Have you heard the rumor that "music sets the mood?" Someone did a deep study many years ago and proclaimed that music has the power to direct our daily actions without our realizing it.
It's been said that music has created depression, healed depression, pulled the trigger on countless suicides and provided the heat for most serious love affairs ... leading to marriages. This is the reason most weddings include music on the program. Every loving couple has that "special song."
On a more serious note, music is utilized at most houses of worship ... and at funerals.
After being a disc jockey for over 50 years, I've witnessed the strength of music-in-action. I have received hundreds of telephone calls during my thousands of radio shows requesting songs for various purposes. It seems that most of these requests have occurred during the night-time hours. I was a midnight-til-dawn disc jockey for over 30 years. Without a single doubt, music connects better at night. Most times, this is because of extreme loneliness or after the listener has devoured a few helpings of booze. Mixing alcohol with sad songs can be lethal. Police officers have told me that while investigating household fights and murders, music was playing in the background. One cop said, "Most of the tragedies were accompanied by sad music on a CD player. We've even taken note of the album titles in the playback systems. Most times, there's a bottle of booze on the table or floor, some empty glasses, and sad music playing at high volume on the record or CD unit. There's not a single doubt that music sets some serious, dangerous moods."
Most songwriters will admit that their best-selling works were inspired by personal "happenings." The late Hank Williams, perhaps the most popular composer of sad country songs, stated, "If my wife, Audrey, and I hadn't had so damned many fights, I could never have wrote so many sad songs. I would have been in a financial mess if we had been a happy couple! I loved her, and she loved me. I was jealous of her, and she was jealous of me. We would fight, make up, make love ... and fight some more. She would leave the house, or I would leave the house, cussin' each other.
"Then ... I would write a song," he continued.
Hank died in 1953 at age 29. Cause of death: Alcohol mixed with drugs.
Taking inventory of just a few of the many hits written by Williams leaves the impression of sad realism: "Cold Cold Heart," "Your Cheating Heart," "You Win Again," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and more.
When you analyze the most popular love songs, you will discover that the lyrics are simply short versions of serious screenplays. Just listen to what the song is saying and allow your mind to project it on the small screen in your brain.
Most of the successful musical hits are sad love songs. My friend Willie Nelson, recognized as one of the best songwriters in today's musical society, said, "Most of my better-selling songs come to me fast. I don't plan them. I don't do any pre-study. They just come to me. Most times, they come to me for a reason. Something inspired them."
Willie's best friend in Nashville, country music songwriter Hank Cochran, passed away in July. Cochran, 74, was in the same league as Willie, Harlan Howard, Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams and others in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. His compositions included dozens of Number One best sellers on the music charts.
During an interview, Cochran once said, "Songs come fairly easy to people such as Willie (Nelson), Kris (Kristofferson) and writers such as me. It's a fun game, and often a sad game. If you write a hit, the pay is good. I've done my bit as a singer, and as a songwriter. I prefer writing. All I'm doing is allowing my feelings to be heard. And sometimes, those feelings contain a bit of hurt."
I will always be indebted to George Strait for recording my song, "Drinking Champagne." It made me a member of the Million-Air Club by Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), indicating the song has been played over one million times on radio and television. To date, it has been recorded by over sixty singers. I was inspired to write "Drinking Champagne" while passing a billboard reading, "This Holiday Season -- Serve Champagne!" The song was completed by the time I reached home, perhaps 20 minutes after my MG whizzed past the billboard following a round of golf. I wrote the song with Dean Martin in mind. Fifteen years after George Strait turned it into a hit, Martin decided to record it. It was his final CD release.
When my musical composition, "Blue," was voted "Best Country Song in 1996," winning me a Grammy Award, I was interviewed by dozens of people in the media. Inevitably, I would be approached with the question, "What inspired you to write the song?"
I wrote "Blue" while picking my new guitar in my home in Wichita Falls, Texas. I was creating some note changes on the guitar when the song entered my mind. Although I wasn't watching the clock, the melody and lyrics came to me in a completed form within 15 minutes. My wife at the time said, "That's the best song I've ever heard! You need to record it as soon as you can!"
Within two hours, I had set a session at Nesman Recording Studios in Wichita Falls. The song was recorded in two "takes." Although my recording of "Blue" on Starday Records sold fairly well at the regional level, it would take 30 years before LeAnn Rimes turned it into an international hit, selling millions of recordings. It was Rimes' first recording for a major label, winning her a Grammy as the Number One New Female Country Singer of 1996.
Although I'm not in the same class as Willie, Kris, Harlan and the Hanks, I've had some compositions that turned into hits. My most noteworthy inspirations have been a billboard and attempting to create note changes on a new guitar. I suppose I haven't experienced enough hurt.
Hear Bill Mack on Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 64) and XM Satellite Radio (Channel 13) Monday thru Friday from Noon until 3 p.m. (ET), with replays from Midnight until 3 a.m. (ET). Bill's "Sunday Social" is heard on these same channels Sundays from 9 a.m. until Noon (ET).