IS IT A SONG, A POEM OR BOTH
Songs & Poetry
When I was a child I wrote poetry as a way to cope with my mother’s death. My poems eventually turned into songs and I realized at an early age that it only took a few good lines to make things work with music. I was a natural at it and it was easy for me to come up with something “catchy.” I do believe that some poems can be put to music, but the poem will never stay intact or in it’s original form unless it becomes a “spoken word” musical track. In spoken word you do not have to fit words or lines to a particular melody or musical line and you just speak through it. Spoken word only works if you stay with the beat though so it helps if you are familiar with writing songs or have the rhythm to make it work. Not everyone can do that or change a poem to a song. Music and melodies change things and they only work with certain lines or lyrics.
When I was writing my newest album, I had to go through various poems to see if any of them worked with an electronic music track that I already produced. It was interesting to see that not many did. Infact, the poem that I did eventually put to music changed a lot. I chose a few lines as my musical hook or chorus and then repeated them throughout the track. I did not originally write it that way when I wrote the poem. Then I found myself trying to create verses and I had to pick the best lines from my poem that fit the story of the song. The main theme " Of loss" is the same in both and one can hear some of the same lines, but the song took the poem to a different level. I had to pick lines from my poem that conveyed the story of my song. It then took on a life of it’s own.
So as Dylan quoted, “Anything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I can’t sing, I call a poem.” From his liner notes on Bob Dylan 1963’s The Freewheelin.’ I would have to say that it is true what he says for most people who write both, but if you are skilled you can make a poem into a song no matter what, even if you have to change and rearrange the original poem. You may lose some of it or a few lines now and then, but it still can work if you make the lines less wordy and let them flow with the music. Like I said out of all the poems I had written for my first poetry book, this particular poem was the only one I could make work with that already finished music track. If I could not find a poem for it, I would have just had to write a new song that works with the melody and production.
I have always admired talent that could do both like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison and Lou Reed to name a few. There are not many artists that can do both and create something pretty magical in their poetry and songwriting. I am excited about the fusion of spoken word and music in the future and the different groundbreaking ways that artists are venturing into this genre. I think it will open up a new frontier for poets who love to write poetry and also love music but do not know how to write or produce songs.
In today’s music market, it does not take much to get a hit if you have a good hook, a record label with money behind you or line that is repeated a million times. I mean songwriting these days is not rocket science when it comes to hit radio plays. Anything can sell if it feeds the machine. I have always been a passionate artist who always wanted to tell a story in my music and poems and I have always believed that I was put on this planet to make a difference.
Hub Pages Author - GPAGE
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