Songwriting, an occasional post... #2
Lyric of the week
I wrote this song two hours before we met I didn't know your name or what you looked like yet I could have stayed at home and gone to bed I could have gone to see a film instead You might have changed your mind and seen your friends Life could have been very different but then Something changed
Do you believe that there's someone up above? And does he have a timetable directing acts of love? Why did I write this song on that one day? Why did you touch my hand and softly say "Stop asking questions that don't matter anyway Just give us a kiss to celebrate here today" Something changed
When we woke up that morning we had no way of knowing That in a matter of hours we'd change the way we were going Where would I be now, where would I be now if we'd never met? Would I be singing this song to someone else instead? I don't know but like you just said Something changed
('Something Changed' - Pulp - from the album 'Different Class')
One of the cleverest opening lines ever. Jarvis Cocker first wrote this song in 1984 but it stayed in the notebook until getting dusted off and revised for Pulp's 1996 album where it sat with other hit singles 'Disco 2000', 'Misshapes', 'Sorted for Es and Whizz' and 'Common People', and with other masterclasses in songwriting like 'Pencil Skirt', 'Underwear' and 'Live Bed Show.'
The central idea is like the movie 'Sliding Doors' - an exploration of 'What if?' That opening line though turns the idea inside out and shows Jarvis' fascination with the randomness of life events. Do you think it's Fate? he asks in verse 2, the romantic ideal that has seen the song chosen by numerous couples for their wedding dance, but he doesn't think so. Just 'something changed'. In Jarvis' words "If I hadn't gone out and met this particular person in this particular nightclub, and formed a relationship with her, how different would my life have been? So it's not really about fate, it's more about the randomness of things."
It's an affectionate love song built from a sense of wonder at the unknown - and the unknowable - moments that redirect our lives and built with simple direct questions that can never be answered. If you are the sort of songwriter that keeps a journal with occasional rambling entries musing on life, the universe and everything, you might well have a little mine of possible songs/poems waiting to be extracted. You just have to look at the issue in a different light and ask the right questions... those questions might even be the song you didn't know you were looking for - such lists, even of quite random things, have been the building blocks for many songs.