The fifty-buck tip list

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Steven Ayres, Feb 15, 2016.

  1. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    At one of the old biker saloons on the local club strip, there's a sign on the stage for the musicians: "NO MUSTANG SALLY -- THE BARTENDER WILL CUT YOUR POWER." Hear hear, I say.

    For anyone who's played a few years of gigs doing covers in any genre, there are a few tunes that are either requested so often or so expected to be crowd-pleasers that they get played way too much. I call these the fifty-buck tips. I'm almost sixty and I have my list, but I wonder whether the list of these chestnuts varies by region or age group. I'd also like to see entries from every genre.

    Mustang Sally, of course
    Sweet Home Alabama
    Brown-Eyed Girl
    The Girl from Ipanema
    Pride and Joy
    everyone's favorite punchline: Freebird

    Just a start. Your own list, and how you deal with this kind of tune on the stand ....
  2. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I play 'em. When someone pays me to entertain their patrons, that's what I do.
  3. I get paid to entertain , not feed my ego. If someone requests it and we can play it , we play it. I've been doing this now for a little over 50 years so yeah , there are a lot of songs that I have played ad-nausium.
    Somehow , I seem always able to get over myself and play a song if someone requests it or even likes it.
    One of the first bands I got into when I first moved into this area had the same philosophy as you. They wouldn't play Mustang Sally , Brown eyed girl , Brickhouse and a couple of others. I remember one specific night that one of those songs was requested and rather vociferously refused by the band leader. An entire table got up and left complaining to the manager on the way out. That band never played there again. I left that band soon after. They still aren't playing any of those songs and ten years later they are still playing $200 and $250 dollar gigs. I play those songs and often my cut of the evening is close to as much as their whole band makes.
  4. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Here's one example:


    Thank you for your indulgence,

  5. Yes to almost all of those. The only exception is The Girl With Emphysema. About the only region I've ever played where that tune was requested with any regularity was in Colorado, and I don't have a good explanation for that.

    The others have been requested everywhere. What kills me is that even when somebody has pestered any of my bands to do them, it's often a halfhearted, drunken, auto-pilot sort of thing. See people with instruments > commence dragging knuckles > request Sweet Home Alabama. A conditioned Pavlovian response.

    All jokes aside, I really don't mind any of those tunes. If people want to hear them, I consider it a duty to render them. I've said the same thing to people in bands I've been in who get heavily opinionated and try to swear off playing certain tunes - it's less an issue of choice, and more an issue of fulfilling an obligation. I'm usually more concerned about a band's reputation than I am with our musical comfort, and I don't think any four-minute tune is really going to collapse anybody's world.


    If any song could collapse my world, it would have been Achy Breaky Heart. Yes, I will play it if asked, but I am still incredibly glad that one seems to have died a natural and richly deserved death. So, shhhhhh...don't taunt the ghost.
    Howlin' Hanson, 47th Street and s0c9 like this.
  6. We're a surf-rock band, so...

  7. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    Wagon Wheel ...
  8. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    my husband and i were in marina del rey's fisherman's village a few months ago. the live band played plenty of oldies for a good sized crowd that varied in age from 17 to their eighties, a mix of all sorts of folks, and brown eyed girl had everyone in every group dancing and smiling, and you should have heard them applaud when the song ended. i've never particularly liked that song, but i like making people happy when i play covers; i started learning it the next day.

    btw, free bird is among the songs i like least in the universe; i'd play it if people wanted to hear it but i wouldn't enjoy it :D
    JMacBass65, Syxz_ML, RLT and 5 others like this.
  9. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Only once have i refused to play particular songs, but it was a country band and some of the members wanted to add some southern rock numbers. Only problem was they sucked really bad when they tried things like Freebird, basically anything not straight up country was a train wreck. After a few wasted weeks with zero progress on our foray into sudden rawk i told em we could forget making fools of ourselves or i was gonna have to bail. Fortunately the drummer felt the same so we managed to sell the rest of the band on the idea that country was our purpose in life.
    heynorm, DirtDog and El Güero like this.
  10. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    Played that one three (3!!!) times one night.
    Could not believe it, twice in the same set even!

    Locally the one song I never had to learn (not that it's difficult) is 'Taking Care of Business'
    In every band someone always said "we are not playin' that song".

