We All Pod for iPod

by nothing nothings


sean at
nothings dot org

After recording eight 24-hour albums in my first year of trying, I decided to break all the rules and do something different for this one, recorded around about November 16, 2004. The Album-a-Day site explicitly says "no covers", because the point of the 24-hour album is creating new stuff, even if that stuff is crap. But I decided to do a 24-hour album entirely of covers.

The twist is that I didn't (exactly) get to pick the covers; I put my iPod on shuffle play, and recorded covers of the songs that it produced. (However, to be honest, I skipped quite a few, but I had set rules in advance for whether I could; primarily, I could skip instrumentals (hard to reinterpret without a lot of work) and songs I'm not familiar with (so I wouldn't have to learn the basic song structure and such). And I could skip it if I didn't really like the song. But not just because it was hard.)

Note that I am still a crappy singer, so this whole endeavor is really kind of pointless, except for my own personal satisfaction.

We All Pod for iPod

  1. We Work the Black Seam by Sting, from Dream of the Blue Turtles
  2. Cause and Effect - by Cop Shoot Cop, from Ask Questions Later
  3. Joyride - by Tribe, from Abort
  4. Doll Parts - by Hole, from Live Through This
  5. Crosseyed and Painless by Talking Heads, from Remain in Light
  6. Support System - by Liz Phair, from Whip Smart
  7. 21st Century Schizoid Man - by King Crimson, from In the Court of the Crimson King
  8. Lavender - by Marillion, from Misplaced Childhood


We Work the Black Seam (Sting)
Not a pleasant starting place: the vocal melody line goes all over the place zanily, and I had to spend a lot of time figuring this out and doing it approximately. (It's in the original key, but I sing it an octave lower.) As a result the vocals wander out of tune a lot. (I also forgot to apply the lesson I learned a while back, that my pitch seems better if I don't wear headphones. I didn't remember this until I finished the whole "album", and was singing along again and hitting the notes much better.)

The original is so familiar to me, I couldn't find any way to get something new in my head. So, for example, the drums are pretty much in the same style as the original. Otherwise, I had intended to come back later and fill out the arrangement, but I never did, so it's pretty bland. And it's very long (5:30--the original is 5:40), and has no bridge, plus the pitch errors, so it's pretty damn tedious.

