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What makes a song last?

Larry The Radio Guy 27 Aug 12 - 03:28 PM
Bernard 27 Aug 12 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,mg 27 Aug 12 - 04:37 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Aug 12 - 05:43 PM
Artful Codger 27 Aug 12 - 06:48 PM
RichM 27 Aug 12 - 07:18 PM
Rob Naylor 27 Aug 12 - 07:53 PM
Elmore 27 Aug 12 - 08:00 PM
GUEST,Stim 27 Aug 12 - 10:56 PM
GUEST 27 Aug 12 - 11:13 PM
GUEST,Allen in Oz 28 Aug 12 - 12:26 AM
Bert 28 Aug 12 - 01:09 AM
GUEST,Don Wise 28 Aug 12 - 05:25 AM
Rob Naylor 28 Aug 12 - 05:31 AM
Musket 28 Aug 12 - 06:38 AM
MGM·Lion 28 Aug 12 - 07:04 AM
Lancashire Lad 28 Aug 12 - 07:37 AM
Big Al Whittle 28 Aug 12 - 07:41 AM
Steve Gardham 28 Aug 12 - 11:40 AM
MGM·Lion 28 Aug 12 - 01:30 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 28 Aug 12 - 01:30 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Aug 12 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,mg 28 Aug 12 - 03:37 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Aug 12 - 03:59 PM
Bert 29 Aug 12 - 12:42 AM
Jim Carroll 29 Aug 12 - 03:28 AM
Steve Gardham 29 Aug 12 - 06:59 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Aug 12 - 03:05 AM
Henry Krinkle 30 Aug 12 - 03:16 AM
Bettynh 30 Aug 12 - 12:16 PM
The Sandman 30 Aug 12 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,Stim 30 Aug 12 - 02:23 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Aug 12 - 02:36 PM
Bettynh 30 Aug 12 - 03:47 PM
GUEST,Stim 30 Aug 12 - 04:54 PM
Anne Neilson 30 Aug 12 - 06:21 PM
Bettynh 31 Aug 12 - 12:26 PM
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Subject: What makes a song last?
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 03:28 PM

We had a great discussion on whether pop songs can become traditional.

But because I'm much more interested in the "living tradition"....and the psychology of musical preference, I want to ask a different question.

Many many pop songs are written and recorded and become 'hits'....and most often (always some exceptions) this is driven by an industrial 'hit machine' that is there to find ways to make music make money.

Yet....what seems totally out of control of those industry moguls is the fact that some songs (even ones that weren't initially big hits.....I'll try to think of some examples later.....) end up really 'speaking' to a group of people, so they end up performing them, singing along with them, or just 'perking up' when they hear it.   

They sing them at camp sing-alongs, teach them to their children, ....and for some reason, they just last.

Some of them are great songs (eg. Four Strong Winds, Don't Fence Me In), and others are (from my perspective) Godawful (eg. You Are My Sunshine, Country Roads Take Me Home).

But is there something they have in common?

What determines whether a song lasts or not? Is it really just a combination of uncontrolled circumstances, or is there some quality about the song....and it's 'timeliness' that turns it into something that's more than the 'flavour of the month'?

I'm also interested in hearing about some of these modern songs that we predict are going to last. And those that we think have 'lasted' but will soon die.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Bernard
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 04:31 PM

I was going to say 'Doing all the others first'...!!

Seriously, though, there's an indefinable something that makes some tunes and words endure in your mind... and what stirs feelings in one person can leave another cold. Then there's the song or tine you wish wouldn't stick - the 'ear-worm'!!

They say a 'good pop song' (oxymoron?!) has an irresistible beat which is far more important than either the tune or the lyrics... something about appealing to the inner savage...!!


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 04:37 PM

I think the beat is super important and also they are singable...we all live in a yellow submarine..words are easy to remember.

Some are nostalgic. The ones that really really last are very primal..war, shipwreck, love, murder, coal mine caveins...they are very deep...