    I did eventually play it once as an off the cuff request.
    Once in 30 years ain't too bad, how many times I've played 'Old Time R+R' and 'Brown Eyed Girl' is another matter altogether.
    heynorm likes this.
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    There is a reason they are played so often - people want to hear them.

    Grit your teeth and play the @#$!% out of them.

    Used to include "You Really Got Me", but that one has gone RIP.
    lfmn16 likes this.
  12. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! DHDIK?

    We have a near miss bypass for Sweet Home.
    A Mashup of kid rock -summertime/Warren zevon - werewolves of london.
    We do wagon wheel, but old crow medicine show version.
    Adding to the list:
    Louie Louie
    My Sharona
    Twist and shout
    McArthur park
    Another one bites the dust
    Yummy yummy yummy
    Walking on sunshine

    Sadly I do know every one of those :(
    design likes this.
  13. whatizitman


    Sep 9, 2014
    If a band, or band members, have that much of a problem playing Mustang Sally or Brown-eyed Girl, maybe they shouldn't be in a cover band. That's kinda the reason cover bands exist.

    zaunz.jpg via Imgflip Meme Maker
    Winfred and Mktrat like this.
  14. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It's like when I worked at the campus radio station back in college (yeah - WAY back when they had records...). Some guys were proud that they played "serious" music to educate the listeners. Maybe their girlfriend listened to their shows. I played what people wanted to hear, and had a lot of listeners. It's not about ego - it's about entertainment. To quote Ray Davies "Give the People What They Want".
    Howlin' Hanson likes this.
  15. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    The argument is inevitable: "give them what they want" vs. "give them what I want." But I don't really think it's that simple. Note that the original post starts with what the bar -- the employer -- doesn't want. So there's more at work here than the musician's ego.

    This is not a pretentious bar, by any means, in fact it's famous as a dank sleazefest. But its owners and employees have had it up to here with slapdash treatments of a certain song. It's not much of a stretch to imagine that this matters to at least some patrons as well, and I'd like to put in a word for them, the ones who care enough about the music to notice.

    When my town instituted an indoor-smoking ban some years ago, there were dire warnings of empty bars and restaurants as a result. What the detractors didn't account was the large number of people who wouldn't enter those establishments because of the smoking, and that with the change their behavior would change as well. They wound up with more business, not less.

    Similarly, you can say that some people will be put off if you don't follow the cliche program on stage, and you'll be right, but an unknown number of people out there are at least as put off if you do, and you won't hear about them when they move off.

    I think it really comes down to the kind of show that you can commit to and kill. If for you that involves playing the same stuff the band next door is playing, that's fine. But do you really think it's fair to judge others for sticking to a program they care about?
  16. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Springtown, Texas
    How can you possibly be a surf-rock band without Wipeout? :eek:
    It is like the iconic Surf-Rock song.
    Now, if you tell me you don't do Pipeline, I will classify you as Rockabilly. :smug:
    Jimmy4string and McG like this.
  17. Funny enough, we used to do both (quite happily) in our encores, but over time, we'd play new places, and as soon as we took the stage and said we're a surf-rock band, some drunk idiot would scream "Wipeout!", and then after half the audience Googled the song on their phones, they'd join the chorus. Over time there's just so much of drunk idiots screaming it that you tolerate, and suddenly we were loathe to play it. I would assume it's like country bands getting yelled at to play wagon wheel.

    Man, if being branded as rockabilly meant we'd finally get free rein to play "Walk Like a Camel" by Southern Culture on the Skids, I'd happily be first in line. :)
  18. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Springtown, Texas
    I understand. The Ventures were a hot group when I first learned to play bass. I learned on Ventures material.
    Treadstone71 likes this.
  19. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Springtown, Texas
    I doubt Plumbers enjoy digging other people's poop out of clogged pipes, but that's what they get paid for.
    Musicians get paid for playing songs people want to hear. Sometimes it is as disgusting as digging poop out of pipes, but that's what we get paid for.
  20. On a night when I'm getting paid, I will play what ever the audience wants. On the nights where that's not the case, I'm far less tolerant of sticking my arm down a clogged pipe.
    Gravedigger Dav, DirtDog and design like this.
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