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Singer/songwriters(again)

Mark Ross 17 Oct 08 - 09:56 PM
Barry Finn 17 Oct 08 - 11:19 PM
Tim Leaning 17 Oct 08 - 11:52 PM
alanabit 18 Oct 08 - 03:26 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 08 - 03:28 AM
Peace 18 Oct 08 - 03:30 AM
Darowyn 18 Oct 08 - 04:00 AM
alanabit 18 Oct 08 - 04:17 AM
Acorn4 18 Oct 08 - 05:39 AM
Anne Lister 18 Oct 08 - 06:32 AM
Acorn4 18 Oct 08 - 06:49 AM
John Hardly 18 Oct 08 - 07:15 AM
Tim Leaning 18 Oct 08 - 07:19 AM
Piers Plowman 18 Oct 08 - 07:52 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 18 Oct 08 - 07:52 AM
Peace 18 Oct 08 - 08:07 AM
Bobert 18 Oct 08 - 08:19 AM
Peace 18 Oct 08 - 08:23 AM
Peace 18 Oct 08 - 08:55 AM
quokka 18 Oct 08 - 09:13 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 08 - 09:25 AM
Jeri 18 Oct 08 - 09:31 AM
John Hardly 18 Oct 08 - 09:39 AM
John Hardly 18 Oct 08 - 09:42 AM
olddude 18 Oct 08 - 10:00 AM
Tim Leaning 18 Oct 08 - 12:37 PM
Georgiansilver 18 Oct 08 - 02:23 PM
Acorn4 18 Oct 08 - 02:33 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Oct 08 - 04:25 PM
Tim Leaning 18 Oct 08 - 04:31 PM
dick greenhaus 18 Oct 08 - 04:46 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Oct 08 - 04:49 PM
Bill D 18 Oct 08 - 05:22 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Oct 08 - 05:46 PM
dick greenhaus 18 Oct 08 - 06:25 PM
Peace 18 Oct 08 - 06:59 PM
Joe_F 18 Oct 08 - 09:53 PM
Peace 18 Oct 08 - 10:27 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Oct 08 - 10:57 PM
Tim Leaning 19 Oct 08 - 04:45 AM
Piers Plowman 19 Oct 08 - 07:55 AM
Piers Plowman 19 Oct 08 - 08:07 AM
Piers Plowman 19 Oct 08 - 08:10 AM
Gene Burton 19 Oct 08 - 08:32 AM
Piers Plowman 19 Oct 08 - 08:56 AM
olddude 19 Oct 08 - 11:12 PM
Declan 20 Oct 08 - 03:07 AM
dick greenhaus 20 Oct 08 - 02:17 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 20 Oct 08 - 02:45 PM
Tim Leaning 20 Oct 08 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 20 Oct 08 - 03:32 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 20 Oct 08 - 03:44 PM
Acorn4 20 Oct 08 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 20 Oct 08 - 03:57 PM
Acorn4 20 Oct 08 - 04:04 PM
Acorn4 20 Oct 08 - 04:05 PM
Spleen Cringe 20 Oct 08 - 04:20 PM
Acorn4 20 Oct 08 - 08:52 PM
Peace 20 Oct 08 - 10:26 PM
DebC 20 Oct 08 - 10:36 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 21 Oct 08 - 12:05 AM
Spleen Cringe 21 Oct 08 - 03:34 AM
Spleen Cringe 21 Oct 08 - 03:36 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 21 Oct 08 - 04:36 AM
Banjiman 21 Oct 08 - 04:48 AM
GUEST,LJW 21 Oct 08 - 05:13 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 21 Oct 08 - 05:28 AM
Jeri 21 Oct 08 - 08:10 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 21 Oct 08 - 12:09 PM
Jeri 21 Oct 08 - 12:14 PM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 21 Oct 08 - 12:42 PM
Jeri 21 Oct 08 - 02:30 PM
Tim Leaning 21 Oct 08 - 02:39 PM
Tim Leaning 23 Oct 08 - 03:54 PM
GUEST,bankley 23 Oct 08 - 04:46 PM
Acorn4 23 Oct 08 - 05:30 PM
Tim Leaning 25 Oct 08 - 01:07 PM
bankley 25 Oct 08 - 02:01 PM
Tim Leaning 25 Oct 08 - 04:10 PM
GUEST,Nicholas Waller 25 Oct 08 - 04:47 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 25 Oct 08 - 05:57 PM
Acorn4 25 Oct 08 - 09:14 PM
Tim Leaning 26 Oct 08 - 06:52 AM
Piers Plowman 26 Oct 08 - 10:42 AM
Jayto 26 Oct 08 - 11:33 AM
matt milton 27 Oct 08 - 07:39 AM
GUEST,Russ 27 Oct 08 - 11:42 AM
Joe_F 27 Oct 08 - 07:22 PM
Wrinkles 27 Oct 08 - 07:57 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 27 Oct 08 - 09:44 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 27 Oct 08 - 10:33 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 27 Oct 08 - 10:34 PM
Mark Ross 27 Oct 08 - 10:43 PM
Piers Plowman 28 Oct 08 - 05:35 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 28 Oct 08 - 08:28 AM
Spleen Cringe 28 Oct 08 - 11:17 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 28 Oct 08 - 11:31 AM
Spleen Cringe 28 Oct 08 - 11:38 AM
George Papavgeris 28 Oct 08 - 11:40 AM
George Papavgeris 28 Oct 08 - 11:40 AM
Jeri 28 Oct 08 - 11:45 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 28 Oct 08 - 11:53 AM
Spleen Cringe 28 Oct 08 - 12:12 PM
JedMarum 28 Oct 08 - 12:22 PM
JedMarum 28 Oct 08 - 12:26 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 28 Oct 08 - 01:26 PM
Big Mick 28 Oct 08 - 02:00 PM
Desert Dancer 28 Oct 08 - 03:34 PM
Jeri 28 Oct 08 - 03:45 PM
JedMarum 28 Oct 08 - 04:49 PM
JedMarum 28 Oct 08 - 04:50 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 28 Oct 08 - 05:15 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 29 Oct 08 - 12:46 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 29 Oct 08 - 09:20 AM
Spleen Cringe 29 Oct 08 - 10:27 AM
matt milton 29 Oct 08 - 10:30 AM
Spleen Cringe 29 Oct 08 - 10:30 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 29 Oct 08 - 10:30 AM
Big Mick 29 Oct 08 - 12:49 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 29 Oct 08 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 29 Oct 08 - 01:56 PM
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Subject: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Mark Ross
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 09:56 PM

Dave Van Ronk said that defining yourself as a S/S is defining the person not the music. He said that that would put Joni Mitchell and Hoagy Carmichael in the same category(an interesting thought, he said).

Utah Phillips upon being given the lifetime Acheivement Award at the Folk Annoyance in Canada said thus;

"The aging Folksinger steps out of the music store, his 1930's Gibson slung low on his hip to be confronted by a brash, young, singer-songwriter, armed with an Ovation and an effects box. The brash, young singer-songwriter assaults the aging folksinger with 20 minutes of intensely personal, highly metaphorical verbiage. The aging folksinger swings his sunburst Gibson L-OO around, and responds with a verse and a chorus of RED RIVER VALLEY. The brash, young, singer-songwriter drops, stunned by the simplicity of an un-authored folksong!"


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Barry Finn
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 11:19 PM

I'm not touching this one, I got so in trouble the last 5 times.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 11:52 PM

Sorry I dont understand the un authored folksong bit.
Actualy I dont know what Highly metaphorical verbiage means realy either.
Would someone be real nice and explain?
Ta!
OH and did the ovation come out of the effects box?
DID the aging folk singer never write a song?
I think I will just come back and read this after some cleverer people have padded it out a bit.
LOL


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: alanabit
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 03:26 AM

Both Utah Phillips and Dave Van Ronk's points are well taken. From the sixties/seventies onwards, the term "singer/songwriter" was used by the media and record companies to endow a sort of untouchable mystique upon their protegés. Rather than let the usual blather about this break out on Mudcat, I think it would make more sense for us to take it as given that we, as grown ups, have seen through this nonsense.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 03:28 AM

Well Tim, its about being young and being old.

Young people always write about relationships. Even when they are writing about bad and troubled relationships, there is a sort of glint of hope in their eyes - cos they believe the world can be better.

And as Bob Dylan rightly points out some of us manage to stay forever young.

The rest of us get old, and we watch all this activity like wounded animals from the shelter of a cave.

And we know that relationships are one more thing we can't do - like fixing the car - we could never really do it - but we went through periods in our lives when we thought we could.

So we take pleasure in classic folksongs and classic guitars - usually perched on our pot bellies rather than low slung on the hip.

I agree with the rest of it.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Peace
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 03:30 AM

I'm not sure I do or do not agree. I really don't understand what Utah said.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Darowyn
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 04:00 AM

Al alternative scenario- incorporating a more realistic view of the attitudes of young people.

Young singer songwriter:- "What's that boring old rubbish you're playing man?"
Aging Folk singer:- "Red River Valley"
Young singer songwriter:-"Is it an old Woody Guthrie song?"
Aging Folk singer:-"Nobody knows who wrote it"
Young singer songwriter:-"Sounds like nobody did write it. All those cheesy standard chords-Yuk!"
Aging Folk singer drops to the ground, stunned by the realisation of his own irrelevance.
Young singer songwriter:-(picks up old Gibson) "I'll get a good price for this on Ebay, and buy myself a big PA rig"

Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: alanabit
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 04:17 AM

Oddly enough, although "Red River Valley" now has a universal resonance, it could very well have started life as one of those personal outpourings, which Utah Phillips was taking a swipe at. In a way it was the "Take Me Home Country Roads" of its day. Over the years I have gone off that narcisstic stuff. As a young man, I felt that the songs needed to be identified very closely with their writers. I have changed my mind. However, isn't it possible that songs, which begin life as personal statements, can later come to mean something for many other people?


