Thursday, May 19, 2011

Learning Today: May 20th 2011. Celebrating The Proud And Invisible Professional Songwriters

Eg White. Al "Shux" Shuckburgh. You've heard their music in your car, hummed along to their words in the shower. Just who are they again?

These men are professional songwriters. Pop stars--it turns out--don't actually have enough time to write their own material, so they hire other people to do it for them (a lovely example of the increasing division of labor, by the way.)

No doubt it' efficient. Here's the wonderfully named Eg White on his process.
Sometimes I get two hours. Someone comes over at three, we have a cup of tea, chew the cud for a bit, go: 'All right, shall we write a song?' And by six, they've gone home and we've fucking done it. Chasing Pavements, that took two or three hours.
Efficient, sure. But there's something dreadfully unsatisfying to know that many of the songs making up the soundtrack to our lives were made this way--like work. We want our art to be the product of pure feeling, not the product of a guy trying to get a paycheck. When the market gets involved, we feel like our art has been compromised somehow.

Tangent time. This is one of the reasons for the snobbery of modern art. There's plenty of fantastic and appealing commercial art. But since it turns a profit, we're hesitant to call it real art--'high' art. True art is the art that could not survive the market--the art that must be supported by museums and art schools, rather than by people actually buying it and hanging it on their walls.

Well I think that's an awful way of looking at art. The test of art is in our experience of art--how we hear the song, how we see the painting, how we read the novel.

So tonight when you open up iTunes, raise your celebratory beverage of choice to the invisible professional songwriters, those shadowy men who make the music we hum along with.

Source: "Write me a hit by teatime: the world of professional songwriters." The Guardian, May 17th. Via Mefi.

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