Many are just pretty..Rose of Tralee...Maggie...

Often they have had the words printed up somewhere so more people are likely to know them

Links to family or place of birth..I'll take you home again Kathleen..Dixie..now that is a terrible tragedy that that song is killed...it has everything..singable, some lyrics that are commonly sung easy to remember, links to the dear departed...that one will die a hard death and spring to life again over the centuries...


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 05:43 PM

I think you need to distinguish between at least two ways of learning here. You seem to be more concerned with those songs picked up by familiarity subconsciously as opposed to those picked up by deliberate learning/practice with a view to perform. Towards the end of the last thread Brian described how youngsters nowadays are easily picking songs up by repeatedly playing them on modern gadgetry. From what he says this does not seem to be as selective as deliberate learning as they are picking up whole albums by heart, not just say the best song on the album.

Certainly familiarty/constant exposure seems to be a major factor in what we pick up. Almost everybody can sing over the TV jingles due to constant exposure and the clever use of existing tunes, sometimes even folk tunes. (We all love Clover..quick ad).

Once we pick up a song it's hard to get rid of it. It stays in our unconscious mind. Good example is as Bernard says, the earworm, although that is usually just a tune. For almost a year I went around humming a Fado tune that had been popular in the 50s. I even set words to it before I eventually tracked it down.

Much of my repertoire as a singer is songs I have picked up in the clubs through constant exposure, Fathom the Bowl, Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy, Collier Brigg, numerous shanties, rugby songs; but by no means all. Of course tunes are mostly picked up orally anyway as, like me, most people don't read music.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 06:48 PM

There is an adage—I forget who coined it—that in the short run, the public taste is dreadful; in the long run, it's impeccable. Not really true, of course, or tons of brilliant older tunes, songs and compositions would have resurfaced instead of mouldering in the darkened recesses of history, and many old pieces that are fairly dreadful would have died away instead. But if one examines the bulk of the tripe which survives in published form in various archives, one does see a partial truth in the saying; older music gets filtered by the public's backlashes and more objective evaluations after the initial fad and furore have passed.

Sadly, songs, like celebrities, are often known for being known, not because of intrinsic worth. "Yesterday" is a brilliant song, but would it be remembered today had it been a one-off written by a member of Freddie and the Dreamers rather than by Paul McCartney? Mudcat is a perfect example of the hit-and-miss taste of the public: threads about silly or frankly dull songs are revived endlessly for years, whereas you often have to dig to find threads on wonderful songs that have somehow escaped the public radar. (Of course part of this is because someone may have added "the last word" in terms of substantive information, and the only sort of comment left to make is "Like" or "I remember that from ....") I sometimes wonder if Mudcat should have a random thread listing, so there's a simple, democratic means of tripping across threads and songs one might have missed. One may say that's what "like" voting is for, but it suffers from the cult of celebrity syndrome—people mainly vote for what's already familiar and popular to them (the tyranny of mediocrity).

The hallmarks that make songs last are often the very traits that may drive one to distraction and characterize hackneyed writing. More important than the identifiable hooks themselves may be the ineffable synergy a writer or performer creates between them.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: RichM
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 07:18 PM

What makes a song last?
When it's played after all the other songs in the set...


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 07:53 PM

I guess it would include:

- a good melody

- lyrics that are in some way timeless (although they may refer to a specific event or period)

- lyrics that are also memorable/ easy to learn

- not too difficult instrumentation parts (or simpler alternatives to the more difficult ones)

That being said, there has to be something else there too, something a bit undefineable that makes it stand out in some way. And that's what makes it unpredictable.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Elmore
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 08:00 PM

simplicity


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 10:56 PM

I mentioned that kids learn entire albums, but I think it is because they like entire albums.
Kids remember a lot, though. Over time, at least if they are like us, the great songs will linger in their memories, and the others will slowly fade away.

I don't think that songs don't last--I think that we rediscover them. There was a thread a while back about "Over the Hills and Far Away", a song I had not thought for a long while, but one that, on rehearing, is as moving as any song ever was.