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Acorn4
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 05:39 AM

It's a spectrum isn't it.

Songs range from embarrassingly awful through to works of genius. A lot of songs are well worth a listen in the middle ranges of the spectrum.

As you develop a bit you gradually get to know what your particular niche is, after a few experiments and blind alleys along the way - you won't get the really good songs without the crap. Sometimes a writer will produce mainly musical polyfilla but then come up with a couple of great songs.

It is perhaps a bit harder being a songwriter because you're putting your whole self on the line every time you perform.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Anne Lister
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 06:32 AM

As a songwriter I'd say that if "you're putting your whole self on the line every time you perform" then you probably need therapy instead of gigs! One of the important lessons to learn as a songwriter is (at least in my experience and opinion) that your job is to make your specific experience more universal in order to create a good song. Which means adapting a degree of distance from it. If your songs are like your personal diary, or your own most personal thoughts, you're probably unlikely to reach most of your audience, unless they've shared precisely the same experiences. And those are the kind of songs that have given the "singer/songwriter" such a bad name.

Anne
standing on a soapbox....


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Acorn4
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 06:49 AM

I agree with you 100% Tabster. Perhaps I didn't put the point over that well.

What I actually meant was that if you are singing soeone else's song or a trad number and it goes down like the proverbial lead balloon, you can always shed part of the responsibility.

If it's your own song there's nowhere to hide.

I don't write songs about "failed relationships" - I suppose the classic album of these is the brilliant "Another Side of Bob Dylan", but a lot of songs in this vein, come under the heading of what my wife calls "musical masturbation".


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: John Hardly
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 07:15 AM

The problem with Phillips' story doesn't lie in the notion that styles can be compared and contrasted. It lies in the false notion that music is a competition.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 07:19 AM

I just love to hear people making music.
But not too loudly.
IS Utahs story perhaps an earlier version of the bad feeling I sometimes detect towards Say a certain folk prog on radio2?
or an extended family of musical persons at times on here?
I dunno but us singer song whingers gotta stic k together,specialy us prettier ones.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 07:52 AM

Without ever bothering to try to find out, I also kind of thought singer-songwriter was based on the French term "auteur-compositeur-interprète" used for people who wrote, composed and sang their own songs --- a rare combination of skills.

One the very best, in my opinion, is Jacques Brel. However, he didn't write the music to all of his songs. I think that's rather to his credit than otherwise. It should be the music that counts rather than proving that one has this or that talent.

Singer-songwriters were one of the reasons I lost interest in so-called "folk music" or folk-style music a long time ago, before becoming interested in it again. One can (and does) argue about the definition of "folk music", but I think including the songs of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Steve Goodman, John Prine, Ralph McTell, etc., however good they may be, makes nonsense of the definition.

I do find a lot of songs by singer-writers make me roll my eyes and cringe. Some are great, though.

Many do seem to be about the problems of singer-songwriters, like novels about middle-aged teachers of writing courses at small American colleges written by middle-aged teachers of writing courses at small American colleges.

There's a radio program here (Germany) where they've been playing music by some singer-songwriters and similar acts. An hour just of one musician or group with a few tid-bits of information in-between. For example, last week was Jackson Browne. I was somewhat interested in hearing about his early career, but eventually I switched it off. A bit over-familiar. I did the same when they had a show about James Taylor. The one about Loggins and Messina was interesting, although I didn't care for the music very much.

I think that's the crux of the problem with singer-songwriters: It's a rather short slide into elevator music. In fact, I just looked up Roger Whittaker on Wikipedia and this is what it said:

"Roger Whittaker (born March 22, 1936 in Nairobi, Kenya) is an English-Kenyan singer/songwriter and musician with worldwide record sales of more than 55 million. His music can be described as folk or easy listening. In his early career, his trademark was his whistling ability."

The "whistling ability" part makes me like him more, though.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 07:52 AM

""Which means adapting a degree of distance from it. If your songs are like your personal diary, or your own most personal thoughts, you're probably unlikely to reach most of your audience, unless they've shared precisely the same experiences.""

I AGREE!!

Of all the songs I've composed over thirty plus years, only one is about me, or my life.

Now they may all be crap (will be in at least some listeners' estimation), or there may be some worthwhile.
What they are decidedly NOT, is musical masturbation, sentimental whining over failed relationships, or introspective navel gazing.

Thanks to the narrow, blinkered, view of songwriters that is adopted by so many who don't have the talent to write songs, and not a few who DO, I find myself categorised as being one or all of the above.

And I don't much care for it.

In fact, if ignorant and stupid comment actually meant anything, I might get quite annoyed.

However my usual reaction is "What do THEY know"?.......The answer, from years of experience is Bugger All!!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Peace
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 08:07 AM

"If your songs are like your personal diary, or your own most personal thoughts, you're probably unlikely to reach most of your audience, unless they've shared precisely the same experiences. And those are the kind of songs that have given the "singer/songwriter" such a bad name."

Horseshit.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Bobert
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 08:19 AM

John Hardly is correct...

If yer playing music as a competition then yer probably missing the pure joy of music... It ain't a competition... Especially at the folk singer level...

I mean, let's get real here... It AC/DC verses Metallicam gol danged it... That's what makes it folk music...

B~


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Peace
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 08:23 AM

Sorry, I'm not in the mood to be eloquent. There are kids out there writing songs that you may not like, but they are pushing boundaries in music. Not all of it works. Some of it does. I feel equally at home listening to trad, bluegrass, blues, punk, rap, opera, symphony orchestras, barber shop quartet. Myopic and narrow-minded views of what SHOULD constitue music 'fit for the masses' is not your sole domain. It belongs to people, and I am bloody tited of some self-appointed elite deciding what is or isn't good. People like what they like, and all the pedantic crap in the world ain't gonna change that.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Peace
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 08:55 AM

Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company.
Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves.


Alas, my love, that you should own
A heart of wanton vanity,
So must I meditate alone
Upon your insincerity.
Greensleeves was all ...


Your vows you've broken, like my heart,
Oh, why did you so enrapture me?
Now I remain in a world apart
But my heart remains in captivity.
Greensleeves was all ...


If you intend thus to disdain,
It does the more enrapture me,
And even so, I still remain
A lover in captivity.
Greensleeves was all ...


I have been ready at your hand,
To grant whatever thou wouldst crave;,
I have both wagered life and land,
Your love and good-will for to have.
Greensleeves was all ...


Thou couldst desire no earthly thing,
But still thou hadst it readily.
Thy music still to play and sing;
And yet thou wouldst not love me.
Greensleeves was all ...


I bought thee kerchiefs for thy head,
That were wrought fine and gallantly;
I kept thee at both board and bed,
Which cost my purse well-favoredly.
Greensleeves was all ...


I bought thee petticoats of the best,
The cloth so fine as it might be;
I gave thee jewels for thy chest,
And all this cost I spent on thee.
Greensleeves was all ...


Thy smock of silk, both fair and white,
With gold embroidered gorgeously;
Thy petticoat of sendal right,
And these I bought thee gladly.
Greensleeves was all ...


My men were clothed all in green,
And they did ever wait on thee;
All this was gallant to be seen,
And yet thou wouldst not love me.
Greensleeves was all ...


They set thee up, they took thee down,
They served thee with humility;
Thy foot might not once touch the ground,
And yet thou wouldst not love me.
Greensleeves was all ...


'Tis I will pray to God on high,
That thou my constancy mayst see,
And that yet once before I die,
Thou wilt vouchsafe to love me.
Greensleeves was all ...


Ah, Greensleeves, now farewell, adieu,
To God I pray to prosper thee,
For I am still thy lover true,
Come once again and love me.
Greensleeves was all ...




Yeah. Another useless snigger-snogwriter.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: quokka
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 09:13 AM

Well said, Peace - (post at 8.23am Oct 18). Ditto.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 09:25 AM

'If yer playing music as a competition then yer probably missing the pure joy of music... It ain't a competition... '

It is if you enter the Matttesons Sausage company Songwriting Competition, as I did.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=tPo2xjWYDUg


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 09:31 AM

Funny thing is, many of the people who bitch about singer/songwriters have some singer/songwriter work in their collections or perform their songs. These seem pretty personal:
Here come the critics now
The news won't be good
Come along and hurry now
And do the things you should
I can see you dancing by me
Held up by secret strings
Pulled by friends and lovers
Waiting in the wings 1
Now I'm standing in this phone booth with a dollar and a dime
Wondering what to say to you to ease your troubled mind
For the Lord's cross might redeem us but our own just waste our time
And to tell the two apart is always hard love 2
Farewell to you my love, my time is almost done
Lie in my arms once more until the darkness comes
You filled all my days, held the night at bay, dearest companion
Years pass by and they come with the speed of birds in flight
Our life like the verse of a song heard in the mountains
Give me your hand then love and join your voice with mine
We'll sing of the hurt and pain
And the joy of living 3
OK, so you might not like any of those but I'm sure there are others. Songs do not connect unles they ARE personal. Sure you may sing a song for other reasons, but think about the songs you sing because you LOVE them. It's probably because they have personal meaning for you, which they have because they had personal meaning to the person who wrote them.

So when people whine about singer/songwriters, what I hear is that they simply don't like the songs and they don't have the words to express why they don't like them. When you point out they DO like some, they'll tell you that singer/songwriter is different. If you ask them to explain the exact ways the person is different that make the person you're talking to like them, they probably can't tell you

Bashing a whole bunch of people because you don't like some things that some of them do, or 'stereotyping' as it's commonly known, is an easy way to simplify hatred or disdain so you don't have to actually think about why you feel that way so you can explain it.

