Opinion | Songwriters matter too


The Daily Illini File Photo

Fieldy of Korn performing during the band’s hit “Blind” in Rockford, Ill. Columnist Noah stands up for songwriters, claiming music listeners should give them thanks, too.

By Noah Nelson, Senior Columnist

Whether in the front seat of the car with the radio turned up, on a dance floor at a party or even in the shower, we have all found ourselves at one time or another singing the words to at least one of our favorite songs.

Songs, and all music in general, are the strongest power than anything in this world. They are what make us smile in our darkest hours, sing at the top of our lungs and help us forget about life for a little while.

Most everyone in the world, especially any music fan, has a favorite artist whom they admire because of their music and artistry. While countless artists do write their own music, many sing the words that others wrote. No matter what type of music, as the artist plays a major role in this artform, songwriters matter too.

In music history, icons like Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson are known for creating their own music without much help from the outside. Even in today’s music world, superstars like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Kesha write their own music too. But what about the songwriters no one knows?

Take Ester Dean, for example; odds are, you probably have no idea who she is, but you know what songs she’s written. Hits like “Come and Get It,” by Selena Gomez, “Firework,” by Katy Perry and so many others all bear Dean’s name.

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In the country music world, there’s Shane McAnally. You may not know him, but his songs might ring a bell. Since 2008, he has written numerous hits like Keith Urban’s “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16,” Miranda Lambert’s “Vice” and Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road.”

Believe it or not, so many people make a living from songwriting, mostly writing songs for other artists. Not everyone wants to be an artist, and that’s okay. The fact that songwriters can turn their thoughts and feelings into a song and it’s a hit or makes an album is an amazing feat to think about.

Songwriting is such an interesting profession. Those who do it don’t sit at a desk or work on a job site each day. Normally, whether alone or with other co-writers, songwriters trade stories or riffs all day which could lead into a song, or perhaps a few. They constantly observe the world around them and continue to work on their craft. Even if a song is bad, it’s one step closer to an even better one.

Being a songwriter myself, the art form is a way of taking the world the way I see it and transforming those ideas and feelings into a song. It’s a skill not many people possess, but those who can do it should be appreciated for it.

In some way or another, songwriters are left in the dark sometimes. Oftentimes, people recognize the artists singing the songs, but not the writers behind the tune. That is something that needs to change.

The same can be said with any type of entertainment. Everyone knows movie stars, but what about those behind the scenes like directors, producers, writers or even extras? One movie doesn’t revolve around one star; there is a whole cast and crew that makes each project a team effort. The same goes with songs.

Next time you find yourself singing the words to your favorite song, look at the writers behind it. You may be surprised to find that the artist didn’t write the song or needed help writing it. Who knows, you may just find the scribe behind all your favorite hits. Whatever the case may be, give thanks to songwriters, because they matter too.

Noah is a junior in the College of Media.

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