Over the years I’ve noticed that I have a pool of songs that I always want people to hear when I make a mix disc. This continuing series will highlight these songs, provide me an excuse to write about music, and hopefully do what I love most: turn people on to new music.
I’ll admit it. I’m not generally a fan of singer-songwriters. A friend of mine once complained that a boyfriend of hers once entirely dismissed Aimee Mann as “just a singer-songwriter,” as though writing and singing songs is never quite enough. Honestly, for most guys into hard-rocking music, there are some limitations of timbre when it comes to singer-songwriters compared to full bands. As band leaders, singer-songwriters are less inclined to let their employees in the band contribute creatively with a wicked drum fill or guitar part.
Furthermore, far too many singer-songwriters take words that aren’t quite poetry and marry them to generic chord progressions, the combination of which often makes for an okay song. A kind melody forgives a poor lyric. Despite my degree in English, I listen to words last. My primary interest is music that is compositionally intelligent, melodic, and rhythmically interesting. This formula doesn’t leave much room for the Bob Dylans of the world.
So when I tell you that David Mead is my favorite singer-songwriter, I hope you understand what that means.
I’m not even sure what it is exactly. It’s some mystical combination of a great voice – sweet but tired, terrific chords, timbres, melodies and yes, lyrics. The inaugural song of this feature is his “Wherever You Are” from his 2005 album of the same name. My favorite line leads into the chorus: “fairy princess / feathers and dried up tar / come back, wherever you are / accidents will happen.”
Take away the lyrics and you’ve still got a beautiful composition that stands on its own as an instrumental. That’s all I ask of a song.
1.) Of course I like Bob. How can you not? But I think of him more as a great writer who plays harmonica.