The Music Man
by Cait Collins
When someone says, “I’m a writer,” what is your immediate response? Perhaps you ask, “What do you write?” Meaning do you write poetry, science fiction, romance? But what if someone said, “I write songs?”
Song writers, or lyricists, are prolific writers. They pen some of the most beautiful works.
I can’t imagine not having musicals like Carousel. Camelot, Evita, Phantom of the Opera, Cats. And what about the songs of Neil Diamond, Enya, Gordon Lightfoot, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Simon and Garfunkel, and Taylor Swift.
Song writers are story tellers. Their works employ some of the same structure as a novelist or screenwriter would use. Think about it. A vocal piece has a beginning, middle, and an end. For example listen to a good old somebody -done –somebody-wrong song. It goes something like this. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, but along comes Mr. Heartbreak and the relationship starts to fall apart. Boy decides he loves the girl enough to let her go. Heartbroken, he watches her marry the other guy. In a three and a half minute song, you have a romantic story of love and loss.
Good song writing contains vivid images, scents, tastes, and touches. The Canadian Railroad Trilogy written by Gordon Lightfoot begins with images of majestic mountains, virgin forests, and builds to the laddies swinging hammers, and the first trains making their way across the country. Close your eyes when listening to a favorite song and “see” the words. View it like a movie short, and you will soon realize the enormous talent and craftsmanship of the writer.
Grizabella remembers a time knowing happiness in Memory from Cats. The Fiddler languishes If I Were a Rich Man. Evita begs Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. And the Phantom composes The Music of the Night. And we all remember the words. We sing or hum along with the singers remembering our own experiences and emotions. Long after the stage lights dim, we remember how lyrics touch us. The songs become a part of us. A tear slips down a cheek, or a smile softens features when we hear the opening notes of a beloved song. And the song writer takes his place among the select who call themselves “writers”.