has indeed been thus recorded.

Maybe this is where time should be spent: researching this end. If you do, you may discover the facts - bringing you closer to the truth.

SJ wrote:
Quote: ...and, the OED researchers simply have not come across it. Perhaps not. I don't know.

Do you mean to tell me that your highly learned lexicographers may have erred or overlooked something on this subject - on purpose or otherwise - after all this time? Now we're getting somewhere!

SJ wrote much earlier:
Quote: Their entries reflect the actual usage of words...

I THINK NOT

I still ask for a more clear, objective answer based on facts and reality:
Quote: What is your reasoning /explanation for the outright void of info that Don speaks of?

I'll also ask again, since it hasn't been answered:
Quote: What do you think one can do to change it?

Fuzzy wrote:
Quote: ...something that you may not be aware of is that the development of the English language is not controlled by a prescriptive Academy...

SJ wrote:
Quote: Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive.

I hate to burst your bubble, but this is not always true or we wouldn't be having this discussion. Go ahead. Prove me wrong on this subject. Yes, this is a challenge to you. (No hurtful intention meant at all. The hope is that you'll discover more of the history.)

Don McLean wrote:
Quote: There will be stories in Alan's bio of how I have been covered in the seventies and how this tool was used to damage me in some markets.

This is key to this topic.

He didn't ask for our first-born-child, a kidney, five years salary or for us to give away our precious collection of his music to those who have never heard of him. He simply asked us to absorb new info on the history of a particular word that causes him distress and use another - a very minor request indeed. What he got in return is denial, rationalization, avoidance and scapegoat thinking. My God! This man has given us so much and continues to give, give, give... Can't we accomodate him?

Fuzzy wrote:
Quote: Even when there's a prescriptive body like the French Academy, it is the users of the language who finally determine what they'll use...So bye, bye Academy!

Isn't this exactly what Don is asking of us? How will you respond? Many will be watching from now on - especially Don.

SJ wrote:
Quote: ...I'd sooner burn up all my DM recordings, CDs and memorabilia than dogear a page of the OED.

This tells us where her loyalties lie. (No hurtful intention meant at all.)

Funny, I was wondering if Annie's very special tribute book from us gave Don a false sense of security in our love for him whereby he felt it a good time to make a tiny request. I'll bet he never expected what happened next.

I like what SJ wrote:
Quote: ...QED...an abbreviation for "quod demonstrandum," meaning "which was to be demonstrated, which remained to be shown."


...in the land of dictionaries and fans alike.

 

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 18:30 
Karman:
 
D. Marie wrote:

Quote: He didn't ask for our first-born-child, a kidney, five years salary or for us to give away our precious collection of his music to those who have never heard of him. He simply asked us to absorb new info on the history of a particular word that causes him distress and use another - a very minor request indeed. What he got in return is denial, rationalization, avoidance and scapegoat thinking. My God! This man has given us so much and continues to give, give, give... Can't we accomodate him?


I think it's safe to say that Don doesn't expect us to roll over and simply agree with everything he says - his participation in this discussion proves that to me. The issue of how much he has given us isn't in question here - he received honest opinions in response to his posts and I think he has found the discussion to be as interesting and stimulating as we have. If he has any doubts about whether we appreciate him, he can pull out Annie's Tribute Book or just browse the Forums here and any doubts would be dispelled. Also, he's perfectly capable of defending himself, if necessary, which I don't think was ever necessary on this thread. So everybody didn't agree with everything he said? So what? I don't think he wants people to lie just to please him, either. The man obviously appreciates honesty. OK, so he may have liked it better if we all just said, "Sure Don, we agree and we'll never do it again." Maybe, but maybe NOT. This has been a very interesting discussion and I hope he continues to participate here in this way. I don't think a little disagreement among friends is enough to make him think we're being ungrateful for all he has given to us over the course of his career.

