Enjoy the Silence), I asked the question: why do musicians like to cover this song? Having re-read the text, it appears that I didn’t really answer the question! A career in politics beckons, clearly.
So what is the answer? Well…I can’t really give a definitive answer but I can give you my own experience of choosing cover versions, such as it is. As an amateur musician, it’s fun to play songs written by others and shelf-loads of music books and bits of paper with chord progressions jotted on them attest to this assumption. I have many favourite songs but not all of them are fun to sing/play – and that’s the nub of this question.
For some reason not all songs lend themselves to being played by others, especially if you are not a particularly proficient musician. Whilst I have played the guitar for 35 years I’m not Eric Clapton, or anything like. Anyone who plays the guitar will know that chords in some keys are easier to play than those in other keys. Generally the ‘sharp’ keys are easier (C, G, D, A & E). In fact much guitar music in written in the key of E major as the open strings are tuned to notes that fit well.
So it is a bit of a bugger to have to play songs that have been written in ‘flat’ keys and especially those with loads of flats (ARE YOU LISTENING, KATE BUSH? D♭ MAJOR, INDEED!). Of course, you can transpose songs into easier keys but then somehow the original voicing is lost and it never quite sounds the same. So for a song to be fun to play it has to be written in a key that suits the player’s ability and feels comfortable.
The next point is all to do with vocal range. Assuming that no-one else is in the house and the windows are shut, I’ll have a go at singing my song of choice and here we encounter further possible pitfalls. Is the melody suited to your (usually limited) range? Is it too low/high, or does the melody have awkward intervals? (KATE BUSH AGAIN –EXHIBIT B ‘DECEMBER WILL BE MAGIC’). Don’t even attempt ‘December will be magic’ as in the very first phrase there is an interval jump of 12 whole tones, that is, an octave plus 4 tones. There can only be about 4 people in the entire world who can manage this leap and I’m not one of them.
Having dispensed with the technicalities, there are other parameters to consider. Is it boring? Playing one chord for 16 bars is not going to get you interested. On the other hand, a magical chord progression that sets off the melody can make the hairs on your neck stand up. Are the lyrics easy to sing? You’d be surprised how many aren’t. Too many syllables per note, tongue twister sentences and sheer nonsense ‘street-speak’ can ruin the enjoyment.
So my guess is that ‘Enjoy The Silence’ has an easy to sing melody with comfortable lyrics, a harmonic progression which is technically interesting yet easy to play and a general feeling of artistic creation. Am I getting close?