Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Advice to all singer songwriters

GUEST,Breedloveboy 16 May 13 - 07:50 AM
alanabit 16 May 13 - 09:04 AM
Steve Gardham 16 May 13 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,Chongo Chimp 16 May 13 - 09:40 AM
Midchuck 16 May 13 - 09:50 AM
Johnny J 16 May 13 - 10:12 AM
dick greenhaus 16 May 13 - 10:28 AM
GUEST,Lavengro 16 May 13 - 10:32 AM
Mr Happy 16 May 13 - 10:32 AM
Will Fly 16 May 13 - 10:44 AM
breezy 16 May 13 - 10:47 AM
Midchuck 16 May 13 - 11:15 AM
GUEST,Larry Saidman 16 May 13 - 11:27 AM
Leadfingers 16 May 13 - 11:28 AM
BobKnight 16 May 13 - 11:51 AM
breezy 16 May 13 - 12:05 PM
Johnny J 16 May 13 - 12:08 PM
nutty 16 May 13 - 12:15 PM
BobKnight 16 May 13 - 06:20 PM
Joe Offer 16 May 13 - 07:45 PM
Harmonium Hero 16 May 13 - 08:47 PM
Harmonium Hero 16 May 13 - 09:00 PM
Mark Ross 16 May 13 - 09:47 PM
Midchuck 16 May 13 - 10:11 PM
Mr Red 17 May 13 - 10:23 AM
Dave the Gnome 17 May 13 - 10:41 AM
dick greenhaus 17 May 13 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Jon Heslop 17 May 13 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,sciencegeek 17 May 13 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 17 May 13 - 12:26 PM
Midchuck 17 May 13 - 12:48 PM
Johnny J 17 May 13 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,JHW(cookie still on old computer) 18 May 13 - 06:07 AM
Marje 18 May 13 - 06:20 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 May 13 - 06:43 AM
Johnny J 18 May 13 - 06:57 AM
Uncle Tone 18 May 13 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 18 May 13 - 08:24 AM
Uncle Tone 18 May 13 - 08:38 AM
Johnny J 18 May 13 - 08:40 AM
Harmonium Hero 18 May 13 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,Larry Saidman 18 May 13 - 11:57 AM
GUEST 18 May 13 - 12:12 PM
GUEST,Breedloveboy 18 May 13 - 12:57 PM
Marje 18 May 13 - 01:23 PM
Dave the Gnome 18 May 13 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 18 May 13 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,John Foxen 18 May 13 - 02:52 PM
GUEST,Grishka 18 May 13 - 02:58 PM
Harmonium Hero 18 May 13 - 02:59 PM
Wesley S 18 May 13 - 03:01 PM
Anne Lister 18 May 13 - 03:07 PM
Dave the Gnome 18 May 13 - 03:10 PM
Dave the Gnome 18 May 13 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,Breedloveboy 18 May 13 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 18 May 13 - 03:59 PM
Harmonium Hero 18 May 13 - 04:03 PM
Jeri 18 May 13 - 04:16 PM
Uncle Tone 18 May 13 - 04:28 PM
Harmonium Hero 18 May 13 - 04:47 PM
Harmonium Hero 18 May 13 - 04:54 PM
GUEST 18 May 13 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 18 May 13 - 05:16 PM
Dave the Gnome 18 May 13 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Spleen 18 May 13 - 05:35 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 18 May 13 - 05:37 PM
Acorn4 18 May 13 - 07:00 PM
GUEST,Larry Saidman 18 May 13 - 10:47 PM
GUEST,mg 19 May 13 - 02:56 AM
Uncle Tone 19 May 13 - 03:42 AM
BobKnight 19 May 13 - 03:44 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 19 May 13 - 04:37 AM
GUEST,Breedloveboy 19 May 13 - 05:27 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 19 May 13 - 06:22 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 May 13 - 06:41 AM
GUEST 19 May 13 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,Grishka 19 May 13 - 09:54 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 May 13 - 10:52 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 May 13 - 11:22 AM
Rockhen 19 May 13 - 11:31 AM
Harmonium Hero 19 May 13 - 11:55 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 May 13 - 11:57 AM
theleveller 19 May 13 - 12:13 PM
Jeri 19 May 13 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 19 May 13 - 12:22 PM
GUEST,Grishka 19 May 13 - 01:08 PM
theleveller 19 May 13 - 02:10 PM
Dave the Gnome 19 May 13 - 02:46 PM
BobKnight 19 May 13 - 03:25 PM
alanabit 19 May 13 - 05:38 PM
GUEST,Grishka 19 May 13 - 06:05 PM
George Papavgeris 19 May 13 - 07:09 PM
GUEST,Stim 19 May 13 - 07:19 PM
GUEST 19 May 13 - 08:05 PM
Suegorgeous 19 May 13 - 08:36 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 19 May 13 - 09:15 PM
Songwronger 19 May 13 - 11:12 PM
Bert 20 May 13 - 01:03 AM
Big Al Whittle 20 May 13 - 03:31 AM
Backwoodsman 20 May 13 - 04:35 AM
Marje 20 May 13 - 05:15 AM
alanabit 20 May 13 - 05:23 AM
George Papavgeris 20 May 13 - 06:56 AM
GUEST,Tony Rath aka Tonyteach 20 May 13 - 07:21 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 20 May 13 - 08:11 AM
GUEST 20 May 13 - 08:37 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 20 May 13 - 08:39 AM
YorkshireYankee 20 May 13 - 09:28 AM
GUEST 20 May 13 - 10:02 AM
GUEST 20 May 13 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,Tattie Bogle 20 May 13 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,Grishka 20 May 13 - 11:33 AM
GUEST 20 May 13 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,Breedloveboy 20 May 13 - 03:05 PM
George Papavgeris 20 May 13 - 08:46 PM
George Papavgeris 20 May 13 - 09:01 PM
GUEST 20 May 13 - 09:07 PM
Jeri 20 May 13 - 09:32 PM
alanabit 21 May 13 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 21 May 13 - 09:40 AM
YorkshireYankee 21 May 13 - 09:49 AM
Uncle Tone 21 May 13 - 11:24 AM
Jack Campin 21 May 13 - 11:39 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 May 13 - 04:39 PM
henryclem 21 May 13 - 08:48 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 22 May 13 - 03:36 AM
GUEST,Grishka 22 May 13 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,Breedloveboy 22 May 13 - 10:38 AM
George Papavgeris 22 May 13 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 22 May 13 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,Breedloveboy 22 May 13 - 12:00 PM
George Papavgeris 22 May 13 - 12:23 PM
Uncle Tone 22 May 13 - 12:54 PM
nutty 22 May 13 - 12:56 PM
Johnny J 22 May 13 - 01:21 PM
nutty 22 May 13 - 01:42 PM
Dave the Gnome 22 May 13 - 01:43 PM
Jeri 22 May 13 - 03:45 PM
The Sandman 22 May 13 - 04:04 PM
Acorn4 22 May 13 - 05:04 PM
Johnny J 22 May 13 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 23 May 13 - 04:08 AM
Johnny J 23 May 13 - 04:29 AM
alanabit 23 May 13 - 07:28 AM
GUEST,Breedloveboy 23 May 13 - 03:37 PM
Dave the Gnome 23 May 13 - 05:28 PM
Ron Davies 23 May 13 - 06:08 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Breedloveboy
Date: 16 May 13 - 07:50 AM

Give us a break. There too many of you and 90% of you are not that good


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 16 May 13 - 09:04 AM

Thank-you Guest Breedloveboy. I feel chastened and shall never attempt to write a song again. (Nowt like being told, is there?)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 May 13 - 09:27 AM

B
Twas always the case. Only time can weed out the dross. Nothing you say will make any difference. You can only vote with your feet.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Chongo Chimp
Date: 16 May 13 - 09:40 AM

It bothers you that some people have a desire to express themselves through writin' songs? Well, if it bugs you that much, why not just focus on somethin' else instead? Take up a hobby. Get a job. Cut yer ear off like Van Gogh. Anything, really. In other words, go away.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Midchuck
Date: 16 May 13 - 09:50 AM

USEFUL (I think maybe)advice to all singer-songwriters:

Remember that your lyrics won't work if they're about problems or issues that are unique to you. There has to be some widespread, if not universal, appeal in what you're trying to say.

People don't come to watch, and hear, you tune your guitar. Don't go on stage 'till you're ready to play, and be very sparing of alternate tunings, unless you want to do the Garnet Rogers thing and haul several guitars around.

And, as so often is the case, Utah said it best:

I walked through the swinging doors of my local music store, my 1935 Gibson slung low on my hip. And there he was in the street, waiting for me: the kid. He plugged his Ovation guitar into his effects box, leveled it at me, and sprayed me with a burst of highly autobiographical, metaphorical verbiage. I flinched. Slowly I raised my 1935 Gibson and plugged him with the first two verses of 'Red River Valley.' He fell to the ground, stunned by the simplicity of an authorless folk song. I looked at him, lying there in a widening pool of angst. I slowly lowered my 1935 Gibson guitar and muttered under my breath, 'OK, who's next?' as I turned and stalked into the postmodern deconstructionist night.

Peter


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Johnny J
Date: 16 May 13 - 10:12 AM

The output of even some of the very best songwriters is about 90% mediocrity....

For most people, the best way to go is to perform a balance of traditional material and/or covers along with a few of your own better songs...if you must.

Generally, most fair minded audiences won't mind an artist "trying out" one or two new songs during the evening and, if they are good, they will catch on in due course and become an accepted part of the folk/singers/performers repertoire.

Unless you are a really talented writer, very few listeners want to suffer a whole evening comprising songs "wot you wrote yourself". There's only so much shecht most of us can take at a time.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 16 May 13 - 10:28 AM

Best advice: Don't quit your day job


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Lavengro
Date: 16 May 13 - 10:32 AM

90% of all artists, whatever their field are not that good. 90% of doctors, teachers, shopworkers, mechanics, civil servants, constuction workers, barstaff etc. are "not that good". Welcome to the world, and thanks for the heads up!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Mr Happy
Date: 16 May 13 - 10:32 AM

OP, consider, if there were no songwriters, there'd be no songs!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 May 13 - 10:44 AM

90% of doctors, teachers, shop workers, mechanics, civil servants, construction workers, bar staff etc. are "not that good".

Umm.. just to quibble a bit... the BIG difference between singer-songwriters and doctors (for example) is that a doctor has a minimum training - otherwise he might kill somebody.

I haven't actually heard of a singer-songwriter killing someone - yet.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: breezy
Date: 16 May 13 - 10:47 AM

Do you have a qualification in expressive english writing?

No!

Bog off

and even 'good songwriters ' are capable of writing shite

and then some


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Midchuck
Date: 16 May 13 - 11:15 AM

the BIG difference between singer-songwriters and doctors (for example) is that a doctor has a minimum training - otherwise he might kill somebody.

