Last night, Bronne and I learned 2 new covers. They were a challenge, like a recipe you try for the first time. They were songs we recently liked and decided to do. They haven’t simmered in our brains yet, cooked repeatedly until we think to ourselves, “hey, maybe next time I put paprika instead of cayenne”. Yup. Right now, with these songs, we’re still at the cayenne phase.
Many of our friends and listeners compliment us on our arrangements and we’re grateful for the appreciation because it’s not easy. Sometimes they take time. Sometimes they don’t work. Sometimes we get into arguments. It takes boldness for one of us to suggest something ridiculous, such as meowing in “Hot Legs” or mashing a West Side Story song with an Offspring hit. Some suggestions get rejected and some get put in because of the insistence of half of us who think she knows better. We learn the words, play the chords, add the melodies, and change the rhythm into one that would make the song a He Sang She Sang cover.
But we don’t just reinvent for the sake of it. First off, we only do songs that we like, love, or are obsessing over. Therefore, a whole lot of respect comes into arranging it. We get to know songs we love like we get to know people we love: deeply and with acceptance. So we’re not going to, say, turn “Fake Plastic Trees” into a Jason Mraz ditty just so we can say we changed it. No. We find the spirit of the song. And if songs were people, we’d see how we can dress the same person up in a different shirt. We don’t change the person.
Some people mistake us for being a humorous act. Yes, we did replace the faces of those two old puritans of American Gothic with ours and we do meow and do silly things on stage. But we NEVER go into a song-learning rehearsal thinking, “OK, how can we turn this song into comedy gold?” NO. If people find us funny it’s a by-product of ourselves just being ourselves: two silly geeks with a weird sense of humor. Sometimes people suggest whatever funny song they think we can do. But if you’ve heard us play a whole 3-hour set, you’d know that our humorous songs are not funny at all. “Hot Legs” isn’t funny. “Toxic” isn’t either. Nor is “I Am the Walrus” or “Take Me Out”. If people laugh, we love it. But, at the very core of it, we just want to make ourselves laugh.
It isn’t easy to put all the elements together, either. It takes a lot of coordinating fingers, feet and mouths by ourselves and then with each other. Who sings what and when, and then combine that with playing our instruments and pressing on pedals and listening to each other to make sure we sound balanced. After we rehearse, we always end up brain-tired, our fingers, backs, (my butt), and legs a little sore. Our throats feel a bit over-used, and our ears a little abused. But we keep doing it. We really don’t have to. We can play 4-hours worth of songs that we’ve learned through the 4 years we’ve been He Sang She Sang. But we want to because we love what we do. We love the feeling when songs morph into a different look and it suits them. We love our light-bulb moments and the many hours of laughter born of ideas, mistakes, and fatigue.
We’d do this until we can. We’d do this even for ourselves alone. But we love it when you love what we do.
– She Sang