I generally see this bitching about singer/songwriters as not liking songs and being completely unable to tell anybody why. Guess what? You don't like hearing about their personal feelings and I don't like hearing about yours. You don't have to have a reason not to like something. It's not good, it's not bad, you just don't like it. It's OK.

1 Clearing in the Forest,Utah Phillips
2 Hard Love, Bob Franke
3Joy of Living, Ewan MacColl


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: John Hardly
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 09:39 AM

Jeri, come over here and get a kiss (a respectful one, of course) for mentioning Bob Franke. God, what a writer!


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Subject: Lyr Add: FOR REAL (Bob Franke)
From: John Hardly
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 09:42 AM

(I remember being brought to tears by...

FOR REAL
(Bob Franke)
As recorded by Bob Franke on "Fast Folk Musical Magazine (Vol. 2, No. 4)" (1985)

Death took the husband of a neighbor of mine on a highway with a drunk at the wheel.
She told me: "Keep your clean hands off the laundry he left, and don't tell me you know how I feel."
She had a tape that he'd sent her from a Holiday Inn, and she never played it much in the day,
But when I heard him say he loved her through the window at night, I just stayed the hell away.

CHORUS: There's a hole in the middle of the prettiest life; so the lawyers and the prophets say.
Not your father nor your mother nor your lover's gonna ever make it go away;
And there's too much darkness in an endless night to be afraid of the way we feel.
Let's be kind to each other, not forever but for real.

My father never put his parachute on in the Pacific back in World War II.
He said he'd rather go down in familiar flames than get lost in that endless blue.
And some of that blue got into my eyes and we never stopped fighting that war
Until I first understood about endlessness and I loved him like never before. CHORUS

It's lucky that my daughter got her mother's nose, and just a little of her father's eyes;
And we've got just enough love that when the longing takes me, well, It takes me by surprise;
And I remember that longing from my highway days, though I never could give it a name.
It's lucky I discovered in the nick of time that the woman and the child aren't to blame...

CHORUS: For the hole in the middle of a pretty good life; I only face it 'cause it's here to stay.
Not my father nor my mother nor my daughter nor my lover nor the highway made it go away;
And there's too much darkness in an endless night to be ashamed of the way I feel.
I'll be kind to my loved ones, not forever but for real.

Some say that God is a lover, some say it's an endless void.
Some say both, and some say she's angry, and some say he's just annoyed;
But if God felt a hammer in the palm of his hand, then God knows the way we feel,
And love lasts forever, forever and for real.

Love lasts forever.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: olddude
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 10:00 AM

I don't know what singer/songwriter folk definition is supposed to mean.   I think with folk music the artist is writing and playing for his or herself. Not for record deals or to reach a vast majority of people but for themselves. It is personal in that regards that it is their own but what makes it great is the common emotion it triggers in others. Look at Bruce's masterpiece MOH ... those are his songs his feelings his heart in them. Songs like that were not stamped out in a studio with people saying you will reach the target audience of 18-30 year olds and will sell x number of records and fits this genere so the record companies can easily label it. What makes those works not a personal diary is - we can all relate to the feeling and it triggers the same feeling in us as the artist. The greatest songs as pointed out many times were anon or trad because everyone can understand the emotion in the song and not just the artist. All songs are someone's feelings set to music in some manner. The difference is what common button in everyone does it press. "Blowin in the Wind is personal, it is the thoughts and heart of the writer. Why do we like it, we can understand the question and agree with the message. Personal to everyone and not just the writer. My take on it.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 12:37 PM

I reckon I would enjoy spending the evening in a nice cozy pub.
Fire glowing in the open hearth,listening to each of you telling a story ,joke,singing a song or playing a tune.
Even a poem or two.
Each taking a turn and even having my own few minutes to sing you one of my songs.
Hey if I sing flat or play badly what did it cost you?
If it aint folk or traditional whats your problem?
Lets have another beer and get back to enjoying what we each bring to this life..


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 02:23 PM

I am a singer/songwriter... I am not brilliant but get by... many are better than me and some are not so good... so what's the big deal with the thread???? What is it trying to prove or disprove... ? Or rather who is trying to prove or disprove what??
Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Acorn4
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 02:33 PM

Referring back to the comment by Peace:-

Just trying to imagine Henry Vlll standing up in front of his courtiers, lute at the ready, preparing to launch into Greensleeves saying:-

"This is a song about a failed relationship!"


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 04:25 PM

Does anyone really give a rats ass if you like apples more than oranges? Fruit survives the controversy, and folk music survives WITH singer-songwriters carrying on a new tradition.

Utah Phillips was a great singer-songwriter. He also sang some nice folk songs. The Folk Alliance, in my opinion, serves a good purpose - but it is not for everyone. From what I gather, Utah was a supporter of the FA.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 04:31 PM

Hi GS.
I dont realy get the point either but keep getting a feeling I am about to learn something.
LOl
(Then warp it to fit what I already thought about whatever it is.)
LOL


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 04:46 PM

It seems that the ones whose songs one really like aren't thought of as s/s--MacColl, Phillips, Silverstein etc. Maybe it's become a euphemism for singers whose songs one doesn't like.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 04:49 PM

I think you hit the nail on the head Dick!


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 05:22 PM

"Maybe it's become a euphemism for singers whose songs one doesn't like."

Maybe...but that's not what I'd call it, Dick...There are real differences, whether one likes the songs or not.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 05:46 PM

"There are real differences, whether one likes the songs or not. "

Whether one likes the song or not does NOT make a difference


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 06:25 PM

Yes, Bill, there are (usually) differnces. But Do you think of, say, Ewan MacColl as a singer/songwriter?


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Peace
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 06:59 PM

People who like Silverstein as a songwriter must surely be aware that he wrote many of the songs on Dr Hook and the Medicine Show's best record (imo). Amongst those songs was "Sylvia's Mother."

"In 1972, Silverstein told Rolling Stone magazine that there was a real Sylvia: "I just changed the last name, not to protect the innocent, but because it didn't fit. It happened about eight years ago and was pretty much the way it was in the song. I called Sylvia and her mother said, 'She can't talk to you.' I said, 'Why not?' Her mother said she was packing and she was leaving to get married, which was a big surprise to me. The guy was in Mexico and he was a bullfighter and a painter. At the time I thought that was like being a combination brain surgeon and encyclopedia salesman. Her mother finally let me talk to her, but her last words were, 'Shel, don't spoil it.' For about ten seconds I had this ego charge, as if I could have spoiled it. I couldn't have spoiled it with a sledge hammer."

Other quotes are available with a google of

Sylvia's Mother by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show Songfacts


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Joe_F
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 09:53 PM

This company might be amused by my animadversions on this notion, which are part of an email discussion within the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston four years ago:

1. Trad vs singer-songwriter

I gather that this is an important divide & that I am on the extreme
trad side of it. However, I don't see the point of it, and in
particular the names don't make sense to me. Evidently, writing songs
& singing them does not suffice to make one a singer-songwriter;
otherwise, my singing songs by Pete Seeger, Lou & Peter Berryman, Ewan
MacColl, Bob Blue, Tom Lehrer, Malvina Reynolds, Cyril Tawney, Leslie
Fish, Stan Rogers, Flanders & Swann, etc. would put me squarely in the
enemy camp.

Perhaps the real animus is like that in a conversation I was once told
about:

"Put the teapot on the stove & heat it hot as hell. Then put the
tea in. That way, the water will continue to boil violently when
it hits the tea."

"Doesn't that sometimes break the teapot?"

"There are those who like teapots, and those who like tea."

Likewise, there are those who like singers & those who like songs,
regardless of origin. For the other side, human beings are at the
center of the stage, everything else is a prop, and songs in
particular are vehicles for singers, songwriters, and
singer-songwriters to express their yearnings for love or money. For
me, the songs are at the center; they are, among other things, a way
of seeing people in perspective; and when it comes to gossiping
sentimentally about the people connected with the songs (something I
am all in favor of -- look me up on the Mudcat Forum), I am most
interested in the ones mentioned in the songs, secondarily in the ones
who made them up, and only cursorily in the ones who perform them, who
are only one way to get the songs propagated -- containers &
dispensers.

In itself, that need not be a cause of conflict -- it might merely add
to the variety of songs & talk. But in the present cultural context
it is something of a party question, mixed up in the wars between
nerds & jocks, among word people, people people, & thing people,
between amateurs & professionals, etc. That may be why you folks are
treading so carefully.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Peace
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 10:27 PM

My apology to Anne, because I did not mean to direct that at her, although it certainly looks that way.

I eagerly await her CD because it will be a beautiful work of art and artistry.

I have heard far to many people dismiss various musics because it is 'not their TYPE' of music. That comes from both the world of music and over-hearing teenagers after playing some stuff for them from Robert Johnson, Stravinski, Kenny Rogers, Mary Chapin, Pete Seeger, Bob Seger, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton. Often on second hearing something goes click and weeks later I have seen the same teens listening to other songs in a similar vein.

Many people have presented the folk tradition and held it to our ears because they love it. I'm thinking of the Easbys, Crumps and Andersons in England and their stalwart defense and preservation of a great and wonderful area of English music--although I fight with them constantly ever single time we end up on threads together.

I suppose I'm fortunate that 95% of traditional music leaves me cold, because about 95% of the rest of music does, too.

The most disappointing thing a songwriter can hear from anyone is, "It's not my type of music." I think it shows prejudice and narrow mindedness. I think it diminishes the critic, denigrates the songwriter and throws away the diamonds with the dirt.