And some do, anyway.

Peter.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Larry Saidman
Date: 16 May 13 - 11:27 AM

There are enough great songs in the world that have been 'undiscovered' (or barely uncovered) that unless you have something special to say it.....or a unique way of saying something that's been said before......you'd be giving people a much better service by discovering, uncovering, or recycling a song that's already been created......instead of manufacturing more garbage to go into the song landfills of the world.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 May 13 - 11:28 AM

Some people can put words together, some can wite tunes , a lucky few can do both , snd some people are just negative about other people they probably just envy .


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: BobKnight
Date: 16 May 13 - 11:51 AM

Oh dear, so that's what I've been doing wrong. Maybe some of the critics could try writing a few of their own and show us poor singer - songwriters how it's done. :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: breezy
Date: 16 May 13 - 12:05 PM

some critic/singers have more sense and recognise their own limitations.

If another artiste sings a song of yours then quit while your ahead If he sings more than one then well done.

By this yardstick George Papavgeris did well.

Will someone stop him !


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Johnny J
Date: 16 May 13 - 12:08 PM

Don't take things to heart Bob and I do know that you have written quite a few good songs yourself.

However, my view is(Not shared by everyone, I know) that it's probably better for a singer or performer to offer a "balanced" set of material to an audience, at least in the early stages until he or she has honed their craft. That way, they are less likely to alienate a potential audience and may even build up a good following in the meantime.

Then, when they have established a good repertoire of their own material this can become a much bigger part of the act. In some cases, an artist may eventually have built up a very large back catalogue of original material and can rely on this alone without resorting to perfroming traditional material or covers/interpretations if this is what they choose.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with song writing and we always need new songs. However, I've never really been happy with it as a genre in its own right to the exclusion of everything else. In my opinion, the best song writers and composers are those who have also familiarised themselves with the music of others prior to embarking on their own ventures.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: nutty
Date: 16 May 13 - 12:15 PM

Songwriting is a craft that has to be learned in the same way as learning to play an instrument.

There are few natural instrumentalists - most have to work damned hard at becoming profficient. The art of songwriting requires the same amount of dedication.

When I look back on my first attempts I am appalled at how crass they were but fortunately I had friends who continued to gently encourage me and some of my songs were eventually taken up by some well respected singers.

Even so - its still a case of "one man's meat" I don't expect everyone to like my material and admit that I am not always the best person to be singing certain songs even though I have written them.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: BobKnight
Date: 16 May 13 - 06:20 PM

Don't worry John, the tongue was firmly in the cheek - I was mildly amused by it. :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 May 13 - 07:45 PM

Gee, that's a hard issue to address. I have to admit that I stay away from "singer-songwriters." I really don't give them a chance, although I know that some of them write some good songs.
I generally stick with people who perform mostly traditional stuff, or at least they do songs that are at least 50 years old.

But then there are people like Bill Staines and Kate Wolf and Tom Chapin and Si Kahn and some others that I accept without question, so maybe I'm not as prejudiced against singer-songwriters as I think. Many singer-songwriters, however, have one song in ten or one in twenty that are worth a listen.

-Joe Offer-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 16 May 13 - 08:47 PM

I pretty much agree with what Johnny J said (half a dozen posts in). Just to state my credentials, I started in this game in 1968, singing mostly my own songs. I would always include a couple of trad songs, and maybe a tune or two, for variety and familiarity. My thinking was that not everybody would want to listen to a whole programme of unfamiliar new stuff. I didn't know much in the trad line, but was on the lookout for more, as I loved it, and my own songs were written in a style that would sit comfortably alongside the old stuff. It certainly wasn't navel gazing or 'teenage angst'; I was already an old geezer in my 22nd year! After a couple of years, I ran out of inspiration, and was getting deeper into trad songs, and gradually became a traddy. So it isn't as if I have anything against singer/songwriters. But I do agree that there is too much emphasis on new songs. As has been said above, most songs hit the ground nose first; they always did. A few stay around and keep re-surfacing. Eventually, they get called folk songs. Every generation should be adding to the collective repertoire, but in the long run, it's the public who decide what survives. And it isn't a conscious decision. They just know what appeals to them. What generally seems to work best (unless you are the new Tom Paxton or Ewan McColl) is, as has been suggested, to mix your own songs with trad or established contemporary songs - or blues. This way, people will probably remember more of your stuff than they would otherwise. And some people might be more inclined to come and listen to you than they would if you were only singing your own songs. You get a reputation as a singer of somgs, some of which happen to be your own.
Trust me - I know stuff.
John Kelly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 16 May 13 - 09:00 PM

Oh, and as Mr Happy said (in so many words) they were all written by somebody. In fact, contrary to what the folk song collectors seemed to think, they weren't all written by Jim the Carter's Lad, or by some Village Folk Song Committee (what sort of drivel that committee could have turned out, one shudders to think). It turns out that most of them originated on Broadsides, turned out by hacks for a fee, and aimed at a popular market. And I don't think navel-gazing or teenage angst would have sold very well. Hangings, drownings, 'orrible murders; That's the stuff that sells!
Hee Hee Hee!
John Kelly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Mark Ross
Date: 16 May 13 - 09:47 PM

Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is bullshit. And he had the grace to include his own work.

Mark Ross


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Midchuck
Date: 16 May 13 - 10:11 PM

Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is bullshit. And he had the grace to include his own work.

...which he shouldn't have. Almost everything he wrote is worth a read.

He and Utah were equally great storytellers in their respective media - and equally "different" by orthodox societal standards.

P.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Mr Red
Date: 17 May 13 - 10:23 AM

As Georg Bernard Shaw said so succinctly

"The Golden is that there are No Rules"

And as Benny Green opined:

"Lyrics are rubbish, until they marry the music"

Context is all.

call me a pedant I believe Theodore Sturgeon said it thus "9 tenths of everything is crud". And I found his work an exception to this too. But isn't this a close cousin to the 80/20 rule that gets bandied about. Very fitting in the context of "Folk" IMNSHO.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 May 13 - 10:41 AM

In general I would concur with the opening statement. Maybe not 90% but certainly a high proportion. Thing is, the small percentage that are brilliant seem to make the dross worth putting up with :-)

Cheers

DtG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 17 May 13 - 10:43 AM

The composing and singing of one's own songs is everyone's right. AS is the choice of not bothering listening to them.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Jon Heslop
Date: 17 May 13 - 10:59 AM

Oh Bugger! I've been rumbled at last.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 17 May 13 - 11:18 AM

"Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is bullshit. And he had the grace to include his own work."

always loved that line... and agreed with him & others that you need to have "lived and done things" before you actually have something worth saying.

made the mistake of saying at an open mic, that the hubby was a singer-songwriter... even though he is, he reacted as if I had lumped him into the 90%... lol oh well...

but we always do a mix of traditional and "will probably enter the tradition soon even though we know who wrote it" songs... :D and have "folk processed" a few others. The best compliment he feels is if someone asks where he got the song from....

the biggest danger with singer songwriters is they can start to sound like they are rewriting the same d**n song over and over again... that's when you want to ask if they even listen to themselves?!?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 17 May 13 - 12:26 PM

I'd rather risk a whole raft of rubbish singer songwriters in order to hear the one that blows me away than sit through "safe" and "balanced" mixed sets of originals, covers and traddish stuff. I get being a traditional singer - and some are really really good and I get being a singer songwriter, but I don't get being a human jukebox light entertainer. There's nothing wrong with it, I s'pose, but it's not for me.

As far as I can see, most of the best singer songwriters have little or no connection with the folk scene.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Midchuck
Date: 17 May 13 - 12:48 PM

Tom Russell, Ian Tyson, Utah, Jim Ringer, Guy Clark, Gordon Bok...the list of Singer-Songwriters whom I consider great would go on quite a bit longer. And I'm not intentionally being sexist, I just think first of the ones that I personally steal from the most.

Then there are all the kids who've been writing bad poetry about how unhappy they are because the Universe doesn't appreciate them, and find that they have better luck getting people to listen if they chant it while banging on some poor guitar that never did them any harm.

And there's Dylan, the bridge between the two groups...

Peter


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Johnny J
Date: 17 May 13 - 12:50 PM

Would you describe this man as " a human jukebox light entertainer"?


http://www.dickgaughan.co.uk/songs/index.html


I know I used the word "covers" but in our kind of music, I prefer the description "interpretations". Obviously, if the actual performance is original, there's no harm in including other people's songs.

Songs are surely intended to be performed by other singers rather than the composer, are they not? If they are good enough, they will be.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,JHW(cookie still on old computer)
Date: 18 May 13 - 06:07 AM

Long ago in a songwriters workshop on Redcar Pier, Vin Garbutt explained how (something like this) a good song idea would come along now and then. The other guy insisted that if you're really a songwriter you get up every day and write a song. He has written lots of songs but no more good ones than Vin.

A singer-songwriter who sings ONLY his own songs wears heavy on me. Far better he sings only his good ones along with good ones from the pens of others and of course anon.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Marje
Date: 18 May 13 - 06:20 AM

I find most singer-songwriters tedious, but there are some great modern songwriters out there and we wouldn't want to lose them. So, to try to be constructive, here are a couple of things I notice about good/bad songs:

One thing that I regard as a bad sign is when the songwriter introduces the song by telling you how he came to write it and what it's about. A good song, especially a modern one, should stand alone and not need explaining beforehand. More than that, a good song will speak to different listeners in different ways because it will be written to give a general appeal - sometimes songwriters are genuinely surprised when a listener tells them what he/she thinks the song means.

And "Show, don't tell." You may well have a serious point to make but don't spell it out in a finger-wagging way. Illustrate the point in the story and details of the song, and allow the listeners can reach the conclusion for themselves.

Marje


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 May 13 - 06:43 AM

its a calling. you do it because life is better for you as a writer of songs than being a person who doesn't write songs.

like Charles Strickland says in 'the moon and sixpence' - if you have to swim - it doesn't matter whether you do it well or badly - you have to do it. its your lot in life.

if you don't enjoy singer songwriters, tough bananas - finding the occasional floorspot in a folk club not to your taste is a common misfortune. mostly amongst those people who go to folk clubs.

I am a self confessed member of the dross party.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Johnny J
Date: 18 May 13 - 06:57 AM

Just taking this opportunity for a quick plug here....   :-)

Edinburgh Folk Club have their own Song Competition on 7th June and, for one night only, I'll keep my opinions about singer song writers to myself and leave it to the judges.:-))


http://www.edinburghfolkclub.co.uk/index.php/articles/26-edinburgh-folk-club-song-competition


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 18 May 13 - 07:09 AM

All songs with 'I' or 'me' in the lyrics, written by teenagers, should be drowned out immediately.

If you write a song and sing it, and someone else hums it afterwards you might have written a good one (OGWT). If folks ask you to sing one of your own songs you might be getting somewhere.

