Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Let me off at the bridge

I'll admit that one of the reasons I'd rather go to a small club or coffeehouse, is that there's more of a likelihood that the singer/songwriter will talk between songs - about themselves, about what the songs are about, about life and the world.

And in interviews with musicians, I have definitely asked the question, "How did you write that song?" and even the dreaded, and more general "How do you write songs?" But those questions are usually reserved for a moment in the interview when I've run out of more interesting questions like, "Where did you grow up?" and "Who gave you your first guitar?" and "What are you reading?"

So, it's with a bit of perverse curiousity that I've begun to read the new songwriters blog series in the New York Times called Measure for Measure which features, and will feature, the thoughts of Andrew Bird, Suzanne Vega, Roseanne Cash and Darrell Brown about the songs they write. It's a little like one of those "Building Your Dream House" shows on cable. There are only so many ways to hit a nail straight.

I'm afraid that while I sometimes crave to understand what a song means, I rarely, really want to know how it was built. That's a magical process, like making sausage and laws, which ought to remain in the realm of magic.

And it's not that these individuals are not good writers, and good songwriters, it's just that I'd prefer to hear the song than to understand how the couplets became coupled.

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