One Track Mind: The Georgia Satellites "Don't Pass Me By" (1988)

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by S. Victor Aaron

I always thought that the best covers are ones that takes a mediocre original and turns it into a genuinely good song. Such was the case when Atlanta roots rockers The Georgia Satellites took Ringo Starr’s hokey “Don’t Pass Me By” and gave it a swift, hard kick in the ass.

For those of you who never delved into the really, really deep cuts of the Beatles’ White Album, “Don’t Pass Me By” was Ringo’s first songwriting credit on a Beatles record (although rumor has it that he got a lot of help from his friend Paul). It had these goofy lyrics and played in a hillbilly style, but with some cheesy game show organ. As you probably figured out by now, I’m not really fond of this version of “Don’t Pass Me By” but I’m sure it’s got its share of admirers. Heck, even George’s clunker from the same album, “Long, Long, Long,” has it’s own fan club.

Ah, but twenty years later the Satellites rescued Starkey’s folly with a double shot of testosterone and just like that, it becomes a tough, barroom brawlin’ rocker. It starts with the same kind of rockabilly picking that kicks off their lone hit “Keep Your Hands To Yourself,” but the drums boom away at a faster tempo, the bass is pulsing insistently, the piano bangs hard like Jerry Lee Lewis and the guitars are righteously rockin’.

Everyone’s playing so loud that Dan Baird’s vocals are nearly drowned out in the mix. Not that I mind, though; this song is getting by on energy alone and there’s no reason to water that down. Still, those lyrics somehow don’t sound so bad in this context. Simple, unsophisticated verses about heartbreak fits right in with Southern rock.

I just can’t believe no one’s made a YouTube video out of it yet. All I have to offer here is a little sample, but if you liked the Georgia Satellites’ self-titled breakout album of ’86, you probably need to procure their strong followup Open All Night, anyway:

Sample: The Georgia Satellites “Don’t Pass Me By”

“One Track Mind” is a more-or-less weekly drool over a single song selected on a whim and a short thesis on why you should be drooling over it, too.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on,, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at
S. Victor Aaron

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