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Great lyrics or great melodies?


Great lyrics or great melodies?  

44 members have voted

  1. 1. Great lyrics or great melodies - What would you prefer?

    • Great lyrics with mediocre melodies
    • Great melodies with mediocre lyrics


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This thread is just reminding me that the man is a genius.

It's more than that. It's not like pure poetry, or a simple iambic pentameter drilled into me thru 6 books of Virgil. It's Candy's Room - "what ... she ... wants ... is ... me." It's the River - "Now

This is Bruce .....I wouldn't have learned the lyrics if i didn't like the music ....But he wouldn't be Bruce without those incredible lyrics.

I voted and I’m interested in the results.

Assuming your post is talking about the writing of song, then by definition I judge by melody and musical structure.  A song with words (i.e. not “Paradise By The C”) is meant to be sung, not read, in my opinion.

On a related note I have come to notice the trend in reviews that “deeply written characters” is just a polite way of saying “songs with poor melody”...:)

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I did not vote in the poll. My standard is the 3 Ms - melody, meaning, and meter. The interplay of those is important, they all have to work together. Go back to The River album or the Darkness album, especially, and I think Bruce's use of meter to enhance those songs just stands out.

I think of Jackson Browne as another songwriter who has mastered all three, whereas Dan Fogelberg, who has written great lyrics and great tunes, has IMO not consistently married all 3. When he has, those are great songs.

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The mixture of both is fundamental. Anyway, considering that the music is focused on chords, tempo etc., I think the melody goes first, which introduces you to the lyrics. First I fell in love with Jungleland, then I read its lyrics. Although there are exceptions. Leonard Cohen's lyrics always meant more to me than his melodies.

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When I listen to a song for the first time I'm definitely more drawn to melodies

By way of example, I've always struggled to get into GOTJ - don't get me wrong its a fantastic album and the lyrics are superb, but I sometimes find the lack of melody taxing when I'm not in the right mood

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1 hour ago, Pregnant Sally said:

Same for most part but damn does he have some great and haunting melodies. 

 

No doubt, friend. As a Leonard fan since I heard "Everyboody knows" in my father's car and I was trapped by the atmosphere of the song, I can only prove you right. For example, I adore the way in which his dying voice and music intermingle in his post-album. There is no more to listen to "The Night of Santiago" (based on the poem of my dear Lorca "The Married Unfaithful" whom I name as good Spanish and lover of poetry).

 

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3 hours ago, JimCT said:

My standard is the 3 Ms - melody, meaning, and meter.

I know I'm going to show my lack of vocabulary, but had no idea what meter meant in this sentence. Google was my friend. 

But wouldn't meter and melody be the same thing?   

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As I think I've mentioned before, a guy who knows a thing or two about both music and lyrics once said:

Quote

"There have been many great songs which have had really appalling lyrics, but there have been no great songs which have had appalling music." —Peter Gabriel

And that's very much my general mindset. Sure, when you have both, that's the golden ring. But if you have to choose? Melody every time. It's why The Ghost of Tom Joad is a very good album with some brilliant stuff on, but isn't one of his Top 5 best albums, because (with the exception of the closing trifle) while it's got amazing lyrics on every single track, he too often forgot to write a melody to go along with those fantastic words. Meanwhile, I think Working on a Dream...well, it's probably not quite as good an album as Joad, but it's damn close, much closer than it seems like it should deserve, given the lyrical anemia of most of its songs, because its melodies are so damn sumptuous. 

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34 minutes ago, Jimmy James said:

I know I'm going to show my lack of vocabulary, but had no idea what meter meant in this sentence. Google was my friend. 

But wouldn't meter and melody be the same thing?   

No, meter would be more akin to rhythm, how the accents fall in the poetry. Think Shakespeare, or ancient latin such as Virgil or Cicero.

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Cannot vote because I think both Bruce's lyrics and melodies are brilliant and I cannot separate them.

What I would say is that Bruce's hooks and melodies are sometimes unfairly not given the credit they deserve. He is fantastic at almost making the music speak the story to his songs as well as the lyrics.

Melody is hugely important in great songwriting. Many people forget lyrics to songs....nobody forgets the melody.

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5 hours ago, JimCT said:

I think of Jackson Browne as another songwriter who has mastered all three, whereas Dan Fogelberg, who has written great lyrics and great tunes, has IMO not consistently married all 3. When he has, those are great songs.

I agree with your assessment of what’s important in a song, but as a huge, HUGE Fogelberg fan I disagree with you here Jim.   IMO he’s combined all 3 pretty much every time.  

As for the poll... I don’t think I can vote either.  

I do know there are many songs I absolutely love for the melody, even if the lyrics are silly (Yummy yummy yummy I’ve got love in my tummy...) or not particularly thought provoking, if they are fun, put me in a good mood,  and/or get me moving.  

Likewise, I can truly appreciate and get something out of a song for the lyrics (but probably won’t listen to it much), even if I’m not thrilled with the melody.  

11 minutes ago, MacBruce said:

Cannot vote because I think both Bruce's lyrics and melodies are brilliant and I cannot separate them.

What I would say is that Bruce's hooks and melodies are sometimes unfairly not given the credit they deserve. He is fantastic at almost making the music speak the story to his songs as well as the lyrics.

Melody is hugely important in great songwriting. Many people forget lyrics to songs....nobody forgets the melody.

Well said.  I feel the exact same way!  

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5 hours ago, Ibbhomero said:

The mixture of both is fundamental. Anyway, considering that the music is focused on chords, tempo etc., I think the melody goes first, which introduces you to the lyrics. First I fell in love with Jungleland, then I read its lyrics. Although there are exceptions. Leonard Cohen's lyrics always meant more to me than his melodies.

Hello :)

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1 hour ago, JimCT said:

No, meter would be more akin to rhythm, how the accents fall in the poetry. Think Shakespeare, or ancient latin such as Virgil or Cicero.

Too much thinking :lol:

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