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Should songs make sense?

Thomas the Rhymer 25 Sep 03 - 07:39 PM
GUEST 25 Sep 03 - 07:42 PM
Uncle_DaveO 25 Sep 03 - 07:48 PM
JennieG 25 Sep 03 - 07:55 PM
GUEST,pdq 25 Sep 03 - 08:03 PM
GUEST,pdq 25 Sep 03 - 08:15 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Sep 03 - 08:23 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 25 Sep 03 - 11:22 PM
LadyJean 26 Sep 03 - 12:16 AM
Nevada 26 Sep 03 - 04:02 AM
GUEST,weerover 26 Sep 03 - 04:41 AM
GUEST,Dylan_fan 26 Sep 03 - 06:07 AM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Sep 03 - 06:12 AM
tuggy mac 26 Sep 03 - 06:25 AM
Hamish 26 Sep 03 - 06:41 AM
Steve Hunt 26 Sep 03 - 06:44 AM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Sep 03 - 06:54 AM
Steve Parkes 26 Sep 03 - 06:55 AM
Steve Parkes 26 Sep 03 - 06:57 AM
tuggy mac 26 Sep 03 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,pdq 26 Sep 03 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,MMario 26 Sep 03 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Mr. Sensable 26 Sep 03 - 02:52 PM
Uncle_DaveO 26 Sep 03 - 05:26 PM
Herga Kitty 26 Sep 03 - 05:46 PM
tuggy mac 26 Sep 03 - 06:24 PM
GUEST,pdq 26 Sep 03 - 06:38 PM
tuggy mac 26 Sep 03 - 07:07 PM
The Fooles Troupe 26 Sep 03 - 07:48 PM
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Subject: Should songs make sense?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 07:39 PM

Spanning the years, from nonsense rhymes to ambiguous disclosures of hard found wisdom... riddles and zen koans... obscure meanings that have a universal "ring"... and just plain goofy garnishing...

So... though we inevitably and always try to find meaning in words and art, music and metaphore...

Do songs really need to ultimately make sense unto themselves? Contextually speaking, sure... History books will need to be written... But is the intent of a song always absolute clarity?... or inevetably catharsis and general healing and knowledge?

ttr


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 07:42 PM

I think Mr Hislop will give me the usual tenner for that quote.


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 07:48 PM

Whenever you talk about "always" in terms of human endeavors, the answer is likely to be a resounding "NO!". And so with this question: No, songs don't "always" have to make sense.

Indeed, not infrequently the point of a song is in its nonsensicality (if there is such a word).

In my own case, I predominantly sing story songs, and of course in order for a song to tell a story it has to make sense, at least to a degree. For a singer who likes "Ooop, Ooop, shoobee dabbah" sort of thing, it's a different matter altogether.

"Whatever floats yer boat," as some great genius once said.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: JennieG
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 07:55 PM

At times life doesn't make much sense does it......so it's all right for songs too!
Cheers
JennieG


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: GUEST,pdq
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 08:03 PM

I thought "Zen" Cones walked around Greenwich Village muttering poetry.


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: GUEST,pdq
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 08:15 PM

On a more serious note, try this link:

                  mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=29647#375885

It has several good examples.


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 08:23 PM

Stories told orally should have space in them for the listener to make them personal, and that's even more true when they are sung stories. The power of the old ballads lies in the way they cut out so much of the detail a novelist would put in, and in the way they leave room in the story, things unexplained.

The same is true in, for example, Bob Dylan's Tangled up in Blue, or Townes Van Zandt's Pancho and Lefty.


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 11:22 PM

Righto M of H!

I think you got the gist of my gander... It seems to me that the 'open spaces' leaves interpretation to the listener, and as always, we change our outlook from day to day... I find that the litmus test of repeated listening generally sustains me with less specificity, and more images... and I like to be able to listen to a song more than... say... ten times... and have different impressions come to me regularly.

My reason for starting this thread is that as a 'songwriter' listener, I find that the more spelled out the meanings, the more I find myself being 'led', or preached to... and these are not my favorite things. But then again, I love a vivid metaphor enclosed within an interesting riddle...

Also, I find that alot of the ballads I like are rather 'open ended', in that the judgemental point of view is somewhat absent...

However, the disconnected 'muttering', mentionned above, is a far cry from the allegorical succintity of a good ballad... don'tchathink?

Cheerio! ttr


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: LadyJean
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 12:16 AM

Visiting Cornwall, I was pleased to discover that the next stop after Penzance is Hail. (I think it was spelled that way.) But I didn't see a snail drive a nail there.
Boop boop diddum daddum waddum choo!


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: Nevada
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 04:02 AM

Hi Everyone.
I belive that all songs make sense, if only to the people who originally wrote them & no-one else. Just because one person cant make sense of a song, that doesnt make it a load of rubbish. Someone somewhere knows what its about.


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: GUEST,weerover
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 04:41 AM

I used to think that songs should make sense and be both logical and grammatical but came to appreciate that poetry (of which song is merely a musical version) can work better when it is not constrained by rules.

A number of my favourite songs jump from first person to third person and back again for no apparent reason and are none the worse for it.

I do not think it would be well received if after a fine rendition of "Carrickfergus" some pedant were to say "Surely it should be 'I wish I WERE...'?"

wr


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: GUEST,Dylan_fan
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 06:07 AM

One thing I have always loved about Bob Dylan's songs is the way he describes things so that they can interpreted in so many different ways, some of them quite nonsensical. But there is always a meaning behind it somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 06:12 AM

A fine ambiguity is a key element in the power of some songs. This includes unresolved mondegreens. In Carrickfergus I never know whether it's "Carry me over my love and I" or Carry me over my love and die". Or both.


