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What makes a great song vs. a good song?
Posted: 26 October 2014 07:43 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Considering the song writer as a story teller and dream weaver.

In an age when it seems like way too many songs are the repetition of one or two cute lines ad nausea
I was happy to revisit Jackson Browne’s music this evening.

To me these have alway been examples of writing (poetry?) and story telling at it’s best,
Then the extra dimension of putting it music and it reaches a whole new level.

Getting the most out of every word… capable of reaching inside the listener pulling out emotions, playing with memories
creating mental landscapes that didn’t exist before the music
and fade into distant echoes after the music stops.

Perhaps especially valuable because of it’s fleetingness

Jackson Browne - The Load Out and Stay - Live BBC 1978
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I11t5mj9FOk

Jackson Browne - Rockpalast 1986 - Boulevard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QgNbtOTeRU

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Posted: 27 October 2014 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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As Guy Clark wrote, “It’s got to come from the heart if you want it to work.” That’s the difference between Jackson Browne and the American Idol singers.

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Posted: 27 October 2014 10:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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My wife and I like to listen to the XM station “Alt Nation” which plays rock music but usually more obscure artists. My wife carpools with a friend who complains about the music on the car ride and tells co-workers that my wife listens to “weird”‘music.  But sometimes the songs on Alt Nation become mainstream hits after weeks or months of regular play.  Then my wife’s friend suddenly likes that song and tells others that she had been listening to that for a while.

My point being that sometimes a person’s taste in music is just what others think is good which is also known as not really having any taste in music at all, in my opinion.  Maybe this is a common problem which could explain why pop music is so, well, popular.  The only reason people like it is because it’s popular which begs the question on how it became popular in the first place.

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Posted: 28 October 2014 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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This is a big subject actually, aesthetics. One thing that’s particularly hard to get a handle on is that on the one hand we want to say it’s all subjective. On the other that’s a hard pill to swallow. If Jimbob thinks some bumpkin country singer is just heaven, and Bee-thoven is crap, is that true? Does that mean only accomplished musicians with PhDs can tell what good music is?  I happen to think of Jackson Browne as “pop” music, better than Madonna say, but still pop.  For me, someone like Rufus Wainwright is tops. Take a listen:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Szm6uUh9UlI  Does that mean I’m right? I think it’s safe to say though that bottom line, popularity has little or no relevance to quality.

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Posted: 28 October 2014 09:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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CuthbertJ - 28 October 2014 10:13 AM

Does that mean I’m right? I think it’s safe to say though that bottom line, popularity has little or no relevance to quality.

Yup, looking at it from a slightly different angle.

There is music I don’t like at all, but can still recognize as well crafted and as fine as anything I like.

For instance those two Jackson Brown songs, let’s take ‘Boulevard’ strip away the music and only look at those words: 

Down on the boulevard they take it hard
They look at life with such disregard

They say it can’t be won
The way the game is run
But if you choose to stay
You wind up playing anyway
It’s okay

The kid’s in shock up and down the block
The folks are home playing beat the clock

Down at the golden cup
They set the young ones up
Under the neon light
Selling day for night
It’s alright

Nobody rides for free
Nobody gets it like they want it to be
Nobody hands you any guarantee
Nobody

No, nobody baby

The hearts are hard and the times are tough
Down on the boulevard the night’s enough

And time passes slow
Between the store front shadows
And the street lights glow
Everybody walks right by like
They’re safe or something
They don’t know

Nobody knows you
Nobody owes you nothin’
Nobody shows you what they’re thinking
Nobody

Hey hey, baby, you got to watch the street
Keep your feet and be on guard
Make it pay, baby
It’s only time on the boulevard
It’s like this
It’s the way it is

Yeah, yeah, baby
It’s only time on the boulevard

Read more: Jackson Browne - Boulevard Lyrics | MetroLyrics
http://www.metrolyrics.com/boulevard-lyrics-jackson-browne.html

That’s not a jingle - nah, this is shit describing a world to the T, and with style.

Like it, hate it, there’s something that transcends opinion…  imho  smile
And those that have never tasted the streets and who can’t relate to specifics, still get a taste of it, via this story teller… i like to believe.

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Posted: 28 October 2014 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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CuthbertJ - 28 October 2014 10:13 AM

This is a big subject actually, aesthetics. One thing that’s particularly hard to get a handle on is that on the one hand we want to say it’s all subjective. On the other that’s a hard pill to swallow. If Jimbob thinks some bumpkin country singer is just heaven, and Bee-thoven is crap, is that true? Does that mean only accomplished musicians with PhDs can tell what good music is?  I happen to think of Jackson Browne as “pop” music, better than Madonna say, but still pop.  For me, someone like Rufus Wainwright is tops. Take a listen:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Szm6uUh9UlI  Does that mean I’m right? I think it’s safe to say though that bottom line, popularity has little or no relevance to quality.

