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"Who Do We Write For?"

Some songwriters have a knack 
for writing what the public wants...
for what’s commercial.
I envy them,
especially when the bills are due. 

Who do I write for?
The question has annoyed me off and on,
and I may have the answer:
I write songs for the perfect listener...
Me. 

Misty and I arrange and produce our recordings
for the two perfect listeners...
Us. 

We all have a mental library of music that has appealed to us.
It’s not always in conscious memory,
but it’s there,
and it influences our creative efforts. 

If we have a choice between a lyric line
or a chord change that we like,
and one we don’t,
only the truly gifted commercial writer
will go for the one he doesn’t like
because it will sell.
If he worries about artistic integrity
he can sit on his yacht and sulk. 

If you write what you like
the music is honest,
but you might not get that indoor pool. 

Everything Misty and I put into our music
is stuff we get a kick out of,
so when we release a song
it’s a toss of the dice. 

Sometimes our pet songs
don’t get as much action as we’d like.
This is always depressing. 

Other times,
a record we thought wouldn’t be as widely accepted
gets a lot of response.
This is a pleasant surprise. 

We like many kinds of music
and try to jam little goodies into our music
whenever we see an opening.
Sometimes things we like in a record
can cost us airplay.
Like strings. 

We don’t like strings in everything,
but occasionally we love them in our country songs.
It’s the contrast
between the hard country up front
and the lush background.
We’ve learned that some people hate strings,
so, for self-preservation,
we only use them once in a while.
It’s our rare and polite nod to commercialism. 

We’ve been in the music business long enough
to be thinking about leaving our mark.
It’s more important to us now
than career ambition. 

We’ve had hundreds of records
on big and small labels.
We quit Mercury Records
rather than have a house producer tinker with our style.
That move cost us a lot of money,
but if we had given in
we wouldn’t have ever done “Somewhere in Virginia in the Rain”,
“There Must be More to Life”,
and others we’re proud of. 

If we don’t leave our fingerprints on the music world,
it’s not because we didn’t try. 

© September 2, 2003 Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.

 

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