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: tuggy mac
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 06:25 AM

to thomas the poet,

You totally lost me man, i thought i was going dislexikkkkkkk


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: Hamish
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 06:41 AM

Ah, yes. And no. Sometimes.

However I have a problem with narrative songs which don't make sense. For instance: There's (at least) a couple of version of The Blue (/White) Cockade going around. One has the young ploughboy being pressed into the army and leaving swearing he'll be back and marry the girl and the girl says basically that she hates him. Which doesn't make any sense to me. The other version has her saying she hates the chap who got him to sign up which does make sense.

btw Kate Rusby does a version on her new album. It's essentially the version which makes sense. So Well Done, Kate!


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: Steve Hunt
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 06:44 AM

Lady Jean wrote: "Visiting Cornwall, I was pleased to discover that the next stop after Penzance is Hail. (I think it was spelled that way.)

A pedant in Cornwall replies: Hi Jean. It's actually spelt "Hayle."
Sadly, I can neither confirm or deny reports of nail hammering snails.

All the best.


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 06:54 AM

"...the young ploughboy being pressed into the army and leaving swearing he'll be back and marry the girl and the girl says basically that she hates him..."

More generally the song has him as having volunteered - in which case, whatever he says about marrying her when (if) he comes back, it's pretty likely the girl would say she hated him. Who'd blame her?

True enough, you get different variants filling in bits of a story in different ways, and then combining again in ways that mean there are inconsistences. So someone amends it to sort them out, and the story changes again.

Songs have an existence rather like atomic particles are supposed - there's a sort of cloud of possibilities, and you can't pin them down exactly.


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 06:55 AM

It's only language that allows us to make nonsense -- nonsense can't happen in "real" things. For instance, consider these two sentences:

The following statement is true.
The previous statement is false.

Okay, that's enough considering. In life, a cloud can be black or white, but black can't be white nor white be black, however much a politician might persuade us otherwise. And we can believe things that are patently untrue -- to others, and sometimes even to ourselves. What a wonderful thing is the Mind! I first mistyped "to others" as "to otters"; which would have been in the spirit of this thread, wouldn't it? "Do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you" is a fine motto!

Speaking of small furry creatures ... Weerover, you used a Weasel Word! Poetry (of which song is merely a musical version) ... Take out "merely" and you have a competely different emphasis; regardless of the strictly semantic meaning of that line, which doesn't change much with or without the WW, the -- how shall I put it? -- qualitative sense depends very much on it. In a similar vein, (and though I don't make a practice of making insulting remarks about people's names, I hope you'll forgive me this once) wee-rover has a completely different meaning if you sneak in the hyphen one letter further over. Perhaps i'd better go and wash my brain out with soap ...

Steve


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 06:57 AM

Kevin, I wonder if Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is the reason I so often find myself saying "I'm not sure what the next line is"? It would explain a ot!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: tuggy mac
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 12:19 PM

DOO WAH DIDDIE, DIDDIE DUM DIDDIE DOO? sPEAKS FOR ITSELF MATEY!


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: GUEST,pdq
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 01:39 PM

Don McLean's American Pie makes perfect sense to me. I know people who were at Altamont and origionally planned to go. However, I doubt that anyone else's interpretation is exactly the same as mine. Some are completely different.

tuggy mac, "Doo Wah Diddie" comes from a song by blues singer Blind Blake, circa 1930.


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 01:43 PM

well - songs should reflect the world as it exists (or as it existed at the time of the songs composition)- and the world doesn't often make sense - so why should the songs?


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: GUEST,Mr. Sensable
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 02:52 PM

Sensations of semantics serrate serenity succinctly
Supposing sacrilege sactifies systems of somber stratification

Mr.S.


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 05:26 PM

GUEST Weerover said, in part:

A number of my favourite songs jump from first person to third person and back again for no apparent reason and are none the worse for it.

The unannounced and unremarked jump from one speaker/viewpoint to another is an extremely common thing, almost a hallmark of the old traditional ballads.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 05:46 PM

Thanks Steve H - I was thinking, "Hayle, surely"...

Have you ever tried mailing your son backwards?

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: tuggy mac
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 06:24 PM

reply to guest pdp. not from the manfreds,or manrfed mans there she goes justa walking down the street singing do wah diddie ,,didie dum diddie doo!


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: GUEST,pdq
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 06:38 PM

tuggy mac: Sorry, but the phrase is from the acoustic guitar great and blues singer Blind Blake. Not the whole song, just the phrase. If it helps, one of Manfred Mann's songs "Fox On The Run" is now a Bluegrass standard. More "folk process".


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: tuggy mac
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 07:07 PM

i stand corrected!

Cheers matey!


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Subject: RE: Should songs make sense?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 07:48 PM

Access All Areas ----> 'I believe that all songs make sense, if only to the people who originally wrote them & no-one else.'

And the same can be said about computer programs. Called "Write Once, Read Never". Hence Microsoft Software. Called B.A.D. S/W. (Broken As Designed.)!!!

But then what should you expect from a company that hired programmers who painted the walls and windows of their offices black, smashed the light bulbs, put sand on the floor, and worked non-stop for days at a time without food or sleep? :-)

At least nonsense songs/poetry have some Artistic use...

Robin


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