Two Earlier Posts, Reconsidered

I posted last year, about songwriters who use songwriting itself as an image in their songs.  I realise now, upon closer listening, that far too many of them of them are doing it, and it’s a very tired approach indeed.

Some further examples:

Peter Allen – Tenterfield Saddler
George Harrison – This Song
Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In the Dark
David Byrne and Brian Eno – Strange Overtones (“This groove is out of fashion / These beats are 20 years old”)
Three Dog Night – Just an Old Fashioned Love Song (written by Paul Williams!)

The earliest example I can think of is in Ira Gershwin’s showy lyric for I Can’t Get Started, first sung by Bob Hope in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936:

You’re so supreme,
Lyrics I write of you,
Scheme just for the sight of you …

I also listed some examples of male singers presenting a tune, and then repeating it up the octave.  I made a precise distinction, though, between sucky and awesome.  Some more (good) examples I missed:

Cat Stevens – Father to Son (How did I miss this one?  It’s practically Patient Zero)
U2 – With or Without You
Paul McCartney – Ballroom Dancing

Again, the pratice is not so special.  Sigh. 

I just heard it in the Jonas Brothers theme “Keep it Real”, and there it is quite clearly neither sucky nor awesome, but rather somewhere along the awesuck continuum.


2 thoughts on “Two Earlier Posts, Reconsidered

  1. Wings, ‘Silly Love Songs’

    I think it was the sf writer Thomas M Disch who observed that when the protagonist of a story started smoking too many cigarettes or reaching for the whiskey bottle, it was a sign that he (the author) was getting stuck and projecting what he was doing onto his character.

    Speaking of Paul Williams, and stuck writers, “The Rainbow Connection” almost counts, but only if you know the story about how he was stuck writing the lyric and his wife said “don’t worry, you’ll find the rainbow connection”

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