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What's in a song?


Argus

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We had a discussion on this forum not very long ago about musical preferences. Actually, I think we've had a few such conversations. But it struck me the other day that one of the main differences between "classic" songs and what passes for music today - with some exceptions - is the quality of the lyrics and imagery they contain. Admittedly, I'm not as familiar with today's music and its lyrics as others might be, but I wonder if they contain the kinds of storyteller lyrics often present in music which becomes "classic".

Herewith, a few snippets from songs taken, not quite at random, but not with any great effort at a selection process.

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair

Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air

Up ahead in the distance, I saw shimmering light

My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim

I had to stop for the night - Hotel California

She wants to run out where the day meets the night

Far beyond these midwest farms

But she'll be with him till the day she finds

A stranger lying in her arms - End of the Day

See the market place

In old Algiers

Send me photographs and souvenirs

Just remember

When a dream appears

You belong to me - You Belong To Me

He says, son, can you play me a memory?

Im not really sure how it goes

But its sad and its sweet and I knew it complete

When I wore a younger mans clothes - Piano man

Oh, I've been to Niece and the isle of Greece

when I sipped champagne on a yacht

I moved like Harlow in Monte Carlo

and showed them what I've got

I've been undressed by kings

and I've seen some things that a woman ain't s'pose to see

I've been to paradise but I've never been to me.. - I've never been to me

To those of us who knew the pain

Of valentines that never came

And those whose names were never called

When choosing sides for basketball

It was long ago and far away

The world was younger than today

And dreams were all they gave for free

To ugly duckling girls like me - At Seventeen

We were born before the wind

Also younger than the sun

Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic

Hark, now hear the sailors cry

Smell the sea and feel the sky

Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic - Into the Mystic

The days they pass so quickly now

Nights are seldom long

And time around me whispers when its cold

The changes somehow frighten me

Still I have to smile

It turns me on to think of growing old

For though my lifes been good to me

Theres still so much to do

So many things my mind has never known

Id like to raise a family

Id like to sail away

And dance across the mountains on the moon - Poems, Prayers and Promises

Starry

starry night

portraits hung in empty halls

frameless heads on nameless walls

with eyes

that watch the world and can't forget.

Like the stranger that you've met

the ragged men in ragged clothes

the silver thorn of bloody rose

lie crushed and broken

on the virgin snow. Vincent

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Mexican Americans don't like to just get into gang fights,

they like flowers and music and white girls named Debbie too.

Mexican Americans are named Chata and Chella and Chima

and have a son in law named Jeff.

Mexican Americans don't like to get up early in the morning

but they have to so they do it real slow.

Mexican Americans love education so they go to night school

and they take Spanish and get a B.

Mexican Americans love their Nana's and their Nono's and their

Nena's and their Neno's........ Nano Nano Nena Nono!

Mexican Americans don't like to go to the movies where the

dude has to wear contact lenses to make his blue eyes brown

cause don't it make my brown eyes blue.....

Cheech: "And thats all i got, how do ya like it?"

Chong: "Uh...it's good!"

Cheech: "It's kinda like a protest song."

Chong: "I dig that...but you know, while you were singing that, I wrote another tune."

Cheech: "Oh yeah?"

Chong: "Yeah...it's like the same thing...only different. Do you wanna hear it?"

Cheech: "Yeah...sure....alright. (nods)"

Chong: "It's a little more rock-n-roll..."

Beaners. Beaners. Beaners.

Beaners. Beaners. Beaners.

Beaners. Beaners. Beaners.

Chong: "I gotta work a bit more on the lyrics."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Eiq8z4cxLo

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Oh, I've been to Niece and the isle of Greece

when I sipped champagne on a yacht

I moved like Harlow in Monte Carlo

and showed them what I've got

I've been undressed by kings

and I've seen some things that a woman ain't s'pose to see

I've been to paradise but I've never been to me.. - I've never been to me

For me this will always be the blanket song......you know, the 3rd song in the set where the performer brings out the blanket to dance on her back simulating masturbation.

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"I don't know where I'm comin' from,

but I just met a girl name of Dynamo Hum!" - Frank Zappa

One thing that seems to differ between modern indie rock and the classic rock we grew up on is a clear vocal that paints imagery. I get a lot of young 'screamo' metal customers and although I can admire much of the guitar playing, with the harmony leads from more than one guitar played like a machine gun with never a dropped note, I still can't truthfully say that I would ever actually listen to that genre on my own.

