Uh oh, this was going to be a relatively brief response post, and I got all high-horsey and long-winded. Consider it a blog post.AJOwens wrote: ↑Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:19 amAnd since we two like to refer to our own songs, and since you too sometimes submit instrumentals which get no respect around here, some of the reviews for my instrumental The Thirteenth Moon also tried me. Maybe you'll understand.
There are a couple of lines with irregular rhythms, but mostly they use the same Seuss-like meter. The way they are spoken sometimes obscures the regularity.
I wasn't a-feared of submitting instrumentals, as long as I knew myself I was only writing it within the fight week, and that I was indeed inspired by the title. Long ago there was a fight called Step Up in which we were given like two days. I wrote an instrumental and got dinged for it, but I learned from that experience that I could write very quickly if I was writing in this noodley style. I used the same technique for "Get a Life" and "Man Speaking German".
As for the lyrics, let me just repay the snarkiness by pointing out that there are indeed syllabic irregularities there. "Why when I have a <word> song and am able" needs that extra <word>, "guitar strap" is one syllable too many, the "classic" line is syllabically wonky, and the first two lines of the song don't fit. But honestly, it all comes pretty close, and you paid way more attention than a lot of folks do.
When i'm working on a song, I will rewrite and rewrite individual lines for days, turning phrases around and saying the same things different ways, until it flows just right. I will agonize over ands and buts and thes. (One big reason I don't submit more songs to song Fight, actually.) I'm not tooting the horn here, I'm just saying it's something I wish people would notice more about good songs - that the lyrics are good for their craft and not just for their sentiment or imagery, and often even instead of it. A teacher once told me that when you're writing a lyric and have to choose between a great line and good craft, to always sacrifice the great line for the craft. People won't know the great line that isn't there, but they will notice poor craft. At least subconsciously. This rigor came from musical theatre, where of course instant audience comprehension of a lyric is paramount, but it applies elsewhere.
I can never understand it when someone goes to the trouble of writing and recording an entire frickin song, and doesn't make damn sure the lyrics can be understood. Why have them there if the listener can't make them out? I so don't get that. Not like every song has to be Sondheim, but we're verbal creatures, and when we listen to a human voice we instinctively want to comprehend the words, and when we can't there's a dissonance that's hurting the song. (Of COURSE there are a million exceptions to this, so you can take your outraged fingers off the keyboard right now. I'm speaking in generalities.) Elton John is a great example. Many the joke has been made at his expense that his vocals are too hard to comprehend the lyric, but I think he could have worked a little harder on that. The band New Pornographers, who write fun catchy songs I like, have this bizarre trait, (intentional?) of repeating a line in their chorus that I can't make out. They sing it over and over and I'm always like "What are they saying there?". So weird.
I was thinking about this last night after having noticed this issue in a lot of songs in this fight. "Got to Get You Into My Life" was playing, and I noticed how the lyrics don't have any fantastic lines or images or anything, (and who listens to that song for the lyric anyway?) but they flow so great, and they're clean, they don't draw undue attention, and easy and fun to sing, and syllabically fit perfectly.
When lyrics don't fit the music, they draw negative attention to themselves and undercut the flow of the tune (and for nerds like me, are red flags for laziness). A poorly-fitting lyric says to me "This line is more important right now than the flow of the tune", and so rarely is that actually the case, unless the song's style calls for it. Jim Tyrell certainly knows how to write a lyric, yet he chose NOT to adhere to that kind of discipline in his "Silent Pipe", an exception proving the rule.