Yes of course there’s a place for fine music such as Mozart’s, someone who can impart tone to simple notes like few others but there’s also a fine pop song and perhaps I have a different definition to many of what constitutes a fine pop song.
1. Thought has gone into its crafting, the arrangement of all the elements has great variation, highs and lows, slow builds and explosions, silences.
2. It opens with either quiet menace or else they’re straight into it, meaning business, engaged with the song, not just strumming along – you get the impression these guys can really play and there’s a definite ‘edge’ to it, lifting it above ‘par for the course’, above the mundane.
3. That ‘edge’ in the song below comes from the scruffy, garage nature of it, the way they all shout along while the audience engages too. The singer must not be a professional ‘crooner’. David Byrne of Talking Heads once had something to say about that. Challenged about his poor singing voice, he made the point – the more perfect the voice, the slicker – the less the music connects with the audience.
4. The song must ‘be going somewhere’, not just be a ‘symmetrical’ couple of minutes – it has to be asymmetric, it builds, it’s a construction where all elements have their time and each player has his moment – appreciated by other band members and also by the audience – there has to be engagement here.
5. It does finally come down to the riffs and trills and in this song, the piano owns it – on some songs, it might be fiddle, guitar, whatever. Here, the piano is the thing throughout, we realise it about thirty seconds in [with headphones on].
There’s another secret reason [start and 13:22] I love this song too. Plus it’s connected to Athens, Georgia, where one of our key readers is [fundamental interconnectedness of all things, chaps and chapesses].
There are three other songs as well where it was clearly crafted with thought and needed work to carry off. Just enough variation in an otherwise symmetrical song here:
This one below, most people know – another well constructed number with great variation and a certain ‘stick’ to it:
In this below, the interaction is very much part of the whole:
One reason I don’t like swing era jazz is it’s blended, like too many whiskies are – I prefer single malts and in a similar way, songs where the individuals have time to stand out in small solos whilst they all support each other along the way. To me, that’s how music should be.
Especially in 2020.