Originally my prompt was going to be “Learn a Beatles song,” which is probably how I will approach this assignment, but then I decided to open it up a bit. Though I think hating the Beatles is silly (it’s like refusing to read Harry Potter–not a real aversion to the books, just an aversion to what’s “popular”), I wanted the prompt to appeal to Beatles-haters, too. (My version of crowd-pleasing.) Also, to get more at the essence of what I want to gain from the prompt itself.
Okay, so playing songs that other people might a) be able to sing along with, b) recognize, and/or c) request is not my strong point as a musician. I have a green notebook that serves as a song archive. (It now has a songwriting month section–hurray!) I bring this book to jam sessions or singalongs and stuff and then realize, again, that I tend to learn how to play songs that nobody has ever heard.
The most “known” song in the book might be “Shot in the Arm” by Wilco.
Actually, it’s “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “What Child Is This?” Not songs people are requesting most months of the year.
(Oh wait–I just remembered that recently, I learned “Let’s Give ‘Em Something to Talk About” for a fundraising event, but before that the most popular song in my book was “Shot in the Arm,” or a few Radiohead songs, or whatever. You get my point.)
This is the Woody Guthrie in me speaking, but I believe music, in general is meant to be a communal experience. We’re not learning to play all these songs so we can sit in our rooms and listen to ourselves sing (though I will be doing a lot of that this month). It’s a good thing to create songs and learn songs with the purpose of sharing them. For instance, my friend Laura, who is also musician/fiction writer (there are a few of us!), sings and plays Destiny’s Child’s “Jumpin’ Jumpin” on the guitar. It’s funny but more importantly, it is fun. She does this for the sole purpose of making other people happy (also, perhaps, for letting the world see how awesome she is).
So, today learn a song that you know will please a large group of people–not just yourself.
SONG OF THE DAY: Dusbowl Refugee
Since I mentioned him, I’m sharing a Woody Guthrie song that he wrote to delight and connect to a specific crowd. That’s his whole life, by the way–he wrote songs to lift up people. It’s why I tend to refer to him as “Saint Woody.”