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Songwriters and their Meddling

GUEST,Allan Conn 18 May 15 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,leeneia 18 May 15 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,Pete from seven stars link 18 May 15 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 18 May 15 - 01:20 PM
Nick 18 May 15 - 08:01 PM
GUEST,# 18 May 15 - 08:07 PM
Bert 18 May 15 - 08:10 PM
CupOfTea 19 May 15 - 12:01 AM
Musket 19 May 15 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,leeneia 19 May 15 - 10:04 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 19 May 15 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 19 May 15 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,Pete from seven stars link 19 May 15 - 12:16 PM
dick greenhaus 19 May 15 - 03:09 PM
Steve Gardham 19 May 15 - 03:26 PM
Phil Cooper 19 May 15 - 06:26 PM
GUEST,Guest Betsy 19 May 15 - 07:12 PM
GUEST 19 May 15 - 11:11 PM
Mr Red 20 May 15 - 04:07 AM
GUEST,leeneia 20 May 15 - 09:46 AM
GUEST,Stim 20 May 15 - 10:58 AM
Acorn4 20 May 15 - 11:09 AM
GUEST,Scabby Douglas 20 May 15 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 20 May 15 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,Ewan McVicar 20 May 15 - 12:53 PM
Steve Gardham 20 May 15 - 02:56 PM
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Subject: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 18 May 15 - 12:18 PM

What is with songwriters? I mean if you went into a friend's house who was an artist and they showed you a completed painting you wouldn't then pick up a brush and say "now we could do with a bit more colour here, and perhaps add in a wee man at the front here, and no no that title won't do so I'll change it"? You just wouldn't do it - would you?

So what is with fellow dabblers in songwriting. Get them up for a practice for the session on Friday. A cover and one of my own songs - and the guy thinks he can quicken up the tempo, change some of the lyrics, add an extra bit in! I just asked him if he wanted to play guitar on it too not to rewrite the thing. Bloody manners missing!

Now don't get me wrong I have some fine musician friends and would take note of their advice if offered, and likewise would be interested in suggestions from respected songwriters - but I don't know why some of these fello dabblers think they're being asked to redo my work! Rant over...........


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 May 15 - 12:33 PM

I know what you mean, Allen. Some people have to make everything about themselves. You play them a song you wrote, and the response isn't about what you wrote, it's, "Here's how I would do it, because I'm the one who matters."

Since you did 99% of the work, it's reasonable to expect a little interest and credit.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link
Date: 18 May 15 - 12:44 PM

I guess I would feel the same, but my wife is a back seat driver, and I don't mind too much as she sometimes see,s things before me. I would tend to maybe consider suggestions and then probably decline them graciously....hopefully


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 18 May 15 - 01:20 PM

Yeagh I run things past my wife too Pete and take note - but what I am talking about are songs that have been done and dusted and completed for a while. Years even. If I was putting a wee bit backing guitar on someone's existing song I wouldn't even consider trying to rewrite the whole thing. I'd concentrate on what I could add to it if anything :-)


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: Nick
Date: 18 May 15 - 08:01 PM

I thought Free would have had much more success if they'd written 'All Right Then' rather than the minor hit they had. Sandy Denny would have done better if she'd written 'Who Knows Where the Bus Goes?' it would have been much more accessible.

I wonder if they had the same advice and help?

If your song survives your friend's 'help' and becomes really famous then you'll have to deal with all the parodies...

There really is no respect is there?


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,#
Date: 18 May 15 - 08:07 PM

"There really is no respect is there?"

Rodney Dangerfield found that out. Not a songwriter though.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: Bert
Date: 18 May 15 - 08:10 PM

I suppose that it depends on whether you asked for an opinion. If you didn't then he should have kept his mouth shut.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: CupOfTea
Date: 19 May 15 - 12:01 AM

Unsolicited criticism has to be the worst of unsolicited advice. If all you wanted was some musical reinforcement to your composition, it's a fine bit of arrogant rudeness to assume one's change of direction is required. I'd rant, too.

Makes me think of a choice bit of Ayn Rand's snarkyness that stuck with me, though I had to search it out, as she put it so succinctly:
"It is not advisable to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener."

A recent poetry/essay reading I went to by a group of women writers who do not critique when they share and support each other makes me wonder how much of it is a "guys are competitive for top dog" thing?

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: Musket
Date: 19 May 15 - 03:55 AM

To be fair, critics are part and parcel. I once read a review of a concert of a band I was in and sat ranting at the paper.

I perhaps should have been grateful New Musical Express had sent someone and my real anger was that I agreed with some of the criticism.*

You are right though Allan. The one question I suppose, is; what is best. "I don't like it" or "I reckon I'd like it more if the tempo blah blah"? Beauty is in the ear of the beholder after all.

I'm sure Clapton is fed up with Layla vs Layla conversations...


*They sent someone to a concert hall down the road for The Damned but the gig was cancelled and the reviewer blagged a free ticket for our folk rock gig instead.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 19 May 15 - 10:04 AM

"and the guy thinks he can quicken up the tempo, change some of the lyrics, add an extra bit in!" Hmm, let's plan for what to say next time this happens.

1. Guy: let's quicken up the tempo.
    Allan: Why, are you running out of breath too soon?
    (If he's not singing, say "Why, are your fingertips getting sore?")

2. Guy: I wanna change these lyrics.
    Allan: Yeah, some people are too immature to handle                     sophisticated work.

