While listening to music on shuffle the other day, a Rufus Wainwright song came on and it made me realize that I’ve been listening to RW for over ten years now and his songs still make me happy. It got me to thinking about the life span of a song. How long can a recording of the same thing have an effect on you? Could it always? Are some songs just that good? Is any song that good? How many times is listening to a song a lot? 20 times? 50? 500? Have I listened to anything 500 times?
With the inundation of music that the internet brings, songs that I like still probably have a shelf life of about a year (if that) and I’ll probably listen to them between 20 and 50 times (so says my iTunes counter). As someone who writes and records and understands the amount of time and effort that goes into all of this, it seems like a small amount of return. And this is for music that I like. It’s a little scary when you think about it.
So what is it that makes a song stick? How are some so pleasant and likeable in the short term while retaining a depth that holds for years, and some just short term or not at all? How much of it has to do with me more so than the song?
It's something I'm increasingly conscious of while writing songs now. Which isn't to say is effecting how I write for better or worse, just that it's on my mind. And I mean that in a freeing sense; as in attempting to answer any of these questions leads to a world of creative challenges, possibilities and explorations. After all, no one's going to spin the wheel for you.