It’s funny. One of my favorite literary characters turns out to be a perfect analogy. And whether or not you read Cyrano de Bergerac, got the Cliff Notes or simply watched the movie “Roxanne”, you undoubtedly know the story. And, this is the story of the modern-day songwriter.
It is important that listeners of music understand the composition, not just of the structure of the song itself, but the composite whole that is a large majority of “hit songs” heard these days. Many are collaborative efforts and the culmination of talented performers, writers, producers and promoters. Mind you, this is not a commentary on beauty or ugliness, or even intelligence. But you have got to admit, some of the top artists who are performing, may not have thought up what they sing.
Cyrano was cursed with an unsightly, freakishly huge nose. The irony is he was also endowed with many talents, inclusive of an eloquence well above the norm and a natural flair for beautiful poetry. I especially love that he is even a musician. So, “cursed” is in the eyes of the beholder. Nevertheless, Cyrano’s love for Roxane is kept silent as he devalues his “inner beauty” in the face of his “outer ugliness”.
In the play, Roxane’s beloved Christian is handsome, and his poetry “breathtaking” and, in her estimation, “more intellectual than even Cyrano”. The reality, however, is that Christian’s beauty ends below the surface, and he is no master of words. With Cyrano’s words, he becomes the perfect whole, one with whom Roxane falls deeply in love, ignorant that most of her desire is for Cyrano’s words, not Christian’s beauty.
So what is the point? The moral of the story? Songwriters can make complete those who would never be otherwise. Sure, these qualities can come together in one package. When they do, it’s spectacular, and these are among the best of the best. Witness Taylor Swift’s recent rocket ride to success. She conceives ideas and writes with extreme cleverness and passion, is highly-talented and exudes beauty inside and out. But what about the “Christian’s” of the world? Those who have some outward talent or attraction, who could perform when needed, but just need to find the words? That’s where your “Cyrano Songwriters” are absolutely needed.
The advantage of the songwriter over our less fortunate Cyrano, is that, Cyrano was a sort of “ghost writer”, never getting any credit for his words. Songwriters do get credit and they do receive validation for their works in the form of payment of royalties. And they do earn their royalties.
It may surprise you to find out something very different than you pictured. Do an investigation one time into popular artists. Martina McBride. Wonderfully talented, amazing person, had songwriters write her first slew of hits. Katy Perry’s “Firework”, an amazing piece of pop writing, written by an entire collaborative team, though Katy was one of them. Michele Branch’s top hits were co-written by her producer.
The next time you fall in love with an artist, after hearing a song or two, scroll down to the credits in fine print and look at the copyright or “written by”. There you will likely find your Cyarno, and perhaps admire him too. For without the work of songwriters, you may not have found or enjoyed many of the artists you now love! Here’s to the intellect behind the words. Here is to the Cyrano’s!