If somebody else sings one of your songs, then you might be getting further.

If you start to make money out of your songs then you might have arrived.

If you choose not to make money out of your songs, then you won't be disappointed.

If they get up and go to the bar when it's your turn to sing, then take the hint.

Tone


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 18 May 13 - 08:24 AM

Advice to all singer songwriters...

Ignore pretty much everything written above. It represents the worst pseudo-muso know-it-all bullshit that typifies a certain loud-mouthed factor in the folk world who, despite their evident lack of qualification, nevertheless think themselves qualified to make such turgid observations. These people generally 'know' about things like 'The Tradition' and what constitutes 'Real Ale' and other levels of folkish correctness which will have them voting UKIP on the sly in the hope of preserving the jingoistic righteous realms of their grim little hobbyist vision of an England that never was. Oh - and they don't that 'Rap Music' either, or much else from what I can make out, unless it doesn't appeal to their other autistic MOR folk pals hung up on a prescriptively pedantic cultural correctness which has little to do with what's happening out here in the real world.

As Big Al says : its a calling. you do it because life is better for you as a writer of songs than being a person who doesn't write songs.

As Big Al Crowley says : Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Amen to that.

If they don't like it, the fault is entirely their own.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 18 May 13 - 08:38 AM

"If they don't like it, the fault is entirely their own."

Precisely the attitude of crap singer-songwriters with their heads up their own *rses.

Somebody should write a song about it.

Tone


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Johnny J
Date: 18 May 13 - 08:40 AM

"other levels of folkish correctness which will have them voting UKIP "

Not up here, pal.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-22571724


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 18 May 13 - 10:10 AM

Something has just struck me. As I said in an earlier post (stating the bleedin' obvious), all the songs we sing were written by somebody, and most of the trad stuff turns out to have been written by hacks for a fee, and aimed at a popular market. The stuff that survives, is obviously the stuff that hit the target. The difference between these (mostly anonymous) hacks and the modern singer/songwriters, is that the hacks were writing songs in the hope that they would be sung by Mr. and Mrs. J. Public. They were churning the stuff out, and, inevitably, some of it hit the target. But the point is that they were getting paid to write the songs, not to sing them; they were for the people to sing. Yer singer/songwriter who gets up in a club and does two 45-minute spots which is entirely his/her own work, is likely to be singing at least some songs which will go in one ear and out of the other. These ain't going to become folk songs. In fact, at the point at which the songs are first launched, none of them can be called folk songs. Without wishing to poke the embers of the perennial debate yet again, I would define folk songs as 'the ones that survive'. By definition, a new song is not in this category. And somebody singing only their own songs, therefore, is not singing folk songs. As I said earlier, every generation should be adding to the repertoire; and you can only do that by writing songs and launching them , and then watching what happens. As canalwheeler a few posts back was more or less saying, if others take up your song, it's on the way to becoming a folk song. Perhaps the problem with some singer/songwriters (working in the folk field) is that they are writing songs for themselves to sing, rather than with any idea of them becoming folk songs. In which case, one has to wonder why they are choosing to work in folk clubs rather than in the wider poular music arena. I remember a time when, to get bookings in the folk clubs, it seemed that you had to be a stand-up comic. Once these comics got into television, they ditched the folk clubs, and I can remember some of them, in susequent interviews, saying that they had started in the folk clubs because it was easy to get started - anybody could get up and do a floor spot - and easy to get work, but that it had just been a stepping stone. I wonder whether SOME of the current singer/songwriters are doing the same thing.
BEFORE THE SNIPING STARTS, AND PEOPLE START WEIGHING IN AND CALLING ME A BORING OLD TRADDY-FADDY WHO WOULDN'T KNOW A GOOD SONG IF HE WAS LOCKED UP IN A DARKENED ROOM FOR A YEAR WITH IT PLAYING CONSTANTLY AT 140 DECIBELS, READ MY FIRST POST. TWICE.
John Kelly (folksinger/occasional songwriter).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Larry Saidman
Date: 18 May 13 - 11:57 AM

I agree with Harmonium hero.

If everybody only sang their own songs (and it's coming down to that now in the music business, with restrictive and expensive 'copyright' policies), then all those songs that are being written (including the really good ones) are going to die....because they won't be spread.

That's why I have so much respect for singers who find a great, relatively unknown song, and recycle it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 13 - 12:12 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhqDFMow20g

Okay Harry's good but, poor Mr Tanner.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Breedloveboy
Date: 18 May 13 - 12:57 PM

I'm not anti singer songwriters, just the bad ones and there a lots of bad ones, many on the Festival curcuit. There are so many good songs out there in all sorts of places if you care to do your research. I personally do not understand why people want to write something which, however generous you are, is a only pale imitation.

Singer songwriters tend to collect together in little mutual admiration societies, all complimenting each other until eventually they all start to believe each others hype and think well maybe I am quite good. Many would be better spending their time learning to play more than three or four chords, and consequently, develope a more interesting sound, but to improve as a player takes real dedication.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Marje
Date: 18 May 13 - 01:23 PM

Harmonium Hero is right, folk songs are "the ones that survive". For that to happen, the songs have to be taken into the hearts and memories of others who will want to hear them again and perhaps learn them and sing them. When a song is young and new, a sort of evolutionary process begins, by which the good songs are passed on and cherished, and the bad ones rejected.

The trouble with recent songs is that they have not had time to be subject to this process, so all the dross is still in there along with a few gold nuggets. Some writers could help the process along by being a bit more self-critical and prepared to consider whether the song is being appreciated by their audience. Some clearly neither know nor care, persisting in offering self-indulgent outpourings to a hapless audience. If you're doing it just to express yourself, it's seldom good enough for anyone else to want to hear. But if your audience are responsive and ask for more, you must be doing something right.

Marje


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 May 13 - 02:16 PM

C'mon Blandthingy, say what you really think. Everyone who likes traditional music is an idiot? Is that it? All who appreciate Morris Dance must be Nazis? Yes? Those who do not like your songs must be braindead? Maybe? Not that a forward thinking liberal who likes Rap would ever dream of being prejudiced against a whole swathe of people...

:D tG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 18 May 13 - 02:35 PM

No - I just think it's a matter of each their own. I love all manner of so-called 'folk music' (up to & including the appreciation of morris) but I'm all too aware of the issues with respect of Tradition and Revival to be swept along the narrow road to Authenticity Land. My position is appreciating what people are moved to do in reality rather than lamenting what they don't do in theory. Simples.

JB

PS - You weren't born from stone were you, DtG?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 18 May 13 - 02:52 PM

As someone who is occasionally guilty of writing songs I try to remember Ernest Hemingway's wise words: "The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector."
And if you can't trust your own radar then watch the audience. Are they singing along or falling asleep?
I once asked Sid Kipper why he had dropped certain songs. "They weren't getting the laughs," he said.
By all means write songs but we should all try to be our own sternest critics - although that's hard given the levels of criticism you can get from some Mudcatters :-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 18 May 13 - 02:58 PM

Although the OP is obviously meant as a mere provocation, there is an interesting aspect worth discussing:

Who is more likely to produce a good song:
  • (singer-)songwriters (including teams of such, like Lennon/McCartney)
  • or teams of specialized lyricists, composers, and singers?
There are many examples, good and bad, in either category, but this may be due to the specific multi-talents of the persons involved, or lack thereof.

As for old European folk songs, I guess in the overwhelming majority of cases the lyricists differ from the composers. This includes many songs that are particularly cherished for their good match of lyrics and tune. Often the gifted "matchmaker" was neither the poet nor the composer.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 18 May 13 - 02:59 PM

I was writng a reeponse to something Marge said, and had just about finished, when I inadvertantly deleted the whole post. Meanwhile there have been several more posts. I hate computers and the people who invent, sell, design or even like the accursed things. I'll be back when I've calmed down enough to tell you the brilliant idea I had while writing the post which, no doubt is still retrievable if I send the hard drive to some git in Africa, but which I can't find. GRRR
JK


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Wesley S
Date: 18 May 13 - 03:01 PM

I'm still not quite sure what Breedlove Boy prefers to a singer-songwriter.

All songs are written by somebody. They don't just spring from the ground. Just because the writers name has been forgotten doesn't mean that it wasn't written by a songwriter - somewhere.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Anne Lister
Date: 18 May 13 - 03:07 PM

*putting head briefly above the parapet* You could argue that singer-songwriters are more "traditional" than singers of traditional songs, as there have always been singer-songwriters, in every culture and at every time in history, but there haven't always been people who have researched and learnt (or copied) old songs from books and recordings. Of course some songs are better and more likely to survive than others. Of course there are a lot of mediocre songs around (quite a substantial number in the more commercial music world). But writing songs and singing them has always been a feature of the human race.
Probably criticising them has been, too.
*dodging the inevitable reactions and putting up defensive shield*


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 May 13 - 03:10 PM

Nah, BD - Just plain fish and blood :-) I don't think anyone was suggesting 'Authenticity Land' though. Just saying they didn't like a lot of what singer/songwriters do. I have said the same although I qualified it by saying I thought it was less than 90% dross and the brilliant ones more than made up for it.

What really narked me is the attitude that if anyone says they do not like something, others then attack them. Just what is wrong with not liking something? We don't have to like everything do we? I am not fond of opera or diddly-diddly Irish stuff. But I reckon someone will jump up and down on me for that.

What we like, we like, what we don't, we don't and we are all perfectly entitled to our own tastes and opinions. Aren't we?

Cheers

DtG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 May 13 - 03:12 PM

Oh - and you made matters even worse by suggesting that those who do not like singer songwriters and do like traditional music have right wing policies and are guilty of racism. Unless I very much mis-read your post. Did I?

DtG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Breedloveboy
Date: 18 May 13 - 03:50 PM

Well Wesley, as I said early I am not against singer songwriters per se, just the bad ones. Songwriting has become very popular in recent years and thats fine, but the current attitude that there is something deeply meaningfull, relevant, and in some way superior about burdening others with their own introspective ramblings is to me quite annoying.

I would be the first to admit there are good singer songwriters out there, but lets be honest at the amateur folk club level the vast majority range from embarrassing to just plain boring. Problem is a Folk Club audience is the only audience that will give these tortured souls a quiet enough platform upon which to bare their souls, so they like to say they are Folk Singers when in fact they have very little to do with Folk.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 18 May 13 - 03:59 PM

What we like, we like, what we don't, we don't and we are all perfectly entitled to our own tastes and opinions. Aren't we?

Absolutely. If you don't like something, leave it alone - it'll only make you miserable. Stick to what you love - it's no better than what you like, only it'll makes you happy, the same way the other stuff makes other people happy. Don't be fooled by consensus.

and you made matters even worse by suggesting that those who do not like singer songwriters and do like traditional music have right wing policies and are guilty of racism.

