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#1155403 - 07/19/19 05:37 AM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Kristi McKeever]  
Joined: Jul 2006
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Michael Zaneski Offline
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Michael Zaneski  Offline
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Originally Posted by Kristi McKeever
Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
There's probably at least three ways a (first person singular) song and singer can be heard:

1) singing as himself or herself

2) singing as a specific "someone else" or as a specific "character"

3) singing as an "audience surrogate"


I think so too. And fdemetrio's statement that "I" seems to be a powerful tense to use in writing lyrics. Most of my lyrics are written in 1st person, but I would have traveled the world if they were all my experience!! As a listener, I probably assume a singer is singing something they "believe in" but not necessarily their own experience.

But I would be wrong in the case of Tina Turner and I’m sure many other singers. I believe it’s true that she hated “What’s Love Got to Do With It” but you’d never know that watching her perform it. wink


Hi Kristi,

Nice take! I didn't know about Turner's dislike for that song (which I love)..

I got so caught up in the mechanics of "how many ways are there to hear a first person singular song and singer" that I forgot why I brought it up in the first place, which is that it's easy to get it wrong.

In fact, I think it's fair to say that to the degree that a listener understands an artist is to that degree he/she will get it right.

I mean, if you know a particular folk singer is usually talking about his/her real experience, there's no reason to think otherwise when they perform something new. In fact, such singer-songwriters reserve obviously very tall stories to be their particular works of fiction, just so not to confuse their audience. "Authenticity" seems more important to some brands of music sung in the first person than others.

And this is now getting into thesis territory with those three ways a singer can be heard:

In any given song, the singer can represent all three kinds of first person singular simultaneously
. Imagine a DOT inside an equilateral triangle.

This is why, as you say, "a singer is singing something they "believe in" but not necessarily their own experience." Most first person songs have some things culled from real life, some from fiction, and some things that give voice to what a listener is feeling and might say--an audience surrogate..All three will be present in various amounts in most popular music lyrics.

A friend of mine saw an audience en masse get it wrong--he saw Randy Newman in Nashville in the Eighties at a smallish venue, and he performed his song "Rednecks" in which he is singing as a specific character, a bigot, singing the lines,

We're rednecks, we're rednecks
We don't know our ass from a hole in the ground
We're rednecks, we're rednecks
We're keeping the ni**ers down

My friend recounts how the audience sang along to this part..very enthusiastically.. and that always disturbed my friend and myself cuz if there's one Randy Newman song where you want to quietly listen and watch Newman wearing a mask and not be "identifying" with him, it's "Rednecks" --and okay, maybe "Short People" lol..

And Scott* (my friend) also made sure I understood it did not appear that this small beer drinking crowd of folks were "singing ironically" along with him

So in hindsight it seems like Mr. Newman was taken by the audience as a surrogate, at least by most, others just getting caught up in the moment, but most were seemingly channeling their bigotry through his singing, fleshy avatar. Very disturbing.

Randy Newman songs generally got visceral reactions from folks. I'm surprised no one's mentioned "Short People" --but surprised in a good way, cuz I like Newman. He's a really socially conscious dude who never soap boxes, but in many songs, becomes flawed characters for us to take in.

Mike


* Scott Phelps was the Assistant Manager and friend at Tower in Nashville whom I worked with from 1993-1996. A songwriter with a little chart success. MAB and he may have even crossed paths in song circles.


Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 07/20/19 01:51 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1155410 - 07/19/19 10:13 AM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Well, Lessee here. George Morgan had a huge hit CANDY KISSES. He said if you have a huge hit, you better like it because you are going to be singing it the rest of your life. Yes, I suppose some Artists had big hits they hated.


Ray E. Strode
#1155421 - 07/19/19 02:32 PM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Fdemetrio Offline
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Yeah, I dont think Johnny Cash "shot a man in Reno Just to watch him die"

I think Rod is using inhibitions wrong, but its still understood that he means dont be inhibited...lol

I think Rod has one of the best voices in all of rock music.

Back to the topic, I think when its a sensitive issue using I can get hairy, but alot of the REAL writers use it.

I think it humanizes the person in the song, even if they are a piece of chit.

Bruce's Nebraska was an entire album really of fooked up people who he was giving voice to. I think what he was trying to say was that when the country doesnt take care of its people they end up on the fringe, and do things like many of the characters in Nebraska did. So if you sing "I" yeah somebody might think you are saying YOU are the chainsaw murderer, but it's understood by most he's simply humanizing some people who dont deserve to be humanized.