I took a listen, and it was, ‘oh that guy’ - when I listen to Radio it’s usually NPR and he seems big around here.  He’s an example of someone I can’t listen to, though I recognize that he’s achieved an awful lot of critical acclaim, so there’s something going on there - but I don’t have the time or interest to pursue figuring it out.

… and, OK, no argument with categorizing Jackson Browne as drifting towards Pop - plus there’s the certain ‘era’ connection for those who were in the neighborhood so it speak, he was part of the sound track of a special time and place.

When it comes to music, I’ll be honest I’m an old dinosaur, too much of today’s music seems like desperate attempts to reinvent the wheel because everything has already been done by someone somewhere - another reason I recognize civilization in proceeding down the slippery slope shock .
And actually I don’t listen to radio/recorded that much, I’m lucky in that I have a whole crew of close friends/bros that are musicians so I have access to doses of live music.  Maybe it’s because I was raised in a household where music seemed to be playing pretty much nonstop -  But, I’d much rather listen to books on tape and chew on ideas and I don’t mind long silences one bit either.  To me it seems music is like getting a buzz, good to do in it’s doses, but not all the time.  And like you point out, but that’s just me.  grin

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Posted: 29 October 2014 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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My impression is that most pop music today is written by teenagers, graduates of those arts schools in California that are just churning them out by the carload.  The only thing that seems to matter is the video that they make at the same time.  The words or the music don’t matter because the song will be replaced by something else next week.

Me I like the golden oldies.  Remember the Alan Parsons Project?

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Posted: 29 October 2014 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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A great song, by virtue, of its well chosen and constructed lyrics, in conjunction with its aesthetic musical composition, has the power, over time, to, consistently evoke a powerful emotional response.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 29 October 2014 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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What makes a great song vs. a good song?


The music.

Great music with great lyrics make for memorable songs.

Great lyrics without great music will die. Great music without lyrics at all can still be great.  But the music is essential.

Lois

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[color=red“Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.”
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Posted: 30 October 2014 02:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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NPR did a discussion of this very topic a couple of months back and the reason I remember it is their mention of Earth, Wind and Fire’s 70’s hit September considered to be the “happiest” song ever written. In case you’ve forgotten it (for those who don’t remember the 70’s) it was the end song of the movie “Night at the Museum”. It’s the music, very rhythmic with vocablals that makes it appealing. The lyrics are very simplistic.


http://www.metrolyrics.com/september-lyrics-earth-wind-fire.html


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 30 October 2014 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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The other aspect that hasn’t been mentioned is Context. You’re at a baseball game (probably falling asleep if you’re like me…boring) then your team hits a homer. All of a sudden that Nah Nah Nah, Kiss it goodbye song comes on. Perfect for that context. Can you imagine if Claire De Lune came on?

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Posted: 30 October 2014 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Yea, I’d still be snoring. Beautiful song though. Coney dogs and the wave keep awake at a game. And the nah nah song is an example of group chanting which we still enjoy even though we’re not dancing around the central fire communing with the animal spirits any more.


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Posted: 30 October 2014 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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LOL

CuthbertJ - 30 October 2014 10:10 AM

The other aspect that hasn’t been mentioned is Context. You’re at a baseball game (probably falling asleep if you’re like me…boring) then your team hits a homer. All of a sudden that Nah Nah Nah, Kiss it goodbye song comes on. Perfect for that context. Can you imagine if Claire De Lune came on?

LOL  LOL  LOL
You remind me of the super Queen who provided a couple foundational songs for Baba Sports Addicts.

One of those beautiful irony of ironies - though it’s lost on most of them.

We Are The Champions
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxfrz6iQb9A

Queen - We Will Rock You (Live at Wembley Stadium)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljr46m-O90w

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Posted: 30 October 2014 05:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 30 October 2014 10:40 AM

And the nah nah song is an example of group chanting which we still enjoy even though we’re not dancing around the central fire communing with the animal spirits any more.
Cap’t Jack

Are you knocking chanting and dancing around the camp fire???  tongue rolleye

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Posted: 30 October 2014 07:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Oh hell no! I’ve been a camper most of my life and if there’s anything that’ll bring people together it’s a good campfire song, sung around a campfire that is.


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Posted: 22 November 2014 07:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I love music discussions because it’s such a subjective subject yet many people insist on carrying on like there’s some true good taste or that you can objectively determine what makes one example “good” and another “bad”. Where was I going with this? Right, subjectivity. I listen to a lot of music that most other people I’ve known consider horrible, or even not music at all, but I still love it. Take this song for example. Yet I love it. In fact, it’s one of my favorite songs, but I’d be willing to bet money most of you would hate it or even find it completely unlistenable.

At the same time, I find the vast majority of popular music absolutely horrid. Not so much because it’s juvenile, uninspired, saccarine crap , which much of it is. Rather I find it boring. Most music is dull to me. Like there are tolerances most song writers won’t push past or violate. (I could probably explain it better if I knew more about musical theory or structure). So I end up listening to a lot of music that could be called experimental, extreme, or avant-garde.

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