In 2015, Sara Bareilles wrote the songs for a musical called Waitress. I’ve never seen the musical, but the music on her album What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress is brilliant. Superb melodies and chord progressions, such clever phrasing, all supporting the story, meaning, and character of each song.
I accidentally stumbled across something called the “Commentary Version” of the album. It’s just Sara sharing brief, 30-second thoughts about each track. It occurred to me that she sounds very much like a screenwriter trying to pitch a TV show pilot to some development executives. (And maybe not succeeding.) Here’s what Sara says about the song Opening Up:
“Opening Up is our opening number for the show. And this is setting the tone for getting to know all the characters of the show. So we meet our 3 waitresses, and I wanted it to be a really vibrant, energetic, exciting song that sounded like a Sara Bareilles song, but also was just setting the scene inside Joe’s Pie Diner, which is where we spend a lot of our time. For our show.”
Not quite as impressive as the song, eh?
Imagine how ridiculous it would be, if bands had to say that stuff, instead of letting the music speak for itself.
If you’re a musician, you can grab a guitar and play the song you wrote. Not a pitch for the song you will eventually write. You can tell someone the actual lyrics. Not a pitch for the lyrics. No need for a Powerpoint and a 15-minute presentation. There’s an immediacy there. Not so for TV show creators. There is an infinite gap between the pitch and the final product. (This is largely due to the cost of making a TV show.)
If musicians had to do what screenwriters do, I don’t know if many of the albums we love would ever get made.