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Peter Farrugia’s “Drive-in Saturday” (repost)

Pete Farrugia is a British guitar player and teacher who has been active on the music scene since the 1970s. I selected his rendition of “Drive in Saturday” a few weeks ago as “Cover of the Week,” which I’m reposting here (by the way, that is a ukelele he’s playing). Come back Saturday for out discussion of the guitar, David Bowie and growing up aroundf London in the 70s– and much more. Pete’s a delight and you won’t want to miss this one!

Bowie Cover of the Week: Peter Farrugia “teaches” “Drive in Saturday”
Originally posted April 15, 2004

I used the word “teaches” in the title this week because Peter Farrugia is a guitar teacher, and with this cover of “Drive in Saturday” he takes us to school! This is another week with multiple good Bowie covers for me to choose from, including a new cover of “Port of Amsterdam” from friend of the blog EgoB (I’ll get back to that), but I selected this one for a host of reasons, beginning with— it’s a whole lot of fun.

“Drive in Saturday” is probably one of my favorite Bowie songs among the second tier of my favorite Bowie songs, if that makes sense (actually, it doesn’t make sense, but just go with it). Admittedly, as we approach drive-in movie season here in the northeastern United States, simply hearing the song gets me excited. Pete performs it with the enthusiasm and cheer that the song calls for. Another friend of the blog, Simon Critchley wrote that the song is about a post-apocalyptic community of survivors reminding themselves of the old days by watching movies. I didn’t think of the song that way until I read Simon’s book, Bowie. I appreciate the insight, but it’s hard for me not to not just get a good feeling when I hear the song, and here, Pete performs with joy.

OK, ok Bowie himself explained the song the way Simon wrote about it, and I had read that before in several other places… but I guess I put that out of my mind until I read Bowie. I am culprit #1 when it comes to over-analyzing Bowie’s lyrics, but in this one case it’s probably better not to think too much about what he was trying to say. Pete’s version here is too happy for it to be a song about a Mad Max-style word where people forgot how to have sex, as, I guess, Bowie intended.

I’m impressed with how much sound one guy can generate with his voice and a guitar. I started listening to this cover without really watching it and I thought I was hearing a ukulele, but no, that’s a guitar. This guy knows how to get the instrument to do what he wants!

My once criticism is that this appears to be a converted TikTok video that could do with a little visual enhancement for YouTube. But that’s a minor complaint because it sounds great, and I don’t know— Pete seems to just be enjoying himself, which is good to see.

I’m calling the man “Pete” as if I know him, but I don’t. I had never heard of him before finding this video, but he has an extensive web site, and he’ll teach you, too, how to play the guitar if you want. For more on Pete you can link to his website HERE.

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Now, about some of the other contenders for “Cover of the Week”— click on the song name for the videos (by the way, if it isn’t obvious, click on any of the bolded words above to link to more on those subjects):

– EgoB’s cover of “Port of Amsterdam.” Great cover that once again demonstrates what EgoB can do by subtly altering his voice. The song is not a Bowie original— it’s by Jacques Brel, who also wrote “My Death,” which Bowie also covered. Sadly, “Port of Amsterdam” is one of my least-favorite Bowie-related songs. EgoB’s version might actually be more enjoyable than Bowie’s (gasp), but the song itself, as opposed to the performance, just doesn’t do it for me. Still, I might have chosen this as cover of the week another week except that I had other great options and haven’t featured Peter Farrugia before and just featured EgoB’s version of Wild Is the Wind last week (which you should go back and watch).

– Mark Velvet’s “Space Oddity.” As usual, there were several covers of “Space Oddity” this week. Different versions of the song pop up so frequently on this blog, that the choice of song counts against it as I selected a cover of the week. That said, Velvet’s video has the best visual elements of any that I reviewed over the past seven days. His performance is solid, too. Another good “Space Oddity” comes from Gratigo, who seems to be modeling her version more from Natalie Merchant’s cover than Bowie’s original.

– Justin Sleep’s “Underground.” This is one of Bowie’s better 80s songs, which I think kind of gets lost in part because it was on the Labyrinth soundtrack and in part because good 80s Bowie is strewn amongst the detritus. I like how Justin Sleep strips it down to its essentials revealing…a really good song.

Benjamin Muller’s “Moonage Daydream.” This has some of the same strengths as Peter Farrugia’s “Drive in Saturday”— a guy in his room showing what he can do with his voice, a guitar, a good song and nothing else. Well done!

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