Dawn and Drew, Music and Lyrics

I like Drew Barrymore movies. I always have. She's just so darn goofy and free-spirited and irresistible. And, I think Drew looks sort of like my wife Dawn. Here are photos of both...you can be the judge.
Dawn and I scored a rare date-night together this past week, and we went to the movie "Music and Lyrics." Usually Dawn and I avoid romantic comedies, but our mutual love for the leading actors Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant prompted our attendance...and the songwriting theme got our attention as well.

It was a lighthearted, fun, funny, and totally entertaining film! At the start, I was a bit worried that the songwriting plot and the actual songs themselves were going to be cheesy and bad and distracting, but as the film progressed, the songwriting process the characters are involved in turns out to be pretty darn realistic!

In the movie, Hugh is the composer and Drew is the lyricist. There are scenes where they're sitting by the piano, staring off into nothingness, just thinking and thinking. That is so much of the songwriting process, in my experience. Then some little lyrical or melodic breakthroughs occur and eventually you catch a wave. I related to a scene where Drew improves upon a lyric by changing the word "spaces" to "corners," and yes, I thought that was a better choice, too...in fact, that exact situation just happened to me:

I had written a song way back in 1993 and made various demo recordings of it over the years, but it's never been publicly released. Eventually I overhauled the lyrics and finalized a high quality full-band recording of the song, but I was unable to record the vocals because the lyric was missing ONE word. It needed to be a three syllable word with the accent on the first syllable (DA-da-da), and it needed to represent ME at the time. The stand-in word I was using just to fill the space was "traveler," but I knew I needed to find the perfect word. I experimented with other candidates, some okay, some totally lame...everything from "neophyte" to "innocent." Finally, just a couple weeks ago the perfect word dropped into my brain: "newlywed." It was ideal: totally familiar but totally underused, a perfect summation of me at the time, PLUS it's a word that's very descriptive and carries with it a ton of information.

In the "Music and Lyrics" movie, Drew and Hugh write a song "Way Back to Love" for a massive pop star (sort of a Britney Spears character), and the song is so likable and heartfelt and hooky that I'm convinced that if a teenybopper singer really recorded such a thing, it would truly be a huge hit. The quality of the song is no surprise, considering it was written in reality by rockstar and film composer Adam Schlesinger (of the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy). Schlesinger is a pop wizard and a master at memorable hooks. Coincidentally, his band Fountains of Wayne released their new album "Traffic And Weather" this week and I picked it up...and I think it might already be my favorite FOW album. A perfect selection of warm-weather car-driving pop-rock tunes. Adam, you're a songwriting ninja.

Go see "Music and Lyrics" and let me know what you think.


Dave said…
Siskel and Ebert thought Schlesinger's brilliant title song for "That Thing You Do!" should have received an Oscar nomination for "Best Supporting Actor" since the movie wouldn't have worked if the "hit" song wasn't a) believable as a hit, and b) something you could stand to listen to over and over during the course of the film without getting sick of it.

Haven't seen "Music and Lyrics" yet, but Fountains of Wayne are one of my "buy it on your lunch break on release day" artists, so "Traffic and Weather" has been in heavy rotation this week.
Dave said…
Of course, I meant "COULDN'T stand to listen to..." up there.

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