Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Every Songwriter Should Read This

While researching a blog article on "Lili Marlene," the international hit song of WWII, I encountered the following brilliant observation on the marriage of words and music:

"These pleasures -- a sweetheart's kiss, say, or a country sunset -- are too elusive for ordinary speech. They evade even the most sensitive of writers. Put them in a sentence and they sit listlessly, deflated of all meaning. But put them in a song and they glow. The music charges the words, guiding the simple images to those compartments of the mind that store wild emotion. It is there that a song's significance and its potency lie. As Lale Andersen herself witnessed when she toyed with alternative compositions to "Lili Marlene," it was only Norbert Schultze's music that made the song a crowd-pleaser, only his tune, a wedding of folk songs, military marches, and a children's ditty, that managed to capture the true spirit of the poem. Hans Leip's words alone weren't enough; "Lili Marlene" needed a melody and a memorable voice to translate its essence from the private language of one man to the international idiom that captured the hearts and minds of men of all cultures and tongues."

Excerpt from "Lili Marlene: The Soldiers' Song of World War II" by Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller, page 211.

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