ALWAYS CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVE

The lyricist Ira Gershwin, one half of the great songwriting duo, offers an illuminating view of

how he approached his art, ready to consider change yet not always willing to go with it.

In his "standard" "They Can't Take That Away From Me", he uses the following as an example:

"We may never, never meet again

On the bumpy road to love,

Still, I'll always, always keep

The mem'ry of

The way you hold your knife,

The way we danced till three,

The way you've changed my life-

No, no! They can't take that away from me!

No! They can't take that away from me!

Studying those lines, he realised he could have written

"We may never, never meet again

On the bumpy road to love,

Still I don't know when

I won't be thinking of -

The way you hold your knife," (etc.)

He saw the rhyme of "again" and "when" on important notes, and liked the double negative of

"I don't know when I won't".  He admitted if the latter verse had occurred first he may have

used it - but, later, on reflection - no dice!  He considered that the first version - with

"always, always" following "never, never", plus all the "No, no!"s made for a better balance.

So - that's how successful work can happen and how writers are advised to "always, always"

consider the alternative even if they don't settle for it.

...................................................................................

◄ SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

CONSIDER THIS ►

Comments

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raypool

Fri 17th Jun 2016 19:09

HI Mark again. I wanted to imply that the public in the pre war days in general terms were more ready to accept mawkish and sentimental ideas than the later generations. I think that explains my thoughts better than the last line ! The Way you look tonight is one of my favourite songs, and lends itself to jazz interpretations as do most of the American song book tunes. (Many have ventured in, giving a completely different from the originals). I'm sorry to say I don't watch talents shows as a sick bag would have be to hand or a blood pressure monitor when watching the judges. Enough said for now !!!
Regards, Ray

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 17th Jun 2016 18:20

Thanks for the observations. I'm not sure about your
last line. There has never been an era that has seen
such long-lasting and popular songs, with a plethora
of gifted contributors adding to the mix. If I'd been
around in the 20s thru' to the 40s, I'd have been
humming/singing many of them, I'm sure, taking my mind off my troubles. Fast forward to today...how about the rendition of "The Way You Look Tonight"
from that very good young finalist in the recent "Britain's Got Talent"? Material as good as that doesn't "date".
When I was a rockn'roll youth in the 50s, I discovered
Sinatra's "Songs For Swinging Lovers" LP - and a world
of song that opened up new (yet old) frontiers for me.
The Beatles followed, plus others, and have their own
place in songwriting history to enrich its huge place in
our lives. I give thanks for them all...except punk rock!! :-)

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raypool

Fri 17th Jun 2016 17:53

You made a valid point Mark. Obviously studying the masters of a genre will reveal layers of intention; plus I think that they wanted directness to appeal with their songs - no confusion. In later times, such as with songs like McArthur Park, or even those of Lennon and McCartney in their LSD period their message was more veiled and needed a suspension of disbelief. The age of Gershwin was not exactly the age of enlightenment for those craving entertainment and a relief from the pressures of the world.

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