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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Songbob Singer-Songwriters: A Defence. (93* d) Lyr Add: CONTRASTS (Bob Clayton) 08 Jun 99

My thoughts are expressed in the following:


Sing of hard times, sing of wars,
Of drink and work and bars and whores;
Sing your heart out in God's name,
Or relate the account of an outlaw's fame.
Raise your voice in praise of ale,
Tell again an ancient tale.
Many and varied are the things
Of which the good folksinger sings.


But I wanta boogie, I wanta score,
I wanta feel your love and then feel it some more!
I wanta feel good, I wanta feel fine.
Today's songs are wanting most all the time.

Songs all used to tell it straight,
Of hungry kids and empty plates,
Of tricksters caught and races run,
Of maids deceived or battles won.
Common were the tales they told:
The joys of youth, cares of the old.
A universal look at this old world,
With no one's inner views unfurled.


The old songs seldom strayed too far
From where the singers thought they were,
And even tales of foreign lands
Had lessons all could understand.
Songs of selfish, lone intent
Were seldom sung, or came and went,
While songs that struck a chord in all
Were sung in cot and castle hall.


Copyright 1992, Bob Clayton

Now, having said that, I have to point out that I wrote it, and that I habitually write songs, as something less than a passion but more than a passtime; that I am in fact a singer and songwriter. But I am not a "singer-songwriter," as the usual meaning is ascribed, since I also sing other folks' songs, and seek only -- well, mainly -- to entertain and enlighten the audience, should I have one. I sometimes use the phrase "songer-singwriter," in derogatory fashion, to designate the "I Feel, I Feel" writers whose entire output is only their thoughts about the somewhat circumscribed world of their own existence. In fact, I got together with Joan Sprung and Pete Kraemer to write another ditty, called "I Feel, I Feel," which is a mockery of those kinds of singers. Bill D and Ferrara have heard it, I think. Sort of a special-situation song.

So my feeling about singer-songwriters is, as someone else said, that much if not most of what gets performed by such folks is junk, maybe even trash, and is forgettable. Problem is, we have to be part of the problem of "winnowing out" that lets the cream rise to the top. It's annoying, agonizing, and disturbing. And it's disruptive to the economics of a music that co-exists with similar but differing music (e.g., folk and "acoustic"), an economic disruption that harms the music we prefer. So, as the cream rises, those of us in the whey get pushed about and our lives changed. But the real substance of our musical lives doesn't change, we hope. I don't know. Do I look sort of clotted to you? Hmmm... maybe I need a change of diet.

Bob Clayton

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