Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Take It Easy

So many of the great songs follow the KISS principle.  They're simple, predictable.  Comfortable even.  Not boring, just simple.

I, IV, V and maybe VI minor.  Maybe only two chords.  Maybe a 7th here or there.  That's all you need.  Wonderful Tonight, Bad Moon Rising, Love Me Do, Stand By Me, Folsom Prison Blues  ...  the list goes on and one and on.

Sure, there are lots of complicated songs that are also great.  Many's the time when I've been playing along with a recording trying pick up a song, and I've struggled to figure out what is that chord?  But just as often my brain has told me to add a chord when a new one wasn't required.  Or to make the chord more complex than it in fact was.

My reaction is always, "oh!  It's such a cool sounding song and you're just a good songwriter John (or Eric or Tom or Bob or Pete or John or whoever), so I thought you were doing something clever."  Then it hits me:  "oh!  You were doing something clever.  You were keeping it simple."

Lots of very interesting and enjoyable songs have complicated chord progressions and cool key changes, but most of the classics, most of the songs that move us and get into our DNA don't go much beyond 3 or 4 chords.

It's a strange magic, but it works.

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