Mudcat Café message #3991999 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #27630   Message #3991999
Posted By: keberoxu
12-May-19 - 04:50 PM
Thread Name: Help: Who sang 'What's it all about Alfie?'
Subject: RE: Help: Who sang 'What's it all about Alfie?'
Song lyrics, and the writing of lyrics
that are meant to be completed by music --

this is a specialty in a class by itself really.
The well-educated and informed, late lamented
Andre Previn remarked
that songwriters (lyrics inc.) are a law unto themselves.

A comparable dilemma existed -- when it was a viable form --
for the kind of verse that was intended, not only to be sung,
but to be dramatized onstage.
I refer to the versified 'libretto' for grand opera.

A couple of posts on this thread put down Hal David's lyric.
The Mudcatters/guests with those opinions
would probably be equally unimpressed
a libretto by Metastasio, da Ponte, Illica, and the rest.

As well as a few nineteenth-century authors
who published poetry and
fully intended that composers -- any and all composers --
should create folk-song-sounding Lieder out of their lyrics.
There are a bunch of those publishing in German in that era.

And yes, if you take the printed words
by themselves, straight off the page,
it is easy to dismiss and belittle what is there;
such lyrics
were always intended to be in a sense incomplete --
it is the music that completes the work.

Hal David's lyrics for "Alfie"
do not stand alone, nor are they meant to --
no more than Irving Berlin's lyrics
ought to be separated from Irving Berlin's music.
This is a special craft,
and not many appreciate how special it is.