New Song Etiquette

Ed Verner Sheet DWTW 01

A pet peeve of mine is when people are sometimes totally disrespectful in how they listen to a song new to them, even when they have specifically asked to hear one.

There are several variations on a theme of how it can happen and how the scenario starts, but allow me to describe some “typical” situations:

Scenario #1 – Somebody hanging around the studio says something like, “Hey dude, have you heard anything cool recently?” Or, “Hey man are there any songs you really like that are, like, you know, indy… you know something different maaaan?” And so then I will take a second to find something that fits the bill in my music library and say, “yea, here listen, check this cool song out.” And the music begins to play — and they listen for anywhere from 5-12 seconds as the song begins to unravel itself and get going. Then right as the intro is wrapping up and the song is going to deliver its first line or melody, the person blurts out something relevant like, “dude, that reminds me, did you see that cool commercial with the fat guy and that pregnant cat?”

Scenario #2 – Somebody hears that I play piano and write songs and while at my home they ask with genuine sincerity, “He man, why don’t you play me one of your songs, man?” I try to let them off the hook with, “tell ya what, here’s a disc with some of my better works so you can listen later.” And they insist now with, “No man, I want to hear you play something live guy.” So I go sit on the bench, crack my knuckles, and start into a song – to which after listening for 5-12 seconds they blurt out something about how the song sounds great and then they ask me some sort of question as I’m playing the melody and singing a line. Something like, “That is cool, man, it kind of reminds me of… oh what is that song about the bull horn humping the unicorn? — You know!” It’s as if, to them, that my providing a radio quality performance of an original song is only taking maybe 10% of my mind and surely I can answer a question on a non-sequitur topic while I’m doing it.


Scenario #3 – A fellow musician who is going to play on a song of mine asks me to play it for him one time, “so that I can hear it man.” — To prevent their pissing on my peeve I say, “Ok, but do me a favor and listen to it all the way through one time before you doodle around with it, ok?” They agree. I relax into performing the song as if I am at a coffee house style soiree’ setting. Less than 30 seconds into the song, and long before the 8 key-change bridge that will totally surprise them and make it impossible for them to just “wing it”, they say something like “Oh, that is cool” and then they start jumping in – though not really jumping in, but rather smearing over (since they have no idea where the song is gonna go – even though they may have already complimented my songs on being “unpredictable” at times).

FOLKS: If you have requested to hear a new recording, or a live performance, please be prepared to listen with quiet attention for at least 30 seconds before launching into turning the spotlight back unto yourselves. Just sayin’ – really. OK OK, rant accomplished.