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Stringmaster 10-13-2019 10:34 AM

For Those Who Cover Neil Young
 
Curious, when you cover Neil (or even Willie), do you try to make it your own, or try to sing more in their style? I'm messing around a bit with some Neil and I'm drawn to trying to sing like him as his voice is so much a part of his songs. But then I don't want to come off as an "imitator", but some of those songs can sound weird without channeling Neil! I'd love to hear from others on this, and videos/clips would be great too!

12barBill 10-13-2019 10:44 AM

Sing like Willie? :guitar:
Nah...

JonPR 10-13-2019 11:06 AM

If I ever sing Neil Young songs, I'm going to sing them an octave lower. His voice is ridiculously high.
Or change the key.

Obviously I'm not going to sound like Neil Young!

But hey, if he was to cover one of my songs, he wouldn't sound like me.:D I don't suppose he'd be too bothered about that - and neither would I. ;)

raysachs 10-13-2019 11:33 AM

I try to capture the vibe of his songs, but I couldn't sing like him if I had to. I tend to be able to pull it off best with some of his warbley, sort of drunk sounding stuff from some of his mid-70's albums like Tonight's the Night, On the Beach, American Stars & Bars. I'm basically not even a little bit of a singer, but his stuff from that period and some of Jagger's "comedy country" stuff (Dear Doctor, Dead Flowers, etc) I can sometimes get pretty close on feel...

-Ray

reeve21 10-13-2019 09:06 PM

Donít do it :)

Seriously, you gotta be you.

Nils Lofgren did a wonderful record of Neil covers, and it doesnít sound like Neil.

Just my 2 cents, I guess if I could sing up there Iíd be tempted to try!

Riverwolf 10-14-2019 08:47 AM

years ago while learning Heart of Gold,
I must have watched every youtube video of lessons and covers.
Never will forget Johnny Cash's version. :)

CASD57 10-14-2019 10:13 AM

I try to do songs in the spirit of the song but i may drop it or raise it, slow it or speed it a bit, but i want people to recognize it before the ending lol.
With neil and old man i find it hard to hit the high note as im trying to finger a f#m and then the b#m. (chords by memory probably wrong but you get the idea)

merlin666 10-14-2019 10:25 AM

Some of his songs like needle and the damage done are in comfortable key for me. For old man I sing the chorus in fifth harmony (lower). Down by the river I do the whole song in am with capo two or three.

Pura Vida 10-14-2019 12:40 PM

Neil is my biggest acoustic influence (see my signature). Any of the songs I play are turned into my own versions. Some are close to the original, while others deviate wildly from the original. But even Neil does that to some of his own songs. No matter who you are playing, try to find your own style and incorporate it into the song.

Pitar 10-14-2019 04:26 PM

I can sing at the same pitch as Neil Young so I basically copy his work, not cover it. I don't have a problem with people thinking I'm channeling him because when I was coming up there was no such thing as covering. If you didn't copy an artist - playing and vocals - you just weren't worthy. So, we worked hard training our voices and playing skills to copy the music rather than not.

Because few could copy Neil Young they didn't attempt it and copied someone else. That was the way it went. You used what you had and expanded that as you got better but no one gave a nod to creative license back then.

When I came back to playing in 2005 after a 30 year hiatus the word cover was new to me, relative to playing published music, and at first I thought it to be a cop-out and rather disrespectful of the original artist's works. It took some time to temper that opinion and go with the flow. But, I still think that the person who trains his hands and voice to basically channel the original artists will be rewarded with better chops and a greater vocal range. It just follows.

As an example, I just can't take seriously anyone playing Jim Croce with a distinctive drawl. That's part of the fit and function of channeling the original artist.

Mandobart 10-14-2019 10:32 PM

I try consciously to not sound like I'm trying to sound like the original artist. I also have this thing about not doing the same tired songs everyone else plays.

Neil Young was a huge influence on me. But I don't play "Heart of Gold", "Needle", "Old Man" or anything from CSNY when I perform. I play "Captain Kennedy", "Pocahontas", "Star of Bethlehem", etc.

jseth 10-15-2019 11:22 AM

Well, I SING like me... but I will "go up there" and catch the high notes if I'm gonna sing one of Neil's songs...

It's gotten to the point where hitting those high notes is a real work-out for my voice; at 68, I don't really do falsetto much, if at all, so I have to hit the high notes with full voice, using my breath to control the volume and tone...

As many have said, some of his songs just "want" to be played the way he wrote them (pretty much at least)... others have latitude and room for interpretation.

At times, I will string together a few of Neil's songs and "tell a story" with them... "I Am A Child", "Cinnamon Girl", Down By The River" and "Old Man"... lots of fun when I actually pull it off! (I do these on my 12 string)

dwasifar 10-15-2019 11:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stringmaster (Post 6185583)
Curious, when you cover Neil (or even Willie), do you try to make it your own, or try to sing more in their style? I'm messing around a bit with some Neil and I'm drawn to trying to sing like him as his voice is so much a part of his songs. But then I don't want to come off as an "imitator", but some of those songs can sound weird without channeling Neil! I'd love to hear from others on this, and videos/clips would be great too!

In general, I don't try to mimic the original artist. I know when a song is ready to perform when I hear my own version in my head as I play it, instead of the record.

If I can't sing a song in my own voice, that song is not for me to do.

rmp 10-15-2019 11:38 AM

A well composed song stands on it's own. And FWIW, Neil sings like Neil b/c he's Neil...

...shake what the good lord gave ya...

MikeBmusic 10-16-2019 06:37 AM

I don't imitate him, but I do the songs in the original keys - Down By The River, Cowgirl in the Sand, Rockin' the Free World, Ohio, Long May You Run, Cinnamon Girl.


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