Comments on the Song "Birches"

Subject: Re: A 3-minute movie...
From: (Peggy Bertsch)
Date: 18 Nov 1995
MessageID: 48jmff$
references: <48asqd$> <48gmj9$>
organization: Hewlett Packard Cupertino Site

JEricL ( wrote:
: While story songs are great. Good ones are few and far between. It is a
: real challenge to write a great one. My point it, that you probably should
: write some of the other types of songs also. The ones that deal with
: things in a short time frame, without a loger story line.

Absolutely.  Variety is important.  Not all songs are meant to be chock full
of dialogue or metaphor or other elements that are so crucial to, say,
short story writing.  But by the same token, some songwriters *never* think
of their songs as short stories, and I was trying to show that sometimes
the two forms of writing can overlap very effectively.

Most story songs seem to hand-hold the listener through the passage of time,
telling the story from beginning to end, not leaving anything to the
imagination.  It's like each verse starts out with a line that tells you
exactly how much time has passed, or which particular significant milestone
this verse is going to cover (e.g., verse 1: meeting your true love, verse 2:
getting married, verse 3: having a child, etc.)  Some do this *much* more
effectively than others -- I personally think "Something In Red" did this
in a very unique and special way; I wasn't, on the other hand, impressed with
"Don't Take The Girl" and the way that *two* of the verses started with the
line "Same old boy, same sweet girl, (X) years down the road"...I felt like
I was being force-fed the scene, instead of being drawn into it. (That is,
of course, only my opinion -- obviously tons of people liked that song a *lot*
more than I did :-)

What I found unique to "Birches" is the way the writer (Bill Morrissey) just
drops us down in the middle of this couple's living room, no introduction,
no background on what has transpired before, and manages to paint the most
vivid picture of what their relationship has come to by letting us eavesdrop
on one simple scene.  It's a skill that writers of great short fiction have,
but which songwriters too often neglect, IMO.  But of course, I obsess over
lyrics to a point that sometimes goes beyond rational :-)