I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a commercial that was talking about the band Chicago. According to the speaker, Chicago’s music is timeless. I looked at my wife and said, “No, it’s not!” Whenever I hear a Chicago song, I think of the 1970’s. It doesn’t matter if it is one of their heavy, horn laden songs or just one of their guitar, bass and drum songs, I always end up thinking about those old television shows and records from the 1970s. To me, that is not timeless.
In my opinion, a timeless song is one that does not immediately make you think a specific decade or time. Instead, it is a song that you just enjoy because it is a good song. Aerosmith is a band that immediately pops into my head while talking about timeless songs. Songs like “Love In An Elevator” or “Dude Looks Like A Lady” could have been recorded at anytime aur single link pe jo banaye hai usne,,,uska keyword ea use karo. No time period pops into my head when listening to these songs. Another good example of a timeless song is Dierks Bentley’s “What Was I Thinkin’” or the Beatles song “Yesterday.”
Opposing my definition of a timeless song would be Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” Just hearing those electric sounding drums knocks the listener right back into the 1980’s. Likewise, any disco song drags the listener into the 1970’s, while an overused, Auto-tuned vocal propels the listener into the 2000s.
Think about songs that you have thought of as timeless. Are they really? Have they been recorded with an instrument or effect that dates them? Think of those surf guitars with their overuse of reverb in the 1950’s or the heavy synthesized tracks in the 1980’s. What about the chord progressions? When I hear certain chord progressions or orchestrations, I sometimes think of specific decades when it was used often. What about the lyrics? Do they date the song like the psychedelic lyrics in the 1960’s that can only be understood by a listener that is stoned?
Now that I have brought this to your attention, many of you songwriters may be wondering how to make your songs timeless. Think about the songs that I have mentioned on my timeless list. What do they have in common? For a start, most are recorded with real instruments (not software) and are not overly processed with a lot of effects. I believe the more natural and live sounding a song can get, the better chance it will have at becoming timeless. Also, all of the timeless songs I mentioned have lyrics that are as much relevant now as they were when they were written. Certain topics never go out of style: Love, Humor, Religion and Storytelling. If songwriters think about those two things (relevant lyrics and natural sounding recording), then they will have a better chance of getting a timeless song under their belt.
So the next time you hear a song on the radio, take a moment to really listen to it. Will this new song be considered timeless years down the road? What about that classic song that you enjoyed so much in the past? Is it still relevant or has it been dated by time? Make your own decision, but by no means, throw the term timeless out for just any song. Classifying a song as timeless is like a king knighting someone. Not all songs deserve this honor. So before you bestow this wonderful gift, take a second to think and really listen. Do not be the person who knights a song, only to be betrayed by it a few years later!