Monday, 13 August 2012

Stop Playing Brown Eyed Girl!

Stop Playing These Songs! was/is a blog “dedicated to the elimination of overplayed standards from the repertoires of cover bands everywhere, and to offering more pleasing (to the ear, heart, and mind) and satisfying musical substitutes”.  Brown Eyed Girl recently became the tenth song to reach 10 million radio plays and attracts criticism from the blog.  Other songs to be described as "overplayed" are The Ramones' I Wanna Be Sedated and Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama.   
Here’s most of the post from the Stop Playing These Songs blog about Brown Eyed Girl and some reader responses to the post. 

Stop Playing Brown Eyed Girl!

ARTIST: Van Morrison
ORIGINAL SOURCE: single/Blowin' Your Mind album (Bang!, 1967)
OTHER SOURCES: The Best Of Van Morrison (Mercury, 1990), Still on Top (2007), plus numerous appearances on various Bang reissues and on hundreds of compilation releases.

Van Morrison's biggest international hit record, Brown Eyed Girl came between his career as the lead singer of Them and his emergence as a solo singer/songwriter. Although Morrison wrote the song, the overall feel and sound of the resulting record owes as much to producer Bert Berns as it does to Morrison. Like several other Bang releases of the era it's based on a simple, three-chord pattern and a slightly Latin feel. Lyrically, however, is where Morrison's song contribution shines, with its semi-autobiographical tale of rural romance and fond remembrances of geographic locations. The excellent bass-heavy instrumental bridge is one of the song's most important hooks, and it's a long-remembered part of the song to almost any AM radio listener of the period, even to this day.
The original title of the song was "Brown-Skinned Girl". While a song revelling in interracial sex would be far from objectionable nowadays, back in 1967 apparently Bert Burns forced Morrison to change the title.  Brown-Eyed Girl, once a revered standard, is now just plain bar band filler. Take a song that several other bar bands around the world have played to death, and that only needs three basic guitar chords, slop it around in your practice space for about 20 minutes, and voila! - instant filler material. So what if every other band in the area sleepwalks through it and you can't remember half the words?

But let's face it, folks... trying to breathe life into Brown-Eyed Girl in the 21st century would be like Ed Wood using the same 10 minutes of silent star Bela Lugosi footage he used in Plan 9 From Outer Space in a sequel shot several years later. It just doesn't work.

 Reader Responses

Alex   -   First off, you are providing a much-needed public service.  With that said, what are your thoughts re: Patti Smith's "Gloria"? Exempt from the Van Morrison cover band crisis, or fuelling the fire?  I, for one, would replace "Brown-Eyed Girl" from any bar band's repertoire with all 9.5 excruciating minutes of "Madame George."

Grotesqueticle   -   Even Van Morrison refuses to play this one anymore. 
CJ   -   I couldn't agree more that this is one of the most annoying songs in the history of music and anyone who plays it should be instantly vaporised.
Paul   -   I agree. When I tune into my local classic rock station, and they say Van Morrison is up next, I ponder, hmmm, gee, I wonder what song they will play? Then, it comes to me. They will break out their i Van Morrison greatest hits CD, and, sure enough, there it is, Brown Eyed Girl. Honourable mention goes to Moondance, the other Van Morrison record they own.
Rebek   -   Well I just got back from the gym and I am beat. I am currently doing some research on online guitar and stumbled across your blog. Which cracks me up really. The internet can certainly land you off base sometimes. Even though Van Morrison - is not completely related I think it is a cool blog. I have read back through the archives and lots of people make some very good points. Well I have been on-line forever it seems. I need to continue to plug away at online guitar. If you have the energy swing by online guitar.
Sabrina   -   What-ever! I STILL like the songs you are slamming here...and I'll have you know the Rick Springfield version of "Gloria" he does in concert totally Rocks...he ad libs various scenarios with Gloria and it's HILARIOUS!
Dphilley   -   I often perform the song, Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison as a busker (street musician). Not only do I get all sorts of smiles from girls with brown eyes, it is also one of the songs I do which receives the most tips in my guitar case. 
Khristine   -   Don't quite like this song. This is a bit boring.

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