George Thorogood says there’s a bit of sport involved when he decides to record cover songs — particularly when they’re by influences such as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, “Sleepy” John Estes and Howlin’ Wolf, whose work populates Thorogood’s latest release, “The Dirty Dozen.”
“I love doing these very obscure songs you’ve never heard of,” says the Delaware-born Thorogood, 58, who nevertheless is best-known for his 1982 hit “Bad to the Bone.”
“I love scooping guys like John Hammond and Elvin Bishop; they’ll say, ‘Where the hell did that come from? How did you hear about it?’
“I tell ‘em that I have to. It’s not like I can write like Paul McCartney, so I have to unearth these gems and turn ‘em into George Thorogood songs.”
That said, Thorogood also is working on some new original material that he hopes to make part of his next album. It’s a struggle, however; he has ambitions, but he’s usually up against record companies that want more “Bad to the Bone” or other songs akin to good-humored favorites such as “I Drink Alone” and “Get a Haircut.”
“I go, ‘I got this country tune.’ ‘Mmm.’ ‘I got this acoustic tune.’ ‘Mmm.’ I got this one tune that’s got a bad slide guitar in it, kinda like ‘Get a Haircut.’ ‘Talk to me!’ ” Thorogood says with a laugh. “You can’t get away from what you are, as much as I’ve tried — and God knows I’ve tried — so I guess I’m gonna have to take ‘Bad (to the Bone)’ to another level yet again.”
George Thorogood & the Destroyers and Jonny Lang perform at 8 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 16) at the Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills. Tickets are $35 pavilion, $15 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.