Cover song suggestions for a new bar band
July 11, 2011 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Looking for nostalgic bar band songs for my new female-fronted cover band.

I'm putting together a bar band, fronted by a female singer. For now, we're doing covers. I'd like your ideas for your favorite songs with these genre requirements. I'm not a music aficionado, and am one of those people who listens to the same 12 songs over and over, so I look forward to picking your brains. (In other words, forgive my music ignorance here.)

Requirements for the songs:

a) Nostalgic bar rock. Bruce Springsteen, The Hold Steady come to mind for me, but I know you'll think of something better here. Songs that rock, make the crowd sing along and long for their wild youth. That sort of thing. A few ballads, too.

b) The songs don't have to be originally sung by a woman, but any songs with a female lead singer are encouraged. I'm not looking for Courtney Love, and I'm also not looking for Sarah McLachlan - somewhere in between here. Janis Joplin comes to mind. I'm the lead, and I'm a classically trained opera singer, funny enough, so I can handle most anything. (I'll be doing my best Springsteen impression, though.)

c) I'm also open to classic country/rock hits - Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, The Band, that sort of thing.

And...that's it. I want to put together a solid 12 songs over the next few months with my band, so I'm happy to entertain your ideas for an entire set list, too.

posted by Zosia Blue to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Joan Jett did an album of covers called The Hit List that might serve as a starting point for your search for bar rock. I'm not sure everything on the album meets your criteria but some of the songs will.
posted by immlass at 1:27 PM on July 11, 2011

Not exactly the answer to the question you asked, but I really think that you need to find these songs yourself, put your own spin on them - that's how you infuse them with emotion.

I've got a handful of cover songs that I play that can make you weep. They're not necessarily sad songs, but they work for me when I play them as if the world is ending and my lover is dying.

Play lots of songs you like. Play them happy, sad, or ironically, or plaintively, and find which ones work the best for the way you play music.
posted by entropone at 1:27 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

five string serenade by mazzy star
posted by askmehow at 1:29 PM on July 11, 2011

Best answer: Or Fade Into You, if we're talking Mazzy Star.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:32 PM on July 11, 2011

Best answer: "Nostalgic bar rock" pretty much says "Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band" to me. "Still the Same," "Turn the Page," or "Old Time Rock & Roll" would work well.

I have also always wanted to cover Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" (and yes, I'm female, and no, I would NOT change it to "girls of summer"--it has a lovely pathos to it if if's sung as a woman to another woman).
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:34 PM on July 11, 2011

Kiss Me Deadly by Lita Ford
posted by mattbucher at 1:34 PM on July 11, 2011

Response by poster: I should mention that my requirement list is very loose - I'm happy to entertain anything that you think is amazing. Joan Jett is a terrific example I forgot to add - love her. Entropone - I agree! I have some songs I have in mind, but my music knowledge is so limited that I know there's lots out there I'm not thinking about.
posted by Zosia Blue at 1:34 PM on July 11, 2011

Response by poster: Also, I'm really looking for those epic, nostalgic songs that are usually song by men for some reason. I'm listening to Jungleland right now, which is right down the alley of what I have in mind, for an example. (And now I stop thread-sitting! Thanks all.)
posted by Zosia Blue at 1:37 PM on July 11, 2011

Best answer: Songs Every Garage Band Should Know
posted by maurice at 1:48 PM on July 11, 2011

Some Kirsty MacColl.
posted by bwonder2 at 1:52 PM on July 11, 2011

Best answer: If you have the range - Sweet Child of mine - Guns & Roses , or Closing time - Semisonic , better man - Pearl jam ,or lightning crashes by live .
posted by arrow1 at 1:52 PM on July 11, 2011

Songs by Heart?
posted by rmd1023 at 1:53 PM on July 11, 2011

Best answer: I've never felt more like the King of Covers then when whatever band I'm in plays Petty's Listen to her Heart. You can always flip the genders...

(I mean, really: "you think you're gonna take her away/ with your money and your cocaine?" HOW RAD IS THAT?)
posted by COBRA! at 2:10 PM on July 11, 2011

yes to Heart - "Alone"!
And Alannah Myle's "Black Velvet."
And you should turn around the Stones' "Under My Thumb."
posted by sestaaak at 2:16 PM on July 11, 2011

Would Patti Smith's Because the Night be too obvious? What about some Social D? Like Ball and Chain or Prison Bound, something like that.

