Bring back the Individual

I've been thinking a lot about names in songs.  Is it just me or do no song writers use names anymore?  What happened to the unabashed wailing of Jolene?  Maybe it's a commitment thing.  To commit to one name, does the writer perhaps feel that they are being selfish, exclusive?  I don't buy it.  I think it's actually a bit cowardly.  You'd think that with all the damn sharing that goes on in the world, that sharing a name in the songs lyrics would be even more common.  

A name in a song gives the story a focal point, something for the listener to sink some teeth into.  It's the meat in the sandwich, which otherwise tells loosely about love or loss or a furnace duct problem… whatever.  But it's also exposing something personal about the singer, about the subject, in a permanent way.  Geez who says that Sherona was actually a real name!  Maybe her real name was Sharon- ooh crazy!  Maybe she was really Sue, and Sherona was just a silly one-time nick-name that came out of her drunk, lusting, loser would-be boyfriend's mouth, mocking her after she'd denied his advances.  OH don't you want the whole story, now that you've sang the name "Sherona!!" 7,000 times over the years…  

Next time, I want to KNOW that furnace repair man's name, man.  Please, dear songwriters, don't refer to the repair man as 'guy' or 'dude'….  I want to picture the name tag: 'Dwayne'  And just like that, Dwayne becomes the symbol of forced air heat to any and all who hears the song, forever more.

 Now THAT's powerful stuff.

Joanna BaxterComment