Taking Responsibility For Your Music

fixxxer

Senior Member
I'm in a band that plays mostly originals with some covers sprinkled in. Last night we had a practice and were working on some covers. Out of no where our guitarist busts out Eric Clapton's "Cocaine". We jumped on it and it sounded absolutely amazing- we really nailed it. That song fits so well (musically) with our set and everything else we are playing. We played it several times even deciding on exactly where we wanted it in the set. The guys were making comments such as, "this one will get the crowd going!", etc. We walked away from practice feeling very satisfied with this "new" song.
I woke up this morning bothered by something. Although I've heard the song a million times and have been a fan of Clapton's for some time, is this (Cocaine) a song that we want to represent us or our band? I'm no Boy Scout (not that there is anything wrong with that) but it just seems that we would be somewhat irresponsible for playing it because we (as a band or individuals) in no way shape or form advocate drug use or wish to glorify it.
I have no problem explaining to the band that I don't wish to play the song. There are several (thousand) other songs we could do instead. We have another practice tomorrow night so I want to make a decision before then. I just feel that we as musicians should take some responsibility in what we deliver to our audience.
Am I being over "responsible" here?
Should I just chalk it it off to Rock-N-Roll?
Are there any songs that you wouldn't do because of subject matter?
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I've always been of the mind set that "a good song, is a good song". I've never put too much thought into the messages conveyed to be honest.....to me, they are just words and they don't necessarily convey my thoughts. That said, there's certainly hard core racially motivated music and the like that I'd never want to be associated with, so I guess I'm picking and choosing my own argument?!?!?

Personally, I think it's a great song though and I've happily played it in the past. But, if it bothers you then you've gotta let YOUR concience be your guide on this one.
 

Nodiggie

Gold Member
I can appreciate your position. You need to see how your band feels about it. If it's an even democracy, then majority rules right? I also agree that "a good song, is a good song" but consider lyrics as important as the music. I don't think you are being overly responsible at all because it's your conscience.

I played a show with a friend of mine some time ago, helping them out of a pre-booked agreement. The music was great, the lyrics not so great IMO. That's what friends are for right?
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
What kind of audience is it? My old cover band did that song for a group of middle-aged businessmen, and we switched the title to "Rogaine"! It went over surprisingly well, especially when they all pointed to their heads and sung along!
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Keep in mind, Clapton considers it an "anti-cocaine" song.

Although, I admit, having heard the song a million times on the radio, I've never been sure if the lyrics were glorifying or vilifying it's use. Reading the lyrics, it seems somewhere in the middle.

To the main point: While I've never been in a band that performed songs about drugs, I admit I've been in bands that had lyrics suggesting some things I wasn't entirely comfortable with. But at the same time, it's never 100% my band, other people in the band have a say as well.

And some lyrics are open to misinterpretation no matter what you do.
 

Chonson

Senior Member
With all due respect to your band...

If someone's going to start doing coke because they heard a cover band cover a song that's pushing 35 years old (and one that they've heard probably countless times on the radio)... they have much bigger issues.

It's just a song.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
If your hairs fallin out,
You should be...all about,
Rogaine

Yeah, to light her fuse
Well you, got to use
Rogaine

You can buy
You can buy,
You can buy,
Rogaine.
 

toddy

Platinum Member
With all due respect to your band...

If someone's going to start doing coke because they heard a cover band cover a song that's pushing 35 years old (and one that they've heard probably countless times on the radio)... they have much bigger issues.

It's just a song.
this pretty much sums up my thoughts.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
my band attempted to play that song a few weeks ago at a bar/restaurant. soon after we started into it, the bar manager started frantically signaling us to cut the song and play something else. we stopped right away, but i found out later they didn't stop us because they are particularly upstanding and moral pillars of the community. they stopped us because the owners and managers of the bar are notorious cocaine users and possibly dealers and they didn't want us drawing attention to them.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
If your hairs fallin out,
You should be...all about,
Rogaine

Yeah, to light her fuse
Well you, got to use
Rogaine

You can buy
You can buy,
You can buy,
Rogaine.
LOL

If your septum's all gone
And your account is withdrawn
Rogaine

You feel like a sprite
'Till you're twitchin at night
Rogaine


DrumEatDrum said:
Although, I admit, having heard the song a million times on the radio, I've never been sure if the lyrics were glorifying or vilifying it's use. Reading the lyrics, it seems somewhere in the middle.
As it should. There's nothing wrong with drugs - therapeutic or recreational - just how they are (ab)used. It annoys me how anti-drug campaigns overplay the downside; humans have used chemicals to change consciousness since Adam was in shorts. At work almost everyone uses performance-enhancing drugs - caffeine. Drugs are just a fact of life.

The song's balance is pretty well in line with reality IMO, talking about the good times until it finishes with:

Don't forget this fact
You can't get it back
Rogaine

There's the warning. It's basically saying, "When you're out there having a good time always keep in mind that if you're not careful the stuff can really mess you up".

Not a bad message IMO. While I agree that you guys playing the song won't influence anyone, there are some lyrics that we don't relate to at all. It's more important for the singer, but some musos need that unification of purpose. Others just let the singer sing and enjoy playing the drum parts.

