GOOD SONGS LIVE FOREVER
GOOD SONGS LIVE FOREVER
Being a child of the 60s, I grew up with a plethora of great pop and rock songs, most with excellent writing.
Over the years with the advent of technology, the standard has decreased somewhat and experimentation has all but disappeared. There will always be exceptions and recently there have been a few examples of songs that will stand the test of time with them likely to be played for years to come.
So, what makes a good song? A memorable tune (sometimes that you can give the whistle test to) and well written, identifiable lyrics are always a great starting point. The shaped sound of the production is also very important. However, the most important ingredient to my mind is the feeling a song evokes. How many times does a track pop up on the radio and suddenly memories come flooding back or an emotion is triggered? Maybe a feeling of elation is experienced that makes you want to move your body and get in sync with the music, however good or poor your dancing may be.
There is no better accolade, apart from the royalties of course, for any songwriter to witness their song still being popular – years, maybe decades, after it was first conceived, and especially if it’s been recorded in different ways by different artists. Also, good songs live on, even if they’ve not been released and can still be popular when the right time arrives for the, sometimes, fickle public to embrace them.
Your very own bi monthly columnist ‘pop cheesemeister’ has experienced all of this very recently.
Firstly, my STEPS song 5,6,7,8 (certainly not my best musically or lyrically) has been successfully earning me money now for over twenty years and the recent anniversary arena tour by my loveable five piece all singing, all dancing ensemble creation has enhanced its’ earning potential and popularity further.
Also, three previously unreleased songs that I recorded at my studio around fifteen years ago with late eighties multi hit pop singer SONIA, are now about to surface because of fan demand.
In 1991, I had a top ten success with SONIA called ‘Only Fools (Never Fall In Love)’ masterminded at top record label BMG by our dear friend Simon Cowell, who had previously awarded me a nice sum of money with a publishing deal and advised that I spend it all on creating my own studio. I had co-written the song with my ex ‘Brotherhood Of Man’ manager Tony Hiller and after the success of the Motown style hit, we wrote a follow up in the same fashion called ‘If You Come Back To Me’. Unfortunately Simon decided with his infinite wisdom to get Sonia to record covers of older material which didn’t do her any favours (see, he doesn’t always get it right). Years later she called me to see if she could record the song we’d written especially for her as she was about to release a Greatest Hits album and needed some fresh material for it. I actually recorded that song with her plus two more that I’d co-written with a successful writer in L.A., one of which that had found its’ way into the double Oscar winning film ‘Little Miss Sunshine’.
Unfortunately, Sonias’ Greatest Hits album never materialised and so these tracks have been laying around gathering dust. Recently, however, some of her ardent fans, of which I’ve been staggered by how many there are, especially in Brazil of all places, have contacted me on discovering that these unreleased tracks exist and were desperate to hear them. So I put together a sampler of the three songs, uploaded to YouTube and hey presto, the feedback was big love so fan power is now forcing us to finally release the songs for worldwide digital distribution. Sonia’s army are very excited.
This brings deep joy to me, not only because finally these songs will generate some income, but that the creativity that went into making the tracks will now bring happiness and sunshine to many around the world. That feeling is almost the best one….ha.
Writing songs comes easy for me. However writing a good song that may last forever is a lot more difficult, plus you never know which songs are going to be the ones that will touch a nerve with the public.
An amazing example of this is the song ‘Without You’ written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans, two members of the brilliant early 70s band ‘Badfinger’. Their original version was a mere final track on side one their album and was never a single release until the Harry Nilsson version came out which went on to be a massive hit. Unfortunately the two writers passed away and never saw how big their song really turned out to be. The song has now been recorded by over 180 artists including the likes of Mariah Carey. Paul McCartney once described the ballad as ‘the killer song of all time’.
So, the answer is to write a lot, sometimes formularically, sometimes from the heart, sometimes from complete craziness. It’s very nearly impossible to know which of your creations is going strike a chord (see what I did there?) with the world at large although sometimes you can get an inkling, especially if your latest composition is keeping you awake at night because you can’t get the damn tune out of your head.
The satisfying thing as a songwriter is the knowledge that your good songs will live forever.