All down the years I keep meeting these people - self-confessed singer-songwriter hating (unless it's Eric Bogle, Jez Lowe or Allan Taylor) traddy purists who have this big Nationalistic subtext running through everything they do. They may not be in the majority (I must stress that the overwhelming majority of folkies are tip-top good-egg humanitarians who rightly baulk at any implication of anything right of New Labour) but this 'other lot' do tend to be quite vocal about it (after a pint or five). Plus the fact the only black faces you're ever likely to see in a Designated Folk Context will be those of fashionably blacked-up morris men sporting feather rimmed top hats carping on about our True Cultural Heritage & the Yardsticks thereof.

Folk is a relatively recent invention, the Folk Revival even more so. It will pass, but the Tradition of Human Music Making will continue as long as there are human beings alive to make it.   

*

singer-songwriters are more "traditional" than singers of traditional songs, as there have always been singer-songwriters, in every culture and at every time in history, but there haven't always been people who have researched and learnt (or copied) old songs from books and recordings.

Amen to that as well!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 18 May 13 - 04:03 PM

Right. Try again......Marge said something about self-criticism; good point. In the past, I've written songs which I never sung out, and one or two which I only sung out once or twice, not necessarily because of doubts as to their worth so much as doubts as to whether or not they would have the same resonance with the punters. I listened carefully to the applause, and if it seemed less than enthusiastic, those songs didn't get sung out again, even if I still sang them to myself. This is all very well for Johnny Nobody (that'd be me) doing a local floor spot, but the danger is that once a singer/songwriter gets a following, he's likely to be singing to rooms full of devotees, who may greet all his songs with more enthusiasm than some deserve. Which won't set any alarm bells ringing. What Anne Lister has just said is a valid point; Singer/songwriters have been around for a long tome - Troubadours, Trouveres etc. But the old broadside ballads, many of which we are still singing, were not the product of singer/songwriters. The singers were Mr.& Mrs.J.Public, who had heard the ballad sellers singing them on street corners and bought copies, often in huge numbers. I have heard figures of up to 5 Million quoted for some of them, and that at a time when the population was something like 20 million. The sort of sales Tin Pan Alley could only have erotic dreams about. And here's my brilliant idea (well,I thought it was quite good anyway): what if, instead of yer singer/sonwriter being paid on the basis of 2x45-minute spots - maybe 15 songs, he/she printed up the somgs on individual ballad sheets, and sold them at £1 a sheet. It would soon become obvious that some were earning maybe £20 or £30 every time s/he saang them while others were earning nowt. I think there'd be some programme revisions. Of course someone is going to have a go at me about the question of artistic integrity versus commercial success. I think I have some degree of artistic integrity, but in a few months time, I'm likely to be off the road. You know, some of the greatest artists drew ejaculating phalluses in the margins of books....
John Kelly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Jeri
Date: 18 May 13 - 04:16 PM

It seems that if 90% (or whatever %) of everything is crap, complaining about it is just stupid. You have to listen to a lot of stuff you don't like to find something you do, and then, it can be amazing. It's something that I find worth the effort. If you don't want to risk only infrequently being delighted, go listen to recordings of music you already like and sink into the safe repetitiveness.

You don't get the good stuff without an enormous amount of everything else. You can read that from the point of a listener, or that of someone writing songs. A lot of it is going to be crap. Don't give up.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 18 May 13 - 04:28 PM

Many years ago I had the privilege of interviewing Richard Thompson on a hot day in a hot van behind the stage at Cropredy.

I asked him what the failure rate was of songs that he has written and decided to dump. IIRC it was about 60%.

What he did say was, if he had doubts about one of his songs he left it in a draw for a few months, then went back to it. It gave him a far better idea of whether it was any good that way.

So why do new, youngish introspective songwriters think everything they write is worthy of our ears?

Tone


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 18 May 13 - 04:47 PM

Dave: You have surely roamed these subterranean corridors long enough to know that, should you ever venture to declare any misgivings about any subject under the heavens (and some anonymous 'guest' will condemn me to eternal and merciless torture for remotely, obliquely, even ironically hinting at the utterly preposterous and unforgiveable notion of the shadow of a possibility of such a concept as heaven)...er..you will incur the monumental, towering and unforgiving wrath, venom, vituperation (whatever that is) and lots of other stinging, boiling, vitriolic, scalding ...er...stuff of every troll, goblin, devil and wailing banshee in Cyberspace, and be condemned for a squalling, cringing, low, foul-smelling, puss-spewing, worm-infested, crud-ridden fascist, racist, homophobic, mean, hungry, spiteful, railing, ranting, fascist, racist, elitist, long-haired, mysoginistic, kitte-strangling paedophile...er..
I get all that stuff as well.
Sorry Sean. Just 'avinalarf.
JK


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 18 May 13 - 04:54 PM

Bugger...kitten, not kitte


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 13 - 05:16 PM

"So why do new, youngish introspective songwriters think everything they write is worthy of our ears?"

Do they, though? Have you asked them?

Here's my current favourite singer songwriter. This is bloody brilliant: John Grant GMF


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 18 May 13 - 05:16 PM

Me above. Must remember to type name. Sorry.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 May 13 - 05:22 PM

True, John. Only too true.

Blandwhatist. Your exact words - look above - were ignore pretty much everything written above. It represents the worst pseudo-muso know-it-all bullshit that typifies a certain loud-mouthed factor in the folk world Please note the 'pretty much everything written above'. Haw can that be taken to mean anything but most of the contributors above belong to the 'loud-mouthed factor in the folk world.'? By tarring 'pretty much everyone' that posted with the same brush you probably alienated a lot of innocent people. Including me and including a lot of folk club organisers. A good career move? Probably not...

I will conclude my case by declaring, quite proudly, that I have just spent an enjoyable couple of hours watching the Eurovision song contest. Including a 'legendary Greek folk singer'. No, it wasn't George... My predictions before the votes? Well, not predictions really but I enjoyed Russia, Hungary, Iceland and Greece. Bonnie Tyler made a good effort but it didn't do it for me.

Now, you can laugh at me as loud as you like :-)

Cheers

DtG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Spleen
Date: 18 May 13 - 05:35 PM

Bollocks. Totally forgot about the Eurovision. Narrow it down Dave - who's your tip to win, if you had to choose one?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 18 May 13 - 05:37 PM

Some songs are better than others. Some songwriters are better than others. That surely though is the same with everything? Not everyone who sings covers or traditional material is up to scratch either. I've sat through many a perfromance where someone with not too great a voice or perfromance ability insists on singing all 15 verses of a ballad which seems to drag on endlessly. Doesn't mean we'd tell 90% of ballad singers not to bother. It's much easier to knock people than it is to actually perform or create. In my experience rather than insist that everyone needs to listen to every song written songwriters are often not very confident about initially perfroming a song and worry that it won't be perceived well.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Acorn4
Date: 18 May 13 - 07:00 PM

Most of Eurovision predictably the songs sounded like "Abide with Me" with a drum machine, nonetheless it is an innocent bit of fun and the forecasting who will politically vote for who is all part of that.

I thought the Dutch song was interesting although slightly too Lloyd Webberish - thought Georgia was a well constructed pop ballad and the winner for me, which was a guarantee that it wouldn't win.

Ironically the winning song was one that Bonnie would have sung well in her prime - she seemed to pitch the song she sang too low to show her voice off at it's best.

At one stage a Norwegian victory seemed a remote possibility; now whoever would have thought that?

Re songwriting, I agree with most of what Jeri has posted.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Larry Saidman
Date: 18 May 13 - 10:47 PM

Grishka asks: Who is more likely to produce a good song:
-(singer-)songwriters (including teams of such, like Lennon/McCartney)
    or
-teams of specialized lyricists, composers, and singers?

How about "none of the above"?

I would think it would be by people who have a calling to say something---lyrically, musically, or both.

That is the 'songwriter'....somebody I have incredible respect for.

Then there is the 'singer'....whose job it is to 'distribute' what that person had to say.

It's rare for somebody to be great at both. Certainly there are a few.

But I suspect that many great singer/interpretors are ignored because the industry doesn't want anybody who won't also generate money by writing and copyrighting the material.

And many a great songwriter is ignored because he/she isn't a 'performer'.   Can you imagine if the great poets and songwriters of yesterday were judged totally on the basis of their quality as a performer? Would we have heard of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, many of the great classical composers, etc. Even the great Leonard Cohen (who has blossomed into a fine performer as well) would have been virtually unheard of if singers like Judy Collins, Chad Mitchell, and others hadn't discovered the songs and performed them.

Songwriters are becoming extinct.   So are great singers (in the popular, folk, country, and even jazz traditions).

There isn't enough motivation for that '3rd category' of people....those inspired to say what they need to say....to work at doing it, and for those who do, there's not enough motivation for performers to 'spread the word'.

The only solution is for all people who are primarily performers to work at finding great material....whether it be traditional, songs by non (or barely) performing songwriters, or even occasionally their own song.   And for all who are primarily songwriters to put their work into their art......and only focus on the performing aspect if you are 'called'.   Find others to do that work.

Anyway, that's my rant. Sorry if I get repetitive, but to me it just seems so obvious as I hear so much of the 'dreck' that fills up these hourlong cd's.....virtually all written by the person who is performing on them.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 19 May 13 - 02:56 AM

I think we don't give enough recognition and thanks to the people who spread the music of others through radio, writing, cd reviews, columns, blogs etc..we are blessed in the pnw of north america with incredible radio shows..portland, astoria, seattle, everett, op en mike in california..some great columns by percy h and alice w in victory review..some blogs...some venues such as nw seaport that put on such great shows..people like deckman who archive and publicize historical recordings...stew who puts out a great blog and puts on concerts and does recordings...people who put on the music camps and the festivals and work out collective cds...it all comes together and with the internet it will be referred to again and again...mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 May 13 - 03:42 AM

"This is bloody brilliant: John Grant GMF"

No it's not. I was bored after 30 seconds.

I grant you it might be popular with the naval gazers but it ain't folk, and nobody will be singing it in 10 years time.

Tone


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: BobKnight
Date: 19 May 13 - 03:44 AM

Not all sonwriters are introspective navel-gazers. I've NEVER written a song about myself. I prefer to use my imagination, and I never use other people's tunes either. Okay, call me a control freak, but I just prefer to keep it "in-house."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 19 May 13 - 04:37 AM

"But I suspect that many great singer/interpretors are ignored because the industry doesn't want anybody who won't also generate money by writing and copyrighting the material."

Hm but here in the UK over the past decade and a half the industry (at its most commercial end) has been choc-a-bloc with people singing other people's songs. I'm talking about all the various reality talent shows where the singers either can't or are plain just not allowed to write their own material. As far as I know there has been no high profile record industry TV push to find the next singer-songwriter.

