Chords Ain’t Songs

Ever hear of Johnny One Note?

That’s me!

I keep on making the case that
songs, and more particularly,
melodies live independent of
the chords that accompany them.

Suzanne Vega, in the New York
Times’ brilliant blog Measure for Measure
described chords as the
bed the melody lies down on.

Good enough.

So, I have posted bits about found
songs, songs that have dropped
on my head, songs I “caught”,
songs I didn’t know how to play
until a piano player figured them
out for me.

To a lot of people, making up
the chords is the whole act and
art of songwriting.

I disagree vehemently.

And to the songwriter whose only
way of creating a song is “chicky
chacky” — or scratching away at
a guitar trying different combinations
of chords, I say, “Dude, that’s fine,
but you’re missing the boat if that’s
your ONLY method”.

One more reference to flog a dead
horse and I’ll tell you about the song
‘No Matter’.

One fine day Paul McCartney came up
with a tune which became ‘Yesterday’.
Everybody talks about it and for good
reason. It’s been recorded by everybody.

It has made Sir Paul a lot of money.

But more, much more than this, he
caught that song and everybody knew
it. The underlying reaction of anyone
who heard it was…”Great tune! Wow,
Paul caught a big one!”

Nobody would think..”Hmmm, I wonder
how many hours of chicky chacky were
required to spontaneously and randomly
stumble on that particular combination
of chords”.


Because the song is not the chords. The
song is the melody and words, full stop.

And the chords are the basket..or the bed
pace Ms. Vega.

So, here’s a tune that only has two chords
underneath it. It’s something I used to
whistle. I sat down one day to make one
of my characteristically rough everything
in one take home demos.

I didn’t have lyrics but penned a few quick
verses — placeholder lyrics — to hold the
space until the real lyrics came along.

“Let me be your little dog ’til your big dog
comes…” Something like that.

But then I sang them, and I realized
I had done something I had wanted to do
for a long time.

Take a look at the cheezebagulositous
video I just made in which I hammer you
over the head indicating who I am singing

Who I love the most.

May I philosophize for just a second?

We live in a vast mysterious universe. We
have a consciousness. More accurately,
we ARE a consciousness.

We have our loves and we have our grumbles.
They all live in the land of awareness or
otherwise. And the land of otherwise is
just the land of blocked awareness.

Being in love is feeling your awareness
and possibility expand towards the infinite
— the unreachable — in direct relation
to your interaction with the beautiful other.

That’s why it’s so wonderful to sing about
that other, and so wonderful to be in love.

The other I am singing about is infinitely
interesting, infinitely beautiful, infinitely

She is my lover and always will be.

She is the television of the ancients.

There was nothing better to do for
millennia (and, frankly there is nothing
better to do now) than look up to her
and love her and wonder at her mysteries.

And with the contributions of science, the
mysteries only deepen.

Friends my soul cannot expand wide enough
and my heart cannot open wide enough
to express my joy at her constant
presence in my life, but this song is
my best shot at it.

And it brought me great happiness
at a difficult time to get out my
feelings for her. So, here it is.

She never let me down. She’s
always there for me…

Cue it, Johnny!

So, get my song in a movie. What
movie? Hmmmm, how about
a cops and robbers flick? Harvey Keitel
is playing the typical dissolute bad guy,
and stops his car in the desert to take
a leak.

His adversary is riding across the badlands,
his lights off, intending to surprise Keitel
and shoot him. Meanwhile the song plays,
interspersed with images of the desert

3 Responses to “Chords Ain’t Songs”

  1. Vinessa Shiraz Says:

    Make me think of Vincent’s ‘Starry Night”

  2. getmysonginamovie Says:

    Thanks…that’s one of the definitive weepers
    of all time.

  3. Fabitosi Says:

    J’aDORRRRRRRRE cette chanson!

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