Songwriters love to write songs about songs, meditating on the meaning and power of music. You can listen to my playlist Metamusic: Songs about Songs on RDIO as you read this post about metasongs or follow the links on the titles to Youtube.
Songwriters love to write songs about songs, meditating on the meaning and power of music. You can listen to my playlist Metamusic: Songs about Songs on RDIO as you read about “Your Song,” lyrics by Bernie Taupin and music by Elton John, the first of a series of posts on metamusic.
The song begins “It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside.” The feeling, of course, is love. “I don’t have much money,” John sings, “but boy if I did / I’d buy a big house where we both could live.” The songwriters, longtime collaborators, may not have had much money when they wrote the song, but it became their first pop hit and is now worth a fortune, enough to buy two or three houses.
For the seven-course meta-dinner, I put together a five hour list of mostly metamusic. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have taken a step back to examine how I use the prefix “meta-.” Is a rock ‘n roll song about rock n’ roll — for example, Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” — meta? Metaclass participants agreed that it was and Ian Latta pointed out that it is much more common for music (and poetry) to contain meta elements, references to the art form, than for fiction and film, which tend toward a more naturalistic presentation, the illusion that what you are reading or seeing is “real” and what actually happened. With stories, we want to be fooled. With music and poetry, we don’t mind being reminded that we are listening to or reading an artificial creation.
I Love Rock ‘n Roll, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Meta-songs, or “songs about songs,” are songs whose lyrics talk about the song itself or the creative process of singing, composing, or performing music.
A few more self-referential songs:
Only a northern song
“Only a northern song” by The Beatles from their “Yellow Submarine” movie, later album. The lyrics are pure meta-delight:
If you’re listening to this song
You may think the chords are going wrong
But they’re not
He just wrote it like that
When you’re listening late at night
You may think the band are not quite right
But they are, They just play it like that