Originally Posted By: Noel96
Hi Janice and Bud,

"Conversion Blues" is songwriting at its awesomnest!

I actually heard this song a long time back (I seem to recall there were lyrics available at that time) and I was struck by just how well written these lyrics and this song were.

Tonight, I sat down and typed the words as I listened to Janice's exquisite vocals. Writing lyrics down by listening is an extremely good test for assessing prosody; in this instance, by prosody, I mean the accuracy with which the syllables of speech align and match musical note-strength. When there's a mismatch, and a syllable is placed on a beat or fraction of a beat that doesn't properly reflect the syllabic strength of how it would be spoken in the phrase, words are often difficult to understand. Every syllable in "Conversion Blues" was expertly aligned!

What struck me most, when I first heard the song and read the lyrics, was the attention to rhyming detail. Three out of the four verses have the first and third lines rhyming with a weak rhyme-type (again/boatman, hill/girl, preacher/river). This gives those lines a sonic connection that holds the lyric together well but doesn't outshine the more definite rhymes for lines two and four (time/line, light/right, soul/whole). This kind of lyric-writing consistency shows great skill!

  • Actually, as I'm sitting here thinking about it, the fourth verse (with an American accent) also kind of has the weaker rhyme type for lines one and three with new/you. In Australia, these are perfect rhymes because we say "nyou/you" but in USA-speak, the "noo/you" is not quite perfect.
  • That makes four verses out of four verses! Wow! Now THAT'S consistency smile

Also, the fact that the first line of each of the first three verses (and arguably the fourth verse, too) consists of two short phrases is also the kind of attention to detail that's found amongst the world's top lyricists! You're in great company.

Lastly, even though this song is 8-bar blues (which works incredibly amazingly, by the way), the melody is only 7 bars long. This creates an interesting tension between the balanced feeling of 8 bars of harmony and the unbalanced feeling of 7 bars of melody. Very clever! It got me wondering what this song would sound like as a 7-bar blues. (For what it's worth, The Beatles' "Yesterday" consists of 7-bar verses.)

All in all, as I said at the outset, this is songwriting at its awesomnest!

Definitely inspired on all levels!

All the best,

P.S. I have to add that floyd's playing is top class; it fits perfectly. He's a man of many talents!

P.P.S. The ending really made me sit up and pay attention. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but then I guess that's the point! It is, indeed, a very interesting sound and one that has grown on me.

Noel, thank you for the nice remarks and for taking your time to write up your observations. I particulary appreciate your remarks about the rhyme structure as I have been working hard at that of late. And I must mention that you and floyd have offered me great guidance with that.

I think that in a lot 8 bar blues that last bar is not sung over so as to provide space for the typical instrumental Blues turnaround which I'm not good at arranging for the RTs to do. I think with some more creative use of chords I could pull it off.

Janice is most appreciative of your comments about the syllables. For a U.S. southern girl to enunciate like that is not easy smile But above all I realize that her creative melodies and voice make my writes go down easier!

Thank you so much.