I’ve mentioned this a few times in other places but I love wordy songs. I think it’s one reason I’ve always been somewhat anti singles. It just feels like most radio hits have a chorus made up of 5 words that are repeated a hundred times over 3 minutes.
And looking back on records I enjoyed in high school, made by lesser-known bands, I felt similarly. The singles were never my favorite because I thought they had the least to say.
Not that you can’t say a lot with a few words. Sometimes, it’s even more powerful.
But often, I feel like “less is more” is used to compensate for “people have short attention spans”.
I don’t want to have all the lyrics of a song memorized after listening through one time. I love songs I can come back to time and time again and still hear something new. Give me two verses before a chorus! Give me an epic bridge that’s even more satisfying than the chorus! Above all, give me words that say something unique.
Because, look, a lot of people can play G-C-Em-D on guitar. You hear it every day whether you realize it or not. It’s the melody and words people sing over G-C-Em-D that makes a song what it is. And you know what, a lot of people can hum a decent melody. So, it’s really about the lyrics.
I love lyrics.
This is why my favorite compliment is a lyrical compliment. Any time someone tells me, “The words in that song mean so much to me because…” I feel like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do every time I sit down to write.
To the Beginning is a good example of my love for wordiness and it shows that it’s been part of The Workday Release’s DNA from the start.
I actually just started playing this song live again and it is so much fun. I wrote it when I was 17 or 18. I can remember playing it on the grand piano in my high school girlfriend’s house. Her parents would go out gambling sometimes and always seemed to have really good luck. I’d be playing the piano in their living room and when they got home, her father would smile and put a 20 dollar bill on the piano for me. Those are good memories.
This song represents something else very consistent in The Workday Release’s music which is the theme of dealing with the complexities of adulthood.
Of course now I look at words like, “Could you take me to the beginning when I was so much younger where make believe could hide me from the world that matters?” and laugh. Like, what could my 18 year old self have had to worry about?
But I also know that what I must have felt was very real and overwhelming. No less real that whatever I feel now.
The transition between innocence and maturity is something that has interested me for a long time. Everyone has their own process and deals with stepping into independence differently. It’s equal parts exciting, empowering, terrifying and overwhelming.
I was the kid who couldn’t wait to be a grown up because grown ups were wise and strong and confident.
But then you do grow up and realize most adults are just as lost as children. And sometimes you realize you’re lost too.
So while I read that first verse and laugh, I also get it. At some point, you realize your carefree days as a kid (if you were fortunate to have days like that), are over and you have to start making hard choices.
And because so much of life is out of our control, our choices are all we really have.
This is why I have a small tattoo of a sailboat on my arm. It reminds me that we can can’t control the weather, only how we react to it.
I find myself constantly creating ways for me to get perspective. Like my tattoo or this song.
I wrote it at 18 but the questions in the chorus still hit hard for me.
“At the end of the week, who are we? Are we finding love? Are we looking up to the heavens?”
I want what I create to inspire reflection in whoever may be listening.
But I’m most proud of the songs that continue to do this for me personally years later.
Those words still offer me perspective at 28.
Perspective I want and need.
Perspective that helps me make good choices.
What gives you perspective?