The Song Journal

Miscellaneous news and writing by Bob Franke, mostly about songs as a portable art form, and the process of creating them and enabling them to do their work in the world.

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Location: Peabody, Massachusetts, United States

from Bob Franke began his career as a singer-songwriter in 1965 while a student at the University of Michigan. Upon graduation in 1969 with an A.B. in English Literature, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has since made New England his home. Bob has appeared in concert at coffeehouses, colleges, festivals, bars, streets, homes and churches in 33 states, four Canadian provinces and England.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Why I didn't congratulate you

I like to think I've got an open mind and at least average hearing. When you walked on the stage to open for one of my favorite bands last night, I was ready to listen. But when I realized that, only 6 feet in front of you, I was only catching about 25% of your lyrics, I started to get annoyed. You're an adult, man. I've heard your name on the circuit. I write songs with meaning, and I suspect that you're trying to do that, too. The percentage went up to 75% by the end of the set, and that fact, plus the occasional interesting image and character, and the fact that you kept to the 25 minutes allotted to you, almost got me back on your side.

Almost, but not quite. There was a roomful of people there who had paid for tickets, and you were asking more energy from them than you were giving them. I know that engineers have been telling you for years they can fix it in the mix, and producers have been telling you that your lyrics can go up on the web. But all you had last night was the moment, and you blew that with me and with my wife. I suspect that you blew it with most of the audience as well, and they, like us, were open to listening to you.

Songs are such tiny artifacts that, in a well-written song, they need and use every word they've got. If you don't show respect each one of those words, how do you expect your audience to do more? Hard to do in a bar where folks have a variety of agendas, I know. But that's not where you were last night.


Anonymous Debra Cowan said...

I just now found this, Brother Bob. Thanks for the reminder regarding the songs we sing and the ones others write. I am always grateful to the writers such as yourself who create the poetry and music of the songs I sing. Your last paragraph says it all and of course says it much better than I ever could. I do hope that the person to whom you were writing saw a carefully worded and compassionate lesson and takes it to heart.

5:52 PM  

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