I’m hell bent on bringing more angst and contrarian views on David’s musical growth :-). The quote below is not from my idle mind but from a forum well known for it’s colorful members who do not shy away from giving as good as they get when it comes to talking about David. The topic being discussed was whether David’s writing had any honesty. Does he reveal himself enough or is he vague and evasive thus rendering his writing meaningless and irrelevent?
This is not about writing about the same experiences as Adele or Christina. It’s impossible by default because he’s neither Adele nor Christina. It’s about honesty. No emotion is bad if it’s expressed honestly via songs and their lyrics. Adele & Christina write about all kind of topics, happy, lovely, sad, tragic. But it’s honest because they talk honestly about it and are not afraid to call the things/events/experiences what they are. David doesn’t do that. He writes so vaguely it’s virtually impossible to know what he’s singing about. Yes, it could be about pain of parents divorce, but it may as well be about his beloved teddy bear from childhood. That’s the problem. There’s a point where too much vaugeness makes a song meaningless. Most of his best performances are covers. He excels at pouring emotions into the performance, but it starts with emotions and meaning in the song. ‘Imagine’ has that, ‘Apologize’ has that. Their writers were honest and that’s of the keys to their success. That makes the best songwriters. Tons of songs on TOSOD don’t have enough honesty and that’s why the performances of his own material ain’t as great most of the time as it is with the covers.
So in a nutshell – according to the writer above – David does far better on his covers of other songs because those writers wrote with honesty and were clear in the meaning and emotions they wanted to convey. The argument goes that David is too restrained and self-conscious to ever “let it all hang out” and thus his writing tends to be shallow with little connection to the listener.
Admittedly David may not have a high command of language and clever phrases but I feel that he writes honestly enough to let the listener know what he’s talking about. He probably needs a little more polish and sophistication in his phrasing which will come with more experience and writing with different people. Personally I feel that a little vagueness makes a song far more interesting. A song that lends itself to different interpretations has an air of mystery that makes you want to listen to it again and again if only to decipher it’s true intentions.
An example from TOSOD would be ‘Stomping The Roses’. To this day I’m not really sure what or who he’s singing about and it is a co-written tune but to me that’s the beauty of the song. It leaves you wondering. ‘Falling Stars’ to me is an attempt by David to address the pain he must have felt about his parents’ divorce and it was written in a very sensitive manner. I think there must have been a compelling reason why he chose to have this song on the album. Yes it could have been about any couple’s failing relationship but in the context of David’s life I think it was clear why he included it.
What do you think? Agree or disagree with the quote above? Do you agree with the writer’s implicit assessment of why TOSOD failed? Do you know any song(s) that you couldn’t understand even after repeated listening but that’s exactly why it keeps you fascinated?