Melbourne March 2018
David Oke

Song writing is surely an art form. The careful crafting of lyrics matched with appropriate, meaningful and interesting musical structure and progression is something you can’t take for granted. The emotional impact, and feeling generated by a song, makes it memorable – even more so if you can identify with, and make a personal connection to the lyrics. So many factors can make or break a song.

Of course, what makes a good song is as subjective as landing a verdict on any book or movie or artwork or opera or poem …

Recently I stumbled across a song by a Melbourne musician named Ryan Downey.  For the first time in years, after hearing a song for the first time I had to listen to it again, and again, and yet again. The sparse guitar accompaniment behind his stunning baritone voice grabbed my attention, as did his lyrics.

I could write a song for you so sweet
it’d raise you to your feet
and you’d come running
Yeah, I could sing into your little ear
all the words you need to hear
to get things running
You’d better get your Nikes on
I’m about to start my song
for you honey
I’ll just be glowing here for you
I know exactly what you’ll do
yeah, you’ll come running

I have only had a go at writing songs a couple of times in my life. As a sixteen year old I tried writing some songs that were based on Lord Of The Rings characters. The lyrics were dismal – so bad I never shared them with anyone. The music was bland.

A couple of times, in more recent years, I have put some music to  lyrics written by other people, but in all honesty, songwriting is not my thing.

I don’t mind saying that hearing Running  reinforced my songwriting inadequacies! It is a simple song, musically, but has lyrical content that is warm, genuine, honest and loving. It makes great use of rhyming words and certainly creates a mind picture, even without viewing the film clip. The deliberate slow tempo and musical dynamic (volume) contribute much too. It is a beautiful example where ‘less means more’

Luckily for me there are various ways to obtain pleasure from music. There is listening to music, moving to music, playing music, reading music, analyzing music, teaching music and writing music.

To those who can compose music and write good lyrics – you have my ever-lasting admiration.

More songs by Ryan Downey

David is a Melbourne musician, music teacher and primary school teacher. His debut Stereo Story was about playing Great Balls of Fire at Sun Studio in Memphis. He has assisted in the organisation, and leading of gospel music workshops and Sunday gospel celebrations at the Anglesea Music Festivals, and is a member of The Seddon Jammers. His son Dan is the creative force of the band Jarrow.