 

Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 at 05:18 
D. Marie:
 


SJ, you wrote:
Quote: A few posts ago you tried to show the rightness of your arguement by referring to my age.
I tried to tip Don off that you were not an adult male studying to be a lawyer but a female teenager because the pattern is always the same with you. When the hard core issues start getting addressed and the truth needs to be discussed regarding serious issues, you turn deeper and deeper toward denial, rationalization, avoidance and using others as a scapegoat (as seen in your angry post above.) I thought it wise to let Don know that you are still a teenager - only a few years older than his daughter - if he should decide to respond to you. I could predict what was coming.

Why Karman still does it at age forty-two or so, I don't know.

It's obvious that the REAL ISSUES were never addressed in either of your last posts and twisting my words doesn't make what you try to say any more valid.

 

Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 at 06:33 
D. Marie:
 

SJ,

I always speak my mind.

Malice? There isn't one word you could label as malice in any of my posts anywhere on this site - including my last one above. Any objective thinker will recognize this - especially Don.

I won't ruin what Don has begun by bringing this thread down, SJ. It's too important!

You're on your own...

 

Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 at 07:10 
D. Marie:
 

SJ,

Did you think I wouldn't notice that you edited your post after I wrote mine to include:
Quote: I'll join more sensible folk in refusing to reply to you any further.

...as if you wrote it first?

...incredible! (I have a copy before and after.)

 

Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 at 13:41 
D. Marie:
 

SJ may not know that when you edit posts it does not change the original timestamp (if that's what you call it) of the original post. Check it out for yourself.

The time of her editing (to try to cover for herself) happened AFTER I wrote my post and her statement is FALSE.

 

Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 at 13:45 
D. Marie:
 


TO FANS,

SJ wrote:
Quote: Don McLean is entirely wrong, here.

No, he isn't and neither am I.

SJ wrote:
Quote: Perhaps the usage which Don claims to be the "correct" one has been recorded.

In response, I wrote:
Quote: Maybe this is where time should be spent: researching this end. If you do, you may discover the facts - bringing you closer to the truth.

SJ wrote:
Quote: Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive.
In response, I wrote:
Quote: I hate to burst your bubble, but this is not always true or we wouldn't be having this discussion. Go ahead. Prove me wrong on this subject. Yes, this is a challenge to you. (No hurtful intention meant at all. The hope is that you'll discover more of the history.)

Instead of taking the time to do the work and seek the truth, it's oftentimes much easier to exist in a state of denial and start attacking.

If you don't like the message, kill the messenger.

This is all too common...and very sad indeed.

When it comes to Don's message, is this behavior being repeated:

"They would not listen, they're not listening still. Perhaps they never will." (The last lines in Don McLean's song "Vincent.")

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Don McLean wrote:
Quote: There will be stories in Alan's bio of how I have been covered in the seventies and how this tool was used to damage me in some markets.

Don, I'm so sorry that this happened to you.

 

Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 at 16:52 
Jim Monaghan:
 
This particular topic, complete with very active participation from Don, is interesting enough without it turning into a flame war.

Please - avoid attacking a particular person and concentrate on dealing with what that person wrote.

 

Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 at 17:30 
billh:
 
With respect Jim, I was dealing with what a person wrote.

However, you are as always welcome to remove any of my posts at your discretion.

 

Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 at 18:05 
Jim Monaghan:
 
Bill -

It was a general statement to all.

 

Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 at 23:55 
david:
 
I have not read in detail all the posts here so forgive me but have found most are to do with the meaning of "cover", which I do know and accept his definition.
I don't though agree that anyone can give a "valid interpretation" of an other artist's work, they can only "sing an old song", and give it their own interpretation. "Pie" being the best example off all, to interpret a song one would have to know the thoughts of the writer at the time it was writen. and as Don himself has said even he can't reconstruct his thoughts at the time he has writen songs! so no "interpretation" is valid, people just sing an old song and take from them what they will.

 

Posted on Saturday, September 04, 2004 at 04:44 
Pete :
 
Typical!! I go away on vacation and miss all the action.
As one who is 'guilty' of using the 'c' word in a review, I can only say.........

