"Do not trust people who call themselves musicians or record collectors who say that they don't like Bob Dylan or The Beatles. They do not love music if those words come out of their mouths." - Jack White
I spend a lot of time with a lot of musicians. MOST all of them agree that the Beatles are THE Beatles, enough said BUT I have heard from a lot of musician's, a disdain for Bob Dylan. Okay, personal preferences, yes, BUT........ I think it sparks a bigger question.
Are lyrics music?
Does music need lyrics?
I feel like the musicians I meet are either jazz, funk, groove music-nerd types OR pen and journal, acoustic guitar, southern twang folk musicians and unfortunately I don't see a lot of cross over between the two different groups. They don't create music together, they don't go to the same open-mics/jams, they frankly seem to not even acknowledge that the other group is creating something at the same time they are in the club next door. Speaking generally of course, there are exceptions.
The critiques I imagine each group has for the other:
"The music-nerd types don't care about the "art" when they write lyrics its always half assed and goofy because they are afraid and incapable of saying anything real and this is frustrating and boring."
"The folk-singer types think that they can read an essay over the same three chords and we are all supposed to drop what we are doing and gawk in awe but if these people cared about their art they would study music and get some real skills"
Now this is harsh but I think it accounts for some of the segregation. You might say to yourself, "well yeah each person thinks the other is lacking and boring sooo, to each his own! Let each ignore the other, no harm done." And, well, you would be right in step with a lot of the music scene but, I believe, this attitude has a significant negative impact on creative output.
Lets look at this through a different lense:
Is music a movie?
Do Movies need Music?
The answer to these questions, and the lyric/music questions above is clearly: NO
BUT imagine A George Lucas film with a John Williams soundtrack... pretty amazing right? Well what if a director spent years, and millions of dollars filming Star Wars and then was like, oh shit..... I have to put music in this..... um just play some random piano keys it doesn't really matter, its about the MOVIE after all, not the music...... This would be insane it would be....... like spending a life-time studying music, creating something beautiful and then bullshitting some lyrics about silly puddy.
The same could be said if John Williams threw his music over some youtube videos of Kittens playing with yarn because he didn't have time to find a fitting film for the music and didn't want to write music FOR a film or compromise his pure music so it could be used to better a movie. Cute yes, but definitely won't help the music to have an impact on the listener.... this would be insane...... like studying words and pouring your soul out in a perfect poem but not taking the time to learn a 4th chord.......
So, the answer above is NO, LYRICS are NOT MUSIC and MUSIC does NOT need LYRICS but if you are going to put your song in a movie, make sure its a good movie and make sure you write music that fits the movie, and give the director freedom and authority to alter your music or put it where it best serves the movie AND if you are going to make a movie and you think it needs some music.... take some time and make sure you get some music that makes your movie BETTER because music CAN make movies BETTER and lyrics CAN make MUSIC better.
Its about respecting your art, respecting other people's skills and passions and pushing yourself and not half assing any single element of the creative process.
- Billy Litz