One of the things I’ve always loved about country music is the fact that the lyric is as important…sometimes more important..than the music. In truth, when people talk about country music classics I find they are very often referring to the narrative of the lyric over against the structure and hook of the melody and chords. We probably all agree that we need both, but I remember being in a writing session in Brixton one day when the subject of country music came up. I was working with a writer called Fingaz…. a great Ugandan keyboard player/programmer who had produced for BigBrovaz (don’t even ask). At one point Fingaz declared his love of country music. I was intrigued.
‘What is it you like?’ I asked
Without even missing a beat, ‘It’s the stories.’
I thought back to that conversation when a listener messaged me via twitter to ask if I’d come across the recent Daniel Tashian/Burt Bacharach collaboration. Having had my attention drawn I have been playing tracks around the house and car for the last couple of weeks. There’s much to love, but as my correspondent said when requesting we play something, ‘Is it country?’ It’s probably not, but both Burt and Daniel have great country credentials, as you would expect. Daniel’s back story is as singer and songwriter for The Silver Seas – Nashville based band who, though never massively successful drew the attention of those who knew. One of those was Kacey Musgraves who engaged him to cowrite and produce her Golden Hour album. That led to a Grammy Award and he’s even more in demand as a writer for Tenille Townes, Little Big Town and more.
Daniel’s collaboration with Burt Bacharach is a beautiful thing; in truth it brings out the best in each of them. It got us thinking about Bacharach and David’s own country connections and we think you’ll be delighted to be reminded of how far their songs have travelled west.
It’s often irritated me how people lazily refer to Bacharach songs when they really mean Bacharach and David. It’s not that either of them didn’t write before or after they met but simply that when people make the error they really are seldom referencing songs where Hal wasn’t present. The great catalogue – and it is truly great – is a testament to the combination of two unique talents. Great records can happen despite the lack of originality in the music or the lyric. But a great song without a great lyric? I’ve yet to hear it.
We’ll also remind you of the talent of Hillary Lindsey. One of the songwriters mentioned in last week’s Chuck Prophet special, you’d be amazed that, despite her name perhaps being unfamiliar, a great number of songs penned by her would be recognisable to any regular listener to the AC. If you are one of our regular listeners I feel confident enough to predict that this week’s show will bring joy, a few surprises and a necessary dose of familiarity to keep you company this Tuesday evening.
As ever we’re on BBC Radio Scotland and we’ll be on air just after eight. Join me if you can.