If the word 'cover' offends Don in any way, I apologise unreservedly and will not use the term again.

 

Posted on Saturday, September 04, 2004 at 07:09 
Bob Gregg:
 
Ok - I have not entered this debate because I believe my part of the the world has been very well represented by SJB onya babe. I must say I think thier are too arguements here - the technical and the real!
To me the word "Cover" has always carried the conotation of inferior - copy etc . Ive never regarded Don as a cover artist but as an interpretator of others peoples songs .
Don did not cover "Crying" his interpretation was completely diferent from the original - slower and minus the tex\mex sound of the original.
To call Don a cover artist would indeed be an insult - and Don I can understand why you take such a strong stand on this.
In the 70's in Australia major record labels and radio stations were involved in a dispute over paying to play songs.
Consequently we saw Cover artists and songs arrive
The Push Bike Song by the Mixtures went to No 1 The Long and Winding Road by someone I cant remember was a hit - Liv Mason had a hit with Snowbird to name just a few.
THese were COVERS of hits from major artists that radio refused to play.
Then the Music for pleasure group released thos hits of LP's with artists who sounded just like the originals - more covers.
My definition of a cover is then " A recording that seeks to copy the work of another - with the sole intention of passing itself off as an original " . On nothing Don has recorded does he sound like anything but Don McLean - and I think that is the important point - an artist interpreting a song is totally different than a singer covering a song.

Bob (where is the spellchecker ) Gregg

 

Posted on Saturday, September 04, 2004 at 19:00 
Alan:
 
I would echo Jim's comments. I've lost track of this thread. I would stick to the topic and not worry what other people think. Also, leave the moderation to the moderators and administrator. A flood of personal exchanges simply hides some very good posts which do contribute to the discussion and which Don should be able to respond to.

 

Posted on Saturday, September 04, 2004 at 21:15 
D. Marie:
 


At this point, I think it would be of great benefit and interest to reach as many African American former and current music students in the US via this thread to see how they would respond. I'll contact the music department at Skidmore College in Saratoga, NY to see if someone there can help me with regard to getting their school and other colleges involved. (I believe the school year begins next week.)

What would be even more interesting is if these contacts lead to eliciting responses from a much older generation of musicins who could provide personal history and insight on this topic, such as Don McLean will be doing in his biography soon.

Sometimes it's amazing what one phone call can start...

 

Posted on Sunday, September 05, 2004 at 16:35 
Annie:
 
Me too Pete you go away on holiday and look what happens.
Sticking directly to the thread if I haven't lost it, I just can't seem to pick out anywhere here what is the "right " word to use for such songs.
As I am a learner in a band my uunderstanding of what I play is either an "original"or an
"arrangement".
So Don if you are still following this post it would be great to hear how we should write about such songs and then we can await great reviews from Australia.
Like all before I would apologise if I have ever offended by using this word.

 

Posted on Friday, September 10, 2004 at 15:48 
Tony-S:
 
I think smother is a good word for cover because that is what a true cover version (as defined by Don) tries to do. Dare I say it, but Roy Orbison (or his record company) tried to smother Don in 1980. They released the Big O's Crying almost immediately after Don's version. This cover didn't get anywhere and Don went on to have an international number 1.

 

Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 at 23:34 
Tony-S:
 
I guess my definition was rubbish. Fair enough. I see on google at least, Don McLean & this thread come first for "definition of a cover version", ahead of the online dictionaries.

 

Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 at 23:47 
D. Marie:
 

Tony S.,

I thought your definition was very accurate and valuable and I'm very happy for the info in your second post. (I wonder how long it'll stay that way.)

Thanks!

 

Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 at 11:13 
Alan:
 
Thanks Tony. I have heard something similar about Crying.

I think the time has come to draw this discussion to a close. It's certainly been a great thread and thanks to everyone who has made a positive contribution.

Don has asked to see the entire thread, so will report back if he has anything else to add.

 

This topic has been archived.

 

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