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If you could commission a musician…

August 28, 2009

From the blessedly simple lyrics of Peggy Sue to Miley Cyrus shaking all she’s got  in front of a similarly fanatic group of young women (unbunch your panties, Holly lovers, I’ve got a point), pop has proven its staying power. Whether your once rebelliouse Elvis is now laughed at as pedestrian by “real” rockers or you’re spending your last particle of energy defending Avril Lavigne’s place as a real musician, you probably know that deep down, pop is king and what really matters in the record business is the bank.

While I am completely guilty of rocking out to Katy Perry when no one’s watching (tell anyone and I’ll deny it till I die), I like my rock a little bit wordier. Yes, wordier. Now, I like a good instrumental as much as the next gal and recently got into a heated debate with a guy who wanted to know why girls liked Dave Matthews because, you know “chicks don’t ‘get’ progressive rock”. Ok, while I won’t go there, right now (with an aside to say that this chick totally digs ELP) my point was mostly that I like music regardless of words.

That said, I live on words. I love watching public speakers; I love comedy shows; and suffice it to say, we are all here because I owe my life to dear, sweet Gutenberg and his trusty press. What I often forget is that many of my favorite writers have or have nothing to do with the spoken or written word. We are, or at least I am, often so swept away by the melodies and rifts of the tunes we’re enjoying that the lyrics take a back seat. We forget that some of the best writing is, in fact, sung.jimi-hendrix

While I won’t sit here writing out the words to Peace Frog, One Tin Soldier, All Along the Watchtower, The Wind Cries Mary or Two Step, I have come to the conclusion that I would be the first in line to read a novel written by Jim, Joan, Bob, Jimi, or Dave. Would I ultimately be so head over heels in love with the poetry if it wasn’t first accompanied by some of the most righteous rifts in rock history? Maybe, but I think it would take me longer to find the books so far from the Billboard charts.

If you could commission a musician to write a book for you, whose prose would you pick? Would you stick with the simple, albeit romantics of the early fifties? Would it be something for the beach by Miley or Brittany? Would you go Kerouac and Kesey with Hendrix or Morrison? Remember, they won’t be using their melodies to serenade you so you can forget those tricky fingers. Alright, now, go. Show me what you’ve got. Come on baby, light my fire.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2009 6:37 pm

    I would probably go with Bob Dylan. Even though I was always in love with Jimi Hendrix….

  2. Lynn permalink
    August 28, 2009 7:12 pm

    Ha, I just thought “I better rush so I can be first to say “Bob Dylan”!”. But I still got beat. 🙂

  3. August 29, 2009 11:32 am

    Interesting, I stumbled upon your blog because of the reference to Dave Matthews Band, but it turns out you’re a bibliophile and writer, too.

    I’ll be the first to say I agree with you about Dave. You mention “Two Step”, but DMB’s cover of another song you mention, Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”, would be another factor in my choice. Dave might not have written the lyrics, but anyone who can interpret them the way he does knows something about the power of words. And Dave’s own lyric-writing chops are evident in so many of DMB songs and in Dave’s solo work. “#41” and “Gravedigger” are just two examples. (That’s not to say he doesn’t fall on his face sometimes – as all writers do. He’s had a few song lyrics that made me think ‘Dave, Dave, what were you thinking??’). But overall, I think he has a talent for using simple language to convey complex meaning. I’d buy a book written by him in an instant.

  4. August 29, 2009 11:46 am

    Speaking of DMB:

    Youve got your ball
    Youve got your chain
    Tied to me tight tie me up again
    Who’s got their claws
    In you my friend
    Into your heart Ill beat again

    or anything by Stevie Nicks –

    Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
    Can I handle the seasons of my life?

  5. September 4, 2009 8:03 am

    To be honest, most lyrics don’t work as being something separate. For example, I love R.E.M. but I wouldn’t want to read or listen to their lyrics without the music. Also, speaking of Hendrix if you read his lyrics, honestly they aren’t that great but combined with music and they become a vital part, imagine Hey Joe without the lyrics.

    With that in mind, what artists would I commission. Hmm, well probably the obvious one Bob Dylan. I’d have Tom Waits as well and maybe Neil Young.

  6. September 14, 2009 4:42 pm

    Wow. That’s really a hard one. Maybe Jeff Buckley? *sigh* So many good ones… Who would YOU pick?

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