What makes a good song?

Posted On: Saturday - December 10th 2016 10:22AM MST
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I've been putting songs that I like up at least each day, and I hope the reader(s) is enjoying them. You can look up and play your own stuff, of course, and music is not the point of this blog. However, we hope these are songs you may have not thought of or heard lately, or ever.

That being said, here is this blog's opinion of what makes a good song (classical music excluded here) just in very general terms.

You've got your tune (melody), your lyrics, and what I call "the sound", the last of which is the instruments being played and how well and the mixing/production of the recording. This is how I see the importance:

1) Tune
2) Sound
3) Lyrics

There is no way to have a good song without a good tune. Rap/hip-hop is a whole category of "music" that illustrates the problem of not having a good tune, or any tune for that matter. To see the converse of this, take a song like "Louis, Louis". The tune is not particularly elaborate but catchy, and, in fact, the sound is not too much of anything either. How 'bout these lyrics:

"Louis, Louis"
"We gotta go"

Then to build on this theme about having to go somewhere, we have this subtle change in the theme:

"Louis, Louis"
"We gotta go now"

There have been articles, master theses, etc. too numerous for the author to list in this simple little blog containing various interpretations to find the true meaning. Nobody got around to asking the songwriter himself, but the best interpretation put forth by a team of PhDs in literature is:

"Hey Louis, we've really gotta get going now, um-kay?"

OK, seriously, so you don't need good lyrics to make a good song. The author listened to an interview with David Byrne of The Talking Heads, Mr. Byrne talked about the song Burning Down the House. The tune is not that great, but what a sound! In this case, the rhythm should probably broken out as a subcategory of (2) sound, as it makes this song. David Byrne says that the lyrics were basically arbitrary words to fit the rhythm, and that originally the chorus had "foam rubber USA!" in place of "burning down the house!" It cracked me up to hear this.
I wish I could tell the reader how to find this interview, but all I know is that is was back in the timeframe in which MTV didn't suck, so that brings us to the late 80's or earlier.

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