Deep Cuts

Deep Cuts: Songs For Truthiness

boy scoutSo yeah, telling lies to tell the emotional truth is what writing creative non-fiction is all about, provided you stick to the important facts. The list of memoirists brought down by whoppers grows every day, but no reader or critic is going to fault you for manufacturing dialog for a conversation that happened 40 years ago.

Also fans of emotional truth? Songwriters.

Apparently I can listen to my digital playlist for 3 hours and hear nothing but songs with “true” in the title — I know that much is true. Bands have encouraged me to be true to my school and true to my heart, to find my true nature, true north, and true love. Lionel is truly in love with me, Tom Petty thinks I’m too good to be true, and the boys in Metallica think all of this nonsense is sad but true.

And while I’m being honest, here’s the truth: When Metallica’s “Sad But True” came out, I thought they were saying “Sand Patrol.” I still think it’s a better lyric. Anyway, on to the truth songs:

Truth’ll Set You Free,” Mother’s Finest. I’m not going to lie to you: Mother’s Finest has been in my power rotation for around 35 years. These guys are funk rock’s grandparents, show some respect.

“Gimme Some Truth,” John Lennon. The Beatles meant a lot of things to a lot of people, but perhaps nothing greater than their individual commitments to truth. Ringo remains all about the truth of peace and love; George’s focus was spiritual truth. John wanted social truth, spiritual truth, political truth, artistic truth, emotional truth. Paul? I don’t know. Let’s give Paul the truth of well-crafted pop songs.

“Truth Hits Everybody,” The Police. Five. Perfect. Albums. That’s the only truth you need to know about The Police.

“Tell the Truth,” Johnny and Edgar Winter. The Woodstock you know is a lie. It isn’t, really, but it’s a myopic truth. What you know as Woodstock is what made the final cut of Michael Wadleigh’s Academy Award winning documentary.  As a result, the great Johnny Winter remains one of the lost artists of Woodstock to all but the Woodstock obsessed.

“What is Truth?” Johnny Cash. This is a great clip. Listen to Johnny’s rap, then check out the cut. You may be surprised.

“Moment of Truth,” Dave Myers & The Surftones. I don’t talk about it much, but I really dig surf music. And speaking of truth, I imagine you find it really quickly when it’s just you and a wave.

“Ring True,” Let’s Active. The band that should have been as big as REM.

“Honest With Me,” Bob Dylan. From the brilliant Love and Theft album — two topics short on truth, by the way.

Okay, lay it on me: Let’s hear your songs about truthiness. I’m listening.

1 reply »

  1. One of my favorites from eighth grade: “Lay It on the Line” by Triumph (“. . . I don’t ask for much, the truth will do just fine . . .”). Plus it’s impossible to ignore the irony of the “truthless” canned crowd noise under the studio version of the song featured on the official video.


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