This song asks, "does anyone listen to the words of a song"? and of course the answer is yes. But to be totally honest, I'm not one of those people. The first thing I hear, anyway, is the music --all the textures and melodies coming from each instrument in the recording, including the voices, and their interactions. It often takes me a lot of listens to have any idea what a song is about lyrically. I know that for a lot of people the words are the first thing they hear. But that's not me, and when writing songs, lyrics are usually the last thing that comes to me.
Music is still a huge mystery to me. I guess that's why I still work and play at it. I don't understand where it comes from or what causes melodies, rhythms, and patterns to seem "new" and "original" and otherwise interesting, when in many ways I agree with The Barenaked Ladies that it's all been done before. If I pick up a guitar on any given day, I'm very likely to play something I think is fresh and interesting, and I might even hear a vocal melody that goes along with it. But rarely any words come along. I often feel like the song is already there, just waiting for me to discover it. But this sense also feeds one of my greatest fears: that every time I think I'm writing a new, original song, it's actually a subconscious copy of a lesser-known commercial song from a famous artist whose album I bought and enjoyed in the 70's or 80's. But that couldn't be the case for all the hundreds of songs I've written, and yet I don't feel much responsibility for having worked at writing them. It really feels like they come to me, out of my control, just there for me to revel in and try to capture else risk it being lost like the wispy memories of a dream when you just wake up.
I wrote this song almost 30 years ago now, on October 1st, 1984. So I was 19, a student at Cornell University, and my optimism and naiveté had no bounds. The thing that blows me away sometimes about these lyrics is the projection of myself into the future, wondering what would happen to "the aging artist" in the future when he ran out of things to say. Sure enough, to this day I have probably a hundred songs that are waiting for lyrics, and really close to zero decent song lyrics that are waiting for music. Maybe I don't work at it enough, and expect things to come to me like a dream. I don't know. I would gladly work with another lyricist again, like back in the E.B.A. days with Tim.
I played this song publicly for the first time at the open mic at Bentley's in Woodstock, VT, a year or two ago, and have played it once or twice since at the Skunk Hollow Tavern open mic. It has gotten really good crowd responses, but I rarely think to play it, and maybe I'm a little embarassed now by some of the lyrics because some of them seem a bit forced now. But some of them blow me away.
This was recorded with two mics to a cassette deck in October 1984, and ended up on the album "Umbrellas". I played a gorgeous Gibson Hummingbird 12-string acoustic guitar that had belonged to my high school girlfriend's deceased aunt Geri. That fine instrument appears on many songs on that intimate album.
Thanks for listening!
Nothing to Say What happens to the aging artist If he's said everything he wanted to say? Does he fade away like the words I'm writing now will soon do, Or does he hang around looking for something new day after day? Does anyone listen to the words of a song, Or do they just sing along? La ti da doo wah... A deaf man sings a sad song with a smile on his face. Maybe no one wants to hear bad news anymore, There's enough on TV and in the daily papers. But if he sings of happy things it can get to be a bore. A painter can run out of paint, But he can go to the store and buy some more right away. But a writer can't run out of words. But no one always knows what to say. I have nothing to say today I just felt like singing and playing away I have nothing to say today I just felt like chasing the blues away La tida ti da da ti da da ti da da... I have nothing to say. October 1, 1984 © Andy Wyatt