A song is not a dress nor a necklace nor a bracelet, not a bangle or a bauble or even a well made suit.
Some are, it’s true. Some songwriters put the same love and care and soul into their work that a Cambodian slave-child making a pair of Nike shoes that will retail in New York or Chicago or Shanghai for a greater sum than Mother received the day they took Older Sister away.
She won’t be coming back.
Some songwriters, many songwriters, most songwriters are churning out a product to be served to the masses, a product that will go viral perhaps, a song that will have a special place in your heart because, and only because, it was the soundtrack to your first kiss, your first fuck, the last time you saw her before the drunk driver came across the centerline…
But no more. No meaning beyond what it means to you, which can be explained but never conveyed except by allegory because we all have those songs in our head, could be Madonna, could be Lady Gaga, could even be Stacey Q. It’s there, in your head, not on merits, but on the experience.
So there’s the Top 40, Trending Now on YouTube, You May Like…
They’re in my head too, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But there are the other songs, the ones the writers thought and fought for, the ones that can take a moment like the one you remember Stacy Q because of and push that moment, that experience, that life straight into your consciousness like you lived it yourself, that can show, in two or three hundred words, in three or four minutes, the whole who and where and what and why, or as much of it as you need know, burn it right into your memory even though you weren’t there, you weren’t here, you weren’t, not yet, you didn’t even exist, and you’ve got no frame of reference but what was laid out on that page of a notebook, laid down in that studio, so many years before.
The artist has made his life a part of yours, but that doesn’t mean you own it, no matter how much you tell yourself that you’re a fellow worker in song, it’s not something that you can slip into because you think it will set off your voice nicely, the gender discongruity isn’t a clever little twist, you weren’t there, it wasn’t you, stop kidding yourself just fucking push play and enjoy.