Songwriters behind the hits that captivate us are often overlooked when their songs are recorded by an artist and become popular. How do they really feel about this?
It came up for discussion when Laura mentioned,
In the tv show with Jimmy Smits last week. He said, “Freedom’s just another word…”. The woman with him said, “So now you are quoting Janis Joplin to me?” I wanted to jump into the tv and smack her! Laura, like me, is a Kris Kristofferson fan. I understand her reaction. I mean who on earth doesn’t know who wrote Me and Bobby McGee?
How do the songwriters behind the hits really feel when fans link their songs to the recording artist and not them? We have a few answers but hope more will follow to cover other sectors and regions.
Tom Ghent is known and respected worldwide as a prolific songwriter-singer who has a long list of awards behind his name. He was active in the Nashville songwriter hey-days and has worked with almost every well-known artist in the industry. He wrote Whiskey, Whiskey which was recorded by Kris Kristofferson – But that’s just one of his many contributions to the music world.
For many years I sat silent as people, online, called “Whiskey Whiskey” a Kris Kristofferson song… I love Kris and never wanted to say anything, especially since Kris often credited me on stage and tv, etc… When I finally started commenting that I wrote it, I got many replies from people who thought I was some kind of nut case ! As writers, we, including Kris, recognize that the person who records a famous version of a song, will receive far more recognition, from the general public, than the writer will… Sadly, it’s only natural, and we can live with it, knowing and enjoying our achievements …..Tom Ghent ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/434278836778276/ )
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Don Clarke is a South African songwriter. His song, Sanbonani, was made popular in the 80s by P J Powers. He is a prolific songwriter and named in the music credits of many local movies.
Songwriters are generally highly creative people who are chosen by “the universe” to convey messages great and small. In a lot of cases – myself certainly – they don’t want to be performers, and shun the limelight. All creativity has its source deep in the sub-conscious, so most great songs are not the product of a conscious, ego-driven decision to shine. In my case, I have often found that a song arrives almost unbidden, and if I find myself weeping as the mechanics come through, I know for certain that what I am writing has a right to exist, and will touch others. Such was the case with “Sanbonani”. I wasn’t very politically enlightened back in 1986, but my country, South Africa, was burning, and possibly on the threshold of violent revolution because of our Apartheid regime.
I sat down in my studio one day, and in a rush of adrenalin driven emotion, the song came to me. Of course, it required PJ Powers’ masterful touch to turn it into one of South Africa’s first successful reconciliation songs.
And as Tom Ghent says, I was only too happy to have someone give my song wings.
The truth is, the message wasn’t mine exclusively. I was just tasked with wrestling it into a form that the public would understand, and – hand it over to a shinier person for presentation.
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