I Know sting was a teacher once, and im not sure if HE was the one telling the school girl to "dont stand so close to me" but maybe he used his own experience to create the character.

I think most songs, at least my own come from many of my own experiences and others, and i sing "I" because i indentify with those other views. So in some sense its a co-write....lol

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 07/19/19 02:39 PM.
#1155424 - 07/19/19 03:11 PM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Michael Zaneski Offline
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"I think when its a sensitive issue using "I" can get hairy"

I wholeheartedly agree. smile

"Nebraska" is my second favorite Bruce album. ("Born To Run") my all time favorite..

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 07/19/19 03:11 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1155425 - 07/19/19 03:15 PM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Fdemetrio Offline
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Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
"I think when its a sensitive issue using "I" can get hairy"

I wholeheartedly agree. smile

"Nebraska" is my second favorite Bruce album. ("Born To Run") my all time favorite..


Yeah even the crumudgeon Randy Newman called it NEAR perfect, he wouldnt go all the way and call it perfect though....

I read where he also commented on Pete Townshend as a writer. Citing My Generation, the character in the song is a MOD, a social group, and they usually do Speed and they cant talk right. Hence thats why daltry stutters throughout.

And Newman said, the guy is trying to be a voice for his generation and he cant even speak!....and said "great writing"

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 07/19/19 03:16 PM.
#1155441 - 07/20/19 09:21 AM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Kristi McKeever Offline
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Kristi McKeever  Offline
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Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
So in hindsight it seems like Mr. Newman was taken by the audience as a surrogate, at least by most, others just getting caught up in the moment, but most were seemingly channeling their bigotry through his singing, fleshy avatar. Very disturbing.

Randy Newman songs generally got visceral reactions from folks. I'm surprised no one's mentioned "Short People" --but surprised in a good way, cuz I like Newman. He's a really socially conscious dude who never soap boxes, but in many songs, becomes flawed characters for us to take in.

Mike


Mike,

Funny....“Short People” did come to my mind, but it’s an all-in-good-fun kind of song to watch him perform, imo. Amazing about that “Rednecks” performance. So then there’s “We Are the Champions”....kind of the flip side to that!

Using “I” can be tricky as has already been mentioned. I interpret Sting’s “Every Breath You Take” as an aggressive, threatening song....who would want to sing that, ya know? But that's just me. smile

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard: don’t write a song that makes the singer look bad. What is "bad"? Fine line, sometimes. Fine line...


A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write,
if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be,
he must be. -- Abraham Maslow, American Psychologist
#1155452 - 07/20/19 02:08 PM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Kristi McKeever]  
Joined: Jul 2006
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Michael Zaneski Offline
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Michael Zaneski  Offline
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California
Originally Posted by Kristi McKeever
Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
So in hindsight it seems like Mr. Newman was taken by the audience as a surrogate, at least by most, others just getting caught up in the moment, but most were seemingly channeling their bigotry through his singing, fleshy avatar. Very disturbing.

Randy Newman songs generally got visceral reactions from folks. I'm surprised no one's mentioned "Short People" --but surprised in a good way, cuz I like Newman. He's a really socially conscious dude who never soap boxes, but in many songs, becomes flawed characters for us to take in.

Mike


Mike,

Funny....“Short People” did come to my mind, but it’s an all-in-good-fun kind of song to watch him perform, imo. Amazing about that “Rednecks” performance. So then there’s “We Are the Champions”....kind of the flip side to that!

Using “I” can be tricky as has already been mentioned. I interpret Sting’s “Every Breath You Take” as an aggressive, threatening song....who would want to sing that, ya know? But that's just me. smile

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard: don’t write a song that makes the singer look bad. What is "bad"? Fine line, sometimes. Fine line...



I am discovering I'm fascinated by this mercurial triangulation of the "first person" in popular songs. In any given song, from line to line, just exactly who the " I " represents isn't necessarily static but may be changing between the three ways of taking in the singer (singing a song in the first person).

So much work is going on under the surface while listening,--just utterly fascinating stuff that one could devote a lifetime of study. But it's something we just naturally do, as listeners, we sort all that out, sometimes getting it wrong (but it's amazing we get it right as much as we do, given the complexity of what's going on) and this probably plays a BIG part in if and how we enjoy or dislike a particular song.

