Chiming In

  • Deborah Straszheim

Who Wrote That?

I interviewed a politician years ago, who brokered big deals.

His office was a cloud of smoke, and he leaned back in his chair, feet propped up in loafers with no socks, and complained to me one day, "Nothing drives me crazier than people who take credit for other people's work."

He obviously wasn't in the music business. Because, let's face it, if you're a songwriter and only a songwriter, this is bound to take place at some point, on some level.

How does it happen? Most songwriters start out with "the dream:" They will record and perform their own song before a large audience. But as time goes by, many decide it's more important to simply have their music and words heard. So they graciously accept a place in the fine print.

Songwriters, even award-winning ones, remain relatively unknown by the general public, even if they earn the recognition in the industry as gifted writers.Their main goal becomes crafting the song and finding the right voice for it.

You wouldn't think it would be that hard to get a song heard; the average song is probably about three minutes long.

But the average attention span is more like 12 seconds. As an aspiring songwriter then, you find yourself almost begging for someone to listen; as in. "It's really short...Just listen for three minutes..."

But back to the matter of credit. If you're all about having your music heard, you can't care too much about this. Just to illustrate, would you know, for example (without looking it up) that Allen Shamblin and Tom Douglas wrote, "The House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert? It's almost surprising to someone outside the industry, since the song is so associated with Lambert. And then, in our still sexist world, some don't expect a man to write, "I know they say, you can't go home again; I just had to come back one last time..."

Perhaps the gifted writers don't mind at all. Maybe they even wrote the song for Lambert. I don't know. But I'd guess they've come to view their artists as partners of sorts.

What matters most then, is creating and giving voice to a song. Even if it's not your own.

Maybe that would satisfy people like my politician friend. Don't know who wrote, "Blame It On Your Heart" by Patty Loveless? Read the fine print. It's there.

That's just the way the business is. It's not going to change. "Blame it on your lyin', cheatin', cold, dead-beating, two-timing, double-dealing, mean, mistreating, lovin' heart." -song co-written by Harlan Howard and Kostas Lazarides.

The House That Built Me ~ Miranda Lambert

Blame It on Your Heart ~ Patty Loveless

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