"The lyrics aren't as important as the sound. The lyrics fit the title, but the sound has to be right." Segment of Def Leppard interview on MTV, 9:30 p.m., September 10, 1989.
Most songwriters agree on how important the melody is in rock music and that less attention is given to the lyrics in many popular rock songs.
The same opinion seems to be the reverse for many novice country songwriters. More emphasis is on getting the lyric right with not enough thought given to the melody. I've actually heard some pretty good writers say that a good vocalist will accentuate their song to make it sound great. True, a good vocalist does not hurt a song, but think how good that same vocalist will sound on a great melody.
Jana Talbot summed it up well when she said, "It's very important to keep the music fresh and exciting but lyrically strong." She was being interviewed by Country Chart Analyst in "Publisher Spotlight" in the October '89 issue.
Do writers overlook fresh and exciting? Many do, but one of a few local area songwriters who does not is Larry Easton who said recently, "That's why a song is called a song and not a poem. The melody is the most important part. It's the part of the song that people remember."
It could be that there are many more lyricists than melody writers. It also appears that approximately 80% of critique time is spent on the lyrics of the song at critique sessions, including those I've conducted. It's possible that we're not getting the point across.
Explaining the melody of his hit (co- written with Hal David) "It Was Almost Like A Song" at the NSAI 1990 Summer Seminar on July 21 in Nashville, Tenn., Archie Jordan explained, "After I introduced the motif (a short musical phrase), I then used a technique Bach often used called a descending sequence."
Many of us might say, "What is this slow-talking Southerner trying to say? Believe me, he knows what he's talking about; he's had nine No. 1 country songs among his gold and platinum albums and other awards. But although the melody in this song is relatively simple, too many of us