It made me think of a line from an old Jimmy Durante song-"It's one of those songs that you think you forgot, but it's one of those songs you cannot".


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 11:13 PM

What makes a song last?

Most important factor is that the first word of a song's title
must begin with the letter "Z".


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: GUEST,Allen in Oz
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 12:26 AM

It may be to do with the fact that we danced to the songs in our youth ( Barn Dance, Pride of Erin ,Gypsy Tap... etc ) AND that our parents sang, hummed or whistled them.

The tunes and words were often simple,catchy and easy to remember.

A friend of mine has suggested , somewhat cynically, that it is related to payola !

AD


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Bert
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 01:09 AM

Ah yes Artful Codger, so many good songs have fallen by the wayside simply because they fell off the hit parade.

I think I'll start a thread on songs that should have survived.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 05:25 AM

I seem to recall a Tin-Pan Alley adage on the lines of "If the office-boy/ a stranger dragged in off the street can whistle the tune after one hearing it's a winner."

Could it also be that creating parodies of the songs in question, or using them as vehicles for parodies (for whatever purpose), keeps the interest in the original alive or even revives it?


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 05:31 AM

Don, that's where the title of the TV prog "Old Grey Whistle Test" came from.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Musket
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 06:38 AM

Yeah, the "old greys" being the cleaners.

I was very interested to get into this debate, but got as far as someone saying that "good pop song" is an oxymoron before realising it isn't worth it.

Sorry


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 07:04 AM

The ones that are often called 'Golden Oldies', or, in the trade, 'Standards' ... Ah, yes, v good question. What does make some songs qualify, others not?

In many ways it's sort of arbitrary ~~ the kind of thing that makes, e.g. George & Ira Gershwin or Irving Berlin or Cole Porter names which everyone can conjure with ~~

Johnny Mercer too but maybe a bit less so ~~

&, say, Harry Warren & Al Dubin {Lullaby of Broadway, We're in the Money + moremoremore} names known only to the cognoscenti despite the greatness and unforgottenness of their work.

Like I say, sort of arbitrary. How do the public taste & the public memory work to explain such arbitrary selectiveness?

I've often wondered ~~~

Which - in the fine old phrase deriving from the great days of continuous performance film shows - is where we came in...

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Lancashire Lad
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 07:37 AM

Interesting thread . . . . and one to which there will be no solitary answer!

If someone knew the formula, the charts would be full of songs we ALL loved. The fact is, everyone has differing tastes and that will take into account many factors such as.

1. Familiarity and appreciation of artist or style of music
2. Circumstances surrounding the enjoyment or understanding of a song
3. Words and tune
4."singability"
5. Emotive content (to the listener)

Often there can be a an un describable element that lifts a song from pleasant to "classic" An example (to my ears) would be "The first Time Ever I saw your face". I can take or leave Ewan McColl's original, but I would argue that Roberta Flacks version is a contender for the greatest pop love song of all time.

I would offer up John Lennon's Imagine as a similar classic, however in the hands of many others, it frequently becomes a dirge.

Some "great" pop songs never even reach the charts, but seem to be known by millions. I was surprised to here the other day that Albert Hammond's "Southern California" never reached the top 40 singles chart here in the UK. However I would bet that just about everyone over 40 can manage the chorus.

So, no definitive answer. However just one thought. If there is a magic formula to making classic / hit records, lets just hope Simon Cowell doesn't discover it!

Cheers
LL


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 07:41 AM

I alwways think an out of tune guitar makes it last longer.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 11:40 AM

The cult of celebrity previously mentioned was important at least as far back as the 17thc when the big pop star writers were Martin Parker and Lawrence Price. Some of their songs are still with us due to oral tradition.

