Of all art forms it is music that seems to me to be the most magical. It is unexplainable how a song can make you break down and cry, not because the lyrics are moving but because the tone, the arrangement, the way the notes come building up and falling down conspire to give you an out of body experience. It is the reason you cry when watching a crappy Disney film - it isn't the fact that the dog dies, it is the musical accompaniment with the soaring strings and the minor chords.
Althought he best songs do come with words attached.
The poetry can be about the girl who was just 17, you know what I mean, or about motivatin' over the hill, or about visions of Johanna and the ghosts of electricity. Theres can hardly be a topic that hasn't come up in song.
High culture looks down its powdered nose at song, unless it takes the form of an unlistenable opera but the Encyclopedia Britannica gets it right in this definition of song. Bringing together two art forms, words and music, to create a third: song.
In fact I think there is another art involved: the art of performance.
words + music = song;
song + performance = magic.
Sometimes the artist doesn't recognise the value of what he (or she) is doing. Low culture pop music still gets a raw deal.
Hank Williams view is stated differently by Townes van Zandt. In Hank's opinion a song is just a story sung while Townes sees it as a poem spoiled. Neither of them are right. Song is magic.
One person who does recognise that a good performance of a good song is as fine a piece of art as a Michaelangelo or a Leonardo is Townes' friend Guy Clark.
Guy Clark - Dublin Blues