Repertoire do’s and don’t’s (well mostly don’t’s)

Posted: July 17, 2009 in Read "The Busker's Handbook"

Don’t play

  • popular kid’s tunes

  • very popular songs to which you don’t know all the lyrics

  • songs with lyrics that rudely demand people’s money

  • you’re own 8 minute long songs in a minor key about a lost love

  • songs which require you making animal noises. To people passing at these parts of the songs will just think you’re mad

  • duets with yourself in a male and high pitched voice that’s supposed to be female

  • songs with explicit sexual content, especially in the neighborhood of schools or places of worship

Some songs that are just to painfully true to play

(Avoiding self-reference in your repertoire)

Loser – Beck

I’m living in a box – Peter Gabriel

Creep – Radiohead

Why does it always rain on me – Travis

If I were a rich man – fiddler on the roof

Only the lonely – Roy Orbinson

Money – Pink FloydIn the Gettho – Elvis Presley

Roxanne – The Police

Sleeping in my car – Roxette

Walk on by – Dionne Warwick

Please don’t go – KC & The Sunshine Band

Gimme more – Britney Spears

Songs that have been done way too often and way better than

you play them, so don’t bother

Keep on rocking in the free world – Neil Young

Country Roads – John Denver

What’s up – 4 non blondes

Blowin’ in the wind – Bob Dylan

Hotel California – Eagles

Dust in the Wind – Kansas

Losing my Religion – REM

The River – Bruce Springsteen


Don’t kid yourself. Whatever style you try to play, you’re just playing folk.

You can cover songs that are orginally death metal, hardcore punk, triphop, noise (for the record: don’t), house, emo, trance, rock, psychobilly, reggae, gothic, opera, techno, etc…, but it will still sound like folk, with the possible exception of country music.

I don’t know why I include this video because the performer is actually quite OK, nevertheless a fine example of typical busker repertoire.


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