Also if you are a songwriter who can also perform then surely the performing is a good way to get your songs out? Both directly to local audiences and to other performers who may wish to interpret them. I think the important thing is that there is a measure of peronal quality control but that goes for all the performing and not just for the singer-songwriters.

I am talking above about club performers but we do bring about hald a dozen guests to Kelso every year too. The bulk of those seem to pen at least most of their own songs and I find the quality is normally (not always of course) pretty high.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Breedloveboy
Date: 19 May 13 - 05:27 AM

Canalwheeler, I'm with you 100%, and he can't even control a Basketball!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 19 May 13 - 06:22 AM

By tarring 'pretty much everyone' that posted with the same brush you probably alienated a lot of innocent people.

With few exceptions the tone of the thread from the OP onwards was one of petty negativity & much in-the-know advice being bandied around - with comments like but it ain't folk, and nobody will be singing it in 10 years time typifying the reactionary know-it-all folkwit mindset. Just as long as they're singing it now, eh?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 May 13 - 06:41 AM

OK DB - Agreed. There are a few exceptions. As long as we know that not all singer/songwriters are navel gazing introverts and not all trad. folkies are card-carying nazis!

I must admit it is the generalisations that get up my nose and a lot of them are being bandied about here! I think it is probably true to say that 80% of every group you can think of are middle of the road. 10% are abysmal and 10% are brilliant. Of course that is a huge genaralisation... :-)

Cheers

DtG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST
Date: 19 May 13 - 09:09 AM

"Not all sonwriters are introspective navel-gazers. I've NEVER written a song about myself. I prefer to use my imagination,"

Nor me. But I have written songs about other people using the first person.

Here's another angle. I'd rather here a good original song sung badly, but to the best of the writer's ability than a rubbish introspective song that is obviously just a vehicle for the performer to show how wonderful they think they are.

Tone


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 May 13 - 09:54 AM

The idea of the singer-songwriter concept is that it stands for the most direct communication between artist/s and audience, most suitable for personal messages. The principal problem is of course that many poetic messages, however convincing, are either quite general or uninteresting "navel-gazing". In the first case, it is preferable to have a good singer - with a voice and training adequate to the style of the song - than one who happens to be identical to the author.

If we leave singing aside, the question is still about lyricist and composer. The type of person we are thinking of is primarily a poet; let us assume an excellent one. Let us further assume s/he is a mediocre composer - should s/he also write the music or leave it to a specialist? The advantage of the first method is not so much the increased "authenticity", but that the author can simultaneously tweak both the lyrics and the tune until they fit.

Excellent lyrics can do with music that is merely good, and vice versa. If however either is below some line, the song will inevitably fail (in my ears), however good the other. My advice to poets: cooperate closely with a trained composer who understands your poetry; if you do not find any, improve your poetry. Ingenious multi-talents are exempt, but then they are not likely to ask us for advice.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 May 13 - 10:52 AM

every song you write is about yourself. even if its about someone else - its about your feelings.

for examples Guthrie's Pretty Boy Floyd wasn't a documentary truth telling exercise. The song is about how Guthrie felt about the powerful rich of America, the victimised poor; law enforcement; the way the powerful skewed news coverage to their own advantage and much more ......

It's bloody sad that so many English singers are attracted to songs ossified in tradition - devoid and atrophied of all meaning.

I wouldn't give a damn for a song, or song selection that wasn't to a great extent about yourself.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 May 13 - 11:22 AM

There's loads of songs that are not about yourself. Bah bah black sheep. The grand old duke of York. The wheels on the bus. Just three off the top of my head!

:D tG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Rockhen
Date: 19 May 13 - 11:31 AM

If you don't put any of yourself into a song you write, it is much harder to feel any passion about it. It is not necessarily about yourself but conveys the way you feel about something. If you don't put something, whether from your own sense of humour, your experiences, your thoughts etc...which bit of it is yours? They are just words and a tune.
If it is telling someone else's story it will still have something of you in it. I think.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 19 May 13 - 11:55 AM

What Dave said. Actually, I would disagree with Al's contention that you are always singing about yourself, and that if you're not, it's not worth listening to (if I take his meaning). My attitude is that you are giving voice to the person - real or fictitious - in the song; that you should try to put yourself in their shoes. I've said on another thread - or was it this one - that it's about the song, not the singer. With pop music, it's the other way around. They (the poppies) are saying "this is about me" - the song is their vehicle. We are saying "I am this person". There's a considerable difference.
I am not a drowned sailor, a jolly ploughboy, a deserted maiden, a Lord, Lady, Knight, unapproved-of suitor (actually, come to think of it, scrub that one...)...etc. Dave once said of me that I seem to method-act the songs. I suppose I do. I just hope it works.
John Kelly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 May 13 - 11:57 AM

I sing those songs to my little nieces, Dave. They are a bout me because I am a nice man expressing my love and desire to entertain little kids.

The choice is always about something - OR IT SHOULD BE! Macca chose mary had a little lamb to comment on the BBC. The song choice, the setting, the interpretation is everything.

If your emotional and artistic vocabulary thinks singing is akin to singing from a ringbinder numbers from the telephone directory. I guess theres always the Eurovision song contest. Or you could try another scintillating version of Sheath and Knife.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: theleveller
Date: 19 May 13 - 12:13 PM

"This is bloody brilliant: John Grant GMF "

Agreed - much better than listening to some spittle-bearded bleating traddie groaning out yet another tuneless version of John Barleycorn.

My advice to songer/songwriters is ignore the likes of Breedloveboy and Canalwheeler and get on and do it. Those who can, do - those who can't, sit around and whinge about the rest of us.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Jeri
Date: 19 May 13 - 12:18 PM

If you hear "Pleasant and Delightful" from 10 different people, the difference between each performance is who's singing. So traditional songs are centered solely on the singer. How well that person sings a song everyone already knows.

It's interesting to think of all the ramifications of that. I'm sure the ill-will is a matter of ego, but whose ego, and why?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 19 May 13 - 12:22 PM

Hear what you are saying Grishka but there are more ways than the two you mention. I know I can write a lyric that at least some people like; I know I can pen a tune that at least some people like (one doesn't need to be a trained composer to come up with a good melody) and I know I can hold a tune and that at least some people really like my singing. I also know that musically my ability is limited compared with some people in our club. I can play enough to give myself some basic accompaniement but not much more than that and would struggle to do much of an arrangment on songs for other intruments. However I am lucky enough to be surrounded by good musicians who are happy to add some percussion, some viola or some flute or some better guitar work etc on my songs. Hence although it is my song in that I've provided the words, melody and chord structure the song evolves with other people, sometime just by trial and error, gradually adding their bits. There is no essential need for a trained composer as such. Just people sharing in the creative process.

I was one of those bedroom players who went for years with only really close family hearing my songs until a leading light of the local club persuaded me to come along to the open mic - and it took a fair bit of initial persuasion. Quite honestly had I read some of the posts in this thread prior to going it may well have put me off. I'm more confident now and know that not everyone is going to like my material but as long as a fair few do then that is good enough for me. I do have a good initial screening regime though in that my wife is very quick to let me know if something is perhaps not up to scratch, and the young lady who plays flute and adds harmonies for me is quite firm with the "no that one is crap" phrase. I may not always like being told that something I am working on is inferior to other songs but I am glad they do it. I can't always tell myself which ones are going to go down well.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 May 13 - 01:08 PM

Allan, no objection whatsoever from me. With your flautist, you are better off than most. My "advice" was for songwriters who feel good enough to play in the World Professional League, so if they are willing to associate with a composer, they are likely to want one who knows the trade well. Good training, whether in classes or self-taught, is such a giant advantage over mere "creative feeling" that it is not wise to dispense with either.

There are many excellent composers around who are looking for a companion whose strength is on the lyrics side. If both have a decent knowledge of the other's art, all the better. The exact roles can vary - but they are the main reasons why such cooperations fail. This is no different from other kinds of intimate partnership.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: theleveller
Date: 19 May 13 - 02:10 PM

What particularly annoys me is the inarticulate use of the term 'navel gazing'. Navel gazing would encompass much of our greatest poetry including, for example, Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey, Gray's Elegy, Shakespeare's sonnets, the love poems of John Donne and much of Edward Thomas' poetry.

I teach a creative writing course and my advice is always to start with what you know; your own experiences, feelings, opinions. As an ice-breaker I often ask my learners to quickly write the first line or lines of their autobiography. The results are often astonishing and humbling. To dismiss anyone's efforts at self-expression in such a way as has been done here is churlish, arrogant and ignorant. No-one is saying you have to listen to the results but to try to discourage people from doing it is disgusting.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 May 13 - 02:46 PM

All I can say about Wordsworth Tintern Abbey is 'tis an abbey...

To the man who just dismissed everyone who made an effort to say that they didn't like introverted self-penned songs and then went on to say dismissing anyone's efforts is churlish, arrogant and ignorant I put this question. Does your writing course cover irony?

DtG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: BobKnight
Date: 19 May 13 - 03:25 PM

Of course your experiences in life come through in your songs, everybody looks at the world through their own experiences and perspective, but I don't write about me, or things I've done.

However, that doesn't mean my experiences are totally isolated. If you can communicate a shared and common experience in your songs, then people will react well to them.

For example, Garth Brooks sang, "Sometimes late at night, I lie awake and watch her sleeping." In songwriting talks I often give this as a kind of negative example of an idea I could never have come up with since it's totally outside my experience, explaining that since I wear glasses, I take them off when I go to bed, and therefore can't see a damn thing. :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 19 May 13 - 05:38 PM

"From: Big Al Whittle - PM
Date: 19 May 13 - 10:52 AM

every song you write is about yourself. even if it's about someone else - its about your feelings."

That is an interesting take Al. Over recent years, I have consciously tried to take myself out of the songs. I am trying to speak with the voice of the character - or narrate for him or her.

What you say certainly rings true though, because what I like about your songs is that I always hear a lot of your voice - whether you are singing about a younger version of yourself, a gangster or a convicted murderer. The characters are all very different, but they always have that sardonic Big Al Whittle take on them. Food for thought!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 May 13 - 06:05 PM

Navel-gazing: excessive focus on oneself (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/navel-gazing). Excessive is excessive, by whatever criterion. If you publish a text, or sing it publicly, you implicitly claim to have something to say that is of interest to others; Shakespeare etc. definitely had.

Naval gazing at the ocean horizon can drive you crazy as well.

Good lyrics can be about any topic, and so can bad ones.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 19 May 13 - 07:09 PM

"I am not against singer songwriters, just the bad ones"... "Singer songwriters tend to collect together in little mutual admiration societies"... From the defensive/agressive to the fatuous/incorrect, such statements say more about the writer than the subject.

Good songwriters invariably start out as bad ones and improve. Stop them early and they will never mature. Some songs speak to one heart and not to another; don't try to account for taste. And sure, there are plenty of brilliant songs out there, many undiscovered - but there is always room for one more.