I mean, I might be enjoying a song where the singer is playing a character, but if a question comes up for me in the listening, if that character becomes my surrogate and answers that question, I imagine I'm more likely to enjoy the song. Same thing if it's truthful stuff mixed in with more fanciful. If "Fire and Rain" was totally made up stuff, it would devalue the song for me. I always imagine that for James Taylor to talk like that, he experienced something bad happen to a friend, possibly their death, though I never took every line to be verbatim his life story..

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 07/20/19 02:18 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1155453 - 07/20/19 03:09 PM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Oct 2017
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Fdemetrio Offline
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Fdemetrio  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2017
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Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Originally Posted by Kristi McKeever
Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
So in hindsight it seems like Mr. Newman was taken by the audience as a surrogate, at least by most, others just getting caught up in the moment, but most were seemingly channeling their bigotry through his singing, fleshy avatar. Very disturbing.

Randy Newman songs generally got visceral reactions from folks. I'm surprised no one's mentioned "Short People" --but surprised in a good way, cuz I like Newman. He's a really socially conscious dude who never soap boxes, but in many songs, becomes flawed characters for us to take in.

Mike


Mike,

Funny....“Short People” did come to my mind, but it’s an all-in-good-fun kind of song to watch him perform, imo. Amazing about that “Rednecks” performance. So then there’s “We Are the Champions”....kind of the flip side to that!

Using “I” can be tricky as has already been mentioned. I interpret Sting’s “Every Breath You Take” as an aggressive, threatening song....who would want to sing that, ya know? But that's just me. smile

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard: don’t write a song that makes the singer look bad. What is "bad"? Fine line, sometimes. Fine line...



I am discovering I'm fascinated by this mercurial triangulation of the "first person" in popular songs. In any given song, from line to line, just exactly who the " I " represents isn't necessarily static but may be changing between the three ways of taking in the singer (singing a song in the first person).

So much work is going on under the surface while listening,--just utterly fascinating stuff that one could devote a lifetime of study. But it's something we just naturally do, as listeners, we sort all that out, sometimes getting it wrong (but it's amazing we get it right as much as we do, given the complexity of what's going on) and this probably plays a BIG part in if and how we enjoy or dislike a particular song.

I mean, I might be enjoying a song where the singer is playing a character, but if a question comes up for me in the listening, if that character becomes my surrogate and answers that question, I imagine I'm more likely to enjoy the song. Same thing if it's truthful stuff mixed in with more fanciful. If "Fire and Rain" was totally made up stuff, it would devalue the song for me. I always imagine that for James Taylor to talk like that, he experienced something bad happen to a friend, possibly their death, though I never took every line to be verbatim his life story..

Mike


It is fascinating and I think there's an art to using the tenses right. BTW, JT wrote fire and rain while institutionalized in a mental hospital, or at least part of it there.

How bout the eavsedropping style of say Mark Knopfler in "Money for Nothin"
He said he overheard some guys who were working in an appliance store, and how they were complaining about having to do all that work, while the "Chimpanzees, banging on them bongos, get their money for nothing...and chicks for free" they were watching MTV on the tvs while they worked

And the ironic part is Knopfler is playing the role of those appliance workers, but HE himself is the very thing they were complaining about. He said he hid in the corner cause he didnt want them to stop their rant.

To me songwriting brings people alive. Various ways to do it, we can learn those tools too.

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 07/20/19 03:26 PM.
#1155944 - 08/19/19 08:21 AM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: JAPOV]  
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 228
Cheyenne Offline
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Cheyenne  Offline
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Posts: 228
Florida U.S.A.

"TROLL"...... Self edifying, self promoting, self proclaimed industry professional, self credentialed "teacher of the songwriting craft ", and salesman to be specific Cheyenne. Speaking of negativity.....

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Re your comment -above ------J A P O V , You are typical of wannabe music writers who
shout TROLL , because someone disagrees with your opinions

You have been on here for five minutes following the demise of both Songwriter 101 and
Songwriter Junction; and already you are rubbing many long term members up the wrong way

Some of us have had a fair few many years working both as touring Musicians and Management
and we are sorry if that gets up your nose so speak

All you have to do is mark me down as ( ignore this member) precisely what I shall do to yourself

YOUR COMMENTS about myself are complete nonsense.

J A P O V S would be more appropriate ( Just Another Piece Of Venomous Scum)


One of the most important principles of songwriting is to remember that a good song is a partnership of many different components, all working together to produce a satisfying musical experience.

