From Schubert to Springsteen, Archie Roach to Amy Winehouse, comes an illuminating history of the song for every kind of music lover.
Often today, the word ‘song’ is used to describe all music. A free-jazz improvisation, a Hindustani raga, a movement from a Beethoven symphony, a Springsteen anthem or a Leonard Cohen ballad: they’re all songs.
But, in fact, a song is a specific musical form. It’s not so much that they all have verses and choruses – though most of them do – but that they are all relatively short and self-contained; they have beginnings, middles and ends; they often have a single point of view, message or story; and, crucially, they unite words and music. Thus, a Schubert song has more in common with a track by Joni Mitchell or Sia than with one of Schubert’s own symphonies.
The Song Remains the Same traces these connections through seventy-five songs from different cultures and times: love songs, anthems, protest songs, lullabies, folk songs, jazz standards, lieder and pop hits; ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ to ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Jerusalem’ to ‘Jolene’. Unpicking their inner workings makes familiar songs strange again, explaining and restoring the wonder, joy (or possibly loathing) the reader experienced on first hearing.
Featuring songs by The Beatles, Cole Porter, Kate Bush, Carole King, Bob Marley, Tracy Chapman, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Violeta Parra; musical numbers by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim and the Gershwins; and works from great composers, including Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms.