Tuesday, 21 September 2010

(Thats enough of that! - Ed)

I was thinking today, of the differences in writing a song, and in writing a novel or piece of prose.  There's obviously a fair degree of difference between the two art forms, but I'm wondering if there's something to be learned from writing.

In the world of publishing, as far as I dimly comprehend it, a writer has an "editor", perhaps a slightly older person, who is not entirely unsympathetic to your work, but who ultimately wants the writing to "succeed" in some fashion.  Usually for the financial gain of the publisher, but not always for that goal alone.

The writer submits a draft; the editor adds comments, such as "starts to wander a bit in the middle", "needs to be a bit shorter in this chapter", "are you sure the character would have said that at the end?",  the writer makes amendments, and re-submits.  (The reader should bear in mind at this point, that the above is based upon my loose understanding of such things).

However, the important part is the process not only of re-writing, tweaking words around and all that, but to listen to someone else's thoughts on the thing.  Someone whom you trust, but who is outside of the creative process in question.  I've been doing that with a new song recently, and it's been very beneficial.  I've been hearing how certain lines are hackneyed, pompous, and over-used.  And, they are.  I've been lazy, and they need to be altered.

I have suggested changing a word or phrase in a song to different songwriters over the years.  It's resulted in precisely zero changed songs.  I remember Lou Reed remarking that re-writing lyrics was "not his favourite thing", but he did do that on his album "New York", and the result was critically lauded.

So, singer/songwriters, get off your precious soapbox ass about your lyrics! (That's enough of that - Ed).

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

A chart challenge

I sometimes play a game with myself of a Sunday teatime, as I'm making the tea; I see if I can stand listening to the Radio 1 chart show for an hour.

If you try this, be prepared for people glaring at you and demanding to know why you're listening to "this shit" or some such.  I usually do it to see what the fashions for production/sound engineering are, and if there's any discernible trends in music.  Occasionally, even though I don't like a certain song, I can understand why it's become relatively successful.  At other times though, it's success is entirely baffling, and I assume it's had a good video or other assistance (e.g. been used in an ad for yoghurt!), of which I'm unaware.

The music, though not usually to my taste, I can withstand for an hour.  The real challenge is the presenters.  Can you withstand their inane egotistical babbling for an hour?  Can you tolerate their fawning puff-piece "interviews" with "stars" who already know their record is number one?

It's a hard road, but if you make it, then I doff my glossy-plumed cap to you.  Probably best to be making something fairly involved for tea, like a massive curry from scratch, in order to not focus completely on it, and thus lose your mind.