A trademark of a well-written novel is a complex, engaging central character. It's the author's most important and difficult job to create someone readers will be interested in and have strong feelings about.
Same thing with a captivating movie. Did you see Silver Linings Playbook? That was a great motion picture, not because of its fast-action plot or M. Night Shyamalan-infused twists. Just solidly written characters we could care about and Oscar-worthy acting bringing them to life.
Here songwriters are at a vast disadvantage. The task of introducing someone and then making you care about him or her has to be accomplished within three, four or five minutes or so. That's not much time. And then there's the music, which adds to the experience but can overwhelm the lyric.
Thinking about it this way, it's pretty amazing when a songwriter creates someone amazing. It does happen, though, and a lot more often than we might recognize. But who are these personas, created from keen human observation and immortalized in song? Here are eight I'd actually want to encounter in real life.
Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles The spinster who gave loneliness a proper name is someone I need to meet. If you aren't covered in the ooze of depression when you give this song a listen, you really don't need to keep reading this list.
Life is about making connections, our human interaction gives us purpose. These are the Dalai Lama-like mantras I'd deliver to Ms. Rigby. I'd not just stop by to visit occasionally so Eleanor could pull her face from the jar by the door every once and then. I'd find her some other lonely hearts to share her life with.
Maybe she could clean up Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" and make an honest man of him? Together, they could love Pearl Jam's emotionally ignored "Jeremy" and Annie, Sublime's juvenile case who is headed the "Wrong Way" and in need of a motherly figure.
Rocket Man, Elton John Over beers, I'd pick his brain about the sights and sounds of deep space, what it feels like to burst from Earth's orbit and why one would leave his loved ones behind to engage in such a lonely pursuit.
Don't you know there are people, like Eleanor Rigby, who have no one back on Earth? You have a wife and kids who don't want you to go to Mars. They need you at home, bro. Listen, if you see Major Tom up there, deliver this message to him, too, I'd say.
Kate, Ben Folds Five With so many beguiling women cast in song to choose from (Duran Duran's "Rio," Dolly Parton's "Jolene," Journey's "Girl Can't Help It," etc.), I settled on Ben Folds' "Kate." It was really a toss-up between her and Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon."
But I'm assuming Rhiannon is a witch, and I've met a couple of witches. They're pretty boring, truth be told. It might be cool to watch Rhiannon "take to the sky like a bird in flight" or just disappear into the darkness; but, if it means hearing her babble on endlessly about the Mother Goddess and such, well, no thanks.
I'll stick with Kate, who appears to be human, albeit a supremely cool human who can summon small furry animals by playing "Wipeout" on the drums. She smokes pot, makes brilliant mixtapes, hands out the Bhagavad Gita and always knows the right thing to say when no one else does.