Topic: Infuential Songs
Jets60's "Sowing Creativity" and Peatle's "A Little Faith" posts had some lively discussions about different approaches to song writing, or as my father used to say "There's more than one way to skin a cat". I think most of us were influenced at one time or another by a song or two that we set as the "target" or "goal" that we would like to reach as song writers.
At the first songwriter's clinic I ever attended, the moderator told the group that he wanted each of us to write a song about someone who was shunned and often ridiculed because of a handicap they had and then used that handicap to achieve something wonderful that completely changed the minds of those who had previously derided her/him. The caveat was that the story had to rhyme and it could only be 8 lines long. We all looked at each other in disbelief until he laughed and told us not to worry, it had already been done and the song was named "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer". From that moment on, I began to look at songs more critically and try to break them down and understand what made them popular.
I look at songs from two different viewpoints - songs that tell stories that affect me emotionally and songs that are technically excellent. Darrell Scott's "Never Leave Harlan Alive" is a fine example of Appalachian storytelling and also appeals to me because it's a song about south eastern Kentucky where the roots of my father's family lie. For me it is the embodiment of what a country/folk song should be.
But the song I consider to be the best technically written song is "My Girl", written by Smokey Robinson and Ron White, and recorded by the Temptations. When you hear the bass line in the first two measures, there's no doubt what song is being played. There is no doubt that it is a love song but the word love isn't mentioned one time. The longest verse only has 20 words, the chorus just 21. Before the song has ended you already have the chorus memorized and also the song title. The song can be sung by a group or just solo. The accompanying music can be played by a full orchestra with strings or just simply on an acoustic guitar. From my viewpoint, it's one of the best songs ever written.
I'm curious what songs some of you other writers use as a "gauge" to measure your songs against.