Writing songs is a medium of expression, like speaking or writing a letter, or trying to do your best in what interests you, be it sport, a job, charity work etc. So, in the interests of freedom of expression (without offending anyone, incidentally, though even if it did so what), do us all a favour and don't try to preach. Life is hard enough to negotiate without having know-alls giving valuable "advice" from the sidelines.

You don't like the songs being written? Write one yourself. Anyone can, if they apply themselves. If you cannot be arsed to try, where exacly is your valuable advice rooted?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 19 May 13 - 07:19 PM

The thing is, the advice that you'd give to one singer/songwriter is not the same advice you'd give to another. The most nearly universal advice I've ever heard is from Arthur Laurents, who said, "Anything good is better shorter.", but that isn't helpful to say, someone writing haiku. Beyond that, most songwriters and performers have irregular cash flow, and do well to avoid buying on credit.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST
Date: 19 May 13 - 08:05 PM

If you're going to suggest John Grant, at least suggest his best track Pale Green Ghosts

That is subjective, of course. It's actually the ONLY track of his I like on that album.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 19 May 13 - 08:36 PM

Apologies, that was me last post.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 19 May 13 - 09:15 PM

I quite like John Grant...especially his group, The Czars. One of those Czars cd's might make my Top 200 Albums of All Time.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Songwronger
Date: 19 May 13 - 11:12 PM

It's about time this topic was addressed. Why do we need A.P. Carter, Bill Monroe and the like when we already have plenty of songs? And that Zimmerman guy who wrote so much, he changed his name to Dylan because the stuff was so bad. And come to think of it, did we really need Dylan Thomas' poetry when we already had a young man from Nantucket, who carried it 'round in a bucket? A little more respect for the classics is definitely in order.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Bert
Date: 20 May 13 - 01:03 AM

It is said that Malvina Reynolds wrote a song before breakfast every morning. How many of them do we know? If 10% is normal then I guess we are in good company.

Of course the secret is - Don't sing your bad songs.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 May 13 - 03:31 AM

yes Malvina had it right. (I wonder if she was English, would she have been called Falkland?)

yesterday was peach yoghurt and cup of coffee song. but today I'm going for the full English song with an extra sausage instead of the tomato.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 20 May 13 - 04:35 AM

Everything Al, Leveller and George said.
IMHO.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Marje
Date: 20 May 13 - 05:15 AM

Great to see Anne Lister contributing here (18 May, 3.07 pm). Anne's songs are some of those I had in mind when I wrote about the "few gold nuggets".

If you're still reading this thread, Anne, your song "Icarus" is a great example of what I was talking about; at first when I heard it I thought of it just as a re-telling of the myth from another point of view, and then at another listening I suddenly thought "This is about every parent with a headstrong, creative child. This is about me and my daughter .." and filled up with tears (as I still do when I hear the song). That universality, drawn from a a specific example, is at the heart of all good lyric writing.

And (not directed at Anne but at others above) just because I don't write songs - not serious ones, anyway - I don't see that this prohibits me from expressing opinions on songs I hear, or trying to explain what's appealing or cring-making about them. I don't write novels or make films either, but I can tell bad writing from good writing, and a great film from a turkey. If songwriters don't want to know what their audiences think of their songs, they're in danger of deluding themselves about their talent.

Marje


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 20 May 13 - 05:23 AM

"If it is telling someone else's story it will still have something of you in it. I think."

Nice post from Rockhen there. In a way she has nailed what I like about George's or Big Al Whittle's songs. They tell the stories or show the characters in their own way. It would probably make quite an interesting challenge to invite a group of writing students to tell the story of say Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You could probably get a bunch of entertaining versions of the same story. Although you always hear George's and Al's voice in the songs, they always concentrate on showing the story. I suppose that is the balance which marks out the good from the mediocre writer.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 20 May 13 - 06:56 AM

Marje, you said "just because I don't write songs - not serious ones, anyway - I don't see that this prohibits me from expressing opinions on songs I hear, or trying to explain what's appealing or cring-making about them".

Quite right, too. Of course everyone can have an opinion, a view about what works and what doesn't, and they should be free to express them. But that is short of offering "advice", as if from a position of absolute knowledge. It is that high-and-mighty tone that objected to, in the earlier post, as well as to the aphorisms about songwriters gathering in "little mutual appreciation societies", as if we spend our time patting each other on the back and feeding each other's egos. That is pure poppycock and belies a down-one's-nose and derogatory perspective with which I will have no truck.

Expressing opinions and criticism on the other hand, is not only perfectly fine, any songwriter who is at all engaged with the world around them would welcome it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Tony Rath aka Tonyteach
Date: 20 May 13 - 07:21 AM

This thread is of great interest to me as I have been working with Luke Brown aka Monktyon Wyld who is now on the acoustic folk circuit for a year on various aspects of his voice - guitar playing etc. See his stuff on Soundcloud. Needless to say I like it a lot. To me going to a venue and paying over my dosh I want to be entertained, if someone can do this with their own material for two good sets. Good luck to them. BUT singer songwriter takes in a lot of territory. George, needed Ira Gershwin to write his lyrics. Rodgers used Hammerstein and Lorenz Hart ditto. So. someone who can do good interesting lyrics and good tunes is a really good writer and performing as well. In modern parlance a big ask. Cyril Tawney yes but others definitely not


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 20 May 13 - 08:11 AM

"If songwriters don't want to know what their audiences think of their songs, they're in danger of deluding themselves about their talent."

I don't think it is really about songwriters not wanting to know what people think of their songs. That is a differnt kettle of fish to what some of the comments have been on this thread. ie that 90% of singer songwriters aren't up to scratch and that they just shouldn't bother. I mean would we stand for people saying we only want to hear the top 10% singers and musicians and that the rest should just give up?

Speaking personally of course I want to know what the audience thinks and it is the songs that get the best reaction that tend to get rolled out again and again. I have many songs that remain unheard out of the home and others that were tried and kind of put to bed. That is the nature of the beast. Admittedly no-one is paying to see me and I might only sing a handfull of songs at our open mic. So I understand that people want paid performers with long sets to be up to par - but that is the same for all pro-performers and not just those who write their own material. We've maybe been lucky here in Kelso but we've had many an artist visiting here who writes their own material - and with the odd exception they have been really good. I just don't recognise this idea that 90% of them aren't up to it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 13 - 08:37 AM

No it's not. I was bored after 30 seconds.

I grant you it might be popular with the naval gazers but it ain't folk, and nobody will be singing it in 10 years time.


Why am I not surprised? Horses for courses, in any case. But the point I was making is that as far as I can see the best singer songwiters these days are not and never have been any part of the folk world - and I pretty much chose John Grant as a random example... It could have been Wooden Wand or Hiss Golden Messenger or Iron and Wine or a host of others. There's some brilliant songwriting out there at the moment, and much of it has little to do with anyone's navels (as if that matters). I don't really care whether anyone will be singing GMF in 10 years time. What counts is that John Grant is singing it now. Music doesn't have to endure or be adopted into some spurious 'canon' to be any good - it equally serves as a fleeting, momentary pleasure. That's good enough for me.

I wonder if those who spurn navel gazing feel that way about this or this ? They fit the bill well enough... To my mind you'd need a heart of stone not to be moved by them, though. At the end of the day that's all that counts.

Suegorgeous - to be honest, I don't get on with John Grant's excursions into 80s style electro-pop as much as I enjoy the more 70s influenced stuff. That's why to me, Queen of Denmark is a far better album than Pale Green Ghosts, not that it doesn't have some mighty fine moments. And the electro stuff sounds a lot better live. Each to his or her own, though!...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 20 May 13 - 08:39 AM

Bah! Me again.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 20 May 13 - 09:28 AM

My first English class at Uni, the prof quoted someone (sorry, can't remember who) who said that great books/poems are written not so much by people who have a message to impart, but by people who like playing with words. I found it a novel idea at the time, but it makes more & more sense to me as time passes.

I have come to believe that the same thing applies to songwriting...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 13 - 10:02 AM

Advice to all singer songwriters: become dentists.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 13 - 10:22 AM

Writing good songs is tough; performing well is toough. Trying to do both for an entire set isvery tough.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Tattie Bogle
Date: 20 May 13 - 11:10 AM

I have been writing songs on and off since my teenage years, and still waiting for the "big breakthrough". Oddly enough, one of my stupidest songs is the one that gets the most requests to sing it again: not a great song in anyone's book, but makes people laugh. Of singer songwriters that I know of, I don't think you can make such sweeping generalisations as " good" and " bad" songwriters. Even the world-famous earn-my-living-doing-it ones will have stronger and weaker songs ( in my opinion - someone else will equally think that the song I rate highly is rubbish, and vice versa ). And I can think of one or 2 writers who are highly esteemed by many, but I just don't get why they are thought to be so bloody marvellous. So all in all it's pretty subjective who's good and who's bad, or which songs are fantastic and which are crap.
Johnny J has mentioned the the Edinburgh Folk Club Songwriting Competition, where there are 2 systems of voting: 3 appointed judges who decide 1st, 2nd and 3rd places, and then the audience vote, where each member of the audience can vote for what they thought was the best song. The results from the 2 systems are usually widely at variance with each other: only on one occasion in many years of running the competition did the judges' results tally with the audience votes. (Of course, the audience vote could be swung by those who bring their personal fan clubs in - must start sending out a few emails!)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 20 May 13 - 11:33 AM

YorkshireYankee (20 May 13 - 09:28 AM), quite true in a sense. What I call an artistic message is often the result of playing, experimenting, and introspection etc. What makes it a message is the act of publishing, which means communicating. If we think this fails, we call it navel-gazing or exhibitionism etc. (Opinions and tastes often vary, which is quite OK. Specific criticism can nevertheless be helpful, but it should be precise about its criterion. Probably there are more incompetent critics than artists; the OP is a mere provocation.)

Those whose message is a clear-cut imperative like "Save the whales!" had better write an essay, with precise arguments that convince those who have not been convinced before, and who would not be convinced by a song or poem either. Political songs should have something to say that cannot be said in an essay.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 13 - 11:39 AM

""This is bloody brilliant: John Grant GMF "

Agreed - much better than listening to some spittle-bearded bleating traddie groaning out yet another tuneless version of John Barleycorn."

LOL

Tone


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Breedloveboy
Date: 20 May 13 - 03:05 PM

To George Pavavgaris, collecting in groups is exactly what so many aspiring singer songwriters do do. Evidence, Songwriting Circles, Seminars, Collectives, Adhoc Groups at Festivals, University Degree Courses, people offerring lessons etc etc. So before you rubbish an opinion that doesn't happen to agree with your own take a moment to consider some of the evidence.