Without those vocal and images they seem to be simply generating primal angst. Great for getting concert audiences stirred up into slam dancing but still, when you think about it the songs are basically just instrumentals. Instrumentals rarely have lasting appeal, at least, not since the Ventures were popular! Who is going to still have today's screamo song on their playlist a couple of years from now?

This of course suits record labels just fine! The more trendy and disposable the product, the faster turnover and the more money they make. What's more, artists rarely develop the stature to negotiate their fair sized slice of the pie. So they get tossed aside in favour of some new (and just as short-lived) band or artist.

How many songs from this decade will last as long as so many of those from classic rock days?

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Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation,

Humble, and mounted on a donkey,

Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Absolutely

...
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"One for each other, and all for one

Three brave Amigos are we...

Brother to Brother and everyone,

A brave amigo.

Fighting for justice and liberty

where ever you find is where we will be

for the three brave amigos are we.

We are the three Amigos!

We are the three Amigos!

We are the three Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa...

... migos!"

This one popped into my head while reading a news article. So I couldn't resist adding to your bogus thread!

:lol:

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"One for each other, and all for one

Three brave Amigos are we...

Brother to Brother and everyone,

A brave amigo.

Fighting for justice and liberty

where ever you find is where we will be

for the three brave amigos are we.

We are the three Amigos!

We are the three Amigos!

We are the three Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa...

... migos!"

This one popped into my head while reading a news article. So I couldn't resist adding to your bogus thread!

:lol:

Bogus? Why bogus?

It IS 'Art and Culture", isn't it? Seems to me we're really commenting on differences between the culture of the 60's & 70's vs that of today. It has tie-ins with work attitudes, values, competencies with practical subjects and much more. It can help provide a benchmark of the baseline of practical knowledge between today and 40 years ago.

Can the average citizen today put a new plug on a lamp, or is changing the bulb the limit of his abilities? Is he more easily fooled by sizzle and unable to appreciate the taste of the steak?

Extrapolate long enough and you'll get a general sense of whether today's citizen is easier or harder to govern!

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It is bogus because it is based on selective memory, supported with anecdotal nonsense, and subject to subjective opinion.

We tend to remember the "classics" because they are so good and so they are still played and listened to. The crap, of course, has been expunged from our memories.

Any unknown "classics" from the very recent past are less likely to be known as "classics" for at least several more years if not decades.

Add to this generational differences, changes in music style, lack of knowledge about today's music (or, "Admittedly, I'm not as familiar with today's music and its lyrics as others might be") and, voila, we get a bogus thread.

Edited by msj
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It is bogus because it is based on selective memory, supported with anecdotal nonsense, and subject to subjective opinion.

We tend to remember the "classics" because they are so good and so they are still played and listened to. The crap, of course, has been expunged from our memories.

Any unknown "classics" from the very recent past are less likely to be known as "classics" for at least several more years if not decades.

Add to this generational differences, changes in music style, lack of knowledge about today's music (or, "Admittedly, I'm not as familiar with today's music and its lyrics as others might be") and, voila, we get a bogus thread.

Like most threads on this board, this one deals with opinion. Including yours!

I make my living from musicians. I run a business from my home building and repairing amplifiers. I talk to musicians from all genres every day. Perhaps I AM more familiar with music today and that of yesterday than you are!

That doesn't mean you have no right to your opinion. This thread isn't some mathematical formula where you can cite a link to some equation and consider yourself as having settled everything.

If you were more up on music you would see the obvious, that there are vast differences between popular music today and that of yesterday. Some of these differences stem from 'dumbed down' musicianship and songwriting. That can be indicative of many trends of today.

So far I find your opinion to be based on just a traditional generalization of attitudes between generations. It would help if you could give just a few specifics! Why not take some time and tune your radio to some of today's stations catering to the younger set?

I suspect that you and Sir Bandelot are not that deep into music and so you wouldn't see what we're talking about.

That doesn't make this thread bogus. Not meaning to be too personal but frankly, all that means is that you folks don't have an informed opinion.

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Music is still music. The big difference between now and when Pink Floyd was making classics is that there are so many bands and the internet to support them that you'll never get the same situation as Beatlemania...where 90% of the 'kids' are listening to the exact same band/group/singer. As well...many bands are lucky just to produce two LPs worth of music these days...very little of the old Rolling Stones 1-2 records per year for 10+ years. How can we possibly get to know them all by heart when next year they are forgotten by the industry? Another major factor is that radio often refuses to keep up with the times, prefering a format that has the classics rather than a whole pile of stuff folks have never heard before. It's a real uphill battle, in my opinion...being new and getting heard.

