Throughout my teen years I had 2 best friends - Trevin and Ben. Of course we had a lot in common including similar book interests and an appreciation for anything that went *BOOM*!
One area we differed in was our appreciation of music. While we had similar tastes, the reason we liked certain songs varied.
For Ben, music was all about the LYRICS. (This is the same man who tells me "There's power in words whether we like it or not." I may steal that concept for a future blog post.)
Trevin, on the other hand, got into the MUSIC. For him, the song didn't even need lyrics. Trevin grew up harmonizing to the Beatles in the car with his family. It came as no surprise when he married an accomplished musician.
Both Ben and Trevin are successful in their left-brained careers. One works in insurance claims, the other in computer security. But they taught me some of the most important right-brained lessons I've ever learned.
Trevin taught me how fun harmonizing can be and I owe my love of singing to him. Fifteen years later, Ben convinced me that I could write. Without his example, I never would have finished 4 novels.
So back to the question: Is it the music or the lyrics that makes you love a song. It's obviously a matter of opinion. If we all had the same tastes, there wouldn't be hundreds of different genres of music.
I think it goes without saying that there is a minimum level of awesomeness required in the music itself. There have been enough unlistenable renditions of Imagine and Amazing Grace to prove that point. After all, lyrics without music is just poetry, and last time I checked, poetry wasn't a multi-billion dollar industry.
So allowing for a minimum standard in the music, which do you hear when your favorite songs come on?
Personally, I don't have a short answer, and I imagine most of us don't. As a writer, I have profound respect for artists who cram entire stories or volumes of emotion into a few verses. My current favorites: Blue October and Mumford and Sons.
If I had to choose one or the other I'd say I'm a LYRICS person. But if a song has music that makes even me feel like dancing, it could be awesome in any language.