As a songwriter, I like to pride myself on my personal process of writing songs and think that, while I am not the greatest writer in the world (trust me, I accept that I am middle of the road at best), my music is personal, the songs have an intimate meaning and therapeutic motive behind me getting them out, but I do throw a catchy hook in there every few tunes. Have to make at least one “radio friendly”tune in a bunch, right?
More and more I have adopted and accepted the ‘story song’ that may not necessarily be a personal story. As long as a songwriter can put themselves in that person shoes and evoke the feelings that their characters have, I can jive with that. It’s undoubtedly a part of the fabric that makes the history of American roots music, so at some point I needed to take a stab at one, or at least acknowledge that a good song doesn’t need to be solely about “me”. That being said, I am a firm believer that constructing a good song very much should rely on lyrical substance…otherwise we are doomed to a world filled with “call me maybe” and “gotta get down on Friday”.
Can musicality and catchiness make up for the fact that a song has absolutely no expressive or consequential content? I would like to think not, but what is popular (even in the roots genre) today leads me to believe otherwise. There are certainly some days where I am sitting around and would rather listen to something where I don’t need to consciously delve into the writer’s deep thoughts and emotions, but at that point I’ll put on some Bach or old fiddle tunes. There is just something I cannot accept about someone calling themselves a singer/songwriter or even PRIDE themselves on it when a) they are singing absolute gobbledygook (I used a Thesaurus for that one, it’s a real word-and I think quite fitting) or b) they don’t even write their own songs. And while I won’t get into it in this post, I understand that this malady isn’t just restricted to the “pop” music genre…there are plenty of artists I have seen playing alt-country/folk/blues/etc. that I just can’t bring myself to accept as peers, nevermind envy them for their work.
I’ll leave you with this…are the folks who write these songs that we hear on popular radio genius’s? I’d like to think not, at least not in a profoundly meaningful way, as long as there is good music, there will be bad music and I suppose I should accept that. I just hope the former sticks it out…no matter how mediocre-to-decent a performance, I die a little inside whenever Miley Cyrus covers Dylan.