Wednesday, January 10, 2007


To be “well made” a song needs either a chorus, or a bridge, or both. The words need some sort of unity, whether of diction, imagery, or domain. The words need to seem to “work with” the music. And there needs to be some sort of “hook.”

The Donovan song above, sweet as it is, has no chorus or bridge, it’s just three or four verses. Describing the beautiful woman you wake up with is a strong enough hook. The words work well with the music, but there’s no perspective or commentary, which would be provided by choruses and bridges.

Poor Donovan, all that sweetness wasted. The second clip is another song that almost makes it, Catch the Wind has a timid little musical bridge that doesn’t really help. But the sentiment is sweet.

There’s a YouTube clip of Donovan talking with Pete Seeger about, then playing, Colours, with an extra verse. Donovan was wise not to include the extra verse in the official version, it was terrible.

Anyway, Pete passed up his chance to tell Donovan that Colours needed not an extra verse but a damn bridge.

By contrast, Desperado is a very well made song. I found this version by Ken Hirai. Never heard of Ken, but what a nice voice! Check his site.

Written in 1973—Watergate was breaking, Vietnam was broken, inflation was high, and gas lines were long—this song is an enduring standard that will be jerking tears from willing listeners for many years to come.

I’m a total softy for this stuff.

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