• Richard Tracey

Very Big House in the Country.....

Okay, I thought long and hard on whether to write about this subject or not.

The recent comments by Damon Albarn towards Taylor Swift, has created a massive backlash towards him, not just from the 'Swifties', but a lot of the industry.

I kind of see where he was coming from, but he probably didn't pick the best artist to make the comment about.

Do I believe Taylor Swift writes her own music?

Yes... I have seen examples of her songwriting, prior to going into a studio.

Does having co-writers on a track, make you any less of a songwriter?

No.... A lot of music is created by multiple people, sitting around, testing out ideas and creating something from it. Damon Albarn himself worked with the other members of Blur, to create the majority of their songs. He might have contributed the majority of the lyrics as the lead vocalist, but that doesn't diminish the fact that they wrote them together, so were co-writers of the end result.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon worked this way, jamming away in their flat together or bedrooms together, coming up with ideas. One or the other might have contributed more, but the end result was from the two of them. They were embryonic in that sense. This might have shifted later on, but they still stuck to the co-write agreement.

Taylor Swift having co-writes on her music, doesn't make her any less of a songwriter, it means that someone else has maybe contributed something to the overall finished track, that without their input or influence, it would not have gone from the demo to the song you hear once released.

Where I do have a problem with songwriting credits, is when you get artists contributing a word or two, changing what was there, just for the sake of getting a songwriting credit - as this is where most of the money they would make from the song comes from.

There is also the phenomena of buying a song from some up and coming, or unable to get on the ladder artist, because you like their song. Paying them to use that song and then saying that you wrote it. This happens a lot more than we probably realise and some big names in the industry have been accused of this. This I have a problem with, as it is lying to their fanbase and consumers.

Some incredible artists, with the gift of a voice that would melt your heart, never wrote a part of their music, but the music is synonymous with them, more than the songwriter(s). A song is only that, music with lyrics, until someone sings it and if you have the right person, that song can become something more than its constituent parts, it can become alive and touch people in ways you might never have imagined.

Some songwriters work better with others. Some might provide lyrics, while someone else provides the music. Again, they are both songwriters in their own way, they just know what their strengths are.

But music nowadays is written by committee and the producer has too much control and power. The labels want a song for their artist, that is the same as a song currently smashing up the charts, so they go to producers they know can give them that and this is why we end up with stale, copy cat music and artists all sounding the same. The originality has gone now from the popular mainstream and those artists who are creating wonderful music, are struggling to swim against the tide in front of them.

As I said, songwriting credits is where the money is for artists and producers also use this, to get their name on a track, even if they have contributed next to nothing to the songwriting It's because they can make more money than being paid for just the job they are providing.

Does it make it right?

To me, no.... but it is what is happening, so someone seems to be okay with it.

As for Damon Albarn, I think I know what he was getting at... it's about people who say they are songwriters, but they aren't really. They are pulling the wool over your eyes, pretending they are more than they say.

He just chose the wrong person to say it about, or he could have chosen his words a bit better.

In the same sentence, he mentions Billie Eilish and her brother Phinneas. They work well together and that is a good partnership. It works and I don't think either would be as good, if one part was removed.

It doesn't mean we have to like the music that Taylor Swift or Billie Eilish or any of the current mainstream juggernaut is producing and putting out there, but we need to at least give them credit where it is due.

I like to write alone, as ideas come fast to me, but it doesn't mean I would never work with someone else and if I did, they would get as much credit for their input. That to me is the fairest way to do this.

Till next time dear reader....

R x

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