Anyway, that's it for me and this thread. Sorry to have intruded.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 10:57 PM

Who says singer/songwriters always write about relationships? I think that I've probably written three or four songs in my life about relationships. Unless you count relationships with dogs (of the canine variety.) Then the number is somewhere up around 20.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 19 Oct 08 - 04:45 AM

Woof? or Wuff?
WHich is the one true path?


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 19 Oct 08 - 07:55 AM

From: Mark Ross - PM
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 09:56 PM

"'The aging Folksinger steps out of the music store, his 1930's Gibson slung low on his hip to be confronted by a brash, young, singer-songwriter, armed with an Ovation and an effects box. The brash, young singer-songwriter assaults the aging folksinger with 20 minutes of intensely personal, highly metaphorical verbiage. The aging folksinger swings his sunburst Gibson L-OO around, and responds with a verse and a chorus of RED RIVER VALLEY. The brash, young, singer-songwriter drops, stunned by the simplicity of an un-authored folksong!'"

I like U. Utah Philips, but I don't find this fantasy particularly convincing. Would a brash young singer-songwriter really be stunned by "Red River Valley"? I think not. I'd rather have a Gibson than an Ovation, but having had to make do with what I can afford for a long time has cured me of instrument snobbery.

I don't think criticizing "singer-songwriting" as a genre is either "whining" or "bitching" and I'm quite able to say what I don't like about it, as well as what I do. The point of this thread is to discuss, like every other thread here. Why shouldn't the music of singer-songwriters be criticized, as long as its civil and not below the belt?

Last night the program I mentioned was about Donovan. I lasted 50 minutes before finally switching off. It was kind of interesting to hear what he had to say for himself. While I sometimes like nonsense poetry, I don't like nonsense poetry pretending to be "meaningful". This is one of my main criticisms of singer-songwriters --- especially Bob Dylan.

Another thing I don't like is the unbearable self-righteousness and preachiness of the songs of some singer-songwriters. This is true of the German variety ("Liedermacher" = "song-makers"), too. Some singer-songwriters may be very admirable people, I may agree with their politics, and political activism may also be admirable, but it doesn't automatically make for good music. Having reached adulthood, I don't look to songwriters for information about politics.

I disagree about any musician who gets up on a stage and plays to a paying audience being "uncommercial". If you get paid, it's commercial. One may refuse to compromise or accept being unpopular or never be able to give up one's day job, but if money changes hands, it's commercial. Why this gets me riled up is so much due to musicians but to so-called "artists", where people who sell smears of paint or strewn-about rubbish for large sums of money are supposedly "non-commercial". (Full-length rant available upon request.)


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 19 Oct 08 - 08:07 AM

I wrote:
"Why this gets me riled up is so much due to musicians but to so-called 'artists' [...]"

I meant "not so much due to musicians". (Got over-excited there.)

"Another thing I don't like is the unbearable self-righteousness and preachiness of the songs of some singer-songwriters."

And as long as I'm standing, I forgot "smugness".


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 19 Oct 08 - 08:10 AM

On the other hand, it takes guts to stick one's neck out and broadcast one's deepest personal feelings to the world and expose oneself to criticism.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Gene Burton
Date: 19 Oct 08 - 08:32 AM

I've only had the time to skim read this one, so apologies if this duplicates anyone elses's thoughts...but, for the umpteenth time, could somebody please explain to me where the "traditional unauthored folk song" comes from? Is the contention that they never had to be composed by a human being; and if so, how so? Created by God at the beginning of time? Left on Utah Phillip's pillow by the folk song fairy?? I think we should be told.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 19 Oct 08 - 08:56 AM

From: Gene Burton - PM
Date: 19 Oct 08 - 08:32 AM

"I've only had the time to skim read this one, so apologies if this duplicates anyone elses's thoughts...but, for the umpteenth time, could somebody please explain to me where the "traditional unauthored folk song" comes from?"

To the best of my knowledge, it comes from a theory about how folksongs came to be. One school of thought favored the idea that someone had written them and they were changed (and possibly "debased") as they spread from mouth-to-mouth. Another favored the idea that they were composed "collectively" and didn't have a single author.

The truth is, no one really knows. It probably lies somewhere in between; some songs more one way, some more another. Someone came up with the idea of the "folk-process" to describe how songs change as they are transmitted.

Sorry, it's all a bit complicated and would require lots of looking-up and footnotes to do the topic justice.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: olddude
Date: 19 Oct 08 - 11:12 PM

For me it boils down to this, some music I like, some music I am absolutely crazy about, some music I cannot stomach no matter how much medicine I take. How it is classified, categorized, discussed, debated or dissected for hidden meaning - If it is a great song, I will probably learn it and play it, if I hate it, I will pass. I really don't care where it comes from or who the artist is. Some artists for me have a higher track record of great songs that I like than others. However even great songwriters like great painters make bad songs sometimes. And I fully appreciate that others may think the song is wonderful. I am sure many people think the "horse with no name is a masterpiece" Bruce will vomit if he hears that song. Personal taste just like the personal taste in guitars. Who cares if it is trad, anon or written by Joe the Plumber to quote McCain if you like it rock on, if not ... don't listen. I myself will not listen to Rap, and I am on record about my feelings towards that "art form" however, I realize many people do so to each their own.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Declan
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 03:07 AM

I think the real problem is describing 'singer songwriter' as a genre.

Being able to sing well is a great talent, so is being able to write good songs. If someone is able to do both then they are doubly talented. Sometimes singers are put under pressure to perform 'original songs' meaning ones they have written themselves. They may not be particularly good writers. Similarly songwriters may be tempted to record their own material, even if they are not good performers.

People who profess not to like singer songwriters would rule out listening to a lot of very talented individuals, but as others have indicated they normally exclude the ones they like from the genre.

As to whether or not the output of some/all singer-songwriters is folk music - I'm not going to go there thanks.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 02:17 PM

The main problem with listening to S/S types is that most of their songs aren't very good. That's not surprising--most of anything isn't very good. The singer of traditional songs has the advantage of having his material more or less pre-filtered; the really bad stuff tends to disappear before he sings it.
    Yes, it takes some guts to bare your soul in public; it also takes some chutzbah to limit yourself to what you've written. Neither guts nor chutzbah adds significantly to entertainment value, though.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 02:45 PM

"Yes, it takes some guts to bare your soul in public; it also takes some chutzbah to limit yourself to what you've written. "

I would also add that sharing your voice or skills on an instrument also takes just as much chutzbah. It is one thing to do so for your own entertainment, but if you feel that you purpose is to entertain others - you need to drum up as much chutzbah as you can.

I've sat through just as many evenings of self-absorbsed singer-songwriters as I've sat through evenings of out of tune, and often out of touch, singers of traditional folk song. Neither are very entertaining or educational in the long run.

It is the cream of the crop of each that perpetuate the styles and create traditions. Those are the jewels that make both worthwhile and negate any stereotypes that people create in thei own minds.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 03:02 PM

I only play me own songs.
I dont think it is realy special or clever.
It started because I wanted to be able to play bodrhan.
Basicaly I hear loads of people doing covers of great songs and I know I could never perform them as well.
But me own are at least half decent (to my ears anyhow) and other people are usualy kind and dont mind me having my turn when it comes around the pub.
I do my best and that is all anyone can ask I reckon.
SOmetimes they are maybe a bit too personal but I usualy try and back off from that position in the rewriting that inevitably follows the first draught.
I have a my space and welcome any comments by way off constructive critique.
I will delete very rude sweary bits however.
I still say we should be in a nice warm pub havin asing and a play.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 03:32 PM

1. I suppose I'm fortunate that 95% of traditional music leaves me cold, because about 95% of the rest of music does, too.

2. The most disappointing thing a songwriter can hear from anyone is, "It's not my type of music."


You see, I can't really see the difference between these statements, Peace. Surely the 95% percent that leaves you cold is "not your type of music"? This has nothing to do with genre, just to do with personal taste, just as the music that isn't my type of music "leaves me cold".

Frinstance, I've never really got Bruce Springsteen and his many approximate soundalikes. It leaves me cold/isn't my type of music - or whatever phrase you use to describe something that isn't your bag. Nowt personal, but life's too short and the budget's to small to try to pretend to equitably and dutifully like everything, regardless of whether it moves me. Mr Springsteen (for example), may believe, like Peace, that this means I am diminishing myself, denigrating the songwriter and throwing away the diamonds with the dirt. But what's the alternative? Lie about everything that doesn't do it for me in case anyone's feelings get hurt? You put it out there, you have to take the rough with the smooth. And 95% will always leave you cold... luckily, everyone's 5% is a little bit different.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 03:44 PM

Spleen Cringe- I am sure Peace will speak for himself, but your comment has moved me to respond.

I do not think the two statments you quoted are the same. If you are being honest, I would bet that 95% of traditional music probably leaves you cold as well. Traditional music is such a broad term. There is traditional Turkish music, traditional Chinese music, traditional Insert-Name-of-Country/Religion/Group-Here music. Can you honestly say that you enjoy ALL traditional music?

There is a huge difference between not liking a particular singer and not liking a "type of music". You might not like the Boss, but I hope you are not dismissing all singer-songwriters in the same sweeping statement.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Acorn4
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 03:56 PM

Having been encouraged into folk clubs after hearing an album called "The Paul Simon Song Book", songwriters and folk musicians have always rubbed alongside each other.

