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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Bojangles Songwriting (84* d) RE: Songwriting 30 Oct 98


Woody Guthrie -- certainly regarded as one of our very best songwriters -- reportedly wrote a total of about 1,500 songs in his life. How many of those can we rember on the spur of the moment? I have a hard time coming up wirh more than 15 or 20,and that takes a bit of a stretch! Why so few? Because, frankly, the vast majority of his songs are not remembered because they were not very good. Yet he remains the amanuensis of American folk poetry. I think the message is clear. Writing a song that will raise goose bumps on a listener is extremely difficult to do. A successful writer has to be willing to write a great many bad songs without discouragement and keep on writing if he is to have any hope of giving birth to a This Land is Your Land, or a John Henry, a Goodnight Irene, or a Buffalo Skinners. There are so many terrific songs out there, and a folksinger can almost be assured of eventual sxtinction if he insists upon singing only his own material. The folk process will eventually shake the wheat from the chaff. Inexoably the bad will die out and the good will live on, and no academy of awards can alter for long the truth of the process. And that is just one of the things that is so wonderful about the world.

Peter Stanley


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