A song about a song

crowded house and me

Two’s company, three’s a Crowded House (from left to right: Neil Finn, Gary Stewart Smith, Nick Seymour).

Here’s a song I wrote last week. I was strumming my guitar, playing the chord progression G Am C D. That’s a really bog standard chord progression, used in hundreds, nay thousands, of popular songs… though I can’t think of any off the top of my head, so you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

Anyway, I was strumming away on those chords, hoping for inspiration to strike. G Am C D is the kind of chord progression where you don’t have to think about what you’re playing or where your fingers go, it’s kinda obvious. And as I cycled round these chords, I started singing to myself “this is an obvious song, such an obvious song” – any words will do when you’re searching for a chorus melody.

I then decided that I kinda liked the idea of singing “this is an obvious song” over these obvious chords. “What do lyrics matter anyway?” I thought, “nobody listens to all those clever lyrics I write, or people mishear stuff and sing totally the wrong words. Pah! My genius is wasted on these mere mortals!!” I didn’t really think that last bit. Well, not then at any rate.

And that became the basis of the song, that clever lyrics quite often don’t matter. I think they do, but there’s an awful lot of songwriters out there that appear to think not. “Don’t waste your time thinking up some clever rhyme” became the first line of the song – sage advice to other budding songwriters out there – “any old words will do and these’ll do just fine.”

Once I’ve got an idea for a song and a melody to work with, it usually doesn’t take me long to knock out a few verses. Indeed, the fact that the song took me so little time to write became another of the lines in the song: “it took less time to write it than it does to play it”. Which is almost true.

It became clear as the song progressed that it wasn’t particularly an obvious song, but more a song about a song. So the chorus changed from being “this is an obvious song” to “this is a song about a song”. Obviously.

Anyway, here is a rough version I knocked out on Friday – give it a listen if you have the time and inclination.

And if you want to sing along, here are the words (but if you want to make up your own, that’s fine too):

Don’t waste no time sitting thinking up some clever rhyme
It’s lazy but it’s true, any old words will do and these’ll do just fine
It’s also true to say this song couldn’t be much easier to play
And it took less time to write it than it does to play it but that’s okay

This is a song about a song, just a song about a song
No rhyme nor reason, no hidden meaning, just a song about a song
This is a song about a song, just a song about a song
Repeat the title so everyone will know this is a song about a song

Well it may sound absurd but if you’re struggling to find the words
You can go “doo do-do do-do, doo do-do do-do” and no-one will care
Now come to think of it, if you really wanna guarantee a hit
You gotta go “wo-oh-oh-oh-oh wo-oh-oh-oh-oh” or some other shit

This is a song about a song, just a song about a song
No rhyme nor reason, no hidden meaning, just a song about a song
This is a song about a song, just a song about a song
I’ve learned my lesson, no tricky chord progressions just a song about a song

It ain’t no secret that if you slur the words or say some of em really fast
Some folks will mishear it and come up with a better lyric than the one you had

This is a song about a song, just a song about a song
No rhyme nor reason, no hidden meaning, just a song about a song
This is a song about a song, just a song about a song
Repeat the title so everyone will know this is a song about a song

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2 thoughts on “A song about a song

  1. Instead of practising silly drums on my morning off, I picked up my acoustic guitar and played along with your song. Then I started to wonder how I could apply some of that Nile Rodgers guitar style on it and turn it into a Daft Punk No.1 hit like he does. Then I realised I was was still only a silly drummer….

  2. I really must give this Daft Punk No. 1 a listen – you’re the second of my musical collaborators to mention Nile Rodgers’ work on it. I used to be a big Chic fan – Rodgers, BerNARD Edwards, Tony Thompson. Now that’s what I call a rhythm section.

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