Perhaps the best example I can think of is Harry Clifton who died in 1872 at the age of 40. He was a massive star constantly touring Britain and the songs he wrote/made famous, appear in folk song collections and some are remembered today. However he was never a Music Hall star strictly speaking. He hired his own theatres wherever he went and performed largely to upmarket audiences. As a consequence his songs were much printed on broadsides and sheet music and his songs even went through a revival in the 1880s. There are whole threads on him here on Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 01:30 PM

Indeed, Steve. Harry Clifton's Pretty Little Polly Perkins is certainly one that has lasted.

Before a Northerner chips in to claim to the contrary, George Ridley's Cushie Butterfield followed it, not vice versa. Ridley was, nevertheless, another of the same sort ~~ Blaydon Races. & so was his NE contemporary Joe Wilson ~ Keep Your Feet Still, Geordie Hinny.

The question in this thread applies equally indeed to Music Hall & such songs as the above, as well as to pop 'standards'. Why do so many more people associate Marie Lloyd with My Old Man rather than The Boy I Love Is Up In The Gallery?

~M~


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 01:30 PM

It's interesting that for each criteria, we can always find an exception.

Simplicity?   Well how do you explain "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head?"

A good melody?   Would You are My Sunshine apply?   Think of other songs that have a dreadful melody but everybody still sings.   Can't off the top of my head......but I do remember remarking on that with a few songs.

Timeless lyrics?   Well, I guess that's tautological.....if the lyric lasts forever, than I guess it's timeless. But what really makes them timeless? For example "I ride an Old Paint".....very few people even know what most of the words mean, but we sing them.   And I'm sure there's lots of better examples of that.

I'm sure there must have been some actual research done on the factors of a long lasting song.   I'm wondering if anything definite has been found, or whether it really is a matter of chance (or some version of 'payola'?).


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 01:42 PM

I'm sure there are many factors involved. One factor many of them have in common is a simple memorable tune. However an obvious exception is out of Dibdin's thousands of songs the one that some people can still sing is 'Tom Bowling' which has quite a decorated arty tune.

Be careful in using phrases like 'a dreadful melody'. Remember 'one man's meat....'


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 03:37 PM

I am also curious about what makes a song an anthem...why Dixie? Why Sonny's Dream? Fields of Athenry? When all sorts of us common folk like it and know at least bits of it..when people want to sing it all together in a soccer stadium...it can have inane words..Dixie has a verse about pancakes which is about the only one anyone can remember....

Some might be very particular to place..20,000 Cornishmen will know the reason why...

Maybe some of them anchor us geographically.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 03:59 PM

Some songs that are actually given the title 'anthem' have nothing at all to do with the place, but they have been sung often in that place and locals from surrounding villages associate it with that place, e.g., Holmfirth, Noahdale, Staithes, Castle Hill, all in Yorkshire.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Bert
Date: 29 Aug 12 - 12:42 AM

What nobody has said it yet? A song lasts longer if it has lots of words.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Aug 12 - 03:28 AM

Probably a drift away from your question, but-
It is sometimes interesting (to me anyway) in what form the songs survive.
We recorded an old County Clare singer in London in the 80s.
We would record in the car (he was shy at singing at home as his family knew him only as a dancer, but had no idea he had the 80-odd songs he gave us).
After the session we would invariably reire to the pub, where he would spend the rest of the evening telling us 'yarns'; stories, usually bawdy, or jokes without punchlines. Among these were several narrative versions of songs, including 'The Bishop of Canterbury' about a bishop who met Cromwell on the road and was challenged, at the forfeit of his life, to answer three impossible questions.
One interesting rarety was the story of a fiddler and his wife on a sea voyage.
The ship's captain fancies the woman and bets the fiddler his ship and cargo against the fiddler's instrument that he can bed her.
The woman, having been told of the bet, goes to the captain's cabin followed by the fiddler, who, in whispers, encourages her to resist.
The story has two sung verses (roughly, from memory)

Hold on my love, Hold on my love,
For the space of half an hour,
If you hold out, I have no doubt
The ship and goods are ours.

and when the woman gives in:

I can't my love, I can't my love,
He has me by the middle.
He's big and strong and holds me long
And you have lost your fiddle.

