Friday, February 11, 2011

Songwriting Spank Material - "Kathy's Song"

So, I’ve decided I need to have some blogs about songwriting. I do a lot of songwriting (in addition to my art and regular writing), and as such, I listen to a lot of songs. This series “Songwriting Spank Material” is my attempt to introduce you to some of my favorite songs, and give you some reasons why I like a song. I think it will be fun, and it might make you look at a song and artist differently. Who knows? You might find a whole new kind of music to like.


Paul Simon. Paul Simon does something in songs I only wish I could do. He meanders. His songs are deliberate meanderings. He starts at point A and takes you on this twisting maze of rich lyrics, rhythms, counter rhythms, and harmonies before delivering you to point B. I've often had to listen to his songs two or three times to understand the journey he was taking me on.

I was always a Simon and Garfunkel fan, ever since I was a little kid, but I was impressed more with the harmonies and didn't notice the songwriting. I didn't notice that until later when I started songwriting myself. I saw a documentary about Paul Simon's Graceland. He talked about how he was incorporating the traditional rhythms and harmonies into his music, and i was blown away by the complexities and overall genius that he seemed to passively shrug off in interviews. After seeing that documentary, I revisited Simon and Garfunkel, and immersed myself in the catalog of his work.

Sometimes the most unassuming songs are the ones that end up being your favorite. Simon has written some massively successful and amazing songs - "Mrs. Robinson," "Homeward Bound," "Sounds of Silence," "Graceland" just to name a few - but in this case it's a less well known song that is probably my favorite - "Kathy's Song." "Kathy's Song" is a rainy day song for me, probably because rain is such a prevalent theme in it, but also because Simon captured perfectly the kind of introspection a rainy day can conjure inside a person. It also says everything to a woman I have ever wanted to say in a song, and it says it beautifully, especially the last two verses which serve as my favorite lines of the song:

And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you

And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you go I

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