SONGWRITING MONTH DAY 11: Smashed Expectations

TODAY’S PROMPT: Learn a song usually sung by someone who is not like you.

If you’re a black woman, learn a Rufus Wainwright song; if you’re a white woman, learn a John Legend song, if you’re a male of either race, sing an Aretha Franklin song, etc.

This prompt comes from my days in Bangkok singing in a cover band.   If you didn’t know I did this, well, now you do.  It’s a great story and hopefully it will be an essay one day, a famous essay, so you all can read it from some famously wonderful source.

When I first joined the band, the guitar player (named Lynchee) gave me a stack of 1990’s, early 2000s alternative/pop songs that were all sung by women.  “Don’t Speak” was in there, for instance. So was “Top of the World” and “Zombie.”  The whole covering other people’s music thing didn’t really click from me until I started singing U2 songs, or until I covered “Creep” by Radiohead.

The explanation was simple: I had more freedom with these songs.  As soon as the audience recognized the song and then understood that I, a not-bald man but curly haired white woman, was going to be singing “Losing My Religion,” they dropped their expectations about how the song was supposed to sound.  I think they liked that one the most because my version of it was, well, really different.

TODAY’S SONG: Always Be My Baby

David Cook knew exactly what I was talking about when he covered this song on American Idol years ago. For me it’s like, middle school meets whoa.

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