These verses appear in similar form in a song called 'The Merchant and the Fiddler's Wife' in D'urfey's 'Pills to Purge Melancholy' (1719-20)
I can't find any reference of this surviving as a song and don't know the likelihood of it appearing as a broadside in the rural west of Ireland into the 19th century (Steve?), when it would have been taken up by the singer's source.
Sorry for the diversion
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Aug 12 - 06:59 PM

Hi Jim,
The ballad was printed c1679-81 in London on a broadside. (Pepys Vol 4, p163) and either this or the D'Urfey copy were reprinted in The Common Muse p432 and in Chappell p381. Kinsey gives it in the modern Oxford Book of Ballads, p640

I have a copy of a 1735 garland version printed by T Boreman, with 20 stanzas but this is probably just a reprinting of the 17thc version. It's possible that it continued to be printed under a different title. If it has euphemisms in it it should be in my euphemism collection. I'll have a look tomorrow. Ap..whatsit setting in.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 12 - 03:05 AM

Thank's Steve - can find no evidence for it having survived as a song, but as a story (recited, not sung verses I quoted BTW)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Henry Krinkle
Date: 30 Aug 12 - 03:16 AM

Play the hell out of it. Radio. TV. Parties. Grocery stores. Elevators. Skating rinks.
It will be remembered.Remember Run, Joey Run?
How could you ever forget it?
(:-( ))=


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Bettynh
Date: 30 Aug 12 - 12:16 PM

This thread is bringing up some memories for me on this subject. They're like earworms, so I'll set them down here:

I dragged my (30 year old) son to a Leon Redbone show last week. Leon specializes in early 20th century music hall songs, if you don't know him (You are my Sunshine, Shine on Harvest Moon, Minnie the Moocher, etc.) The crowd knew him and were very enthusiastic for him. He invited the crowd to sing along, and only half-finished several songs when the crowd didn't join in (this was an enthusiastic crowd, they didn't seem to care). Near the end of the concert it was mentioned that there was supposed to have been a songsheet, which never got distributed. Maybe. The entire concert could have been a cynical comment on the audience. I don't know, but everyone seemed to have a good time anyway. My son didn't know any of the songs, and hadn't heard Leon Redbone since I played tapes in the car when he was small. Any irony was lost on him, and he saw it as sad that the singalong didn't happen. Since he couldn't focus on words, he actually listened to an hour and a half of pretty good ragtime, not something he'd have chosen for himself.


At the Old Songs Festival this spring, I heard twice in one day the song I Wanna Be a Dog by Barry Louis Polisar, a song I hadn't heard since my kids' childhood (at least 20 years). Actually, one version was on NPR in the morning, I believe by Willie Nelson. It makes a nice string band/bluegrass number. So is this a childhood song being recycled by current adult musicians?


A couple years ago at the National Storytelling Festival John McCutcheon offered a set of requests. It was being recorded for XM radio. He opened one note, said "This isn't mine, but it's a great song," and started playing Unchained Melody. He played the first few notes, the audience caught on, and sang the song. This is an audience of singers, and they were there to sing along with John. He actually only sang a few words at the beginning, then again leading into the break. The audience knew the words, and sang in harmony. This was in a large tent with wonderful acoustics. It was a magic, sentimental few minutes. At the end, he chuckled and said, "Let them figure THAT out." I presume he was talking about the royalty/copyright folks. If the performer does nothing more than accompany the audience, does that count as a performance for royalties?


One of my kids learned Barrett's Privateers word-perfect, and taught it to his friends when they were about 10 years old. These were Nintendo-oriented kids, not known for singing anything. Why? Well, they were tickled to be able to belt out "God damn them all" without punishment.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Aug 12 - 12:50 PM

the quality of timelessness amongst other qualities, in other words the song does not become dated, look at many of the ballads, other qualities include an interesting story, a good tune.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 30 Aug 12 - 02:23 PM

I don't think he was talking about the royalty/copyright folks, Bettynh, I think he was talking about the folk/traditional music folks.