Under My Thumb would be awesome covered by a female lead singer. So would Ruby Tuesday.

Have you considered Leonard Cohen songs? Everybody Knows would be fun to sing.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 2:19 PM on July 11, 2011

Oh, definitely "Alison" by Elvis Costello. And you know what? Everything else from "My Aim is True."
posted by entropone at 2:28 PM on July 11, 2011

Best answer: Can't You See and Heard It In a Love Song by The Marshall Tucker Band
Hold On Loosely by .38 Special
Second Chance by Shinedown
Rockstar by Nickleback
Pretty much anything by the original bar band, The Doobie Brothers, but Cottonmouth for starters.
Summer Breeze by Seals and Croft
Stoned Soul Picnic by Laura Nyro
Someone To Lay Down Beside Me or Lose Again by Karla Bonoff
Edge of Seventeen or Stop Draggin' My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks
White Rabbit by The Jefferson Airplane, featuring Grace Slick
How, Which, Who, Do You Love by Quicksilver Messenger Service
The Weight by The Band
Statesboro Blues by The Allman Brothers
I'm No Angel by Gregg Allman
Strut by Sheena Easton
posted by paulsc at 2:32 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Guess Who, These Eyes
posted by RobotHero at 2:39 PM on July 11, 2011

How in the world is there a discussion going on about nostalgic bar rock, and no one has mentioned Journey?!?!?!
posted by AlliKat75 at 2:54 PM on July 11, 2011

The Runaways

The Ramones

The Go-Go's
posted by Gilbert at 2:58 PM on July 11, 2011

Best answer: Dreaming by Blondie.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:36 PM on July 11, 2011

Best answer: Thin Lizzy, Whiskey in the Jar.
posted by shortyJBot at 4:10 PM on July 11, 2011

Best answer: So Into You or Imaginary Lover by The Atlanta Rhythm Section
Knock On Wood by Eddie Floyd
Hold On, I'm Coming by Sam and Dave
Try A Little Tenderness by "Irving King" (James Campbell and Reginald Connelly) and Harry M. Woods using a variant of the Otis Redding arrangement
Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours by Stevie Wonder
September by Earth, Wind and Fire
Brick House by The Commodores
Fire by The Ohio Players
I Can't Make You Love Me, Love Has No Pride or Something To Talk About by Bonnie Raitt
Feelin' Alright by Traffic/Dave Mason
Dance With Me by Orleans
How Much I Feel by Ambrosia
How Long by Ace
Baby Come Back by Player

On the country side of things,

Crazy or Walkin' After Midnight by Patsy Cline (both covers by other songwriters)
Snowbird by Anne Murray
Jolene by Dolly Parton
A Lesson in Leavin' by Dottie West
Crying Steel Guitar by Tammy Wynette
posted by paulsc at 4:18 PM on July 11, 2011

I suggest Sally McLennane by the Pogues. Nostalgia is kind of personal. Good luck, sounds like a fun project.
posted by chrismc at 7:39 PM on July 11, 2011

Top 100 Songs by a female from the 1990s

While I'm thinking of nostalgic bar rock let me suggest in the meantime INXS (Need You Tonight or Devil Inside) and Roxette (Fading Like A Flower).
posted by salvia at 9:43 PM on July 11, 2011

Best answer: I recommend some genre crossing; like rock versions of old synth pop or soul/r&b, etc. People can still sing along to Depeche Mode - Just Can't Get Enough, or Otis Redding - Dock Of The Bay, but you can have fun with new arrangements.

Other stuff springing to mind:
David Bowie - anything (Young American, Queen Bitch, Heroes, ...)
The Cars - Just What I Needed
Weezer - Say It Ain't So
White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
Pixies - Here Comes Your Man
The Cure - Just Like Heaven
T. Rex - Get It On
Slade(/Quiet Riot) - Cum On Feel The Noize
Ozzy - Crazy Train
Elton John - Rocket Man
Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane
Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way
Johnny Cash - Ring Of Fire
posted by p3t3 at 5:55 AM on July 12, 2011

Response by poster: Amazing suggestions. I've made a list of my favorites, and I'll try to remember to post the set list I go with. Keep 'em coming if you have them, but I've marked a few best answers that I ended up putting on my list.
posted by Zosia Blue at 11:14 AM on July 12, 2011

Best answer: I have always wanted to cover "Smoking in the Boys Room." I bet you would do an amazing cover of that.
posted by kristi at 8:55 AM on July 13, 2011

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