The trouble with a lot of the modern crop of "songwriters" is that they make Leonard Cohen sound like Timmy Mallett. Also you do need a good melody to carry the song and all the good tunes seem to have been used up.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 03:57 PM

I won't enter this fray again except to opine that playing "Red River Valley" in a minor key, with a few transition chords thrown in, might well stupefy the young stud with the Ovation. Of course, if you sing it like Dana Delany did in "Tombstone," he'll probably die laughing.
Wait a minute. I just tried playing it in A minor - it doesn't work too well.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Acorn4
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 04:04 PM

As a follow up to my post a couple back, on the other hand we listened to a young s/s over the weekend whose songs were average, but whose bits in between were very funny.

You can still sometimes get away with it if you have a way with people -if they decide they like you they are more inclined to listen to the song - it's all about communication.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Acorn4
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 04:05 PM

...and I'll add, this thread has just been mentioned specifically on our local programme "Folkwaves".


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 04:20 PM

Wow, Ron, talk about missing the barn door by a mile.

I tend to talk about traditional music more than most types of music when I come onto Mudcat simply because there are plenty of other places I can visit to talk about my other predilections and obsessions should I want to...

I wasn't saying what I said in any kind of defence of traditional music. I was more thinking about how the "95% (potentially of anything, not just of traditional music, if you check out Peace's full quote) leaves me cold" and "it's not my type of music" are essentially two slightly different ways of making the same point. Yet one is apparently okay to say, whilst the other is apparently a deeply hurtful slur. The point I was trying to make is that I don't personally believe that either statement Peace put forward for consideration is problematic.

I also find it odd how these debates seem to polarise between traditional music on one hand and singer songwriter music on the other. When I check out my shelves, I'd say they were about 20% traditional (not just British); 20% folk rock, psych folk, nu folk etc (but definitely favouring groups rather than individual performers); 15% alt/experimental rock - again mainly groups: 10% Americana/alt. country (nearly all groups); 15% punk/indie/classic rock - all groups; 10% Indian classical and 10% other (western classical, world, jazz etc). Of people who can be classed as singer songwriters there are a few scattered around - Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Kevin Coyne, Bob Pegg etc, but not many.

In fact, the constant theme is groups, because in my house, a decent arrangement or a bunch of people sparking off each other is king, whilst the loner usually remains lonely...


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Acorn4
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 08:52 PM

There is a contrary to that with exapmles like Karine Polwart who left a band to pursue a career as an excellent songwriter.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Peace
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 10:26 PM

I find a world of difference between someone saying they don't like a given song and someone saying they don't like trad music, or jazz, or whatever. Thus my 95% remark. Before I decide I don't like something, I listen to it first.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: DebC
Date: 20 Oct 08 - 10:36 PM

A great song is a great song, whether it is composed by someone we can name or whether it was written long ago by someone we can't.

If *I* like the song, I try to learn it and then sing it.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 12:05 AM

Saw a bumper sticker tonight:

"If only people with closed minds had closed mouths."

Made me laugh.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 03:34 AM

OK..


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 03:36 AM

Ok...

Some types of music I tend not to like:

Chest-beating music
Soul-baring music
Syrupy music
Slick, over-produced music
Music that doesn't move or affect me.

That ok with y'all? Or proof of a closed mind and a mindless insulter of poor downtrodden musicians?


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 04:36 AM

I find a world of difference between someone saying they don't like a given song and someone saying they don't like trad music, or jazz, or whatever. Thus my 95% remark. Before I decide I don't like something, I listen to it first.

My long held belief is that I'm not keen on soft rock ballads. This is based on long experience of being forced to listen to them and having a variety of reactions from nauseated to mildly irritated to reaching for the dial double quick. NOW... I could accept that soft rock ballads aren't really my bag and use my allotted time on earth to listen to music that moves me and has a resonance for me... or, in pursuit of some daft principle about fairness and not writing off entire genres I could concentrate my energy on listening to soft rock ballads, on the off chance that there might be a handful out there that would make this sorry and abject waste of my time worthwhile. D'you see what I'm getting at? I don't like that type of music as shorthand for in my experience, thus far, I have failed do enjoy any but an insignificant amount of music that could be lumped together and described in this particular way. Which is a bit clunky, to say the least...

By the way, as far as I can work out, singer-songwriter is not a genre of music, it's statement of intent, a job description, a territorial marker and an outward expression of an inner state that the person who thus labels themselves wants to convey. In my humble opinion. There are plenty of writers of songs who also sing them themselves who would probably barf at the prospect of being described as a singer songwriter. There's a visible miasma of portentiousness and self importance around the descriptor that puts this ex-punk in mind of that dreary 1970s cult of Californication...

All of which means I have created for myself a gaping loophole. I can continue to not be particularly enamoured of the whole singer songwriter concept whilst enjoying some music by singers who write their own songs ... and, in truth, wishing that more of them would do a Neil Young and transcend the bland intropection by getting themselves a Crazy Horse to play with...


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Banjiman
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 04:48 AM

Surely "singer/songwriter" is not a style of music but just describes someone who sings songs that they write.....whatever the genre?

"A great song is a great song, whether it is composed by someone we can name or whether it was written long ago by someone we can't." Ah, common sense, that's bound to be shot down then.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,LJW
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 05:13 AM

I'm often asked why I don't write songs. There are still hundreds of fantastic songs I want to learn and perform before I try to pen something which is never gonna come close to Bob Dylan's weakest efforts; why should I bother?

Singer-songwriters who only sing their own songs face a great problem; for every great song written there's a hundred that are crap. One guy comes to mind - he's written over 300 songs - but there's only one of them that I sing.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 05:28 AM

"A great song is a great song, whether it is composed by someone we can name or whether it was written long ago by someone we can't."

Sadly it can also be ruined by rubbish production, an awful arrangement, a dire singing voice and so on and so forth. And for every great song there are considerably more that aren't - old and new, but particularly new, and particularly now we have the situation where every half-arsed bedroom fantasist can peddle their wares on Myspace and Youtube. There is wheat amongst the chaff, and some of it is seriously good, but to get to it there's a shitload of chaff to wade through...


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Jeri
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 08:10 AM

'the person who thus labels themselves' versus 'who would probably barf at the prospect of being described as a singer songwriter'.

This indicates to me that, for you, the opinion of the music is not based on the label but who is doing the labeling. Please keep in mind that people in other countries and other cultures may not have that sensitivity to words as you, or even the same interpretations. While I've heard the title spit out by traddie Americans, I've never once witnessed this emotional reaction in Canada. It's also very hard for me to understand why any sane person would have an emotional reaction because of a job description.

Please understand that a person 'baring their soul' about their dislike of a title is every bit as objectionable to me as a singer/writer 'baring their soul' about love or pain is to them. The differences (other than the fact some people like the song are) the songwriter has a melody and a rhythm, and at the end, they stop.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 12:09 PM

When it's just a job description it's fine. It's when it's this hallowed thing that's mentioned in hushed, revered tones as something far superior and more sensitive and goddamned special than yer run-of-the-mill songsmith that I tend to cringe. I wonder if what I recoil from is a particular form of music industry marketing and labelling associated with the whole singer-songwriter concept than anything implicit in individual performers. After all, the majority of my record collection is music composed by the people who perform it (usually in as part of a band, though, rather than on their own or with a few session musicians) but very few of them are singer songwriters. In the UK the expression is usually preceded by a word like "sensitive" or "soul searching" or suchlike, which doesn't exactly help the cause.

Oh, and me, I've heard of science and don't actually have a soul to bare. Though why me having an opinion, Jeri, is objectionable and you having opinion apparently isn't, is beyond my simple powers of understanding.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Jeri
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 12:14 PM

"It's when it's this hallowed thing that's mentioned in hushed, revered tones as something far superior and more sensitive and goddamned special than yer run-of-the-mill songsmith that I tend to cringe."

Yeah, Nige. If I were to ever hear that, it would probably give me the creeps too.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 12:42 PM

Jeri, you obviously haven't had the pleasure of the British music press, then!


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Jeri
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 02:30 PM

No, I haven't. Not since the 80s when Alan Taylor was played next to the Watersons on Radio 2. I did have a subscription to a British magazine for a while, and noted the sneering hatred they seemed to have for singer/songwriters, as if they were personally hurt by them. They also came across as hating all things American, possibly as a result of us not joining them in their level of loathing.

People tend to toss off 'singer/songwriter' here with absolutely no concern for the poor sensitive soul who may be helpless to stop having a completely out of proportion knee-jerk reaction. A few people may state their aversion to singer/songwriters, except the ones they like, but they don't go on and on.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 02:39 PM

"A great song is a great song, whether it is composed by someone we can name or whether it was written long ago by someone we can't."

"Sadly it can also be ruined by rubbish production, an awful arrangement, a dire singing voice and so on and so forth."

A great song is never ruined in my opinion.
It is still a great song even if you hear me butchering it.
Dont blame the song for any of those other 'problems'


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 03:54 PM

"People tend to toss off 'singer/songwriter' here"
Hmmmph
And all I ever get is polite applause sometimes.
The amasingly purile and childish singer song whinger Tim....
Sorry.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,bankley
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 04:46 PM

so if a person uses only the venacular/patois for lyrics and then simply mouths the words for the hearing impaired,

would they be considered a 'lipsync-er/slang-writer' ?


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Acorn4
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 05:30 PM

I still think that most of the singer/songwriters you hear in a folk club are better than the c**p you get on commercial radio.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 01:07 PM

LOL
Traditional LIp Sync?
OR that awful made up modern stuff?


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: bankley
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 02:01 PM

well, TL, that depends on the crowd.... you just play the appropriate tracks and make sure you move your lips a bit out of sync like those old Japanese movies.... gets 'em everytime...


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 04:10 PM

Ahhhhh!
SO its all down to the supply of beer?


