squeezeldy, I think your comments relate to the thread when you ask,
" What is the ineffable atmosphere that causes the same song to be the high point of some performances and the kiss of death at others? Is this a separate thread?"
I admire all kinds of songs and find some work for some audiences and not at all for others. It's important to psych the audience out before presentation.
Sometimes that evaluation can be wrong. Setting up the song with explanations or presenting them in context with other songs with similar themes seems to help communication.
One of the things I look for is that a song doesn't have to have too many footnotes to explain it. But with folk music, it invariably seems to be needed.
This is one reason Mudcat is so very important. The background on the song is sometimes as significant as the song itself particularly with folk music. On Mudcat we can get this and this makes it an excellent resource.
"Over the Rainbow" is an song with a fetching melody which Pete Seeger tells us was almost buried by Harold Arlen's fast tempo. When Yip Harburg complained about it and wanted it tossed out, they called Ira Gershwin to mediate. He said that it was a good tune but it was being played too fast. Slow it down.
But "Over the Rainbow" isn't everyone's cup of tea, apparently. It's context in the Wizard of Oz certainly helped it gain popularity.
Why is it that some of you don't relate to "Over the Rainbow"?
How many songs are attached to the context of:
1. A performer's personality
2. A character in a musical or play
3. Its relevance in a topical sense
4. Production value (as in a dance recording)
5. Its value as an index into a culture (folk)
6. The amount of variants that it has (folk)
7. Its ability to re-create new meanings for future generations
I was told that a good song should have a good story. But there are some songs that seem to be general and yet appealing. How specific do you have to be?
How do you all feel about perfect rhymes? I see rhymes that have the same sounds but end with different consonants such as "time" and "line". Many folk songs use these "false rhymes". Some use "identities" such as "aisle" and "isle".
Also how do you feel about the use of emphasis on the wrong "syl-ah-ble"
such as rhyming "see" with "ener-gy"?