Writing about music


May 22, 2011 by jessperriam

I’m a sucker for a good writing challenge. Especially when issued personally via Twitter.  Steph threw down this particular gauntlet:

‘Writing about music is like trying to dance about architecture.’ Challenge: write 400 words about ur current fave song.

Writing about music is kind of like trying to dance about architecture. Except I’m rubbish at dancing and I know nothing about architecture apart from what I think is aesthetically pleasing. I understand the quote – it’s talking about trying to review an apple using an orange; trying to review a piece from one artistic discipline by employing another.

But writing is primary what I ‘do’. Yeah, I used inverted commas there. And most popular music uses words and writing to enhance their music. So while I’d be inept at writing about classical music or jazz other than saying, “this music makes me feel like *insert emotion here*”; I think I could have a crack at writing about lyrical music.

The part of the challenge that involves my current favourite song?

My problem is that my favourite song changes like the wind. But this week’s favourite song is I’ve Got This Friend by The Civil Wars. It’s not going to top the charts, it’ll probably be replaced by a new favourite song in the next week or so, but right now I’m playing it a lot.

Why is it my favourite song? It’s a simple song musically. A flute (on the album, not on the linked video), a guitar and two voices. I like to be able to identify the instruments I can hear in a song (it makes me feel smart, I get all angsty when I can’t discern a clarinet from an oboe… or a computer from a synth).

It’s not brash, it’s not bold. It starts with a whisper of flute rather than drums or a guitar riff. It’s a  male / female duet but not in an Elton John / Kiki Dee kind of way (but weren’t those overalls awesome?!). Their voices harmonise and mingle perfectly, yet stand alone really well through the solo bits.

The song doesn’t have a complex structure. It’s just verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. No surprises, very comforting.

Ok, onto the lyrics. I’m a sucker for lyrics with a story, even moreso if I can empathise with them.

I’ve Got This Friend is basically a sweet little song about two people wanting to set their friends up and how sad it would be if their paths never crossed.  Just in a really cute folksy way. Lyrically, it’s my favourite song because:

a) I’m a sentimental softie. I just think it’s cute.

b) We can all relate to it. We’ve either been the people singing the song or we are the people being sung about. Or both.

Challenge completed!


One thought on “Writing about music

  1. Excellent! Bravo! (I love this song too; its syncopation gives it a playful vibe, kinda like the flute and guitar are playing hide-and-seek? Anyway. Haha.)

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