Close

Not a member yet? Register now and get started.

lock and key

Sign in to your account.

Account Login

Forgot your password?

Are You a Liar?

31 Jul Posted by in Blog | 1 comment
Are You a Liar?
 

NOTE FROM EDITOR: This article is an opinion piece written by our own board member, David Guilbault. It does not represent the opinions of our organization as a whole and is meant to inspire thought and discussion. A companion piece, a response, has been submitted by another board member, Todd Christoffel. It is our sincere hope that you will read both pieces and then respond via email to info@songwritersinseattle.com. Lucid responses may be published. 

 

Lennon and McCartney are liars. They wrote, “I give you all my love.” Really? All your love? Can anyone give all their love? Don’t people love their kids? Or pizza? Or golf? Or macramé?

The Temptations sang “You’re My Everything.” Really? Don’t some people cherish their motorcycles, or their wardrobes, or their accomplishments? If so, then the heartthrob of that song is not the writer’s everything.

The Everly Brothers sang one of my favorite songs, written by the brilliant Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, called “Devoted to You.” Um, I don’t think so. Don’t most people spend an awful lot of their time devoted to their work? These songwriters are not telling the truth.

Songwriters tell of giving their souls to their loved ones. Well, if there is such a thing as a soul, it can’t be given, or shared. So, nope. That’s a lie. Lyricists proclaim their affection for their darling one “till the end of time.” Yet, half of marriages end in divorce. Again, the songwriter is untruthful. Songs about the heart are often fantasies, and usually demonstrably false.

Songs about heartbreak, on the other hand, are almost always painfully true. Maybe that’s why I am drawn to break-up songs and not romantic songs. I choose truth over fiction.

The Bryant’s also wrote one of the most honest songs about love, called “Love Hurts.” It starts with these lines:

Love hurts, love scars
Love wounds, and mars
Any heart, not tough
Or strong, enough
To take a lot of pain
Take a lot of pain
Love is like a cloud
Holds a lot of rain
Love hurts, ooh ooh love hurts

This is the truth, laid bare. I invite you to listen to it sung by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris from Gram’s “Return of the Grievous Angel” album. Their performance almost always brings me to tears. This is lyrical honesty.

Certainly, as a colleague who reviewed this column before publication noted, songwriters, like all artists, are allowed poetic license. And the artistic expressions of The Beatles, The Temptations, and the Everly Brothers, like all musicians, are likely not meant to be taken literally. So, maybe it’s a bit harsh to label them as liars. On, the other hand, I can’t think of any Dylan songs with similar sentiments.

So, what is truth in songwriting? What love songs strike you as heartfelt and true? How about your own love songs? Are they honest? I’d ‘love’ to hear what you think. Let’s talk about it.

Read Todd Christoffel’s response

David Guilbault
David Guilbault is a Seattle singer-songwriter and board member of Songwriters in Seattle. David writes, records, and performs soulful music of life, love, and loss - heartfelt songs that live in the truth. You can hear some of David's recorded work on BandCamp at https://davidguilbault.bandcamp.com/. As a professional journalist, a television news producer for ABC News, CNN, and MSNBC.com, David was devoted to reporting objective facts. Now, as a performing songwriter, he is free to tell a more subjective truth.
  1. Carmen Zullo08-01-17

    Hey David,
    Who ever said songwriting had to be honest? I see song creations as a painter sees an empty canvas and then with a stroke here and there a beautiful moment in time is born. As chords flow from the guitar or any instrument and a phrase or two comes to mind a beautiful marriage takes place and becomes a song. If you see a beautiful landscape painting it captures you for that moment and brings delight to both heart and soul and reminds the viewer to contemplate the good times. You are right in saying the soul doesn’t exist but only if you choose to live a one dimensional life and miss seeing the spiritual, mystical, and sacramental part of our existence. How do we explain love? The lyrics of a song like “I give her all my love that’s all I do” may sound unrealistic but point to the good which raises the bar. No one can love another all of the time unconditionally but we can choose to love most of the time. I say go for it like Joe Cocker sang “You’re everything I hoped for,you’re everything I need, you are so beautiful to meeee” There is no way that she can be everything he needs but why not allow that song to capture a wonderful moment in the songwriter’s pen and let it speak to others and shoot for the moon.

Leave a Reply