Driving to work one night I kept scanning the radio stations trying to find something worthwhile. The AM side of my radio has gone kaput so I don’t get to listen to the talk shows like I used to. The one FM station has sports talk during the drive so I usually end up listening to music. Taking Care Of Business by Bachman-Turner Overdrive came on and I started thinking about this song a few others that I really don’t enjoy.
I love basically three kinds of music. Classical, pop/rock, country. This includes pop from the fifties on. I’ll take a little jazz if I’m in the mood. Heavy metal is not my cup of tea and rap/hip-hop is not music in my opinion. Recently I’ve started listening to Top 40 again just to see if there’s anything decent. But just like my era of the late seventies, eighties and early nineties, there are some good, some average and some crap I don’t understand.
What came to mind was the concept of writing a novel and needing to add scenes to flesh out a chapter or even the entire novel. I’ve done this and I think most writers do. The key is to mesh the additional scenes without having them seem like filler. You know, just stuff to put in before the good stuff. I’ve added filler, but I hope I have done a good enough job of incorporating it so that the story still flows.
So when BTO came on I started thinking about music and how when an artist gets a hold of a catchy tune, phrase, or musical chorus, I sometimes think that is all they really want to sing. Three minutes of the cool chorus or line or phrase or musical repetition. I think this makes the song irritating.
I like listening to the poets of the music world who know how to write. (Now I know that writers and singers are usually not the same person, but work with me here). I like the way certain songs rhyme and flow. Mac Davis’ Lubbock In My Rearview Mirror. Don McLean’s American Pie.
What I don’t like are songs that seem like the writers threw in verses because there had to be something before the chorus. Taking Care Of Business. Those four words ARE the song. The rest is filler. Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen is another. I’m sorry, but I have trouble with Bruce in the first place. Who told him he could sing? I’ve seen singers on American Idol who get blasted for singing like they have a sore throat on their way to laryngitis. Ditto with Bruce’s Born In the USA. The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy is another. Chicago’s Does Anybody Know What Time It Is. Really? It’s four segments of drawn out lines, then the chorus. George Harrison’s I’ve Got My Mind Set On You. BTO’s Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet may top the list.
I may be stomping on sacred ground for some people, but I don’t think these are good songs. They irritate me because there’s nothing substantive to them. The musicians just seem to enjoy singing the chorus over and over. I’m not saying the artists are bad. I like Bruce’s Dancing in the Dark (see, I’m not totally against him, only when it seems he waited until he went hoarse before stepping up to the microphone) and pretty much anything else by Chicago. George should have given up after the Beatles broke up but some people like him. BTO? Sorry, can’t say I’m into any of their stuff, but others are.
Some books are like this. Action at the beginning, maybe with the body being discovered but unless there is something to hold the reader until the next big action scene, there could be lots of filler.
Maybe it’s me. Maybe I have the modern era symptom of always needing to be stimulated. Distracted easily if something doesn’t keep my attention. Bored easily. I don’t think I’m completely like that. I don’t mind sitting and doing nothing for long periods of time. (I mean, what else do you think I do at work? Actually work? Lol)
I read books and listen to music for enjoyment. I sometimes listen to NPR when an artist and his/her ‘music’ are featured. The interviews are about the deep meaning behind the music and the words and the struggles the artist endured. The message the songs are supposed to convey. Ack! Give me a love song or a simple ballad but don’t give me Fast Car by Tracy Chapman or My Name Is Luka by Suzanne Vega. (And I’m not dissing the subject of domestic abuse, so don’t send nasty emails).
But books and music, to be entertaining must also provide substance. Good stuff. Not just filler.
Are there any songs/books that bother you in this way? (And don’t include my books or you’ll make me cry.)