I write this the day after Martin Luther King Jr Day in the US. Yesterday I watched a brilliant documentary on Nina Simone. It included a song I consider iconic. It is “Strange Fruit” about lynching in the United States. I first heard the song as part of a musical history of the blues in a stage show called “Ain’t Nothing But the Blues.” It stuck like glue with me.
Another song that stays with me is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Years ago I saw Meika Pauley in person. She dissected this iconic song verse by verse and forever changed it in my mind.
This past year I saw Aldous Harding do Rob Orbison’s “Crying.” It was a slow dripping rendition that still clings to my heart.
Songs are living creatures. When you as a songwriter make them they take a life of their own. They can be wild creatures. A single song can change your set and your life. I remember at one time hearing “The song stands out.” If it is meant to do great things it will. This stands true whether it is done as an individual songwriter, a songwriter for hire, or a member of a band. The song has a voice that will speak to the audience…if it’s the right song. Be aware of the voice you create and know that the song may not always be yours.