and i said,
a modest mouse song
art by rose tatarsky.
When you really get down to it, most musicians are lazy writers. Music can get by on the strength of a funky baseline, and falls prey very easily to the positive feedback sickness of “good enough.” That’s fine for a certain sub-set of listener (i.e. the top-40-consuming public) but I demand more, because I know if you push there is more. As someone who has spent a lot of time writing, most lyrics read to me like shitty first drafts. There’s potential in there, but if you were at a bar and someone wrote the words to any Red Hot Chili Peppers song on a napkin, handed it to you and said it was a poem they wrote, you would struggle not to laugh at them. It’s a bunch of stream of consciousness, “good enough,” first draft, you-figure-it-out garbage.
When you take a step back, this isn’t that surprising — writing and music are two separate mountains, each requiring a lifetime of struggle to climb. But the only songs for me are the ones that go beyond the good into great, and lyrics are always the final push that gets them there. Composing melodies and writing poetry are two very different, very difficult things; Isaac Brock puts the lie to the idea that you can’t do both. He’s a musician and a writer, and sings lead with a crazy lisp. He is awesome. Here’s a guy, I guarantee, who writes a second draft.
“Jaws clenched tight we talked all night oh but what the hell did we say?”