“Apples and Oranges” and other Obscure Covers

An article I recently read has some advice for singer-songwriters doing live gigs: sure, sing your own songs, that’s what you’re there for, but for God’s sake break it up with some covers…covers people in the audience will actually know:

There’s no sense in playing an obscure cover from the 80s by a band only 327 people in Australia know. Play a song, in your style, that everyone in your crowd will enjoy.

I understand, I really do. People like the familiar. Unfortunately, I prefer playing the more obscure songs. Maybe it’s because if fewer people know the song, people in the audience are less likely to have expectations of how they’re supposed to sound. I also really dislike the idea of doing a song that, to my mind, has already been done to death. Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” is a fine song, but I’ve no interest in playing it because so many other people do. What’s the point? That’s what I think.

Now, Pink Floyd is not an obscure band, that’s for sure. The 1967 Syd Barrett-led incarnation of the band is less well known, more of a cult thing in North America. A lot of the musicians I know know about it, but that’s not the same thing, is it?

Within the oeuvre of 1967 Pink Floyd “Apples and Oranges” is an obscurity. It was a flop single released in November 1967, rarely if ever performed by the band except in a couple of promotional videos. In his book on Pink Floyd A Saucerful of Secrets music critic Nicholas Schaffner described the song as “glaringly out of tune”. I first got to hear it from a vinyl copy of an obscure compilation called Masters of Rock. Here it is:

I haven’t actually performed it live but I did recently record my own version (see above), and it is currently the second most popular track on my SoundCloud (behind the “Golden Girls” theme). It is actually played more than songs like “Across the Universe”, “Eye of the Tiger”, and “I’ll Fly Away”.


Still, I haven’t actually played it live. Not yet anyway. If I want to bring out a song at a show that people know, it tends to be “Across the Universe”. I can do something with that one.

I should probably start doing the “Golden Girls” theme for variety, though.


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