Song Requests......why?

OK so last night we’re playing our regular Thursday night gig and someone comes up and requests a song that we don’t know and it got me to thinking…

Why do people request songs? It would never occur to me to go up to a band that I didn’t know and request a song that they may or may not know. I mean if I go to see my friend’s band I might request a song that I know they do because I like it and I want to hear it but I’d just never go up to a live band that I wasn’t familiar with and request a song.

I’ve had people request songs that are in a completely different style and genre from what we’re doing. I’ve had people request songs and insist that we could play it even when we really had no idea. When I was in bands that did all original music we’d still have people come up and request covers. I always feel bad when we can’t do a request but we can only know so much.

So, when you go out to hear live music do you make requests?

I thought this was going to be about people who call up a radio station and request a song that’s already in pummel rotation.

Actually, Legomancer, when that sort of request is made, the DJ just ignores it. The song will come up soon enough for most listeners in any case.

I’ve made requests from time to time. The last was at one of my parents’ 50th anniversary party. I went up to the band (a jazz group) and said I wanted to make a request. They said they were about to quit.

Then I told them it was Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”

Their eyes lit up and you could tell they were delighted. They played the song, and then one other.

So it all depends on the request – if it’s a song the musicians like, they play it; if not, they’ll probably beg off. I don’t think they’d be too upset at the request.

As to why – well, sometimes you want to hear a particular song.

For me, it kind of depends on the venue. I’d be far more likely to request a song at a “command performance” like a wedding or anniversary party than at a club or other show. I don’t tend to request songs anyway, because I assume that the band has a setlist. I suppose I might, if encouraged by a band, suggest a song of theirs I’d like to hear, but otherwise I assume they’ll play what they’ve planned to play.

As someone in one of my favorite bands used to say, “We’re not a jukebox.”

Not always.

Around here there are a couple of stations that have request shows. They will often play a dedication blurb before they play the requested song.


That’s what we, meaning the guys in WSL (While Supplies Last) would say during some shows, which was an invitation for requests. In 7 years in the band I think there was maybe one request that we couldn’t/wouldn’t do, and that was because we didn’t have a saxaphone with us that night.

As far as set lists go, ours was usually something like this:
Uptempo opening number, either a cover or as time went on an original

Whatever songs we felt like playing usually a mix of covers and originals.

3-4 hours later…

Final song of the night–

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby, Stills & Nash

Why that song? there’s a fairly interesting story behind it, but unless you really are semi-interested Iwon’t go into it here.

I don’t make requests, but once I went to a club and saw that someone in the parking lot had left their lights on. I went up to the DJ booth, thinking he’d announce it. He saw me coming and immediately boomed over the microphone, “We are not taking any requests!” He did, however, hear me when I yelled, “Someone left their lights on!” and made the announcement when the song was over.

Good thing no one’s ever recorded a song called “Someone Left Their Lights On”.