Cause and Effect (Cop Shoot Cop)
The original is a very aggressive noisy industrial track, which seemed pointless to try to recreate. So I took it in a very different direction, although I tried to remain true to the melody of the original instrumental sections. Also, I wrote an entirely new vocal melody since the original didn't offer much to work with. I tried to make it as rhythmically odd as the original, though. Still some voice pitch errors.
Joyride (Tribe)
This cover is significantly faster and all guitar instead of synth, leaving out the guitar solo section. I transposed it down three half steps, but the highest notes are still a reach for me. Plus occasional vocal pitch errors (some caused by the transposition confusing me, since the original pitches would come to mind).
Doll Parts (Hole)
A bit faster, and a totally different arrangement: mostly just a single very busy guitar. (It's a sort of cliche thing you can do with a delay, but despite being a cliche, something I don't think I've ever done on any of my own songs.) In the original key.
Crosseyed and Painless (Talking Heads)
The original of this is basically a five-minute vamp on a single chord. I wasn't going to write all new music for it, but what option did that leave me? Doing my own unique five-minute vamp on a single chord? So instead I decided to make a note-for-note cover of it--a serious challenge since the song's arrangement is very rich and complex. I'm pretty happy with it, especially given the time constraints, although in the end it's just a freaking note-for-note cover, and what good is that? (The guitar "solo" is not at all note for note, though. Pretty crappy, in fact. Also, I did actually leave out three parts [that I know of]: there's a guitar doubling the bass, a second synth part comes in at the same time as the clav part, and the quiet hard-to-make-out guitar bit towards the beginning later becomes a distorted [I think] even-harder-to-decipher part, that I skipped deciphering. But there's a total of 15 tracks in use, even without these three parts, and including doubling up the clav part and the synth at the beginning on the same track.) Left in the original key, which means the harmonies on "I'm still waiting" had to be done falsetto, but since there are other parts that are suppose to be falsetto, that seemed ok.
Support System (Liz Phair)
I was like, hey, cool, a Liz Phair song. Then I started trying to figure out the chords for it, and was like, what the hell? I worked out about the first third of it, and then decided to just bail on the whole song. Then I felt bad about bailing given the rules, and came back to it. It took me quite a while to decode the rest of it, and I just ended up recording a pretty straight cover of it because that had taken so long (plus the time trying to get the vocal melody right, which was tricky in a few places). In the same key as the original. (And unlike the Sting song, I sing it in the same octave.)
In The Court of the Crimson King (King Crimson)
Although this has an involved instrumental section, it was something of a gimmee. I actually tried to totally change it and do it as an 80's synth-pop song, but I had technical problems getting a drum-machine sounding rhythm out of my keyboard to synchronize, and bailed after about half an hour and just recorded a straight cover. I already knew all the guitar parts, so it was pretty easy. (Well, not really, the fast parts are still just too freaking fast. In fact, I skipped an entire section, the really fast unison staccato runs bit, which I don't know.) In the original key, which meant some of the vocals were out of my range, but whatever, given the distortion. (Yes, the 1969 original had distorted vocals. Screw you, industrial metal bands.)
Lavender (Marillion)
I had to transpose this down four half steps to get it singable, and a result of that and the lateness of the hour, I got lazy and just did a straight cover. (By straight cover, I mean I just basically recorded with the same music and arrangement as the original, but not with the attention to detail implied by note-for-note; I left out several parts.) I added a thirty second piano intro which is, uh, well, I can't play piano, really, so if you think about it in that light it's pretty lame; but if you don't think about it that way it's entertaining. This track is overall pretty listenable until the vocal pitch goes wrong on the word "lavender" (which is kind of a sub-optimal word, given that it's the title).

I used a playlist on my ipod that is limited only to albums that I actually vaguely like. But there are still songs on it I don't like much, or haven't heard enough to be familiar with, and I skipped those too. It turns out I skipped an awful lot.

  1. Sting - We Work the Black Seam
  2. John Zorn - Snagglepuss (instrumental)
  3. Cop Shoot Cop - Cause and Effect
  4. Tribe - Joyride
  5. King Crimson - The Mincer (instrumental)
  6. The Residents - Happy Home (yikes, The Residents)
  7. Sting - Fortress Around Your Heart (sheesh, another Sting song from the same album, even?!?)
  8. Sarah McLachlan - Last Dance (not familiar with it)
  9. Tribe - Abort (sheesh, another Tribe song from the same album even!)
  10. Soul Coughing - Paint (too weirdly stylized)
  11. Roxy Music - Bitters End (too weirdly stylized)
  12. Hole - Doll Parts
  13. Jerry Harrison: Casual Gods - We're Always Talking (not a favorite)
  14. Talking Heads - Crosseyed and Painless
  15. Liz Phair - Support System
  16. Marillion - Assassing (a seven-minute song, and a little too goofy)
  17. King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man
  18. Brian Eno - Sombre Reptiles (instrumental)
  19. The Beatles - Flying (instrumental)
  20. Cocteau Twins - How to Bring a Blush to the Snow (not familiar)
  21. Talking Heads - Girlfriend is Better (already did a TH song)
  22. Peter Gabriel - With This Love (Passion Soundtrack) (instrumental)
  23. P J Harvey - Kamikaze (not familiar)
  24. Sleater-Kinney - #1 Must Have (not familiar)
  25. The Residents - Floyd (instrumental)
  26. Fripp & Eno - Wind on Water (instrumental)
  27. Lisa Germano - Offering (not familar)
  28. Morphine - Have a Lucky Day (uh, I think I accidentally skipped this)
  29. Marillion - Lavender

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