Two things that particularly struck me.
One is personal — Lorde talks about how much she likes a New York diner called the Flame, where she ate many meals while staying in the city for most of a year to work on her second album.
I have a very positive association for that place, though I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten there myself.
A writer and an artist who I knew met there many times (decades ago) when they were collaborating on a comic book project. They found it to be — as Lorde did, much more recently — a very congenial place to work, and to observe people.
Funny coincidence, given how many diners there are in New York City.
(I was the ostensible editor of the comic book project in question, but when the artist and writer are your mother and your ex-wife, and they are in complete agreement about ignoring whatever editorial suggestions you might come up with, then you might as well not bother.)
The other thing that struck me particularly was how Lorde “sought an audience” with songwriter Max Martin (“probably the greatest pop craftsman alive,” according to the Times).
Martin said that “Green Light” was “incorrect songwriting” (there’s a key change in the “wrong” place, and one part is the “wrong” length).
Lorde thought about this, decided that the assessment was correct, and then didn’t change a thing.
Lorde: “I have a strong awareness of the rules — 60 percent of the time I follow them; 40 percent, I don’t.”
That seems to me to be the correct approach to the “rules,” in any form or genre.
You have to know the rules, you have to respect the rules (as she says elsewhere in the article, about pop music: “I have such reverence for the form. A lot of musicians think they can do pop, and the ones who don’t succeed are the ones who don’t have the reverence — who think it’s just a dumb version of other music. You need to be awe-struck.”), but you don’t always have to follow the rules.
I’ve included the official “Green Light” video before, so, for a change of pace, there’s this…
(I removed the video because apparently it was taken down for some reason. My favorite part of the song is when everything starts to come together around “But I hear sounds in my mind. Brand new sounds in my mind.” Because that’s what can help the most when things are really bad– the work. Stories to write, songs to sing, paintings to paint.)