Furthermore, seeing as you are so keen to offer advice, I'll perphaps offer some to you:- Spend alittle more time improving you Guitar playing skills.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 20 May 13 - 08:46 PM

Advice on guitar playing skills acknowledged, Breedloveboy. Indeed, I am no Martin Simpson or Mark Knopfler. Never will be either. That is a cross I have learned to bear. However that is but a light weight on my conscience, as I have never set out to be a crack performer - I only ever started playing and singing in order to get the songs out, and the gigs grew out of that. I will always think of myself as songwriter first and performer second (or lower).

As for the evidence on songwriters getting together, I confess that I have still some doubts there. I know far more songwriters who don't attend regular "circles" or workshops or whatever one might call them, but work singly and independently. I know some who do collaborate or regularly "show and tell" with others, but at a rough guess they are fewer than 1 in 5 from among my acquaintances. Perhaps it might be a case that I dodn't naturally gravitate towards such workshops, and that is the reason why I don't know so many of their members? I don't think that explains it - I know the majority of the gigging songwriters on the circuit, and quite a lot of of others in most parts of the country except perhaps Wales and the South East. I do know several Cornish songwriters who have formed a circle, but I honestly cannot think of another example of similar size and (I have to say, because they are indeed very good) quality.

But I can sense that you are peeved, as witnessed by your need to score points (see your last sentence). I don't think I offered any advice, I only reflected on the readiness with which others offered it, the sweeping statements used (such as the title of this thread - "all"? really?) and the attitude with which they did so. I will make a request however: I know I have a long surname and it is hard to pronounce it, but I would be grateful if one could at least spell it correctly... There are a few, like Breezy, who have earned the right to do what they like with it, bend it and twist it etc but i don't think you are yet one of them - I can't tell behind the moniker.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 20 May 13 - 09:01 PM

Breedloveboy, I noticed that in your last note you are including Degree Courses and Seminars among your examples - I think that they are a very different animal form the Songwriting Circles, Collectives etc. The former are usually attended only once by a participant, one goes to them to pick up some tricks of the trade from someone whose opinion they value. I myself attended one such course given by Harvey Andrews, some years back, and I am indeed grateful that I did, as he had so much useful knowledge to impart. But that is a one-off, I did not go back and take his course again. And indeed I give such courses myself nowadays, but the participants don't come back again for a repeat of the course, there is no need to, they will only hear the same things again. And most importantly, people don't attend such courses in order to pat each other's backs or feed their ego, they do it because they want to learn something.

The latter variety (Circles & Collectives) are the ones that you initially had in mind, I believe; where the same people attend the same gathering week in week out (or month in month out as the case might be). You claim that these gatherings are largely self-congratulatory; I don't know because I don't attend any, but I would give people a little more credit. I certainly would not dismiss them with such derogatory remarks as have been used.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 13 - 09:07 PM

Breedloveboy is getting much more attention than it deserves.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Jeri
Date: 20 May 13 - 09:32 PM

I rather think Breedloveboy has had a previous career on Mudcat being a lot of other people. I suspect he still wants to be someone else. That said, for a thread started as a troll, it has led to some good discussion. I hope we can all avoid responding to the stupid shit, though.

George, people respect you. This respect has not been earned or give to others. Perhaps that's really what inspired this whole thing. Whatever. It's not worth arguing with people who are incapable of understanding, even if they were willing to try.

Songwriters' circles? Good idea. Who would be better able to offer intelligent criticism of songwriting than a songwriter? People who aren't songwriters occasionally give you criticism that goes something like "I think you should have written about social injustice instead" and "I can't reach some of the notes in the chorus. You should change them." It's not gonna help you OR the song.

Final note: please don't anyone feel like you have to defend yourself against stupid comments. Anybody in this thread you think it's worth talking to or with will get it. The rest don't WANT to.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 21 May 13 - 05:36 AM

I recall that the late, great Cyril Tawney was no guitar virtuoso either. I hope he never had to endure the rudeness of comments like Breedloveboy's about George's. I have heard better guitarists than George, but I have not yet heard a performance by George in which I felt that his guitar playing detracted from his song. Taste I guess, but that is what matters to me - and I suspect I am not alone. I do know that I have sat through many a techinically brilliant musician, who has bored the pants off me...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 21 May 13 - 09:40 AM

Songwriting circles are a brilliant idea. Anything that's about people getting together, learning, improving, sharing and critiquing has to be a positive. I know this from past involvement in writers' groups, which serve a similar function - these are anything but a backslapping exercise, and if they were would be considerably less effective and useful.

I used to be scathing about singer songwriters because I understood 'singer songwriter' to be a genre of music that began and ended with James Taylor and his miserable ilk. Understanding now that it's also a broad description for every bugger that sings stuff they wrote themselves, how on earth is it possible to generalise about singer songwriters? The term covers an absolute multitude of sins, pleasures and all other points in between from the sublime to the ghastly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 21 May 13 - 09:49 AM

Jeri wrote:
Songwriters' circles? Good idea. Who would be better able to offer intelligent criticism of songwriting than a songwriter?

Precisely. I was in a songwriting group a couple of decades ago. It was extremely useful. It's true we didn't say nasty things to each other; we tried to criticise gently - say something nice before saying something critical, etc.

I found it very helpful to have others as a sounding board; to get (hopefully) honest, constructive criticisms about what works and what doesn't. In my experience, friends are often hesitant to sound critical, even though I would prefer to hear about a song's weaknesses rather than unqualified, uncritical praise. It gets to the point where I sort of don't "trust" the opinion of someone who only says nice things; I think, "Would you tell me if you didn't like it?"

I have a few good friends who will tell me when they think a song of mine has problems, and I treasure their feedback.

I'd suggest that I'm not the only singer-songwriter with this attitude. Yes, of course there are plenty of us who over-rate ourselves and are unwilling to take in any kind of negative feedback - but you will find such people in any and every field of endeavor.

And I wholeheartedly agree with alanabit's comment:
I have heard better guitarists than George, but I have not yet heard a performance by George in which I felt that his guitar playing detracted from his song.

One last comment: Someone above (sorry, haven't been able to re-find it in order to quote it) said something about there being plenty of music-writers out there who would love to pair up with a lyricist.

I started off writing parodies, because I find words much easier to play with than notes. I'd love to have someone provide music for my words/give me tunes to come up with words for. Maybe it's me, but it may not be as easy to find a musician to pair up with as one might expect. (Actually, I'd also love to find a singing partner. I keep looking, but nothing's worked out, so far...)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 21 May 13 - 11:24 AM

"I recall that the late, great Cyril Tawney was no guitar virtuoso either."

He was adequate.

But the point was, he used his guitar to accompany his songs.

He didn't use his songs to show what a 'great' guitarist or singer he thought he was, as do some now.

Tone


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 13 - 11:39 AM

This is bloody brilliant: John Grant GMF

I couldn't listen to whatever he was trying to say because the tune was so dull.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 May 13 - 04:39 PM

it was interesting to see the guy who wrote Sally Free and Easy , Chicken on a Raft, Sammy's Bar etc.

but he wasn't terrific performer in my opinion. there were many people who sang Cyril's songs better. and the traditional songs were okay, but he couldn't pitch them at you like Ewan or Ian Campbell, or Alex Campbell come to that.

Its not a question of being a great singer or accompanist either. (would that life was that simple!)

what is it that makes some people able to arrest your attention with a song?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: henryclem
Date: 21 May 13 - 08:48 PM

I reckon all of us songwriters would like to show a steady improvement in technique, quality and accessibility - which must involve an increasingly ruthless attitude towards what we write. Once you know your audience, whether local or spread further, and they know you, new songs can have a sympathetic hearing when they are tested out - that doesn't mean friendly and uncritical acceptance however, as it is often the performance in front of an audience which tells you yourself the worth or otherwise of a particular work.

I go to folk clubs because I enjoy hearing singers, musicians, songs -
not all, but enough to make every visit worthwhile. I perform the best I can - which usually does mean my own songs, because there's always others who perform other people's better !   I don't look for bookings, I'd rather be invited to do the occasional gig.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 22 May 13 - 03:36 AM

Attitude in the presentation is not to be underestimated. If you're obviously 100% behind your song then, no matter how dire or cloying the lyrics may be, the audience will put that in your favour. On the other hand, a meek "If it's alright by you" mumbling of hang-ups into the sound hole of the guitar so that only the front row can hear them will sporn the negative views and attitudes shown in quite a few of the postings in this thread.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 22 May 13 - 08:42 AM

Don, what you write is true in some cases, at least ex negativo with streamlined heartless professionals. But it is at most half of the truth, and unfortunately exactly the kind of statement that damages the reputation of singer-songwriting - the other half often being ignored.

Take politians for a model: as a rule, those who get listened to at all are those who had years of training in rhetorics. Being convinced and convincing may add to their success. An actor like Ronald Reagan can well fake being 100% convinced, even when in fact 0% (e.g. announcing, as an exercise, "to outlaw the Soviet Union", if you remember).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Breedloveboy
Date: 22 May 13 - 10:38 AM

To George Papavgeris, I apologise for spelling your name incorrectly, but not the rest of my admittedly rather harsh criticism. My view is simply this, the balance in Folk Music has swung too far in favour of singer songwriters, and whilst they do have and always have had their place, it is now in danger of obscuring all other forms of Folk. What has happened to the type of artists we used to get in the early days of Folk, The Corries, The Dubliners, The Spinners, Peter Paul and Mary, Derek Brimstone, Wizz Jones, The McCallmans, and many many more. True all these artists wrote a few of their own songs, but sang predominately music collected from all around the world. The artist who only sings his own songs is then controled by his own limitations, and in my view there are too many of them.

Folk Clubs are currently under pressure with dwindling audiences, increased costs, the high price of alcohol, petrol, and however, unpalatable it may be for some, slow introspective songs about loss, heartache, and conscience, are not going to bring the people back.

So I would say to all you singer songwriters, wake up and recognise that in the wider context you may be assisting in the eventual demise of Folk Clubs.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 May 13 - 11:39 AM

Hi there, Breedloveboy, the argument you make now is much clearer (i.e. that of the impact of s/s on the world of folk clubs), and I would be the first one to say that I think that you are at least partially right in your assessment. How big a part in "partially", I don't know, and I would probably give a different answer to that on different days, depending on where I've just been and who I listened to. Working it through though, I see two main types of impact: Loss of punters/membership due to boredom, frustration, lack of entertainment; and loss of the old material, in the sense that there are so many songs that can be sung in an hour, and for every newly written one there is one traditional one that is missing an outing.

Starting with the loss of audiences due to too many slow, introspective, whining songs: I'd like to think that these songs are self-limiting ones in the sense that if people don't like them they will not be repeated so often. In the case of guest performers, they will simply not be booked again; in the case of floorsingers or singers in a singaround, only the most hardened of perception will fail to detect the lukewarm applause that such songs would elicit (though having said that, I know several with skin thicker than an elephant's). I like to think that good songs will "bubble up" whatever the environment.

