The Library of Congress recently honored Garth Brooks with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. A broadcast of the concert will be coming up on March 29 on PBS. In an interview with the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, Mr. Brooks spoke of songwriting and his emphasis on recognizing more women as songwriters. It may seem easy to express one’s feelings, find a few words that rhyme, come up with a melody or work with a collaborator, but it’s not. In popular music, finding a ‘hook’ is essential. A ‘hook’ is something, either melodically or lyrically, that stays with listeners.
I especially enjoy how Mr. Brooks uses wordplay in his songs. I remember laughing at one of his early titles, “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places.” But…it worked. I remembered the song, I remembered the artist. Another one of his is “Dive Bar.” Sounds nefarious, right? Here is the last line, “We’re gonna spend the weekend in the deep end of a dive bar.” I suppose they’ll come to surface after drowning all their sorrows and disappointments.
We have many titles in braille and audio format from the country genre. One audio title has become a standard reference tool for patrons interested in country music: Classic Country Music by Bill Malone, DBM03645. In braille, we have Hot Country Singles of 1991, BRM34549, and Top Country Hits of the 90s, BRM34547. Both of these titles are in bar-over-bar format and available on BARD.
Here are some guitar-by-ear lessons for songs by this year’s Gershwin Prize recipient, Garth Brooks:
“Thunder Rolls” DBM02099
“Unanswered Prayers” DBM02105
“The River” DBM02102
“If Tomorrow Never Comes” DBM02089
“Friends in Low Places” DBM02473
“The Dance” DBM02100
“Belleau Wood” DBM02081
“You Move Me” DBM02109
And here are some titles I’ve chosen to highlight because they have a good ‘hook’:
“All My Exes Live in Texas” DBM03022
“Midnight in Montgomery” DBM02092, a song about the legacy of Hank Williams in the style of Alan Jackson
“Boot Scootin’ Boogie” DBM03032.
OK, let’s “Cowboy Up” and write some songs!