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Old 06-10-2011, 08:15 PM
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wsabol wsabol is offline
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Default Re: How much do lyrics matter to you?

Originally Posted by larryace View Post
Wow I'm officially flabbergasted.

Expounding ignorance of something as a good thing is just backwards in my book. John Coltrane doesn't fit in this discussion, there's no lyrics there.
This discussion obviously centers around music w/ lyrics, free jazz doesn't figure into it.
Lyrics can ONLY detract from a song? Surely this is a joke. I can't believe you mean that. (Dance music exempted) If you can sing along perfectly to a song without understanding it's meaning, why are you proud of that? That makes me think unflattering things about you. Lyrics are just a string of syllables? Smokey Robinson would take exception there, and so do I. Do you feel the same about The Bard? Dylan didn't get famous on his lyrics alone? What was it then? His looks? His voice? His playing?
A big part of feeling music is realizing and understanding what's being said so you can reflect that in your drumming. The drummer/vocalist connection is something that is very intimate. if you don't care what's being said, you can't possibly be playing the song as thoughtfully as you could be. As a vocalist, wouldn't you want your drummer to understand what you are trying to express? Think of it from THAT perspective. Totally discounting the drummer/vocalist connection...what a monumental oversight. I'm sorry but this is the kind of attitude that gives drummers a bad name.

Please don't take this personal, think of it like we're on a debate team. We definitely have opposite views, which is OK. I respect your opinions as yours, but definitely can't agree with them.
The reasons I brought Coltrane into the conversation center around the fact that learning drums, saxophone, how to sing, or how to write songs is just a means to an end. Great artists, whatever their discipline of art, are great for the soul reason that they connect in an emotional/personal way to their audience. However that happens is up to them.

I view vocals as just another instrument in the band. What they sing is simply a collection of notes and sounds, just like every other instrument. If they believe in what they are singing enough to make an emotional connection with me by how that belief comes through in their performance, I'm hooked. It doesn't matter to me what they are singing about. Thats why you hear the expression, ...sings so well they could sing the phone book.

Its the same reason why we like the relatively simple in the pocket amazing grooves of Steve Gadd and Steve Jordan. Its not what they are playing, but how they are playing it, how it fits with everything else. We could probably teach a monkey to play the same notes as Gadd. But I bet anybody would prefer the Gadd version over any alternative, because Gadd is engaged in the groove and pushing some raw emotion and attitude out in his playing. I'd listen to Gadd play warm up exercises. It doesn't matter cause it feels so good.

Same with vocalists, I'd rather listen to Ray Charles sing baby words, then listen to somebody sing a poem about love lost that someone else wrote, because there is an emotional element to everything Ray Charles does.

I understand that singing your own lyrics almost guarantees an passionate performance, because their an personal element to the lyrics and therefore a personal element to the singing. However, the best vocalists can make other people's lyrics, and more to the point, ANY lyrics, whatever the subject, feel good and engage the audience with an emotional element through their note choice and the way they sing.

And yes, just friendly debate.
"Lay the backbeat home."
-Donny Hathaway
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