Thursday, June 18, 2015

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 18: A Song That Every Bar Band Should Know

I'm resisting every last urge of my lesser self to pick "Sweet Caroline" today.

You're welcome.

First, allow me to set the proper mise-en-scene for today's prompt. There is, blessedly, a wide variety of live-entertainment bars in these more-or-less-blessed United States, with a correspondingly wide variety of  what counts as "appropriate" music to play in them.  And so there are, of course, site-specific tunes that will be more or less requisite for each of those varia. Here's the universally true thing for "bar bands," though: it really doesn't matter what bar they're playing in, how talented they are (collectively or individually), how many ohmyGodhaveyouevenHEARDITt?! (SOOAMAZING!!) original songs they may have in their repository or how dedicated their fans (who show up) are. The cold, hard truth for every bar band who has every played any bar is THIS AND ONLY THIS: at the end of the day, bar bands are paid to accomplish only two things, (1) keep people from leaving the bar and (2) give those people IN the bar even more reason to spend even more money AT the bar. Don't want to burst anyone's bubble here, but I spent the better part of my20's (and, ahem, a few years into my early-30's) playing in bar bands and so I had more than a decade of instruction in the importance of learning--nay, the requirement of learning-- to play an entire songbook of songs that drinking people want to hear at the beginning, during or at the end of a night of drinking.   I was lucky enough to play with bar bands that agreed to squeeze my original songs into the set list, so at least I had the minimal satisfaction that "my" songs got heard, if not really "listened to."  (This one in particular gained some traction during my bar-band years, as did this one.)  Blahblahblah, beggars can't be choosers and such.


In the years since I stopped performing in live bar-bands, I've spent a lot of time in bars with bar bands and have been given plenty of opportunity to think about what bar bands need to have in their song-arsenals.  There are so many obvious choices-- and, yeah, I include "Freebird" among those requisites, because f'realz every bar-band should to learn to play that song, even if only to ironically answer the drunkenly-and-only-sometimes-ironic request for it that is inevitably shouted out at soooo many bars.  To be honest, I don't think that people who've never played in a bar band fully appreciate the sheer magnitude of songs that bar bands must have (employing Heideggerian terminology) "ready-to-hand." The truth is that most of us who've played in bar bands know and can play on demand most of the songs that bar-patrons request; even the ones we don't (technically) know are usually familiar enough that we can fake it til we make it.  But there are still some songs, infrequently requested but always and in every case absolute crowd-pleasing show-stoppers that, imho, bar bands really ought to be require to learn.

My pick for today is (the artist formerly known as, then not known as, and now again known as) Prince's "Purple Rain."  Anyone who knows anything of Prince knows that he has been one of the most successful and effective protectors of his intellectual property in the history of music.  So, below is the best and only video-recording I could find of "Purple Rain," which unfortunately sounds like it's been slowed down several BPM's and doesn't effectively represent the awesomeness of the original.  Alas, here it is:
:


"Purple Rain" is, hands down, my pick for a song that every bar band should know (or learn). If I had my druthers, it would be the song that every bar band closes the night with.  It's paced at exactly the right level of deceleration for a last call, everyone knows it, it's got the sing-along part, and for any bar-band with a lead guitarist awesome-or-drunk enough to show his or her real stuff off just before unplugging-- and, c'mon, isn't that every guitarist in every bar band?-- this song just tees it up all nice and pretty for an EPIC performance,

I never meant to cause you any sorrow. I never meant to cause you any pain.

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