It’s Only A Song

Gretchen Peters
Gretchen Peters

It’s Only A Song

“It’s only a song….”
Only a song? Goodness me, no! You’ve got it all wrong!
It’s caged birds, flying free,
Priceless art, poetry.
Bygone films, scented rose,
Pitch-perfect, pure prose.

Lodged in my memory,
This soundtrack to life,
Helps me through troubles,
Brings comfort through strife.
The essence of melodies, melting through skin,
Each note, word and syllable carved deep within.
Broken hearts seeping through eyes, like a flood,
Truth, love & sentiment coursing through blood.
I can never describe the sheer joy in my heart,
Precious music and I could never impart,
The feeling, the glory, that shines through each story,
It reaches my soul,
Makes my everything whole.
Fuels fires where passionate feelings are stowed
A Phoenix from desolate voids that explode!

25th January 2019

Today is National Poetry Day 2019. This year’s theme is, “Truth.”

I wrote this poem, at the end of January, about songs, and their importance & impact on the listener. Some songs have very deep meanings, with the power to profoundly affect, or even change lives!
Protest songwriters have put over strong views, for many years, on all sorts of subjects, in the hope that the media will pick them up & ultimately gain publicity for their causes. They’re often about oppression, war, and unfairness in society. Their opinions may go unheard, or the platforms are too difficult to reach in order to get to a wider audience, because of politics/dictatorships, ignorance, denial, closed doors etc. However, through a song they can say things they wouldn’t usually be allowed to say, and if they’re known artists, people will listen, and truths heard. It’s easy to recall several protest singers, in recent history; Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, John Lennon, Nina Simone, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie..the list goes on!
Some songwriters get their points over through the characters & stories in their songs. It could be a prostitute, the pain of adolescence, a volatile relationship or one falling apart, failing health of the elderly, the effects of natural disasters, estranged love etc. They’re often gritty subjects, but there’s always a possibility that we can identify with the troubles they face, if not the actual situation.
Earlier this year, one of my favourite singer/songwriters, Gretchen Peters, posted an article about writing.
It was about the difficulty of trying to put into words how, & why certain songs we love make us feel the way we do, the mythology of musical genius, by Amanda Petrusich of The New Yorker magazine.
I’ve often wondered about this..why does a certain melody make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, why does THAT combination of musical notes and words make me want to cry, dance, chill, jump up & down, sing..why all of these emotions, how does the chemistry work? “There’s a little bit of God in it” says Amanda. That may depend on what you believe. Admittedly, I’m not religious. However, I certainly do feel that some pieces of music are, and can make you feel, “other worldly,” if you allow them to fully immerse into your psyche, at the right time. It’s like the planets being fully aligned!

Everything about Gretchen’s writing speaks to me; the music, the words, her voice..the whole mix. It’s not happy, clappy cheery stuff. No. It’s raw, dark, even heartbreaking, it’s taboo subjects..it’s life in all its complexities, it maybe things we may not want to face up to, but it is truth. Perhaps, it is because I can identify with some of the subjects she writes about, especially as an older woman, that I feel her words so much. Not, necessarily in the fullest degree, but with the feelings that are being portrayed. If the subject of the song is going through a bad or sad time, and things aren’t going your way either, it makes you feel as though you are not alone, it’s very cathartic! Couple that with a beautiful melody and atmospheric backing, and you have a winning concoction.
I came across Gretchen quite a few years ago, after hearing a live version of her song, “On A Bus To St. Cloud” being performed for an audience, during a BBC Radio 2 show, presented by Sir Terry Wogan, one Sunday morning. I wondered, whose beautiful voice is this? What is this glorious piece of guitar/piano music accompanying her & washing over me? I was hooked, & wanted to hear more. There, began the journey & enrichment I have enjoyed, through listening to her music, over many years. Also, being lucky enough to see her singing live, several times, and meeting her, and her talented, piano accompanist husband, Barry Walsh, after gigs, along with many other appreciative fans.
Gretchen’s post made me think, and delve further into what music and beloved songs mean to me.

It inspired my poem, “It’s Only A Song.” It is never only a song! #Truth #Nationalpoetryday2019

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11 thoughts on “It’s Only A Song”

  1. Ivor Steven says:

    Hello Debbie I can’t explain how much I enjoyed your wondrous poem, and the rest of your article, detailing the origin of your poem, and the superb story about the power of music in our lives, and your incredible association with Gretchen Peters. Thank you, thank you, for introducing me her, and I’m at YouTube now, playing some of her songs….. and now I’m hooked, especially after listening to “Jubilee”,…. of course I cried….. I swallowed her emotional song, in heartfelt big lumps, and I shall gather more of her music in my playist…… Yeah you knew it would be my sort tunes and lyrics… ??????

  2. SueW says:

    I enjoyed reading your poem Debbie, and your very interesting article. You obviously really feel the music. I think that is something that musicians and poets have in common. They don’t just listen, they actually hear. ?

  3. K Morris Poet says:

    Thank you for this poem Debbie. I enjoyed reading it and your explanation regarding what led you to compose it.

    I sometimes find that I enjoy a protest song without agreeing with the message being conveyed. I think that one can like protest art (if that is the right way to describe it) without falling for the message hook, line and sinker. For example I enjoy some of Billy Bragg’s music but, politically we are not on the same side of politics.

  4. Peter's pondering says:

    I recall that I saw a song in the first poem of yours that I ever read. It reminded me of Simon and Garfunkel’s America.
    A lovely poem here, and an interesting backstory.

  5. Itching for Hitching says:

    Thank you that’s a lovely post. Music is so important to us and is the background to our lives. A friend of ours who had an eclectic taste in music had the time to list what he wanted played at his funeral. That music took us on a journey of our lives with him and there were many tears shed.

  6. JOY journal says:

    I agree with Amanda. “There’s a little bit of God in it.” 🙂 How wonderful that such a thing can be. Life on a page or a sound wave or a canvas.

  7. Hope says:

    Bravo! So true about words. Adding special words to the right areas of a sentence, phrase, song, paragraph can bring what you are feeling alive.

  8. forresting365 says:

    This is wonderful, Debbie! And so true!!! Music is such a huge part of our lives. And I’m LOVING Your new picture there! Cheers!!! 🙂

  9. Amanda Ricks says:

    Thank you so much for this, I’m going to check out Gretchen for sure.

  10. willedare says:

    I am another reader who is now going to find Gretchen Peters on YouTube. I especially liked this part of your poem: “Each note, word and syllable carved deep within.” I am a musician who often wonders if music and songs have any value whatsoever in the grand scheme of life here on planet earth. I was great to find this blog post with your poem and thoughts about the value of music in your life.

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