Sunday, June 22, 2008

Songwriting: Little Boy Soldier

The Jam: Little Boy Soldier


I plan to approach this new theme, at least in part, by discussing the various ways that artists become inspired to write. I have at least three posts in mind, and this is the first.

Imitation: One way to write music is to use your favorite bands as inspiration. It's well known, for example, that John Lennon was trying to write like Dylan when he wrote both Hide Your Love Away and Norwegian Wood. Neither of these songs sound particularly like Bob Dylan, but imitation was the doorway to inspiration for Lennon in both of these cases.

Paul Weller of The Jam has always been a vocal fan of The Kinks. The Jam covered David Watts on their All Mod Cons album, and they have covered many other Kinks songs in live performances.  In an interview at the time of the release of their fourth studio album, Setting Sons, Weller said that they entered the studio specifically setting out to make something like a Kinks album.

Setting Sons was supposed to be a concept album that told the story of three childhood friends who drift apart as a result of their military service. In the end this story is lost on the listener, but the songs themselves didn't suffer for the loss.

Weller has stated publicly that the featured track, Little Boy Soldier, was a specifically deliberate attempt to write a song like The Kinks. You can judge for yourself whether or not their imitation was successful. As far as I'm concerned, as with Norwegian Wood, whether or not the end product actually sounds like the imitated artist is not as relevant as whether or not it is worth hearing in and of itself.


Paul said...

Great concept for this week's theme.

Paul said...

What I mean is the way you are approaching it. I'm looking forward to the rest...

LD said...

I could see this fitting in on Arthur, kind of a companion piece to "Some Mother's Son." Funny, too, because the first songwriter I thought of for this theme was Ray Davies. Nice work. Good tunes.

Anonymous said...

I think Ray just celebrated a birthday yesterday. Love to see some Kinks this week.