As has been demonstrated, time and again, the folks don't know the folk songs, so if you want folks to sing, you have to sing the songs the folks know, which are the old pop songs, and even folk singers know those!


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Aug 12 - 02:36 PM

Absolutely, Stim, and if you wanna sing anywhere else other than the folk scene you should know some regular stuff that everybody can identify with. Quite a few of the folk singers I know have a decent repertoire of 'everyman' music, rock and roll, old standards, and they are quite at home in a WMC or a bar-room, or practically anywhere. They aren't topliners and couldn't survive on the meagre pickings of the folk-club circuit so they keep the wolves from the door in this way.

My idea of session heaven, mostly tune led, any tunes, folk etc with the occasional song, anything goes, that everbody can join in with vocally and instrumentally. Had some brilliant sessions like this.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Bettynh
Date: 30 Aug 12 - 03:47 PM

The comment works either way, Stim.

I remember hearing somewhere (here?) that Steve Goodman, when performing for a small group (bar, coffee house) would ask the audience for a significant date (highschool graduation, wedding, etc.) and then sing a Top 10 song from that year. His audiences always loved him. RIP

I think, too, there's an influence from collectors of recordings. I've heard lots of nostalgic stories about people like Dave Van Ronk dragging folkies into listening sessions. Music stores come into that sort of thing, too, especially those trading in old vinyl. It makes me really happy to know that Mose Asche's legacy continues at The Smithsonian.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 30 Aug 12 - 04:54 PM

I started out in an adolescent garage band singing and playing (rather badly) and graduated, as a worldly college student, to coffeehouses, where I became addicted to performing. Enslaved as I was to this debilitating habit, I developed set lists and books to accommodate a nearly absurd variety of tastes. So I know what you're talking about.

The great curse is that one gets to know beautiful and moving songs that have meaning to only a small or relatively isolated group of people.


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 30 Aug 12 - 06:21 PM

I'm with the ear worm posters.

Many of us (of a certain age) have a repository of musical memories from varieties of sources. From participation in school shows in the 1950s, I have a whole host of songs from various medleys, such as 'When the red, red robin', 'Shine on, shine on harvest moon', 'Bye, bye, blackbird', 'Moonlight Bay' etc. IMHO these songs have survived because of attractive rhythms, a melodic progression that has a pull on the emotions -- and a straightforward message that is not egocentric!
There were also medleys of British music hall songs ('My old man said "Follow the van"', 'Oh, Mr Porter' etc) and WW1 songs from the trenches.

And from my recent experience of helping a 90 year-old friend (with Alzheimers) into a care home, I was stunned into silence when she voluntarily joined in with an accordionist to sing 'The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen' -- knowing the words and appreciating the sentiment. (I then found the clip on YouTube of the elderly American man - previously silent in his care facility - who "came to life" when someone played him some blues guitar song -- but apologies for not being able to provide the clicky link!)

But I'd also like to put in a plea for the traditional ballads, given that they deal with universal themes... I know that these songs are considered to be a minority interest, but the fact that they still survive hundreds of year beyond their first recorded collection must mean that they still hold significance for people in the 21st century. (I say this as one of the organisers of a Ballad Workshop in Glasgow which has attracted a good following over the previous three years.)

So, bottom line, my answer is -- give people good melodies with true human emotions and you're on to a winner!


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Subject: RE: What makes a song last?
From: Bettynh
Date: 31 Aug 12 - 12:26 PM

Anne, I agree they belong in the mix, though not everyone can sing a ballad well. Maybe mix is the key word here. I once saw one of my favorite storytellers, Willy Claflin (who has made a living entertaining kids with puppets) settle an audience of kids with an a capella rendition of Willie MacIntosh. The kids didn't really listen to or understand the words, but who knows what lingering memory will be there when that tune comes by in 10 or 15 years?


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Mudcat time: 26 September 10:49 AM EDT

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