Monday, October 10, 2011

Words & Music

A good song has a bunch of things working for it, making it into music that listeners can grab onto, hum along with, remember the lyrics and at the end make us want to hear it again. The process might begin with a songwriter sitting off by himself strumming a guitar, or tinkling a keyboard, it may begin with a team of writers working together. It could even start with someone sitting up late one night scribbling words on the back of an envelope. Add the music, find a singer, tinker with it all in the studio for some time, and hopefully it turns out to be music that people want to buy and plug into their ears and tell others about.

It would be a stretch to call me a fan of country music, someone who keeps his car radio tuned to Kickin’ Country Hits and buys all the hit CDs. The music on my CD shelf is a fairly ecletic assortment of genres that include Chet Baker, Metallica, Stephen Sondheim, Frank Sinatra, Max Raabe, Rip Slyme, and as of this week Scotty McCreery.

McCreery is the North Carolina just turned eighteen year-old who won the American Idol competition recently and who released his first album on October 4. The album follows a debut single that had the highest entry on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for a new artist’s first single since 1984, and reached the top 25 after only three weeks. No question this kid can sing and makes it sound like he’s been doing it for years. He attracted some of Nashville’s top songwriters in putting together his first album titled, Clear As Day, and the mix of talent on the album is impressive. Credit obviously goes to his producer Mark Bright, someone who has produced albums for Carrie Underwood and Billy Ray Cyrus, and who says of McCreery, “It’s shocking how good Scotty is.”

The just released Clear As Day includes the pre-released single “I Love You This Big” and eleven other songs. One of those is a song written by Michael Dulaney, Neil Thrasher and Tony Martin called “Dirty Dishes” which to my ears is the runaway best song on the album. No question McCreery brings voice and charm aplenty, but a good chunk of “Dirty Dishes” is in the writing—melody and words combined with voice make this song a standout.

For one who likes stories (and who doesn’t?) country music has a head start on many other kinds of music. In hard rock or metal it’s often easy to get lost in the music and miss altogether what the singer is saying. Yeah, I like Metallica, but without the lyrics included in the liner notes it isn’t easy to catch the words. And for many songs the words tell a story that only enhances the music. Unfortunately the words are weak support for the music in a large part of pop music. “Dirty Dishes” tells a simple story that’s clear as a bell from start to finish, a story about family, children, prayer and blessings. And you know what? It’s a story that appeals to millions of listeners.


Mama hollers “Supper time,

And don’t make me tell you twice

Wash your hands and wipe your face.

The table’s no place for your toys,

And try to use your inside voice,

Don’t dig in ’til we say Grace.’

So we put down our forks and bowed our heads

And then she prayed the strangest prayer ever said:

“I wanna thank You Lord,

For noisy children and slamming doors,

And clothes scattered all over the floor,

My husband workin’ all the time,

Draggin’ in dead tired at night,

My never ending messy kitchen

And dirty dishes.”

We all got real still and quiet,

And daddy asked “Hon, are you alright?”

She said, “There ain’t nothing wrong,

Noisy kids are happy kids,

And slamming doors just means we live,

In a warm and loving home,

Your long hours and those dishes in the sink,

Means a job and enough to eat.

So I’m gonna thank You Lord,

For noisy children and slamming doors,

And clothes scattered all over the floor,

A husband workin’ all the time,

Draggin’ in dead tired at night,

A never ending messy kitchen

My little busy bees

Beggin’ mama, mama can we please?

Always wantin’ me to call their name

Loads of laundry pilin’ up

Crayons crushed into the rug

And those little sticky kisses

And dirty dishes,

And dirty dishes…”


  1. What a great post today!! I love the lyrics and they are sooo true. Sometimes we don't realize our blessings even if they are Dirty Dishes.

  2. No doubt this boy has a big career ahead of him. A voice like that and just made 18 yesterday, I think. Impressive. So much of all music now is crossover. Many of the songs of The Eagles are pure country yet they dominated the rock charts for most of the 80's. And the list goes on. Good music is good music no matter what category it eventually gets labeled.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America