Joe Cocker was playing in the car this morning. “You Can Leave Your Hat On” came up – a fantastic song all around, but quite terrible for going into work. It got me thinking about what actually makes a great song and while most will say that true artistic endeavor is in the actual sound or rhythm, there was a time I used to think it had more to do with the lyrics, only to later realize that the lyrical aesthetic is very much amplified by the sound. In other words, a song with amazing lyrics will have an even greater effect if the sound of the music is also good. Um… well, yeah. This “news” hardly necessitates a blog post.
And yes, I did just spend an entire paragraph attempting to explain that we happen to like lyrics to music that sounds good to begin with, but there appears to be more to it than that because if it were that simple this would rule out all the bad music we also all happen to have a guilty preference for, along with instrumentals, and various forms in between.
Back to Joe Cocker. Before attempting any prolonged rant into musicology, I wanted a more narrow focus. Why do I like Joe Cocker? I pondered this all day (read: on and off while running to Starbucks for the umpteenth time), but before dissecting his music and tearing apart his chords and vocals in order to pinpoint the elements of his sound that I like best, I stopped. I couldn’t imagine that this would accomplish anything. I am not a music blogger, and while I have a great appreciation for its various forms, I think my entire point can pretty much be summed up in the first paragraph of this blog – no one component makes a song great, but rather it is all the sundry bits in different proportions. And if I want to sit here and devise lyrics, beat, instrumental and rhythm ratios, I probably won’t find any sort of usable pattern. So instead, on the way home tonight I won’t be counting pulses, but rather enjoying my Joe Cocker CD. And occasionally singing along.