This Lily Allen song for example...good I think...but have you heard it before?

LDN Town

Or Santigold:

Etc...

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Tune my radio? That's so 1970's!

I listen to internet radio and MP3's.

This doesn't change my opinion that the high point of music is Beethoven and this doesn't prevent me from listening to Jose Padilla, Metallica, and Kate Perry if I want to be "dumbed down."

But that's the point - it is subjective opinion that has no way to be rooted in fact.

When someone calls person X a liar they can often back it up with clear examples of that person saying/doing one thing and then saying/doing another.

With this thread?

This thread is all about "in my day everything was better, the songs were more classic and had more imagery to them although I don't really listen to today's music blah blah blah...."

The important part is to replace the "blah blah blah" with the part about selective memory, bias, cognitive dissonance, and the fact that classics rarely are instant - they become classics over many years (classics also fade in and out of favour, too).

Which is not to say that there are no golden ages for this or that. They do happen.

It's just that we don't really have much objective insight into it until we're all dead and future generations get to decide what's worthy and what's not.

People are remembering great songs from the past, forgetting all the crap that was also played in the days of radio, and then comparing it to current music where 4 out of 5 songs are also crap (just like the good old days).

Then they get to pontificate about it and talk down to people to expand their horizons etc....

Sure, and pass me a joint, please, I have Beethoven's Op. 73 coming up in my play list and I need to expand my horizons while I listen to it.....

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Youd think that people would have had enought of silly love songs.

But I look around me and I see it isnt so.

Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs.

And whats wrong with that?

Id like to know, cause here I go again

I love you, I love you,

I love you, I love you,

I cant explain the feelings plain to me, say cant you see?

Ah, she gave me more, she gave it all to me

Now cant you see,

Whats wrong with that

I need to know, cause here I go again

I love you, I love you

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Okay, I stand corrected.

Apparently some people do have a memory for crappy songs.

I'm reminded of "Hey Jude."

I remember learning it on the piano and never really liking it (despite it being so easy).

Then, years later, I remember reading a story in the Globe and Mail where the writer picked the song apart as nothing more than complete garbage.

I never agreed more with a single piece of writing since that day.

Wish I had kept the article, though.

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Okay, I stand corrected.

Apparently some people do have a memory for crappy songs.

I'm reminded of "Hey Jude."

I remember learning it on the piano and never really liking it (despite it being so easy).

Then, years later, I remember reading a story in the Globe and Mail where the writer picked the song apart as nothing more than complete garbage.

I never agreed more with a single piece of writing since that day.

Wish I had kept the article, though.

Yet both 'Hey Jude' and 'Silly Love Songs' sold badrillions of copies...Sir Paul had a knack for the poppy money makers back in the day.

Edited by DogOnPorch
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Yet both 'Hey Jude' and 'Silly Love Songs' sold badrillions of copies...Sir Paul had a knack for the poppy money makers back in the day.

Paul still can't read a note of music - at least he puts it together in an original manner - where as "schooled" players just parrot the dead composers - unless you are a YO YO MA...who is a natural....I love love songs...and real music - whether is is hard driving metal - hip hop if it's good - and even opera - providing the singer is not a typewriter parrot kind of vocalist that sounds like a song bird with it's neck being wrung by elitist supporters - who think they are singing when they are funding.

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Yet both 'Hey Jude' and 'Silly Love Songs' sold badrillions of copies...Sir Paul had a knack for the poppy money makers back in the day.

So now the measuring stick is based on how much money has been made?

Hmmm, seems to go back to that subjectivity I mentioned before - looks like even the goal posts are subjective.... :rolleyes:

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... It's a real uphill battle, in my opinion...being new and getting heard.

This Lily Allen song for example...good I think...but have you heard it before?

LDN Town

Or Santigold:

Etc...

Sure...Lily Allen ("FEAR", "It's Not Fair") gets plenty of airplay in my market....as does Santigold. They are mainsteam compared to more obscure acts. Either way, I think changes in production and distribution make comparisons to yesteryear moot. Today it is more consumer pull than push. With internet radio applications, I can find and get much more variety spanning seven decades.

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So now the measuring stick is based on how much money has been made?

