The Most Important Aspect of a Song

What is the most important aspect of a song? 

I asked my friend this question. The reason I asked him is because he’s a multi-award winning and Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer. If anybody has any authority on the matter, it’s him. 

You want to know what he said? 

Before I tell you, here’s a clue. Think of your favorite songs. The ones you love. Whether they’re hit songs or not, or whether anybody else likes them is irrelevant. The key is that you love them and remember them for one reason or another. 

Memorability. That’s what he told me is the most important aspect of a song. 

Now, consider something else. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. 

Memorability isn’t just the most important aspect of a song. I think it’s the most important aspect of any work. 

You know why I remember my dental hygienist and bring her up in conversation to so many people? She dabs Vaseline around my lips so they don’t dry out. I’ve been to a lot of dental hygienists. They were all great. Just not memorable. 

There’s this one worker at the Peach Truck here in Nashville. My wife always talks about him because he pores over each peach to make sure none have bruising before gently bagging them. Not every worker does that. Not every worker is memorable. 

I think memorability is so important in any work because, like in a song, it means there was a connection that surprised you. And that connection made you feel a little more safe and a little less alone in the world.  

I try to remind myself this daily, whether I’m writing a song or taking out the trash. If I keep the garbage can three feet from any object, it’ll make the driver’s job that much easier. If I add this element or that element to a song, or take it in this other direction, it will surprise the listener more. There’s a better chance they will remember the song because they felt a connection. 

All of us can be memorable in our work. Not just for the sake of people remembering you, though. For the sake of making them feel less alone in the world, even if it’s just a little bit.