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,Nicholas Waller
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 04:47 PM

Al Stewart is a singer-songwriter whose oeuvre covers a pretty broad field and he (and people like him) can't be pigeon-holed as purely navel-gazing in his subject matter

Yes, he did a lot of the regular s-s personal relationship stuff (particularly Love Chronicles, an 18-minute examination of his love-life from the age of 6 and famous for being a first deployment of the popular sex term "fucking" in the album sleeve printed lyrics).

But he's also done a bunch of historical songs on subjects like the Versailles Treaty, the German-Russian front in WW2, the 500 BC Carthaginian navigator Hanno and, relevantly enough for today, the optimistic world just before the 1929 crash in Lindy Comes to Town:

Every day is better than the one before it
If I see a raincloud then I'll just ignore it
Everybody says it'll get much better yet
It's 1927 and my whole life lies ahead.

As well as other material - a whole album with wine as a theme (Down in the Cellar) - he's done songs that mix the personal and the historical, as in Fying Sorcery referencing Amy Johnson images:

With your photographs of Kitty Hawk
And the bi-planes on your wall
You were always Amy Johnson
From the time that you were small.
No schoolroom kept you grounded
While your thoughts could get away
You were taking off in Tiger Moths,
Your wings against the brush-strokes of day.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 05:57 PM

""I don't think criticizing "singer-songwriting" as a genre is either "whining" or "bitching" and I'm quite able to say what I don't like about it, as well as what I do. The point of this thread is to discuss, like every other thread here. Why shouldn't the music of singer-songwriters be criticized, as long as its civil and not below the belt?""

No problem with people criticising my music. If you listen to one or more of my songs, and react by saying you don't like them, or they are crap, FINE. That's your opinion, and you are entitled to it.

If, however, you hear that I am a singer/songwriter, and without knowing any more about me than those two words, you make derisive, sniffy, comments about singer/songwhiners broadcasting the contents of their diaries, and say that's not your kind of music, then I am afraid that you are not only a bigot, but a rather stupid bigot.

It is hardly the action of a rational being to take a dislike to anything with NO knowledge of what that thing is.

When you are told that someone is a singer/songwriter, you know only that he/she is a person who sings songs he/she has composed. You haven't a clue what genre of music is involved, nor whether the songs are good or bad. YOU HAVE NO LOGICAL BASIS FOR CRITICISM, and any criticism you DO make, says more about YOUR ignorance than about the other person's talent, or lack thereof.

When, and only when, you have heard the music, you will be in a position to make meaningful criticism of its quality, and the singing ability of the author.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Acorn4
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 09:14 PM

I'll agree with Al Stewart - I think "Zero She Flies" is one on the best albums ever released.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 06:52 AM

And I agree with Don.
But that dont mean i dont agree re Al Stewart
Just never heard any


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 10:42 AM

From: Don(Wyziwyg)T - PM
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 05:57 PM

""I don't think criticizing "singer-songwriting" as a genre is either "whining" or "bitching" and I'm quite able to say what I don't like about it, as well as what I do. The point of this thread is to discuss, like every other thread here. Why shouldn't the music of singer-songwriters be criticized, as long as its civil and not below the belt?""

"No problem with people criticising my music. If you listen to one or more of my songs, and react by saying you don't like them, or they are crap, FINE. That's your opinion, and you are entitled to it.

If, however, you hear that I am a singer/songwriter, and without knowing any more about me than those two words, you make derisive, sniffy, comments about singer/songwhiners broadcasting the contents of their diaries, and say that's not your kind of music, then I am afraid that you are not only a bigot, but a rather stupid bigot. [...]"

Fair enough, but have you actually read my postings? I think you're responding to some things others have said.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Jayto
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 11:33 AM

I don't agree about the Red River Valley thing. When it comes to this style of music what captures a crowd is their ability to connect. In order to connect they have to be able to relate it personally. ALot of people can't relate to Red River Valley. The same way alot of people can't connect with black and white movies. Don't stone me here on this one lol. I am expecting alot of people to disagree with me. I know personally I am seeing a big movement around here (Ky) with younger crowds going for singer/songwriters. I am also seeing a big movement back to folk music in general with younger crowds. It is not the stuff alot of people would think was drawing them back though. It is not the beautiful ballads and feel good lyrics that is found in alot of the folk songs. Red River Valley would not hold water with these guys. Like it or not it wouldn't. I remember singing that song in music class in grade school. That is where I first heard it and that is my point. To alot of them it is like going out and talking about long division or reminiscing 3rd grade. How cool can it be in thier mines if Mrs. So and So the music instructor in 3rd grade taught it to them? That is the mind set. I love Utah and don't mean this disrespectfully toward him at all. What would have happened (if he was in Ky or Tennessee)is he would have busted out Red River Valley and the younger guy would have just looked at him and said "yeah we used to sing that in school. Do you know any Steve Earle or Doc Watson?". The old songs that are hanging with these kids are the darker songs about hard times. This is what they are clinging to. I jam with musicians all the time. ALot of them are in thier late teens and early 20's and these are the songs they are playing and wanting to learn. St. James Infirmary is a VERY popular one. I have taught so many people this song I have lost count. That is just in the last 4 months at that. I mean these musicians came up listening to metal,rap,alt country, and punk. They are all pretty aggresive music forms. So lyrically that is what I see them drifting toward. The folk songs that are rougher in content and are less likely to be taught in school. I think the whole music education thing is great but in some ways it takes it's toll on some very good songs. If they are singing them in music class most of the time that is going to throw them into that realm that is a death sentence with younger adults. That is the realm of being deemed "uncool". Noone wants to conjure memories of thier music teacher in grade school when they perform a song. I know I might get slammed on this post but it is just my observance.
cya
JT


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: matt milton
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 07:39 AM

In London, where I live, there are plenty of clubs that demonstrate things aren't quite so polarized as young/old, singersongwriter/trad. Clubs such as the Magpie's Nest, Lantern Society, Easycome Acoustic club and the Goose is Out.

At Lantern Soc and Easycome, it's probably more of a slant towards original singer-songwriter material – but with the unmistakeable authenticity of people who do actually understand traditional songs and have listened to a hell of a lot of them.

At Magpie's and Goose there's more of a mix of trad and new.

"Snigger-songwriter" is a horrible term – it just sounds snide and childish.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 11:42 AM

And now for something completely different.

Anybody here subscribe to the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary?

I am curious to know if they have an etymology for "singer-songwriter".

There is an interesting discussion of the term in Wikipedia that briefly alludes to the use of the term pejoratively but gives no details.

I think I remember a time when singer-songwriter was value-neutral.

Russ (Permanent GUEST and eternal PEDANT)


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Joe_F
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 07:22 PM

Russ: I don't have the online OED, but I have the CD-ROM (version 3.1, 2004). The compound is not there at all.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Wrinkles
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 07:57 PM

I think that somewhere, someone, has made the error that "singer/songwriter" has something to do with folk music.

The term means nothing more that the individual writes and performs mostly their own songs. Many of the Greats of Jazz, Soul, and R&B were singer/songwriters but neither accoustic or folkies!

True, on the accoustic front, folk clubs and singer's groups, have, and still do, give many singer/songwriters their first platform. But if you log on to MySpace and do a music search under "singer/songwriter" you'll get far more rap artists than guys whose roots are based in folk.

As said before; It defines the person not their music. I suspect the modern singer/songwriter rap artist would just pee their pants laughing at the old folkie's uncredited music rather than be in awe ;-)

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 09:44 PM

""Fair enough, but have you actually read my postings? I think you're responding to some things others have said.""

Piers, there was no intention on my part to offend you, and my response was based purely on the fact that you referred to singer/songwriting as a genre. IT IS NOT!

It is in fact a description of a group of people who have a part in EVERY musical genre.

Therefore my comment about stereotyping me, based on that as the only thing you know about me.

I don't think that stereotype is defensible.

With respect
Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 10:33 PM

Like it or not, there is a singer-songwriter genre.

Like it or not, it is associated with folk music.   

While neither "fact" are true based on a number of educated reasons, it still exists.

The term became popular in the 1990's.   I remember a former music director at the station entered a new CD into our library, and under the GENRE he wrote "SSW". It took me about 10 minutes to realize that it was not a listing of a sexual preference but a term for singer-songwriter. The term was being slung about by the emerging "Americana" market for composers/performers of that so-called musical style. Suddenly, artists that I had been following for years were now catagorized under this brand. It was an attempt to differentiate the contemporary artists that had evolved out of the folk music scene.

While many on Mudcat enjoy an Ayn Rand view of the world, nothing is gained through a semantic discourse that will convince no one.   The bottom line - is is what is is. Perception is reality.   Deal with it.

Re-read Utah's statment to the Folk Alliance. He was not trying to push traditional music and favor "unauthored" folk song. He was simply explaining the craft of songwriting and the fact that a song will belong to everyone who sings it and be remembered more than the writer. Simple lyrics and a catch will make a song memorable. "Red River Valley" was probably written in the 1870's and the forgotten author never received credit.   The song did go through some changes as it spread, but in all probability, it was the product of a singer-songwriter.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 10:34 PM

that should have been -

it is what it is.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Mark Ross
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 10:43 PM

Thank you Ron.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 05:35 AM

From: Don(Wyziwyg)T

"Piers, there was no intention on my part to offend you, and my response was based purely on the fact that you referred to singer/songwriting as a genre. IT IS NOT!

It is in fact a description of a group of people who have a part in EVERY musical genre.

Therefore my comment about stereotyping me, based on that as the only thing you know about me.

I don't think that stereotype is defensible."

