But You Don’t Really Care For Music, Do You?
There are songs that you keep for best. Songs you can’t bear to end. Songs that you save for times when you know That Song and only That Song will make everything in the world seem better, just for a moment.
My dad always talked about music that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up but I never knew what he meant until the first time I heard Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah”. From the opening sigh to the final silvery guitar notes, I couldn’t move. The instant it finished, I had to play it again. Every time since then, I’ve been unable to listen to it just once and rarely with entirely dry eyes.
Last night, that song produced a different sort of tears – tears of sheer, bloody frustration. The latest product of Simon Cowell’s Pop Factory has released a cover version. The sort of identikit, soulless, artless cover version that doesn’t even register as song, just a collection of musical kit parts arranged in the least challenging order. I have no idea who the artiste is, she isn’t worth the google. From the 30 seconds I could bear, she’s evidently the sort of singer who sees “emotion” as a box to tick by clenching a fist, closing her eyes and putting more notes in. Nothing but nothing gets my goat more than the unthinking diva who uses Every Bloody Line as a chance to swoop around their vocal range like a vulture at mountain-side plane crash.
Nobody cares how many notes you can sing. Nobody.
Just find that one, perfect note. The note that sounds like your heart is being wrenched apart so that one note can get out and unload every last speck of pain or joy or despair or love that you’ve ever felt to any ear prepared to listen because you had no choice but to set it loose.
Buckley, for the record, had a massive three to four octave vocal range. None of his songs contain the sort of vain histrionics, compulsorily for today’s career diva. He used his notes – picked them with care and love. He used tone and timing and volume. He treated his range as a vast set of colours from which to pick exactly the right shade. He didn’t paint rainbows on every inch of the page.
There’s more to being an artist than learning technique. You have to learn what to do with it.
There’s a campaign to download the Buckley version enough times to stop the travesty being Xmas number one. It might seem petty but it might just make you feel better, just for a moment.