3. Guy: Let's add this extra bit.
    Allan: A lot of beginners tend to overexplain things.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 19 May 15 - 11:32 AM

Bert no we were practicing some songs just to do at the session on Friday night. Mostly covers. But then I asked him if he'd like to play some backing guitar on one of my own songs too and he went into overdrive trying to change the whole thing. In the end we decided to leave it and stick to the covers. I have other musician friends, one a top viola player, another a great ragtime/jazz guitarist who'll put arrangements on without me having to defend everything about the song.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 19 May 15 - 11:48 AM

Yeagh I don't mind the critics Musket. My wife is the harshest critic of all. I console myself with the thought - well she doesn't like Van Morrison either!!! It helps a bit :-)


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link
Date: 19 May 15 - 12:16 PM

Point taken Allan . I think, thanks but no thanks !.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 19 May 15 - 03:09 PM

Alan-
Isn't that the folk process?


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 May 15 - 03:26 PM

Dick,
I don't think anyone here will know what you're talking about.

Some of us would be over the moon if others wanted to take our song and make their own version.

I only started song writing seriously about 5 years ago after a lifetime of singing and studying traditional song. To date I have not heard anyone propose any improvements on what I've written but if they did I'd take it as a compliment. I might not agree with them but I'd appreciate their interest.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 19 May 15 - 06:26 PM

I have a phrase for you, Allan, and that is "but praisers." It goes along with the lines of that's good, but, this would make it better. One of my former singing partners was very good at it.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,Guest Betsy
Date: 19 May 15 - 07:12 PM

A song is like a story or a joke and each individual emphasises his or her rendition most suited their abilities. If someone reproduces your work/tune/song just take it as a compliment, which it is what it is.
It just exists in a slightly different form in their heads for better or worse - move on.
If you want to be possessive about your "work"-don't fucking share it, which, will get you - nowhere !!!!!


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST
Date: 19 May 15 - 11:11 PM

Townes Van Zandt once said that he absolutely loves it every time he hears someone singing one of his songs, regardless of who it is or how they sing it. I think I would feel the same way, though I haven't written many songs and have never heard anyone else sing one.

But some people take the opposite position. I've heard that Samuel Beckett, who dictated every nuance of action in his plays, sued any performers who made even slight changes. That would make me not want to produce a Beckett play, even if I liked them, which I don't. When I wrote plays, I never included any action except entries and exits (as is the case with the texts we have of Shakespeare's plays), and I told actors to feel free to change any words to what seemed more natural to their portrayal of the character.

Even when someone writes what I consider a good song, they can still include a word or a note that doesn't sound or feel right to me. When I sing a song, I always make any changes as I see fit. And I probably make other changes that I'm not aware of, just because I don't try to copy something exactly.

However, I would not interrupt the songwriter while he's singing that song and tell him to make those same changes. That would be the equivalent to telling someone to change a painting hanging in their house. I agree with the OP that one should not do that.

I also would not sing a song with my changes in the presence of the songwriter, unless he asked me to, or said that he felt the same way about it as Townes. And I try to avoid doing it in the presence of people who know and love the song in the original form and would be offended at hearing any variation in what they're used to hearing; though in the latter case it's more a matter of not wanting to be around people like that than a matter of respect for the songwriter.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 May 15 - 04:07 AM

1) if you want your song to live - let it go and see where it lands. "Possess" it and it dies the minute you are out of the room.

2) In my experience, the songwriter is not unanimously the best interpreter of a song. Some people are excellent songwriters and some people don't have that mindset, but can make any song sound good. It is the difference between a Divergent Mind and a Convergent Mind, both have their strengths, but rarely overlap.

3) IMNSHO


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 May 15 - 09:46 AM

I disagree with your first point, Mr. Red. It's real poetic, but actually, modern songs persist for decades with no detectable change. Yet those singing and listening still enjoy them.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 20 May 15 - 10:58 AM

The fine point here is that your friend was "dabbling", Allan, and, whether he couldn't actually follow what you wanted, or just grabbed something out of the air and ran with it, it was spontaneous and "of the moment", which, as folkies we are supposed to value. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: Acorn4
Date: 20 May 15 - 11:09 AM

Bob Dylan regularly re-invents his own songs in different tempos and rhythms - if a song is good it will survive anyway.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,Scabby Douglas
Date: 20 May 15 - 11:35 AM

I think I understand what Allan was getting annoyed about.
If someone picks up a song of mine, and sings it when I'm not there, or even when I *am* there - they can change it about a bit, move the chorus around, even tweak words a bit, and I'll still be flattered that they liked the song enough to perform it.

However, what Allan was describing is someone who was invited to *accompany* him, and took that as permission to re-work the whole song.

That's a completely different thing, and I'd find it challenging to respond politely.

I've also found there are people who cast themselves in the role of "critic", and submit unasked-for and unsought opinions on structure, lyrics, melody, etc etc. Some of these critics do not take kindly to any observations on their own work. I guess that's what sighing is for.


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 20 May 15 - 11:47 AM

That was exactly how it was Scabby! Sorry that does sound like I'm insulting you :-)


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 20 May 15 - 12:53 PM

The first singer to sing my song Shift And Spin sang the tune wrong, and everyone learned it from her. The first singer to record my All The Tunes In The World changed one word, most people sing it that way. A group recently assassinated Shift and Spin on CD, and a Noweigian singer wrote a new lyric to their atrocious version of the tune. Sigh!
Ewan


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Subject: RE: Songwriters and their Meddling
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 15 - 02:56 PM

I sing in a group of 5 men. 3 of us write songs currently and we sing songs written by friends. We're all musicians. The last word on the accompaniment usually goes to the lead singer, not necessarily the writer of the song, but usually is. We occasionally have slight disagreements about accompaniment but being a group of 5 we can usually easily resolve this. We're all affable chaps and enjoy singing and playing together. We're just starting in on our third CD and no fall-outs. No sighs!


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