In that respect, song components are either enhancing or compromising their combined effects.
#1155953 - 08/19/19 04:43 PM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Cheyenne]  
Joined: Oct 2017
Posts: 1,257
Fdemetrio Offline
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Fdemetrio  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2017
Posts: 1,257
Originally Posted by Cheyenne

"TROLL"...... Self edifying, self promoting, self proclaimed industry professional, self credentialed "teacher of the songwriting craft ", and salesman to be specific Cheyenne. Speaking of negativity.....

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Re your comment -above ------J A P O V , You are typical of wannabe music writers who
shout TROLL , because someone disagrees with your opinions

You have been on here for five minutes following the demise of both Songwriter 101 and
Songwriter Junction; and already you are rubbing many long term members up the wrong way

Some of us have had a fair few many years working both as touring Musicians and Management
and we are sorry if that gets up your nose so speak

All you have to do is mark me down as ( ignore this member) precisely what I shall do to yourself

YOUR COMMENTS about myself are complete nonsense.

J A P O V S would be more appropriate ( Just Another Piece Of Venomous Scum)


Cheyenne, ive had some decent conversations with you, and other times you pull a 360 and blast away.

In all seriousness, you may be a very good songwriter, and have a wealth of information about songwriting. But I havent seen or heard one piece of work from you. You've attacked a few people in this thread and cut down their abilities.

Not sure what causes your highs and lows.

#1155956 - 08/20/19 03:26 AM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 175
JAPOV Offline
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JAPOV  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 175
North Alabama
"Just Another Piece Of Venomous Scum"............ Lol, Cheyenne, that’s only funny because I know that you know the troll that I’m refusing to name. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and entitled to their own tastes... In fact, anyone who knows me well knows that I appreciate and encourage the exercise of individuality. However, there’s a huge difference between having an opinion... and purposefully writing page after page of long winded arguments about how screwed up the music industry is and what everyone else is doing wrong in order to promote himself as some sort of "authority in the business of songwriting". The truth is, if he was even half of what he promotes himself to be, everyone would already know him and he wouldn’t be wasting his time here on songwriter blogs with the rest of us.... Take a breath Cheyenne, you and I both are already just a couple of "opinions in cyberspace" lol..... smile


JAPOV is Just Another Point Of View but my friends call me Tony. If you like to sing then I'd like to know ya' smile https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/?bandID=1449856
#1155977 - 08/20/19 05:41 PM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Oct 2017
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Fdemetrio Offline
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Fdemetrio  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2017
Posts: 1,257
It's funny how these conversations tend to come full circle and have cross links...

Like my Somewhere over the rainbow comment.

I came across Clapton doin a blues version of it and really dug it, and its funny cause Clapton has been mentioned in some of our threads too lol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwlFTYT2Fdw

BTW hard to find a better band than that, Steve Gadd on drums and David Sancious(Of E Street fame) on Organ, Billy Preston the fifth Beatle!

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 08/20/19 05:47 PM.
#1155978 - 08/20/19 05:59 PM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 175
JAPOV Offline
Serious Contributor
JAPOV  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 175
North Alabama
Oh yea! Gotta' love Clapton! smile


JAPOV is Just Another Point Of View but my friends call me Tony. If you like to sing then I'd like to know ya' smile https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/?bandID=1449856
#1155979 - 08/20/19 06:09 PM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 175
JAPOV Offline
Serious Contributor
JAPOV  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 175
North Alabama
Shania Twain's "Man, I feel like a woman"..........
Firstly, that’s not country!
Secondly...and most importantly... I can’t sing along with that song and not feel like a woman! smile

Last edited by JAPOV; 08/20/19 06:09 PM.

JAPOV is Just Another Point Of View but my friends call me Tony. If you like to sing then I'd like to know ya' smile https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/?bandID=1449856
#1155989 - 08/21/19 07:07 AM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: JAPOV]  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 6,617
Everett Adams Online content
Top 40 Poster
Everett Adams  Online Content
Top 40 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 6,617
,NL Canada
Originally Posted by JAPOV
Shania Twain's "Man, I feel like a woman"..........
Firstly, that’s not country!
Secondly...and most importantly... I can’t sing along with that song and not feel like a woman! smile


In this day and age you could be a woman with a lot of drugs and a few surgeries. LOL

#1156000 - 08/21/19 02:53 PM Re: I Hate A Song That Everybody Loves [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 175
JAPOV Offline
Serious Contributor
JAPOV  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 175
North Alabama
Ha! Lol.... I'm just not that hard core smile


JAPOV is Just Another Point Of View but my friends call me Tony. If you like to sing then I'd like to know ya' smile https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/?bandID=1449856
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