Thursday, January 29, 2015

somewhere in the song

The fact that you could get that kind of tasty bite into the lyrics by mixing in ---------------------- [excerpt, Life, by Keith Richards] ----------------- contemporary stories or headlines or just what appeared to be mundane daily narrative was so far away from pop music and also from Cole Porter

or Hoagy Carmichael.

"I saw her today at the reception" was just very plain.  No dynamics, no sense of where it was going. 

I think Mick and I looked at each other and said, well, if John and Paul can do it . . . The Beatles and Bob Dylan to a great extent changed songwriting in that way....

"You Can't Always Get What You Want" was basically all Mick.

I remember him coming into the studio and saying, I've got this song.  I said, you got any verses?  And he said, I have, but how is it going to sound? 

Because he'd written it on guitar, it was like a folk song at the time.  I had to come up with a rhythm, an idea. . . . I'd float it around the band and just play the sequence here and there.  And maybe Charlie decides which to go for. 

It's all experimentation. 

And then we added the choir on the end, very deliberately.  Let's put on a straight chorus.  In other words, let's try and reach them people up there as well.  It was a dare, kind of. 

Mick and I thought it should go into a choir, a gospel thing, because we'd played with ...gospel singers in America. 

And then, what if we got one of the best choirs in England, all these ...lovely singers, and do it that way, see what we can get out of them? 

Turn them on a little bit, get them into a little sway and a move, you know?  "You caaarnt always . . . "   It was a beautiful juxtaposition. ------------------------------ [end Excerpt]

Some of my favorite parts of Keith Richards' autobiography are when he discusses songwriting.

----------------------- [Life excerpt, from earlier in the book] ----------------- When we first took off we were too busy playing on the road to think about writing songs.  Also we reckoned it wasn't our job; it hadn't occurred to us. 

Mick and I considered songwriting to be some foreign job that somebody else did. 

Our first records were all covers, "Come On," "Poison Ivy," "Not Fade Away."  We were just playing American music to English people....We were very happy as interpreters of the music we loved.

But Andrew was persistent.  Strictly pressure of business...."You can't just live off cover versions." ...

The famous day when Andrew locked us in a kitchen up in Willesden and said, "Come out with a song" -- that did happen. ...I said, "If we want to get out of here, Mick, we better come up with something."

...We sat there in the kitchen and I started to pick away at these chords. . . . "It is the evening of the day." ...

We had two lines and an interesting chord sequence, and then something else took over somewhere in this process.  I don't want to say mystical, but you can't put your finger on it. 

Once you've got that idea, the rest of it will come....The mood is made somewhere in the song....

With "As Tears Go By," we weren't trying to write a commercial pop song.  It was just what came out.

{Life.  Written by Keith Richards with James Fox.  Back Bay Books, Little Brown, New York etc.  Copyright 2010 by Mindless Records, LLC}


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