Why the Bruce Springsteen’s Bee Gees Cover “Stayin’ Alive” is Hands Down the Best Cover Song of All Time
Bruce Springsteen’s Bee Gees cover Stayin’ Alive is a perfect example of how to make a great cover song.
Bruce Springsteen – “Stayin’ Alive” (Brisbane, 02/26/14):
1. Do not follow the original rendition. Create your own. This is a perfect example. Starts with just a Bruce with his acoustic guitar. Then it slowly builds up into this Shaft type of funky orchestral version. Then it slows down again, builds up again…. That’s the drama curve. Recipe how to make a great song. Add some special flavor to it. To me that special ingredient is Tom Morello’s (Rage Against The Machine) guitar solo that kicks in 3:04 mark. That’s the pinnacle point.
2. New rendition can give a song totally new meaning. For me the original Bee Gees version has always been this upbeat happy disco song, and I never really paid any attention to the lyrics. What this song is really about? It’s about bipolar disorder. One day you’re a top of your game “Got the wings of heaven on my shoes/I’m a dancin’ man and I just can’t lose” (manic part) and one day you’ll asking “Life goin’ nowhere, somebody help me” (depression part).
For me this song holds a special meaning. I’ve lost my best friend two years ago, and he suffered from bipolar disorder. After his death, this song was the only song I could listen for weeks. I listened this song over and over again, and I cried every time. I did send this cover to him when he was still alive (I was at that time unaware about the bipolar disorder).
3. It takes big balls to cover a classic song like this. You’ll gonna get a lot of hate from people who are getting used to the original version. I don’t like cover songs that are 1:1 true to the original. It’s the easy way to cover a song. Of course it’s the safer way. You’ll miss the opportunity to make something special by just playing it safe. Bigger the band, bigger the changes are to fail. You gotta respect bigger acts who are creating something new from old ingredients.
4. Don’t take it too seriously. It’s all about having fun. Whole band seems to have fun playing this song. You can hear it! Great cover song doesn’t sound forced. If you don’t believe what you are doing, then it’s time to check your motives again.
5. It’s one thing to make a studio version with unlimited takes, but playing a version like this live is beyond me. Here is Tom Morello speaking about working with Bruce Springsteen. Respect level for the E Street Band just raised even more. It’s all about stepping out the comfort zone.
6. How do you know, if you’ve done a great work? This is how you know it:
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