My new favorite podcast is Song Exploder.
According to the tag line, it is “a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.”
The best episode in my opinion (and I think in many) is the one where John Roderick (singer and songwriter for The Long Winters) deconstructs his haunting piece “The Commander Thinks Aloud.”
However, the episode that concerns us is “Plastic Soul” by YACHT. (I love the ALL CAPS.)
Claire and Jona from YACHT describe the song as a fun neo-disco piece about human suffering (that’s certainly one way to think about it) inspired by technology and French disco singer Amanda Lear.
But I’m not so much concerned even about the song.
What I care about is how Jona spoke about the ways to make great noises. Jona’s precise quote was to “misuse the software.” I love that idea. Let’s explore it.
Language is a software (the brain is the hardware). A form of coding. It communicates information, and ideas travel from one person to the next through language.
Great writers, however, aren’t.
They go on to experiment with language. Bend it to their will. Manhandle it. Even misuse it.
Great music composers know this. Debussy proved that there could be tension in timelessness. Stravinsky turned genteel men into brawlers over discordant sounds. Sly Stone sounds awful on this song. The chorus in this dancehall reggae tune seems out of place.
By misusing the software.
Joyce with his stream of consciousness. Hemingway with his severe economy of words. DFW running riot with footnotes. Writers who, because of their misuse of the software, have not sunk below the surface of obscurity.
But you have to understand how the software is used at first. Only then can you truly misuse the software. Otherwise it’s chaos.
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