WRITING THE "TRUTH"

THE TRUTH


Since we've kind of swerved into a subject here, and I need a new blog post, I thought I would post one of my long one's on a subject that can address a lot these other posts. Writing the truth.


The past few pages all can touch on this. From Matt H's observations on why it is so hard for him to focus on what he wants to and the desire of so many to "write for the cut or the hit," Matt C's list of songs and artists he really admires, my own mention of Sir Mac, the efforts Dana mentions about how hard it is now and how "on our own" we all are, John Westwood's overseas observations down to mine and Ott's musings, Ott on the "Pants on the Ground" phenomenon, to mine on the horrid state of American Idol contestants, and the overall decline in talent and perspective of today's writers.


It all relates to "Getting at the Truth." Everytime I have to sit down with some 12-16 year old singer, like one in Canada week before last, and hear them talk about how rough things are, how difficult life is, how their relationships from "so long ago" just didn't work out, I want to laugh out loud.
And that is the inherent problem with young people. They emulate what other people say and the "been there, done that" factor that most listeners have, takes over. That is why it is so imperetive to "say the same thing, only differently." And they don't have the experience to do that.


"Older writers" (anyone over 30) lose contact with the language. Their truth may be more universal, but they don't know how to say in the language of the young or make it relatable to current situations. The "What do you know about it old man?" attitude takes over. Which frustrates those of us who are actually trying to integrate with the industry in some form or fashion, as there is nothing more hard headed than a teen ager, but we HAVE to write or work with those teen agers, to really stand a chance of getting what we want out there.


Younger artists have a problem with it because frankly they don't know it. Their truth is only theirs, and usually doesn't filter down to others.


The current "TSUNAMI of MEDIOCRITY" that we are experiencing are symptoms to that. Writers and artists simply write what other people are already doing, sounds the same, feels the same, covering the same ground, which leads to the difficulty of "cream rising to the top" or building a "REAL" fan base for singers outside their families or friends, which lead to the "artificial friends" on Facebook and other places, and therefore, the main listeners find nothing they can relate to in most writers and artists. So downloading and "free music" ensues, most of which is because it is simply artifical and same old same old."


It's the "Circle of bad life!"


So what do we do? Write the TRUTH.


Look for things around us. Things we actually live. Writing what WE KNOW.


But, there is a trick to this as well. You have to write what you know but also that OTHER people care about.


That is why I always will ask the "WHY" question, when starting to write with someone. WHY are we writing this song? WHY is it meaning something to you? WHY should other people care about it?


This is the most important question you can ask. And one everyone needs to ask themselves and their co-writers, artists, etc. WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?


That doesn't mean that every song has to be "About something hefty!" It doesn't. There is far too many songs about "SOMETHING." Most of the time they are issue oriented or "Can't You See How Serious I take myself" songs.


That is not what I mean either.


In the immortal words of my mentor, SIR JAMES BEAU Of HINSON, We are trying to "TAG, TOUCH, or TICKLE," in writing.


"TAG". To get someone's attention. This can be with different subject matter. This can be about something we didn't see coming. Twist's on the tale, Rope of hope" different rhymes and lines. Grabbing people every time it's heard.


"2 Point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu" in Live like you Were Dying."


"TUG". Pulling the heartstrings. Starting relationships, ending relationships, different kinds or relationships, but whenever someone hears it there is the "AWWW factor." Getting sympathy.
"You Should have Seen it in color." By Jamie Johnson.


"TICKLE." Making them laugh, party, dance, ROCK!!" When people want to blow off steam. "Tonight I'm Looking for a PARTY CROWD!!!!!" When someone hears that, you just want to party, have a good time, forget about all that crap that goes on.


If you search through Matt's list a page back, most of your own favorites, and my own mention, "It's My Job" by Mac McAnalley, I am willing to bet every one of them have some of these if not all of these features.


In "It's My Job", it makes a very simple statement. That everyone has a job to do and to be happy and satisfied in that is truly one of the best things you can experience in life. It makes you look at yourself and think, "you know, things are not so bad, there is always someone better and worse than me. I should concentrate on that."


Very simple. And most of the great songs are just that. Simple.


In Matt's list many of the newer writers, some I know, and some I don't, I would be willing to bet you that they are influenced by Mac. Someone asked if Mac was influenced by James Taylor. Of course. Mac came along in the 80's. James was a decade ahead of him in the 70's. Mac was influenced by him, Carol King, Jim Croce, those singer/songwriters of the late 60's and 70's. I was too.


And then I was influenced by Mac as well. I have a lot of connections to him. When I started to really think about music, he was on the FM radio at night. They had open formats and played a lot of music all the time. Mac was known mostly around the South because he was from the Muscle Shoals area about an hour up the road from me in Birmingham. But not many people knew about him. In the late 80's, he began a partnership with Jimmy Buffet, started getting a ton of cuts, and became a worldwide legend.
I actually opened a show for him in 1986. He didn't see me, but I saw him and was mesmerized. And that song always meant a lot to me.


The more I deal with songs and songwriters, the more something like that stands out. And that is where a lot of my desire to pass that along comes from.


The hardest thing to do is "Say the same thing, yet different." But that does it.


As we have discussed, I tend to avoid negativity in any way shape and form in songwriting. The reason is that most negativity is highly redundant. No one needs to be told how bad the economy is. How bad it feels to lose or not be able to get jobs, to lose a relationship, having too much month at the end of the money, etc. People already know that.


So when someone puts something out there as simple as "It's my Job," and making you look at your own status, it is something we didn't see quite as clearly before.


That's what I like about Mac and what I like about the writers and artists who do something different. That's what I like about writing the truth. Always something that is around everyone and always a challenge to say differently.


The truth. That is what you should be writing. Put it out there. Make it interesting. Then make it where other people care about it.


Do that and everything else will take care of itself.


MAB

And THIS would be THE SONG I wish I would have written and the standard I would hold myself up to:


The writer:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4LaCPf9GiA


Or recorded by some amatuer.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d2wCIRTsxQ


Leave a comment

Add comment