Chiming In

  • Deborah Straszheim

I love country music. I say that at the outset, because there is one thing that makes me want to ram a fence with a four-wheel drive truck: Mindless songs that portray women as if they’re hood ornaments. Why is this done?

The latest is Luke Bryan’s “Move,” number 16 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and moving up (unacceptable.) In it, Bryan sings about a woman with “a little shy side, a little wild side” and “a rockin’ little body” (can you say cliché?) who locks eyes with him on the dance floor.

Yes, we know gentlemen, you want to imagine that this hot woman just moved into town, is a little shy, (but secretly wild!) and wants you.

So why would women like this song? It is, after all, number 16, so some must. Here’s my theory: Female fans of this song secretly want to imagine they are this woman everyone’s staring at. Let’s face it, the ability to evoke such awe is power.

But back to reality. Most men are not going to meet some smokin’ babe who just arrived in town and gives them that “come hither” look with her eyes. And most women I know (myself included) are not this stunningly sexy woman every guy has to have.

Yet the song “Move” is clearly about ogling some woman and hoping to get a piece. Even with code words, you can’t miss the subtle-as-a-brick-through-a-window sexual references. At one point, Bryan sings that she's got him where he wants to be, “all up in the middle of your left and right, your side to side, you're right on time.” He later adds, “C-O-M-E, come on, I want to see you move like you do.”

Did he spell that correctly? (I’m sorry, was that too crude?)

Just keeping it real, people. On that note, I’m thinking a few new lyrics for the chorus might make it a bit more female-friendly. Shall we sing, ladies?

M-O-V-E, you’re kidding

Yeah, you’re kidding, yeah you’ve got to be

I’m no, piece of meat

Not like I’ve been waiting all week to

Deal with this dude

All thinking he’s smooth

Like he’d love too

Nah he’s, got no clue

Thinking I’ll strip

What is this sh-t?

‘Bout to get hit

I might turn it loose

Stars in the southern sky

I can’t believe this guy

DJ call that bouncer goon

Cause I can’t move till he moves

#country #LukeBryan #sexism #women #countrymusic #billboard #countrysongs #move

  • Deborah Straszheim

When I hear a song that resonates with me, I listen to it probably 30 times. Perhaps songwriters do this often; ask themselves why a song works.

The latest is “Lovin’ Lately,” by Big & Rich, featuring Tim McGraw, No. 21 on the Billboard Country Radio Music Chart this week.

I’ve always liked Big & Rich, an independently recorded duo, for their harmonies. But a couple of aspects of this song stood out to me right away. First, the duo sings together from the opening of the first verse, rather than having one member lead the song. Harmonies are front and center immediately.

The song uses traditional country instruments like the mandolin, but many don’t join until the chorus. So the sound builds along with the song's message. McGraw also begins singing at the chorus.

The lyrics are simple. But they deal with two highly-relatable aspects of many breakups: The realization that you were not as irreplaceable as you thought, and the temptation to find out what an ex-lover is doing.

There’s something uniquely painful about feeling duped and discarded by a partner. I’m not talking about cheating here, but about the realization that at some unknown time, your partner silently wrote off the relationship or started looking at other options, while remaining in your bed. Thus, he or she was later able to walk away with surprising ease.

The song describes the humiliation and disillusionment that often follows: “I guess you finally got the best of me, I guess you thought I’d never see, you know it’s so hard to believe how we came down, like we were nothing, baby...”

The bridge of the song then moves on to an internal tug-of-war many of us know well; the temptation to check up on an ex. “I don’t want to know, but I gotta know, I don’t want to know, I gotta know.”

This has always been a struggle for people, but it seems particularly common today, in the age of social media. On the one hand, you know that looking at what your former partner is doing will only bring you pain. So it is self-destructive.

On the other, I believe some people do it for the opposite reason - to be freed. The thinking goes something like this: If I learn all of the painful details, perhaps I will be so hurt and disgusted that I will no longer care. So they run toward information they know will be devastating in an effort to end their suffering.

Everyone relates to music through the lens of their own experience. But that’s the point. Whether you’ve been duped, discarded, checked on an ex or thought about it, there’s a part of "Lovin' Lately" that hits home.

#countryartists #country #countrymusic #TimMcGraw #billboard #breakupmusic #breakups #breakupsongs #songwriter #lovinlately #chart #message #song #lovesongs #singer #single #traditional #songwriters #duo #harmony #BigRich

  • Deborah Straszheim

My sister writes songs. When she can’t think of a lyric, she sings fannies. Fanny, fan-fan; fanny, fan-fan.

Since my daughter and I co-write, we have a similar method. For the most part, my daughter writes the melodies and I write the lyrics. It’s not a rule of ours; we tinker outside of our respective realms. But this is how we work, for the most part.

So she’ll send me a melody with nah-nah-nahs or do-do-dos. It could be fannies, I suppose. But the point is, when you hear a song this way, the melody is totally unobstructed. You can hear whether it fits with the message of a song, and you can hear the lyrics working or not. There are no words to drive the song, except the ones in your head.

It’s also a good test of how strong a melody is. How many times do you have to listen to remember it? Do you still want to sing it, even with nonsense?

The example I’d use is the love song, “H.O.L.Y.” by Florida Georgia Line (top of the Hot Country Songs Billboard chart, No. 14 on the Top 40 Singles Chart this week.)

When I first heard this song, I didn’t really care for the reference to holiness. Not that love isn’t sacred or that it can’t be holy, but your loving someone does not by itself make someone holy. It might make the person seem like an angel from heaven, but holy is a stretch. Think of all the once angelic people you may have dated who later became louses.

I realize that sounds terribly cynical, but there’s another point here; love is not a measure of another person’s goodness. It’s more a measure of your giving of your own heart. You don’t love because of goodness or what someone’s done; often you love despite it. It’s not cause and effect. If it weren’t so, we couldn’t love devils (though we might wish we did not) as well as angels. Yet I believe most of us have.

But I digress. Back to the song. I found myself singing it. It starts out with simple guitar picking, joined in a few measures by piano chords, which give it real power. The lyrics also use long vowel sounds, which tend to be melodic: Holy, high, you.

So it’s a love song with sweet words. But it’s the strength of the melody that drives it. Even without the words, it meets a simple but fundamental test: You can sing fannies with it, and still feel the message.

Pick your lyric for the chorus and just sing. Nah-nah-nah, do-do-do or this: “Fan-fanny, fanny, fanny, fanny-fan, high on lovin’ you, high on lovin’ you.”

#melody #songwriting #floridageorgialine #country #songs #HOLY #lyrics #top40 #singles #singing #love #lovesongs #words #chorus #holy #countryartists #countrymusic

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