What do you call songwriters? Poets with music in their pen
“… when you’re talking about the music of a country, you’re talking more or less about the soundtrack of a country, the soundtrack by which people’s lives are lived,”
American poet and Pulizer Prize winner
When I read this quote I immediately thought of Christy Moore, a song writer who has been writing Ireland’s bitter-sweet soundtrack for half a century. And Jess has nailed a crucial difference between song lyrics and poetry – perhaps the only real difference.
Although both art forms are meant to live off the page and come alive through the medium of a human voice, only lyrics are wedded to music. You can read a poem to yourself in your head. You can’t sing a song without opening your mouth and letting the sound out…or better still (much better in my case) listen to someone with a gift for singing.
I will be listening to Christy Moore next month when he plays at Worthing Theatre. He has produced more than 25 solo albums in his long career, from Paddy on the Road in 1969 to Lily in 2016.
His songs have covered every aspect of Irish life from politics with a small ‘p’ to Politics with a large one, and his subjects range from the tradition of match making to the emotional cost of leaving home.
I was a disposable Paddy servin’ me time to be a
Co-Pilot on a kango hammer in Shepherd’s Bush
Doin’ 86 MPH on a JCB down the Kilburn High Road
Irish Time critic Tony Clayton-Lea says that Moore’s lyrics are rooted in the “especially ordinary” and he can also write with humour and a light touch about the small concerns of life.
“I have to be at ease with every phrase and I search for the perfect word,” said Moore in a newspaper interview about his writing process.
I love the idea of being at ease with what you’ve written. Isn’t that that the goal of every writer? To be comfortable with the words we put our name to: not to feel they are strained, or showing off, but to have that hard-to-define right quality that makes them ours.
“I write out songs longhand and keep all revisions, sometimes over 20 or 30 pages. Even though it wrecks me sometimes, it’s a labour of love.”
Keeping all revisions is good advice because sometimes when you’re striving for the perfect word, you can lose sight of what you really want. And when you’ve agonising over the 6th draft, you could well come to realise that you were closer at the 2nd attempt.
It’s 10 months since a songwriter won the Nobel Prize for Literature for the first time. It was overdue. I’m looking forward to hearing another great writer sing his masterpieces in Worthing.
I see there are still some tickets
available at Worthing:
You can book HERE
And you might enjoy visiting
Christy Moore’s website