Adele, Andy McKee, Bon Iver, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Hornsby, earworm, George Michael, Guitar, Hyponotising, Lyrics, Melody, Music, Pop Idol, Prince, singer songwriters, Singing, song in my head, Songs, Sound
Every now and then I, and I’m sure just about everyone else, get a song in my head, and it totally takes over. I’m not just talking about an earworm, because it’s just not that the song is stuck in my head, it’s actually that if I can I will to listen to it constantly, and if I can’t I’m singing or whistling it all the time. I’ve gone so far as to check for any versions I can online and there are quite a few. It seems I’m not the only lover of this particular song, and that it’s rather popular amongst singer/songwriters too, which just goes to show how good it is. It’s been covered by George Michael, Prince, Bon Iver, Adele, Tank (who actually has one of the better covers despite his name!), Boyz II Men and even Peter Andre! An ever more impressive list I think you’ll agree! You’ll never guess how I first heard about it either… Rik Waller sang it on the first series of Pop Idol (and well in my opinion) and ever since then I’ve been hooked.
The song I’m currently obsessed with is: I Can’t Make You Love Me, originally sung by Bonnie Raitt (with piano by Bruce Hornsby). Possibly not what you were expecting… but actually it’s an incredible song, so there. If you don’t know it, introduce yourself now.
Over the years I have figured that for the most part there are two kinds of music lover; Melodic and Lyrical. I may be utterly wrong, and it may in fact be the kind of music lover that I am that creates the kind of logic necessary to base that on, but I can’t really help that so of course this is coming from my point of view. However for ease, let’s just say it’s my own little hypothesis and that it is the case…
As for me, I’m in the Melodic group. I can love a song almost completely irrespective of the lyrics. If it sounds nice to me, I will like it, even if it is in fact a song about turkey waddle. I can even memorize the lyrics to a song (though not for the sake of the lyrics themselves), but will rarely think about what they say or mean. Of course there are exceptions, but there are always exceptions.
Conversely I know many people who will mention the lyrics of a song before anything else. What the song is about seems to be the part they are most interested in and I imagine that they way the song sounds is far less a factor to them liking it than what it says or means. SImilarly they may dislike a song because of the lyrics, and less so to how it sounds.
I am by no means implying that one way is better than another, and in fact I often wonder how much I am missing by not really paying all that much attention to the words of a song… but I also think that I can get far more lost in the melody of something than others can. There are some songs that come close to hypnotising me with their harmonies, where I almost have to stop and partially shut down my other senses whilst I enjoy the music. Fortunately it’s never happened to me whilst driving or operating heavy machinery, but I really like the fact that I can feel music so intimately.
Who knows, maybe everyone has that. I hope so.
The flip side of course for my personal appreciation of a melody, is that things that other people can seem to get past or even enjoy in a song, can utterly ruin it for me.
I remember going to see Andy McKee (a guitarist anyone with a remote interest in guitar should know of) and he was tuning up for his next song. After tuning and chatting for a couple of minutes he started playing, then stopped to tune further and couldn’t quite seem to get it right. Eventually some people near the front said they thought it sounded fine and Andy said (in a nice, funny way) “It may sound ok to you, but it’s like a knife in my ear” and I knew exactly what he meant.