By Larry Whitler, Jan 1 2017 10:00AM
We live in an interesting world. It is made up of all kinds of people with all kinds of talents and skills making all kinds of contributions.
One tiny slice of the pie in this world is the slice of pie called music. It is a small slice but an ever present and important one. It is the slice of life that is made possible by musicians, singers, and songwriters.
Quite frequently we get caught up in numbers. I suppose it is our way as humans to gauge the value of something. Whether it is sports statistics, economic analysis, or the number of records sold by a recording artist, we like to cite those numbers to fortify our opinions that one athlete, one investment, or one recording artist is more valuable than another.
In recent years we have seen the advent of a proliferation of TV talent shows that pit one singer up against another singer. At the end of the viewing season we see the television networks hyping the grand finale which reveals the winner of the contest and the "best singer of them all."
Music is an art, not a sport. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that we try to measure musical talent the way we measure sports talent because we do live in a sports minded society. Somebody has to be the best and, by gosh, we're going to determine who that person is by having a contest.
There is only one winner and suddenly ten, twenty, maybe one hundred singers are left to feel inadequate and unqualified to pursue the gift of a singing voice. They may ignore the results of the contest and continue to pursue their dreams anyway or they may accept defeat and go on to live a life in insurance sales, fast food, or, as in the case of Harry Chapin's "Mister Tanner," work as a tailor.
But how often have you watched one of those talent shows and thought to yourself, "That is the perfect song" for that singer. Or the opposite, "That is not a very good song for this singer."
If you've ever thought either of those thoughts then you are subconsciously acknowledging the important role of the unseen and often unnamed participant in the contest: the songwriter.
Yes. The songwriter.
How important is the songwriter? Turn on a video of your favorite singer and turn down the volume. Hear that nothingness? That's what you would hear if there was no songwriter.
But, besides giving the singer a song to sing, is the songwriter important in the grand scheme of things? Does Diane Warren actually change the world with her incredible melodies? Does Carole Bayer Sager actually make a difference in society with her well crafted lyrics?
You bet they do. And that is what this book is about. It is about the composers and lyricists of yesterday and today and how they have affected all of us.
This is not a collection of biographies although biographical information will be included in order to tell the stories of the songwriters and their work. This is, instead, a look at the songs themselves. It is a study of the important role of the lyric as well as the important role of the melody and chord progressions.
As we look at the songwriters and their work in this book I will be making my case that the songs themselves have helped to shape the world we live in by influencing the way we think, the way we see each other, and the way we govern ourselves.
© 2017 Larry Whitler
“Only a truly great songwriter could write 'Marvelous Novelists.' The gentle way you sing this gem of a tune just makes me grin from ear to ear with giddy joy. Brilliant.”
- Sills & Smith, ReverbNation Artist (Mar 23, 2012)