Cover Craft

Hi there and welcome to another Simpsons Sunday blog entry. This week I’m going to talk about the latest episode of The Simpsons, originally named Band Of Dad’s, now called Cover Craft. Actually, I think that both names are pretty cool and would have worked either way.

This episode sees Homer taking up playing bass and this touches a nerve for me because I can also play bass too, even though I am actually a guitar player and singer. I believe that if you can play guitar you can also play bass reasonably well and vice versa. I agree that they are 2 different instruments in that the strings are tuned the same but the bass is one octive lower than a guitar and you are dealing with 1 or 2 less strings. As for the tuning, I will get to that later. To me, they are essentially the same in that they are the same shape and feel, unless you are playing a fretless upright bass. If you are playing a bass with a strap over the back of your neck you are playing a guitar with 4 or 5 strings.

I will grant that playing the bass is different from playing guitar because you are dealing with thicker strings and you aren’t playing chords as much. All though, some basest’s sometimes play chords on occasion such as: Steve Harris from Iron Maiden or Geddy Lee from Rush or even Les Claypool from Primus. Some bass players also use all the strings and play a slap style such as: Flee from Red Hot Chili Peppers as probably the most well known example from today. I’m sure you can name a few of your own examples.

As for the tuning of the strings, the first 4 strings on a guitar from the top down are the same notes on a bass. However, the bass is an octive lower and the notes are: e, a, d and g. My guitar teacher had a way of memorizing all tthe notes from the bottom high e string to the top low e string: every, boy, goes, down, and, eats. With the seven stringed guitar with a b natural note you can add bred, beans, beats or what ever food to the phonetic notation. With the bass just “goes down and eats” are the open notes as they are tuned. Once again, if you have a five stringed bass the lowest note is also a b natural. That is the basics of it but there are more tunings with both guitar and bass which are mainly used in hard rock and heavy metal in the last 22 years or so.

As for the episode, Homer forms a cover band with him playing bass, Julius Hibbert on drums, Timothy Lovejoy on guitar , Kirk Van Houten on keyboards and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon as the frontman. They call themselves Cover Craft because covering other people’s songs is their craft. In this case, we see and hear one song by Apu’s favourite 1980s band Son Gazer called Hoping For A Dream. I don’t know who sings it but I believe that he does sound like Apu would if he was a singer in real life.

Unfortunately things fall apart for the band when Son Gazer poaches Apu from the band to go on tour with them. Homer soon gets jealous, or rather envious of Apu’s new gig and accuses the other members of being a bunch of Yoko’s and kicks everyone out of the band. Then he plans to ruin Apu’s show in Springfield but Apu finds Homer in the backstage area and after a conversation between the two, Son Gazer comes down with hotdog poisoning and Cover Craft reunites to play the show instead.

As a musician I like this episode a lot and it reminds me of how I am now. I wanted to be a rock star when I was younger but things conspired to kill my dream. Both Homer and myself are in our 40’s but he has the good fortune to be around people who can help him with getting in a band. I don’t know anyone around me who is close enough to get something started and a jam band wasn’t what I wanted to do back then anyway. I wanted to write songs and make records, regardless if they sold or not. I just wanted a chance to be a star, damn it.

Sorry folks….I just had to get some stuff off my chest. Anyway, this episode reminds me of an earlier episode where Homer forms a barbershop quartet with: Apu,Cheif Wiggum, Principal Skinner and later on, Barney Gumble replacing Cheif Wiggum. The difference here is that they are playing musical instruments and not using their voices as instruments.

I’m curious as to who played bass? As you may or may not know, Harry Shearer is also a bass player as well as the voice for many characters on The Simpsons. He has show’n off this talent in Spinal Tap and I’m guessing on his wife’s albums as well. I’m not sure but it wouldn’t surprise me if he plays a few bass licks on them.

Another thing that is cool is that Sammy Hagar guest starred on this episode as himself and well, he hasn’t changed a bit, from the last time I have heard him being interviewed. I’ve heard that he really is a nice guy and I felt bad when he was kicked out of Van Halen the first time in 1996. There’s nothing wrong with the David Lee Roth era of Van Halen but Sammy Hagar propelled the band to the top of the charts. I think the change in singers was a great move at the time, even though it wasn’t like early Van Halen. Sammy brought the band a wider audience and gave them a shot in the arm they needed after Dave left.

As for his solo stuff, I have no problem with what I have heard from that part of his discography but I love what I have heard from the debut album from Montrose back in 1973. Check out the songs: Rock Candy, Bad Moter Scooter and Space Station No. 5. All those songs are great and there are more I haven’t mentioned here too. I don’t have the album but I have heard most of it on the radio on shows that specialize in hard rock and heavy metal back in the 80s.

As for the next guest rock star on The Simpsons, I wonder who it will be? Maybe Corey Taylor could guest star as a musician or as some villainous character or something. I’ll leave it in the good hands of the writers and Al Jean to figure out who could be the next guest star on the show.

On the birthday front, happy birthday to Pamela Hayden on November 28th who voices: Milhouse, Jimbo, and many others. She has even used her own speaking voice in an unnamed character on the episode How I Wet Your Mother. She says “this is the best I’m sorry party Homer’s ever throw’n.” This is of course, when Homer wets the bed the night before and he feels he needs to apologize for getting his friends in trouble the day before at work.

As for the next 3 weeks I will be taking a look at my favourite Christmas episodes of The Simpsons until after Christmas day. I will also be preparing an entry I had promised back in the late summer, about turning points in the series. I am looking forward to this entry because it will be a real Tour de force but at the same time, it will be a lot of fun too. You’ll see what I mean when I release this particular entry on December 28.

As usual to end each Simpsons Sunday post, I recommend checking out Chris Ladesma’s blog. He is the Music Editor for The Simpsons and has been since day 1.
http://simpsonsmusic500.wordpress.com/author/simpsonsmusic500/
I also recommend checking out Yeardley Smith’s blog at http://gobbingoff.tumblr.com
I should also mention Marchez Vous, which is her women’s shoe designer company, which she started earlier in the decade. You can check out their website at
http://www.marchesvous.com
For some strange reason everyone I know hasn’t heard of them yet. Hopefully I can change that.
You can also comment here or you can email me at blindgordie@gmail.com and I will reply as soon as I can to all messages I receive. I would much prefer getting an email so I can reply directly to you, but that’s just me.
One final thing to mention is that you can follow Simpsons Executive Producer Al Jean on Twitter and his Twitter handle is @AlJean.
He has ran the show since Season 13 and has ran it during Seasons 3 and 4.
Anyway, that is it for this weeks post. Talk to you again on Weather Wednesday.

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