Perhaps the term "singer-songwriter" shouldn't be used as a label to refer to a genre, but I think it is. I like some songs by some singer-songwriters and dislike others. The label tends to make me think "music I probably won't like". For example, if I see a poster advertising a concert that reads: "Melancholy folk ballads about the impossibility of love accompanied by his/her own sensitive guitar accompaniment", I think "well, I think I'll give that miss". Just like "Indie garage punk with contemporary hip-hop beats with special guest DJ Milque Toast" doesn't make me want to rush out and buy tickets.

I think the music that's marketed under the label "singer-songwriters" is often a kind of light rock or pop. Very popular in the 1970s and , like many things that were "in", eventually became very "out". I think Joni Mitchell is very good at what she does; I just have come to find it extremely irritating.

I quite understand if singer-songwriters are annoyed by the stereotype and the negative prejudices against them. I think part of the problem is the quality of a lot of music that's marketed under the label. It's a shame if good musicians who work hard at what they do suffer from this negative stereotype. However, there's clearly an audience for singer-songwriters and under the name "Liedermaching" (an artificial word meaning "song-making" --- "maching" is a mixture of the German word "machen" and the English "making") it even seems to be kind of trendy in Germany.

I admire the ability of a people to write words and music. I can compose, but I have a terrible time with words.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 08:28 AM

I used to (when it was first coined) do that in the 60's and early 70's. Then I got into writing them for other voices. From there, I went to writing for a particular voice, and now I'm composing more of larger works. I did a soundtrack for a film, in which incorporated several styles, and genres,..and did it very well and authentic to their particular style, if I do say.....(clears throat)....What is important to remember, is that music is a communication, and to communicate, with accuracy, just exactly what is is you wish to convey, so the listener, participates to some degree in your experience. To merely write, as to fulfill some notion of 'how you fancy yourself', or wish to be seen, is rather self indulgent, and that comes across too (whether you think so, or not).

Here's a link, to a fantastic song, in where the composer wrote for another voice,...the words and feeling conveyed say so much more, just in what is implied. The composer is David Downes, also the pianist, seen in the video. Singer is Lisa Kelly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh-q8RNLr3Q

If ever there was a song that conveyed an inner desire, for a song, from a composer, this is it! Enjoy!!


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 11:17 AM

Half time...

Ok, so some people use singer-songwriter as a value neutral term to describe anyone in any genre of music who has ever sung a song they wrote themselves, ever.

Some people use it to describe a specific genre of music that either came into being in the 1970s or the 1990s, depending on who's doing the telling, that tends to the introspective.

Clearly it can't be both.

The first is so broad as to be entirely meaningless, in that it covers every song ever sung unless done as a cover or unless the identity of the author is lost. The second, the one I always understood it to mean, offends all those who consider themselves to be singer songwriters but who don't consider themselves to be sensitive or introspective (a new genre of crass, insensitive singer songwriters maybe? Joking. Joking!).

If I can briefly reprise my mild spat with Jeri, above (who I'm sure is far more charming than his/her posts make him/her sound!), when I was referring to the UK music press, I was talking about the mysterious obsession and reverence they generally have for the singer songwriter genre (in this case), rather than referring to the one magazine that generally doesn't cover singer songwriters (definition two) as they are outside its stated musical remit. Still didn't stop them recently putting Devon Sproule on the cover though, thus reminding us that breaking your own rules in a good cause is perfectly okay.

Not that it really matters. It's only music. The soundtrack to life rather than life itself.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 11:31 AM

"Some people use it to describe a specific genre of music that either came into being in the 1970s or the 1990s, depending on who's doing the telling, that tends to the introspective."

Yes, it did "come into being" during the 1970's. Artists like James Taylor, Harry Chapin, Joni Mitchell and others were described as such - but it was more likely to hear them called "folk rock" during that time period.   During the 1990's, that was replaced by "singer-songwriter.

As to the "sensitive" and "introspective" tag - that is merely a stereotype. Yes, songwriters will tend to write more personal songs - but many traditional songs are also intensely personal so to add that description to all singer-songwriters is equally incorrect.

It is amazing- where once we had discussions on "what is folk", I can see it changing to "what is singer-songwriter". At the end of the day, as Spleen Cring points out - it really doesn't matter.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 11:38 AM

Don't take my last 'e' Ron!


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 11:40 AM

I see singer/songwriter as a job description. It does not describe my "style". Neither is singer/songwriting particularly associated with any genre, in my view. Hey, I have written songs in a number of different styles, and some of them not even I would call "folk"! The world of rock, nu-rock, heavy metal, C&W, blues, reggae, salsa etc is full of singer/songwriters. Sure, folk has some too - why wouldn't it. Even classical music has them, though they 'd call them "composers", the flash gits.

There's nothing special to it. Some people paint. Some are plumbers. Some write songs and then sing them to get them heard. And in all of those walks of life, some are good at it and some are bad. And probably more realistically, all are both good and bad at it at different times. The better ones are good more often, that's all.

To snigger at singer/songwriters, or to defend them unreservedly, is akin to doing the same for plumbers, taxi drivers, doctors or solicitors.

It's variously a job, a hobby or a need, like an itch. The "sensitivity" they are accused of is part of the profile - they have to be sensitive to surroundings, antennae at the ready, if they are to write about more than their diary. But don't mistake it for wimpishness, they can kick you in the b****cks as well as the next person.

And they like a pat on the back from time to time.

So do plumbers.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 11:40 AM

And sometimes they will ramble just to get a

100

in.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Jeri
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 11:45 AM

I didn't realize we were having a spat of any sort. You really think I sounded bitchy? And I wasn't even trying!

Ron, don't leave the 'e' off, or the anagram winds up being reversed to be 'Nigel Spencr' instead of the whole name.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 11:53 AM

Sorry Spleen - I did not mean to forget your "e"!   

As I read these posts, I am beginning to think that there is more of an issue with the term "singer-songwriters" in the UK than there is in the U.S.   I don't recall anyone taking exception to the term, nor do I see any reluctance to singer-songwriters being part of the "folk" community (except from hardcore traditionalists.)

It is just a term, it does not have to be logical to work. As I said earlier, it is what it is.

Country music is a terrible description for the style - what country are they referring to?

Rock music? Rocks just sit around, but rock music makes you move.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 12:12 PM

Jeri, "outing" me, or whatever you're trying to do by repeatedly (well, twice) using my real name rather than my chosen pseudonym, isn't big, clever or even funny. What point are you trying to make? Whatever it is, you've made it, albeit badly. Now please leave it out.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: JedMarum
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 12:22 PM

There are "bigots"* on both sides of this issue. I am a singer songwriter; not by design and that is not a self-described term, for me. But by definition; I write much of the music I play.

I never intended to be a songwriter. I started out being a song singer and I wrote a few songs in my early days - but as time wore on, I wrote more and more of what I sing. Today, some shows I do I sing only my own songs, but most shows I try to mix - and most albums I try to mix. To me, the honest to God truth is, I play what I love and what fits the occasion. I really and truly don't see or feel the difference between my songs and the others I sing. I frequently do not tell the audience whether I wrote the song or not - but focus my intro on the story behind the song. I don't do that on purpose, it happens because that fact is not important to me - or at least not as important as the story the song tells.

On my first visit to a Folk Alliance gathering, I was there for 30 minutes and I decided that I hated singer-songwriters! OK - I'm joking, but it did put me off that the entire focus of the event was on the current form of new songwriting. I know I am a bit of crusty old folkie, but I wanted to sit and jam with some pretty goodpickers - but every room was song circle after song circle, everyone admiring one song at a time, in dead silence (except the songster) - and paying homage to song in turn. They were lovely songs written by talented folks - but damn it, I wanted to play! I decided I didn't fit the Folk Alliance format. I did like the people and they ran a very good event, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.

*NOTE: Bigot is probably a strong word for my comments. I use it with a wink and bit of tongue-in-cheek. I just want to describe the folks who have extreme points-of-view and who lump all others into one camp or another.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: JedMarum
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 12:26 PM

I really do resent the attitude that a singer songwriter is some sort of a higher calling and that they are proven to be much more worthy performers. I know the attitude is not prevalent, but it is out there.

In my passive/aggressive way I always tell those folks that I am NOT a songwriter!

;-)


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 01:26 PM

"the entire focus of the event was on the current form of new songwriting."

Some very good perspective and excellent points Jed! (By the way - your new CD is brillant - if you don't wish to call yourself a songwriter, that is your call - but you are EXCELLENT at whatever you do!!!!!)

One thing to note about the Folk Alliance, something that Rich Warren of "Midnight Special" brought up in a recent discussion in another forum. The Folk Alliance was created to be an "alliance" of organizations and individuals to perpetuate this music.   It is indeed a fact that contemporary singer-songwriters have gained the focus of the gatherings, but what ever happened to the "crusty old folkies" who would organize and change things?????    I'm not directing this at you Jed, but at all the tradition based artists who do not participate in changing perspectives and criticize others who are doing something to perpetuate themsleves.

The "singer-songwriters" who have created an audience and a genuine movement in this country deserve credit. While some are turned off by the stereotype of "introspection", they end up missing an entire canon that speaks to all sorts of topics.   It is like using the song "Kumbayah" and saying that is reflective of all traditional folk music.   These singer-songwriters have effectively worked through Folk Alliance and created a network of opportunties and watched the audience for their style of music grow.

I am not advocating singer-songwriters over traditional folk. I like both.   If I want to insure my car is working properly, I check more than fill up with gas - I also need to check the oil, belts, battery, radiator, and even wiper fluid among other items. It alls up.

