Sunday, August 7, 2011

I'm a lyrics girl.

Two things:

1. Alaska and I listened to this This American Life segment on our most recent drive to my sweet Virginia homeland. Phil Collins talks about the divorce behind his break-out solo album and its role in his songwriting. (Yet Taylor Swift got a lot of flack for writing songs about her exes. Hmm.)

(I'm sorry about the messy embed. Something's screwy with the code.)

2. The Fleet Foxes album and its title song, "Helplessness Blues," just stopped me dead in my tracks. Had to back it up and listen again:

I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I'd say I'd rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me

The lesson from Phil Collins? Don't try to be too clever. The best songs are simple and honest. And the lesson from Fleet Foxes (and, by the way, Mumford and Sons)? Ask your questions. Everyone else has them to.

So, in response to my previous blog post, I've spoken with some trusted friends/mentors (some in the music industry), consulted Phil Collins, inferred from the Fleet Foxes, and I've come to some conclusions:

  • Not everyone listens to lyrics, so many won't even notice if I'm saying intimate things.
  • Those who do pay attention to lyrics will not care that these words represent my feelings. They will attach the lyrics to their own lives and make the words about their feelings.
  • The music business is full of people who have varying levels of skill as performers, promoters, writers, presenters, listeners. A great curator is a mild composer. A great record producer is a mediocre guitar player, etc. A music critic who writes bland songs. There's room for me in all this. It's really no big deal.

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