There’s just no advantage in redundancy. I am almost at a point in my songwriting to where I can’t stand to repeat the refrain or involve a chorus in the matter. “There is an endless possibility for a new idea gone to waste,” I’ll say to myself, as I pen the chorus line with regret.
It isn’t my fault that I have become this way. I blame other writers, and my OCD, of course. Whereas it is true that most individuals who exhibit this peculiarity tend to lean toward unbridled repetition, I display opposing qualities by choice.
A psychotherapist recently stated in her report that I ‘endorsed’ OCD tendencies. I most assuredly did not; I merely acknowledged them and attempted to convince her that I used these peculiarities to my advantage. Rather than going about, engaging in the senseless ‘whooping and peeping’ as do many other people who allow the affliction to make imbeciles of them in public, I determine how the weirdness manifests itself if it wishes to use my body as a host. One such way is for me to be a major bitch of a songwriter.
Granted, it isn’t always of such paramount importance. If the song relies on what is referred to as a hook, I’ll willfully grant inclusion of certain repetitive sounds and syllabic nuances. At times I may even use the same word more than twice within the song as the rhyming word.
But that isn’t what grates my nerves. It’s more like when someone uses the same phrase more than once in two separate songs, or when someone uses a phrase that has been employed in common usage to the extent that it bears a resemblance to plagiarism.
As a writer, I feel obligated to invent new lines, not merely borrow lines used by some other hack. I’ll give you an example: I was appalled to find that Eric Clapton, who happens to be an early influence of mine, had used the line “I’m down on my knees, I’m beggin’ you please” in two different songs. Imagine my shock when I discovered that he had ripped the line from Robert Johnson, who had sang the line many years before. Not that I think that the line involved that much work in the first place. But as far as my writing is concerned, one of the first rhymes that I believe that anyone else is going to think of, is generally the last rhyme I’m going to use.
Steve Allen and Roger Miller were gods of the written word when I was coming up. And these guys were good musicians, too. Proof that, just because somebody shares someone else’s first and last name, it doesn’t make them as gifted as either or both of those people… S-t-e-v-e M-i-l-l-e-r.
A few of you may feel that I single out Steve Miller and pick on him incessantly. Well, you would be correct, because I happen to think that Miller’s songs are unparallelled in their incredible lameness. That he became more famous and more rich than I did doesn’t enter into it. His fans made him that way, but Miller screwed his fans out of their money simply by appealing to the lowest common denominator. To Steve Miller’s fans, no difference exists between his songs and those of Bob Dylan. That is supremely unfortunate, but I’m not addressing his fans here.
As a writer, I feel that inventing phrases are my job because this is what I’ve practiced doing for years. I represent myself and my craft every time I write a blog or open my mouth. The last thing you’re going to hear me do is repeat some mindless drivel such as ‘I know dat’s rite, yo’ for the trillionth time and then spill my bowels laughing as if I had just dazzled all of you ‘normal people’ with a salvo of my stupendous skillz.
The other day, for instance, I was texting an associate in Atlanta and was trying to stress the red-necked-ness of the residents of a particular little town North of my locale. I informed him that when people up there came into money, they bought high-rise trailers. He ‘ROF’, ‘L’ing his ‘AO’ and I was pleased, but my primary objective was to try to describe something in a different way, or at least attempt to. I realise that I could’ve utilised this phrase in a song and made lots of people laugh and/or knot their brains up trying to imagine how such a trailer would appear. I’ve used any of a variety of unique ways to describe other people equally unique. I’ve said that the people in Ringgold, Georgia were rather proud of the ‘fact’ that one of the Beatles were named after their town. What prompted this comment was the way the natives there pronounce the word ‘Ringgold’.
Meanwhile, Toby Keith makes several thousand dollars in royalties from bar room drunks punching C4 on the jukebox to hear him sing yet another song about drinking dynamite from a Dixie cup or some such nonsense.
Me, I’m still waiting for my Bert Bacharach/Hal David ship to come in. Until then I remain: