Today, I really enjoyed a performance given by Uri Alon. He lectured on the importance of nurturing young scientists, but he also sang. He sang “Sundays at the lab”, “Dear Author” (an editor’s letter and referee reports), “Scooped” (what you’d imagine), and my favorite, a tribute to Mike, a mentor in his past, to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne. Every song touched my heart, though they were not about the heart, or at least not about heartbreak, ok maybe the “dear author” and “scooped” songs were about heartbreak… But you know what I mean. Most of what you hear on the radio is about falling in love or   getting one’s heart broken. And while that was certainly part of my life, oh, well over a decade ago,  the only song that is “current” with my love life is  Shania Twain’s “Still the one”.

Why is music so preoccupied with romance? Is romance the one thing all of us, including musicians, have experience with? I do have my weakness for certain love ballads, but I also really enjoy the old folksongs, poems, war and peace songs sung by die Zupfgeigenhansel, songs about kitties and peaches,  the color blue, and sabotage. I wonder if the digital distribution of music will allow for a greater diversity of song subjects, or if we will continue to listen to musicians’ experiences with relationship drama and partying, just as we have an abundance of novels and movies whose protagonists are (screen)writers.

  One Response to “Why so little is sung about”

  1. Even within the romance genre, it would be great to hear more songs about things other than the beginning and the end… The long middle. The difficulty of commitment. Yo La Tengo does okay at this. I don’t tend to listen to a lot of lyrical music, but the groups I do like tend to focus on non-romance songs, like Björk and Radiohead. I also love Artichoke for this — they have a whole album just about bees. And a two album set with short musical biographies for 26 Scientists (one for each letter in the alphabet 🙂 It’d be good if someone would write some climate change songs too.

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