Our band plays Perfect Day, which some say is about drugs. Our singer, who is strongly anti-drug, felt the whole thing was too maudlin and wanted to change the mood to more "tra-la-la, such a perfect day". We play it as a kind of rumba.

I like the edge to that song, that dark underbelly. At first our singer omitted the "You're gonna reap what you sow" sting at the end but I pushed for it. He only accepted it by re-interpreting that lyric to mean, "Yes, you reap what you sow - good things too".

Now the song has this mild irony about it, even though - or maybe because - he isn't seeing it :)
 

fixxxer

Senior Member
Thanks for all of your replies. I love the Rogaine version! I'm thinking maybe waiting until this summer and doing "Solarcaine"! :>)

I am going to express my thoughts about this to the band tonight. I'll probably take some ribbing, but I can handle that! If they feel so strongly about playing the song, I'll play it. If not, we'll move on.

I don't believe that playing the song will create first-time users of the drug or somehow totally corrupt the audience from their once "clean living" ways. It's just a matter of responsiblility.

But, this brings up another point- Taking this type of stance in the music that we play (or don't play), where does one stop? For example, I really love playing "Hey Joe" and don't have any plans on taking it out of our set any time soon even though I am not an advocate for "shooting my ol' lady" even if "I caught her messin' around with another man"!
 

unfunkyfooted

Silver Member
I'm in a band that plays mostly originals with some covers sprinkled in. Last night we had a practice and were working on some covers. Out of no where our guitarist busts out Eric Clapton's "Cocaine". We jumped on it and it sounded absolutely amazing- we really nailed it. That song fits so well (musically) with our set and everything else we are playing. We played it several times even deciding on exactly where we wanted it in the set. The guys were making comments such as, "this one will get the crowd going!", etc. We walked away from practice feeling very satisfied with this "new" song.
I woke up this morning bothered by something. Although I've heard the song a million times and have been a fan of Clapton's for some time, is this (Cocaine) a song that we want to represent us or our band? I'm no Boy Scout (not that there is anything wrong with that) but it just seems that we would be somewhat irresponsible for playing it because we (as a band or individuals) in no way shape or form advocate drug use or wish to glorify it.
I have no problem explaining to the band that I don't wish to play the song. There are several (thousand) other songs we could do instead. We have another practice tomorrow night so I want to make a decision before then. I just feel that we as musicians should take some responsibility in what we deliver to our audience.
Am I being over "responsible" here?
Should I just chalk it it off to Rock-N-Roll?
Are there any songs that you wouldn't do because of subject matter?
i know what you mean. it's a drag getting older and responsible isn't it ? i've thought about that same song myself. i love the groove. should i play it ? i still haven't decided.

i guess i'll take it on a case by case basis.
 
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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
For example, I really love playing "Hey Joe" and don't have any plans on taking it out of our set any time soon even though I am not an advocate for "shooting my ol' lady" even if "I caught her messin' around with another man"!
If you do, just substitute the Type O Negative version "Hey Peter" where he uses an axe instead of a gun. :p
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
But, this brings up another point- Taking this type of stance in the music that we play (or don't play), where does one stop? For example, I really love playing "Hey Joe" and don't have any plans on taking it out of our set any time soon even though I am not an advocate for "shooting my ol' lady" even if "I caught her messin' around with another man"!
Exactly. Coke is less harmful than fatal gunshot wounds. Music is art. Art reflects life. Life is not always pretty.
 

MisterMixelpix

Silver Member
I agree with taking responsibility for your music, but... seriously? Cocaine is bad enough that you're hesitant about playing it? Yikes...
 

Pavlos

Senior Member
Thanks, now I have to think about my band's covers. We do QOTSA - Feel Good Hit of the Summer. Is that bad?
 

Chonson

Senior Member
I agree with taking responsibility for your music, but... seriously? Cocaine is bad enough that you're hesitant about playing it? Yikes...
Well, I mean, it can be an overplayed song and people may be a little sick of it so..
oh, right.

You're likely at a bar. Where people are getting drunk. Maybe driving after. Trying to hook up with strangers.

I think your responsibility as a musician is to play well, have a good set and get people dancing. Even if some unstable individual interprets it as glorifying drugs... so what? They're unhinged. Are you responsible for all the unhinged people out there? (If you are, I'd like you to deal with a few people who annoy me....)

IMO when you start feeling a need to censor and put disclaimers on everything you do, it's time to double down and fight that urge, OR turn in your rock music card and start playing Captain and Tennille covers. (Except "Do That To Me One More Time", since there's no mention of being married)
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I don't believe that playing the song will create first-time users of the drug or somehow totally corrupt the audience from their once "clean living" ways. It's just a matter of responsiblility.
I guess the only spin I can put on this Fix, is.....how responsible, for the actions of others, are you really? I'm not talking about 'setting a good example for your children etc' here. But, these are adult individuals we're talking about and as such, is it really YOU (or your band) that are their 'moral guidance counsel?'

I'm still an avid believer that your concience is your guide....and if you are morally concerned then do what best appeases you, but it does beg the question....how much weight are you prepared to carry for those who MAY act irresponsibly?
 
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