“Don’t Knock Phineas Gage: South Bend Got Its Start on Cover Bands”

If you’re like me four days ago, you have no idea who Henry Glover is. And look at his epithet, too, it makes sense that you wouldn’t know — “American songwriter, arranger, record producer and trumpet player.” [1] Songwriter? We live in a nation of “pop stars,” [2] “rock stars” and “gangstaaahhz,” as everybody knows. I mean how many SONGS does America really need, anyway, for its entire existence? Maybe 10?


Here’s my 10, in chronological order:


Woody Guthrie – “This Land is Your Land”
The Rivieras – “California Sun”
The Beatles – “We Can Work it out”
Jethro Tull – “Look into the Sun”
Led Zeppelin – “The Rain Song”
Nirvana – “Lithium”
Pearl Jam – “Jeremy”
Green Day – “She”
Tupac – “Hit ‘em up”
Flying Lotus – “Computer Face/Pure Being”
What’s a SONG next to big hair and a big name? It’s like Pavement said. They knew it all along.
But there IS Henry Glover in there, the original writer of “California Sun.” See, my hometown, South Bend, Indiana, made its name on cover bands like The Rivieras, which would explain the droves of artistic lechers dominating marquees to this day here.
And to The Rivieras’ credit, listening to the original version of “California Sun” by Joe Jones, you could sparsely at best see any potential in the number (Jones does show marginally more promise in other instances). The Rivieras really do rock it out — they improve upon the original, a rarity for any cover song. And that accent is great, I even get a sort of non-sexual crush on some of the accents around here, like the Chicago Bears radio announcer Jeff Joniak.
Now, the Phineas Gage singer wearing that NYC Ghosts and Flowers tee, I guess I can even let that slide too. God damn, my hometown has a way of being freakin’ astonishing. That is the Sonic Youth album that pitchfork gave a 0.0/10, but to be honest I listened to it and it didn’t sound that freakin’ bad, I mean compared to like Wavves or Best Coast or something. And sure enough, it looks like they’ve erased that review from the site, just like they erased a bunch of the old ones that were short and mind-bogglingly sardonic, before the tamer and more erudite Rob Mitchum and Amanda Petrusich.
I remember when I saw Phineas Gage, and discovered they were a cover band — it was at the opening of Evil Czech, which makes really good beer in the old Mishawaka Brew. Co. building, and now distributes to bars and cafes throughout town. I was attempting to continue drinking Lucky Dog pale ale for like five or six hours straight, and to be honest I almost made it, and didn’t really want to leave. Our original local music these days tends to be a sort of busy, loungy folk I guess, which to be honest isn’t all that enjoyable, so sometimes you just need something that rocks out on the table. It’s like subbing in a Stauffer’s lasagna instead of making it from scratch — whatever gets the party started.
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Glover
[2] Avoid gagging, if you can: https://www.google.com/#q=new+yorker+grimes+pop+star

Leave a Reply