Sophie Fisher: A melody is like seeing someone for the first time. The physical attraction. Sex.
Alex Fletcher: I so get that.
Sophie Fisher: But then, as you get to know the person, that’s the lyrics. Their story. Who they are underneath. It’s the combination of the two that makes it magical.
Guess what I watched tonight?? That’s right, Music and Lyrics. Chick flick, but one that involves Hugh Grant singing awful 80s songs with awful 80s dance moves which makes it a winner in my book. It was on Oxygen, which meant I had to sit through seven million Dance Your A** Off commercials, but it was worth it.
This piece of dialogue struck me. When I discuss music with my friends, we each tend to fall into one of two campus: music or lyrics. We all have an appreciation for both, but one aspect of the music strikes us more than the other. Many of my friends feel the melody is more important. The catchiness of the song, the chord progression, the transition into the bridge – that’s what most important. I fall on the other side. I like a song mainly for its lyrics – if its lyrics are offensive, demeaning, or just plain stupid, I struggle to enjoy the song, regardless of the notes involved.
This piece of dialogue rings true. The music is the initial attraction, the element that catches your ear and makes you pay attention. The heat. The lyrics take longer to get to know and remember. Sometimes it requires googling the song lyrics or looking at the album sleeve (album? who buys physical albums anymore?). Some songs make you think, make you wonder what it means. More challenging.
How does this relate to writing? Well, I think the concepts can be applied to writing as well. Often, there is some element that draws people in, and some element that makes them stick around. I propose that the element that draws them in is the actual story that is being told, the meaning of the words themselves. The writer has to have a plot, even within a nonfiction article, a progression of events that leads readers to a conclusion. This is the initial attraction. The deeper level is the way the piece is written: the words utilized, the sentence structure, the way the piece flows. This is what makes someone pause, read a piece again, become a devotee of an individual’s writing. In this way, it’s almost opposite of what music does – the elements are flipped.
Thoughts on this? Agree, disagree?