Hmmm, seems to go back to that subjectivity I mentioned before - looks like even the goal posts are subjective.... :rolleyes:

Well SOMEONE had to like it.

:lol:

Sure...Lily Allen ("FEAR", "It's Not Fair") gets plenty of airplay in my market....as does Santigold. They are mainsteam compared to more obscure acts. Either way, I think changes in production and distribution make comparisons to yesteryear moot. Today it is more consumer pull than push. With internet radio applications, I can find and get much more variety spanning seven decades.

That's good you're hearing more of those two in your market. We have CANCON which I'm sure get's in the way more than we'd like to admit. We (the wife n' I) have to go to the BBC or what-not to hear stuff like that in normal rotation. Local over-the-air stations in my area stick to the Def Leppard, etc. She calls them 'the white male rock stations'.

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That's good you're hearing more of those two in your market. We have CANCON which I'm sure get's in the way more than we'd like to admit. We (the wife n' I) have to go to the BBC or what-not to hear stuff like that in normal rotation. Local over-the-air stations in my area stick to the Def Leppard, etc. She calls them 'the white male rock stations'.

I'm just a dumb Yankee, and can't relate to CANCON or CRTC restrictions. Basically, I will hear something catchy like "Shut Up And Let Me Go" by The Ting Tings on analog/HD/internet radio and snag it on the next rotation to MP3. Or I will just search YouTube and rip the audio to MP3, as many acts promote in this way (e.g. Yea Yea Yeahs).

I can take HD radio to an old school Otari 5050 two track and fatten up the sound.

Believe it or not, I am waiting in great anticipation for the remastered Beatles albums. Wish it was on vinyl ! :lol:

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All I get to listen to is Mylie Cyrus and the Jonas Bros....oh yeah....and ABBA...

I don't wanna talk

About the things we've gone through

Though it's hurting me

Now it's history

I've played all my cards

And that's what you've done too

Nothing more to say

No more ace to play

The winner takes it all

The loser standing small

Beside the victory

That's her destiny

I was in your arms

Thinking I belonged there

I figured it made sense

Building me a fence

Building me a home

Thinking I'd be strong there

But I was a fool

Playing by the rules

The gods may throw a dice

Their minds as cold as ice

And someone way down here

Loses someone dear

The winner takes it all

The loser has to fall

It's simple and it's plain

Why should I complain.

But tell me does she kiss

Like I used to kiss you?

Does it feel the same

When she calls your name?

Somewhere deep inside

You must know I miss you

But what can I say

Rules must be obeyed

The judges will decide

The likes of me abide

Spectators of the show

Always staying low

The game is on again

A lover or a friend

A big thing or a small

The winner takes it all

I don't wanna talk

If it makes you feel sad

And I understand

You've come to shake my hand

I apologize

If it makes you feel bad

Seeing me so tense

No self-confidence

But you see

The winner takes it all

The winner takes it all...

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I'm just a dumb Yankee, and can't relate to CANCON or CRTC restrictions. Basically, I will hear something catchy like "Shut Up And Let Me Go" by The Ting Tings on analog/HD/internet radio and snag it on the next rotation to MP3. Or I will just search YouTube and rip the audio to MP3, as many acts promote in this way (e.g. Yea Yea Yeahs).

I can take HD radio to an old school Otari 5050 two track and fatten up the sound.

Believe it or not, I am waiting in great anticipation for the remastered Beatles albums. Wish it was on vinyl ! :lol:

The wife introduced me to the Ting Tings. Very catchy. I have to say the dance genre in general is doing quite well these days. It's the actual 'rock n' roll' that seems to be having the mid-life crisis.

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The wife introduced me to the Ting Tings. Very catchy. I have to say the dance genre in general is doing quite well these days. It's the actual 'rock n' roll' that seems to be having the mid-life crisis.

That's what happened with Disco as well....the rockers didn't know how to dance.....still don't. Plus they "hated gays". :lol:

Sometimes these acts think their "art" is more important than mere "entertainment".

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That's what happened with Disco as well....the rockers didn't know how to dance.....still don't. Plus they "hated gays". :lol:

Sometimes these acts think their "art" is more important than mere "entertainment".

Still don't dance - but if forced - I got the moves baby! We in the rock days did not have gays - just guys like Bowie pretending to be gay cause it was good for buisness...by the way where were the gays back then? Oh yah - having a bath - after bath after bath - seems they did not get out much..

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