When I was pretty new to my call in Anchorage, a parishioner gave me a gift certificate for “Barnes and Noble”. I don’t know how this guy knew how much I enjoy books, but I will tell you it was a great gift!
While going through B&N I came across two books:
1. A guide to the art of Chinese-style painting – With painting kit (More on this at a later date)
2. The complete idiot’s guide to songwriting – by Joel Hirschhorn
It might not be a well-known thing, but I have, in my lifetime written and recorded dozens of original music and lyrics. Were they any good? Who knows. If you want a sample, go here: http://www.myspace.com/expmental
In the past, I have always been blessed to collaborate with brilliant musicians.
This time I thought I would look and see what Mr. Hirschhorn had to say. After writing 2 oscar-winning hits sung by Maureen McGovern (“The Morning After” and “We May Never Love Like This Again”) I thought “Well I know the first one at least…”
Here’s what’s interesting. When he talks about writing hit music, he rarely appeals to much more than 2 things
1. Appealing to a persons sense of feelings (love, anger, sorrow, etc…)
2. A clever hook to keep them interested.
At first I was thinking “No way… it can’t be that easy.” The sad thing is, he talks about writing more than pop music, he evaluates:
3. Metal / Grunge
5. Hip Hop
7. Movie Scores
8. Contemporary Christian Music
and the list goes on. Along with each section he lists dozens and dozens of the top artists in each of those fields and sure enough… I knew all of the artists and songs. What did they have in common? A catchy theme and an appeal to your heart. The only thing different was the style of music for each genre. The truth of the matter is, this guy wasn’t very deep… he wasn’t very talented… but what he had was a sense of the human condition. This constant, unfillable hole of neediness people have. From a marketing standpoint, the best way to fill it is with something that almost always instantly disappears… namely self-indulgence. You see, no matter HOW much self-indulgence you give yourself, it occupies no weight or space or matter so you can NEVER EVER be filled. That’s why every couple of years the newest and greatest entertainers come out and people drink them until the next one comes along. Their thirst can never be filled. Genius marketing. The sad part is this Jewish guy was able to NAIL the problem with CCM. It’s as empty, self-indulgent and vapid as every other entertainment-oriented music. Oh well. A blog for another day.