Terry Sarten

Singer Songwriter

Where do songs go if nobody hears them?

As a songwriter I am always looking for song ideas. Where do songs come from? Where do they go if they never get finished? I have heaps of notebooks full of scribbled lyrical ghost that haunt the pages and homeless song titles that never found a place to live.
The ones that did work out often seem to happen suddenly and are written in a few hours while others start out with good intentions but fall into clichés or fall apart and are abandoned on the creative scrap heap.
Every now and then I get out the old notebooks to see if there are any gems amongst the dross. Sometimes there is a word, a sentence, a line worth recycling back into a new construction. Sometimes I read old lyrics and cringe with wonder at who I was at the time and what was I thinking writing such pretentious twaddle.
The there are the orphans – the lyrics born without a home, waiting to be adopted into a tune where they can live and thrive. There must be hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of these adrift on bits of paper around the world. If a song exists but nobody hears it does it still have a sound? If a song has a great tune but lousy lyrics should it just be called an instrumental pretending to be a song? If the lyrics are brilliant and the melody so ho-hum it cannot be hummed be considered a song.
There are some would argue that song lyrics are a form of poetry. If they are read out loud rather than sung this can work, although mostly they do not. Try reading Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone without reference to the snap of the snare and the rolling thunder of guitars then let me know if you think it qualifies as poetry, It is a great song, a classically sculpture hewn from sound and fury that is completely unlike anything that came before or after.
Still unconvinced - then read aloud the lyrics to the Beatles ‘Yesterday’ as if spoken by Hamlet and it is hard not to smile as it turns into something trite and banal. Without the falling chord cycle, it loses all its magic.
I could write a song about all this and maybe I will but right now it is time to post this to my website and wait on the responses.

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