Songs have such a big impact on our life experience that they sometimes inspire songs of their own. It’s a cool theme that I wish more singers and songwriters would explore.
Here are some of my favorite examples of this theme:
Trisha Yearwood, “The Song Remembers When”
Far and away, the gold standard for songs about songs. I love the way the intro’s guitar hook is repeated immediately after Yearwood, sings, “When I heard that old familiar music start.” Producer Garth Fundis is the unsung hero of this classic recording, which has always seen heaps of deserved praise for Hugh Prestwood’s poetic songwriting and Yearwood’s skillful interpretation.
David Nail, “The Sound of a Million Dreams”
This is the track that got this discussion topic spinning in my head. “The Sound of a Million Dreams” is a song that I seem to love more with every listen. I’m moved by the way the memories of songs impacting him inspires him to keep writing himself, hoping that one day his “voice will cut through the noise and stir up an old memory.”
Clint Black, “State of Mind”
One of the cool things about music is that a song can make you feel very intense emotions which will immediately fade as soon as the song ends. The kicker is that memories associated with a song can make you feel emotions from forgotten memories all over again.
Olivia Newton-John, “Please Mr. Please”
This is one of those songs that my sister and I used to sing in the kitchen over and over again, a song that I’ll never be able to remember the first time I heard it. It’s just always been there. The imagery seems so specific that it’s hard to imagine it being anything but a sad country ballad about a lovesick woman begging the cowboy not to play “B17. It was our song, it was his song, but it’s over.” But the original version by its English songwriter, Bruce Welch, is remarkably upbeat, and it was turned into a reggae hit in Jamaica by Barbara Jones. The sentiment is universal.
Jason Isbell, “Songs that She Sang in the Shower”
I am eternally grateful toward by colleague Jonathan Keefe, who introduced me to Isbell’s incredible songwriting. What makes this song a bit different from the others is that Isbell is in the middle of making the painful memories that will be associated with the song down the road. As he’s being left, he’s running through all of the songs he’ll never again hear her sing in the shower, and “experience tells me that I’ll never hear them again without thinking of then.”
These are five of my favorite songs about songs. What are some of yours?