Traditional folkies might not need the Folk Alliance, they might be very happy with the way things are. However, if you want to create change - it only takes one person to make a difference. You can't wait for the other guy to do it.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Big Mick
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 02:00 PM

Man, you folks make my head hurt. There is one hell of a lot of bandwidth giving up its life for a discussion that just isn't that complicated. For me, very similar to my friend Jed, it is about whether a song touches me in a particular way, or evokes a certain feeling, or speaks to a specific cause. If I like it, it is up to me to interpret it in a way that gets the audience to understand what is being presented. The need to classify folks that write songs is just so unnecessary. As I have said before, Woody Gutherie could be considered a singer songwriter. So could MacColl, as Dick pointed out. I consider Jed to be a multi-talented writer of lyrics that describe so many facets of the human condition, an empath that has the ability to look at a letter from a long ago era, read a book about a historical figure...... and then apply the lessons learned by his sensitive soul and tell the story. Jeri is another that has similar abilities. Jed then combines this with excellent musical ability and there you have it. I just don't see the need to classify either of them comparatively with others, or to denigrate/praise the fact that they write songs. They are simply very good at what they do, and I want to sing what they write.

I think the term being used as a title, instead of as a description, is the problem. I am very much in the Deb Cowan camp. If a song appeals to me, on whatever level, I will sing it. Makes not a whit of difference to me if it was written several centuries ago, or yesterday. And I applaud those that have the ability to capture the story/emotion and put it to words.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 03:34 PM

Just to make life (even more) interesting, according to the DT, Red River Valley was written by James Kerrigen in 1896. I'm not aware of much folk-processing of the lyrics, either.

'Course he's not singing it much any more...

:-)

~ Becky in Tucson
(who's recently been dragged kicking and screaming out of the "all trad all the time" mode)
(a little way, at least)


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Jeri
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 03:45 PM

Spleen, figuring out your acronym isn't hard. I didn't think I was revealing a secret or 'outing' you. I figured you didn't care. If I was wrong and this is a big deal to you, I'm sorry.

At the bottom of all this is a problem with personalities meaning more than music. It's what haters of singer-songwriters perceive is the problem with singer-songwriters, and it's what I perceive is wrong with hating singer-songwriters. If you need labels to tell you whether you like or dislike music, you don't really know much about the music.

And Mick, you got it. I don't understand why some folks care enough about this to fight about it.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: JedMarum
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 04:49 PM

Ron - I hadn't considered the "work to change, or reintroduce additional aspects of folk" to the Folk Alliance, but it is a point well taken. The truth is I'd still be involved with FA if I could afford it. My business costs are so high as it is, I've simply let my membership slip. I keep thinking I'll go back to it one day ... and maybe I will, but the flip side of that coin is booking the time off to attend the events. All of those are solvable problems, but they are problems for me. I truly did enjoy the people and the time I spent at the couple of events I went to.

Thanks for playing the music - and for your kind words. I love the album and hope it'll do well. You are the first on FolkDJ to report playing it - you may have been the first to receive it. I have another 150 or so, waiting to go out the door - but I lost my check from the festival I played in LA last weekend!!! Can you believe it?? First time I've ever done that (and hopefully the last). Anyway - I can't afford the postage until the check is reissued!

I really don't mind the songwriter title. I guess I just came at songwriting through the back door and it more describes my music then it does me.

I understand Utah's comments though; I think he might say being a singer songwriter is does not automatically make you a bard. It is always the quality of the music that matters, when performed - you have to deliver the story, one way or another. I have seen too many very very talented young and indeed gifted songwriters. I would never apply the negative connotations the SS term may have, to them. So I'm careful about any disparaging comments on the subject.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: JedMarum
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 04:50 PM

Thank you Mick - and right on DebC.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 05:15 PM

"I guess I just came at songwriting through the back door and it more describes my music then it does me. "

I had Eric Andersen on the show this past Sunday and he said something very interesting.   We were discussing his early days in the Village "folk scene" and he said that many of his peers started writing songs because they felt they could not find songs that related to the subjects they wanted to sing about. Eric was interested in the poetry of the Beats and his songs were more in tune with those styles.

When I thought about it later, that struck me as being the same spark that created the traditional songs that we now consider folk.   For whatever reason, someone was moved to write "Red River Valley" and through the years, others have adapted and used that song to fit their own needs.

I agree with the sentiment that many have expressed - it is the song and not the label that really matter. I also agree that I am not fond of a singer-songwriter who uses his or her songs as a report on their latest session with their therapist.   Yet at the same time, there are some very personal songs that I feel are important - because while they are written in the first person, they speak about issues that all of us face.   A love song is probably the most personal song you can think of, and our traditional folk collections are filled with them.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 12:46 AM

From: Jeri
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 03:45 PM

And Mick, you got it. I don't understand why some folks care enough about this to fight about it.

Nothing to fight about...just do it!

Check out my other post...not complicated


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 09:20 AM

"I don't understand why some folks care enough about this to fight about it. "

That is something that we can't help you with. You need to figure that out for yourself.

If you understood the passion that many people have you would understand why it is discussed so often and with such vigor.   I think the biggest issue you and others face is labeling it a "fight". Having a passionate discussion and LISTENING to all the views is not a fight.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 10:27 AM

Can I just agree with Ron? Both on the specific post above and some of his general points?

The below is in the context of none of it mattering that much - and five minutes to spare...

First off, it does rack me off when you get sanctimonious twaddle about how if you tend not to particularly like a type of music (in my case, the James Taylor and Co style of singer songwriting), it's then taken as a given that you simply don't get or understand music. Would I be correct in thinking that the posters who think I'm being unreasonable here would apply the same inclusive, tolerant standards to, for instance, grunge, disco, death metal, techno, post rock, hip hop, grime and free jazz? Or is it okay to largely not like anything in those particular genres? Put it another way - when you go to a record shop do you look at everything in there from A-Z or do you go to the racks where the sort of music you like is more likely to be? Personally, as a music obsessive on a limited budget, I owe it to myself to spend my money wisely. I exercise my right to critique someone's music every time I open my wallet and still pass it by on the racks. I suspect if that wasn't acceptable to them, they wouldn't put it out there. Just because the artist is a singer songwriter, critical faculties should not be suspended: Bruce's 95% rule still applies.

Ironically, despite displaying my abject ignorance about music by not liking James Taylor type stuff, I'd put money on my tastes being considerably more eclectic and broadminded than those of many of the contributors to this thread... it's just that my heart doesn't tend to leap with joy at the thought of another middle aged white heterosexual bloke (or woman) with an acoustic guitar, sorry and all that... although some of them sometimes surprise me, which is always quite nice.

PS Jeri - no apology required - I was just curious as to your motives, more than anything, which you've now clarified.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: matt milton
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 10:30 AM

I suspect that one big reason why this discussion persists is that some people are quite adamant that there is a line to be drawn between singers of traditional material and singers who sing songs they've written influenced by traditional material. No matter how deep and how manifest that influence might be, for some it still musn't be thought of as 'folk'.

As for me, when I say I like folk music I am thinking of Bert Jansch, Dave Evans, Gillian Welch, and Mary Hampton just as much as I am Cyril Tawney, Shirley Collins, Walter Pardon et al. For me, it's all part of the big picture.

(The absurdity of the "it's not folk if it's a song written by a contemporary performer" stance is abundantly clear in the case of performers who sing both traditional and their own material. At what point do they cease to become 'folk' singers? How many original songs are they permitted per album before their license to folk is revoked? What's the ratio?)

However, I don't think of, say, Joni Mitchell or Joanna Newsom or Newton Faulkner as folk. Their music quite simply isn't rooted in folk the way the other names I mentioned is. They're singer-songwriters who happen to use acoustic instruments. It's quite rare that I enjoy this kind of singer-songwriter. Early Leonard Cohen is about the only one I can think of (and anyway, you can hear a rich Spanish folksong influence on those records so they arguably don't count.) The only recent exceptions I can think of are Citizen Helene (myspace.com/citizenhelene) and Gemma Garmeson (myspace.com/gemmagarmeson).

So I'll continue to call myself a folk singer rather than a singer-songwriter, even though I sing hardly any traditional folk songs. I play at a lot of singer-songwriter open mics, and what I do doesn't sound remotely like what they do.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 10:30 AM

Speaking as another middle aged white heterosexual bloke*

* And as a social worker, I don't do self loathing...


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 10:30 AM

Nothing to fight about at all!!...If you don't like it, don't buy it!!


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: Big Mick
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 12:49 PM

Actually, Spleeny, you make my point when you said:

...if you tend not to particularly like a type of music (in my case, the James Taylor and Co style of singer songwriting),


In the comment you used the term as a description instead of a title. Fair enough, as everyone is entitled to what they enjoy or don't enjoy. But when you use the term as a label for anyone who writes their own music, or use it in such a way that one cannot describe their art without negative connotation, I think it is a problem. How would Woody be able to describe the fact that he writes and sings songs? How about Jed?

As usually happens on our beloved Mudcat, we have parsed it to death once again.... ***chuckle***

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 12:53 PM

"How would Woody be able to describe the fact that he writes and sings songs?"

If Woody were around today, he would probably call himself a singer-songwriter and certainly would be accepted by that audience.   However, I suspect that if Woody were around today - he would be making rap music.


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Subject: RE: Singer/songwriters(again)
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 01:56 PM

I `ad the Devil in my cab the other day. He looked well pleased with `imself, a great big smile and `is tail all fresh and lively like.
I said, "You look a bit chipper Nick. What, `ave you lost a tanner and found a bob?"
`e said, " Nah, I bin reading all them bits on that Mudcat about that lot that write songs and then go and sing `em. From what I can see, it looks like I`m gonna get some more converts."
I said, "What, are they all out there singing about sinning then?".
`e said, "Nah, many just aint `appy with what they`ve done so they`ll `ave to come to me `cos everybody knows THE DEVIL `AS THE BEST TUNES!!"

Whaddam I like??


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