In this, I think it is less important whether the singer sings only self-penned material or also chooses the songs of others. The reason why I say this is that I think that people's motivation for singing their own songs only (or otherwise) varies almost from one singer to the next. With one exception - the songwriter will always feel a more pressing "need" to sing his/her songs... More about my own motivation at the end.

Taking the second type of impact now (that of the loss of old material), that is indeed a real threat and cannot be disguised. Fads and fashions play a role too here of course ("oh, not Fields Of Athenry again!" etc) but the simple fact that there are new songs coming out all the time will push some of the older ones out, especially those deemed to be less "relevant to today", or "too twee" etc etc. The only thing one can do here is to impose numeric limits - so many new songs every night - but setting them and enforcing them would be a nightmare and more likely to lose one friends.

My personal love is for traditional song, that is what brought me to folk clubs in the first place. And it is precisely that which caused me (in part) to start writing songs, because I was too embarassed to stand next to luminaries such as Johnny Collins, Dave Webber & Anni Fentiman, Graeme Knights, Kitty Vernon and sing a traditional song, what with me being Greek and all. I felt a fraud, and more to the point, I felt that I was not adding anything with my rendition of traditional songs. I love the Mayday traditions and so my first self-penned song was a May song that I could get up and sing and not fear any comparisons. Things snowballed from there.

As songs started coming thick and fast, I of course felt the pressure to air them, at least to get a reaction. Those that worked, got repeated; those that did not, did not. And when the gigs started, people were asking to hear "my" songs, I had no reputation as a performer of the songs of others (quite right too). Occasionally I would slip in one song or another from someone else's pen, but mainly to show to people what kind of songwriters I admired, and to demonstrate that good songs can be found in all genres (for example, "And so it goes" by Billy Joel). But then...

...with the sudden sad loss of Johnny Collins I found that our club (Herga) suddenly lost a large percentage of traditional singing on our singers' nights; and several songs that only Johnny sang were at risk of being left unsung in the future. So for the last couple of years I have consciously begun to sing some of my favourites of his - at least the ones that I could not damage too much - during our club nights. And once or twice I even dared to sing some of them in gigs (like the "Ox-Plough Song"). And still I write new songs, and still my preference is to listen to traditional ones.

There are plenty of top performers out there who sing mainly the songs of others. Bob Fox, Whaley and Fletcher, James Findlay etc etc, the list goes on and on. Some of them occasionally make forays into writing their own, sometimes successful and sometimes not. As for "normal" singers in singarounds, where I go there seem to be mainly people singing the songs of others, not their own. There is a bit of an "osmosis" effect (a club that has one or two songwriters might see others trying their hand at it also), but if I take Herga as an example (we have three songwriters), this has not resulted in an avalanche of songwriting from the other members.

Still, going back to your point, I think you are partially correct. Or perhaps correctly partial, but that's all right too (just teasing).

Thanks for adjusting the spelling, by the way :-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 22 May 13 - 11:39 AM

You are not going to solve the problems of folk clubs by asking quite a few of the participants not to attend because they write their own songs! It's complete stuff and nonsense. All you'd do is thin the ranks even further speeding up any possible demise. As for the acts of yesteryear well surely the mid 60s and early 70s had their own posse of singer songwriters anyway - and of course there are plenty of comparable bands around nowadays! The problem for small folk clubs is that the amount we can pay acts pretty much ensures it is normally one person or at most two we can book. £250 is maybe worthwhile for one person; less so for two people; but probably not worth the bother for a larger band. The only time we have booked a band of three or more in recent years was for North Sea Gas and even at that we had help from the pub itself. As to singer songriters all being morose and introspective well that sterotype simply isn't true. The best laugh we had for many a year was when we booked Dave Gibb who was hilarious and provided a great fun evening.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Breedloveboy
Date: 22 May 13 - 12:00 PM

George, I'll settle for partially correct. I know I'm swimming against the tide here on Mudcat, because only committed people post. However, in the wider non performer context there is problem, and if we are not careful Folk Clubs will die out as and when its current generation drop off the edge, and nobody want to see that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 May 13 - 12:23 PM

We'll shake on that, Breedloveboy. As for the future of folk clubs, I too am concerned about that (indeed most of us here are, I think), for a number of reasons, and that is why I am trying to play an active role in the Folk21 initiative: Folk21 Website . Everyone is welcome to join their local "chapter" and do their bit. We are meeting with the EFDSS in a couple of weeks to take things forward.

If we're going down, it won't be without a fight.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 22 May 13 - 12:54 PM

I have just struck a deal with the management of the Last Drop Inn in York. On the 2nd & 4th Sunday evenings, we will hold a singaround in the bar. Performers will get a free pint and their parking fee paid in the nearby multi-storey.

The best performers will be offered a paid gig at the pub on a Tuesday evening or a Sunday afternoon.

Already there is a lot of interest from the regulars. Obviously the trippers will be dropping in. The singarounds will be tied in to a cider festival in late July.

Is this the way to go for singer-songwriters (and traditional performers) in the future?

Tone


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: nutty
Date: 22 May 13 - 12:56 PM

If there is concern about the future of folk clubs it is almost entirely due to the attitude of people like Breedloveboy not being welcoming or encouraging enough.
I say ' if ' because in some parts of the country ( like the North East UK where I am fortunate enough to live) it is still possible to attend at least one folk club (within a radius of 30 miles) on every night of the week.

But then I also live in an area where singer songwriters are not just tolerated but actively encouraged. Jez Lowe, Vin Garbutt, Graeme Miles, Richard Grainger are all from this area and I can assure you that their offerings were not always brilliant when they first started out.

Forget about door takings, get back to basics and folkclubs will flourish, Let singarounds and singers nights be the heart of your clubs activities and you can be assured that folk music will be in safe hands for the future.

I am suggesting a difference of ethos and attitude and a divide in folk culture between the north and the South of England and I am assuming the BLB lives in the South.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Johnny J
Date: 22 May 13 - 01:21 PM

Nutty,

It's important to note that most of those you mentioned had abackground in the tradition and other music and didn't just start writing songs "in the bedroom"!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: nutty
Date: 22 May 13 - 01:42 PM

I'm sure there was as much 'navel-gazing' going on in the sixties as there is now. And as I said before - they didn't all start off being brilliant. But folkclubs gave them a platform for their material to be heard and folkclubs still have a hugely important part to play in moulding and shaping future performers.
I've been going to folkclubs for almost 50 years so I think I am qualified to comment.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 May 13 - 01:43 PM

Just out of interest, and to let people know what I like, the artists I would follow anywhere are few. They include such traditionalists as Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick but, at a much more local level, Anthony John Clarke and Stanley Accrington who both do primarily their own songs. What all the above have in common is that they are good entertainers. Maybe I am shallow? I don't really care as long as I enjoy it!

Cheers

DtG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Jeri
Date: 22 May 13 - 03:45 PM

Music should make people feel. When it's not about that, I don't know why anyone would listen. When you apply rules that won't allow it to change, cut off any tendrils escaping, put up doors to keep foreign things out, you kill it. I think that rigidity is what closes folk clubs, but I've never witnessed any organization so xenophobic that it would rather die than change. I HAVE seen examples of music organizations and venues surviving because they chose to welcome the different.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 May 13 - 04:04 PM

Closing date for postal entries to The Fastnet Maritime Song writing competition is may 31st, competition is sponsored by IMRO CASH PRIZES TOTALING 250 EUROS, Evereybody welcome even breedlove boy, providing they perform their song at 3 pm, sat 15 june in vincent coughlans ber ballydehob
https://sites.google.com/site/thefastnetmaritimeandfolkfest/


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Acorn4
Date: 22 May 13 - 05:04 PM

Must admit that I'd never though of using staring at one's navel as a source of inspiration, but after three hours of doing so here is the result:-

The Bleeding Soul of the Poet (Drowning in an Ocean of Abject Misery).

Inspired by a visit to a certain local acoustic club which will remain nameless to protect the guilty.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Johnny J
Date: 22 May 13 - 07:17 PM

I've been going to folkclubs for almost 50 years too so I think I am also qualified to comment.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 23 May 13 - 04:08 AM

A lot of people here would do well to bear in mind that everybody, whether musician,singer or songwriter, has to start somewhere. This is just as valid for Woody Guthrie,Pete Seeger, Ewan McColl, Richard Thompson etc. as for Fred Bloggs who has just plucked up the courage to sing one of his own songs at his local folk club. Some of us develop, some don't, some go on to pop groups and/or talent shows and possibly fame and fortune. It wouldn't surprise me if the singer-songwriters listed above eventually consigned their early efforts to the flames or the shredder long ago. I know that I did that with my early attempts and that I've since written other songs which have meanwhile long since passed their 'sing by' date.

The important thing is to realise and accept that music, be it 'folk','jazz' or whatever is not something static, cast in concrete at a particular moment of time. People have always written songs and tunes and always will do and, in accordance with evolution, the fittest compositions will survive. Those who have something against singer-songwriters can always go to the bar/toilet, take a cigarette break outside or plug their ears whilst the person in question is on the stage. That they may be missing out on a future Guthrie/Seeger/McColl or whoever is their problem, not mine.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Johnny J
Date: 23 May 13 - 04:29 AM

With one or two exceptions, most good songwriters usually have "other strings to their bow" so to speak. At least until they have "honed" their craft.

I don't think the majority of us would really mind too much if somebody went up and sang one or two of their own songs even if they were still finding their way. We would be polite enough to listen and, if it was really bad, go to the loo as has been suggested. Of course, if we had a succession of mediocre singer song writers in the same evening it might be a different matter.

So floor spots or even short sets aren't the issue. However, it's unlikely that I'd want to sit and listen to somebody for an entire evening, e.g. two 45 minute sets if it was entirely self penend material and he or she was still learning their craft.

The best writers will surely be aware of and respect the work of others and will learn much from acknowledging good songs written by others whether recent or traditional. After all, even The Beatles performed loads of covers in their early days.

Sometimes, I can't help but get the impression that some singer songwriters have never listened to anyone else other than themselves.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 23 May 13 - 07:28 AM

That was a classic of its genre Acorn4! Thanks for posting.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: GUEST,Breedloveboy
Date: 23 May 13 - 03:37 PM

100% agree Johnny J, you've put the issue far better than I did, in my rather clumsy, confrontational way.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 May 13 - 05:28 PM

Absolute classic, Acorn4 :-) So good/bad I couldn't get beyond 1:30 without my ears starting to bleed. Makes Vogon poetry look like children's nursery rhymes.

:D tG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Advice to all singer songwriters
From: Ron Davies
Date: 23 May 13 - 06:08 PM

Acorn 4--direct hit, and smash hit besides.    Should be sung immediately after the contribution of any navel-gazer in any gathering.   Worldwide.

I wonder if they could identify themselves.   Their cocoons are usually pretty snug and their tunnel vision unequalled.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 23 October 9:42 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.