Today’s Think Music contributor is Todd Boss, author of Yellowrocket (Norton 2008).
I love discovering new music. This morning I plugged Greg Brown’s name into Pandora, because I started the day reading a review of his new album, Freak Flag, in American Songwriter magazine. American Songwriter is one of my favorite mags, for two reasons. The first reason is that it tends to give me unexpected pleasures, like the one I’m enjoying right now: Pandora’s pairing of Greg Brown with Xavier Rudd’s “Solace” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “April Come She Will.” The second reason is more important: We poets tend to forget that we’re not the only ones eking out lyric after lyric for rejection slips and peanuts. The road for songwriters is just as long as ours, and their bylines get buried deeper. They sell their works to star performers who steal the applause and sell out in their turn to the record labels. Like us, they know that the best song isn’t the most clever, it’s the most true. I feel a deep affinity for my troubadour brothers and sisters. Poets sit still and labor over line breaks while songwriters ramble and finger frets, but we’re cut from the same pattern. Before we die, we want to sink a few well-written lines deep into the collective psyche. Reading about them and their struggles reminds me that poets are not alone.