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

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


Songwriter's Songwriters

Jerry Rasmussen 22 Jun 05 - 10:17 AM
Peace 22 Jun 05 - 10:20 AM
Peace 22 Jun 05 - 10:21 AM
alanabit 22 Jun 05 - 10:31 AM
alanabit 22 Jun 05 - 10:34 AM
Peace 22 Jun 05 - 10:43 AM
Peace 22 Jun 05 - 10:44 AM
alanabit 22 Jun 05 - 11:14 AM
sian, west wales 22 Jun 05 - 11:20 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 22 Jun 05 - 11:37 AM
JedMarum 22 Jun 05 - 11:52 AM
JedMarum 22 Jun 05 - 12:04 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 22 Jun 05 - 12:07 PM
JedMarum 22 Jun 05 - 12:09 PM
Highlandman 22 Jun 05 - 12:23 PM
DebC 22 Jun 05 - 12:32 PM
Ebbie 22 Jun 05 - 12:52 PM
14fret 22 Jun 05 - 01:03 PM
CStrong 22 Jun 05 - 01:33 PM
Peace 22 Jun 05 - 02:02 PM
Highlandman 22 Jun 05 - 02:17 PM
George Papavgeris 22 Jun 05 - 02:22 PM
GUEST,Whistle Stop 22 Jun 05 - 02:45 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 22 Jun 05 - 03:23 PM
GUEST,harvey andrews 22 Jun 05 - 04:09 PM
breezy 22 Jun 05 - 04:54 PM
GUEST,slickerbill 22 Jun 05 - 06:46 PM
GUEST,slickerbill 22 Jun 05 - 06:54 PM
Peace 22 Jun 05 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,slickerbill 23 Jun 05 - 11:39 AM
alanabit 23 Jun 05 - 11:53 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jun 05 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,Russ 23 Jun 05 - 12:07 PM
Peace 23 Jun 05 - 12:15 PM
alanabit 23 Jun 05 - 12:16 PM
Highlandman 23 Jun 05 - 12:36 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Jun 05 - 01:07 PM
Grab 23 Jun 05 - 01:28 PM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jun 05 - 01:47 PM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jun 05 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,slickerbill 23 Jun 05 - 02:49 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Jun 05 - 03:20 PM
Frankham 23 Jun 05 - 04:44 PM
Frankham 23 Jun 05 - 04:50 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Jun 05 - 05:38 PM
Highlandman 23 Jun 05 - 06:23 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Jun 05 - 06:50 PM
Highlandman 23 Jun 05 - 06:51 PM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jun 05 - 08:44 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Jun 05 - 08:57 PM
Amergin 23 Jun 05 - 10:39 PM
alanabit 24 Jun 05 - 04:17 AM
alanabit 24 Jun 05 - 04:22 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Jun 05 - 04:37 AM
alanabit 24 Jun 05 - 04:16 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 24 Jun 05 - 06:17 PM
alanabit 25 Jun 05 - 03:31 AM
Cats 25 Jun 05 - 05:55 AM
Frankham 25 Jun 05 - 09:28 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 25 Jun 05 - 12:00 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 25 Jun 05 - 12:02 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 Jun 05 - 09:24 PM
alanabit 26 Jun 05 - 04:19 AM
matai 26 Jun 05 - 10:22 AM
Frankham 26 Jun 05 - 05:49 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 26 Jun 05 - 10:37 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 26 Jun 05 - 10:48 PM
GUEST,mackclarke@yahoo.com 09 Jul 05 - 01:34 PM
GUEST 09 Jul 05 - 05:42 PM
Dave'sWife 26 Mar 07 - 11:45 PM
mg 27 Mar 07 - 12:38 AM
GUEST,Mike Miller 27 Mar 07 - 01:19 AM
Stephen L. Rich 27 Mar 07 - 02:04 AM
Stephen L. Rich 27 Mar 07 - 02:53 AM
Stephen L. Rich 27 Mar 07 - 03:22 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 27 Mar 07 - 09:02 AM
dick greenhaus 27 Mar 07 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Black Hawk 27 Mar 07 - 01:40 PM
John Hardly 27 Mar 07 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Mike Miller 27 Mar 07 - 07:03 PM
DriveForever 27 Mar 07 - 08:01 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 27 Mar 07 - 08:47 PM
Stephen L. Rich 27 Mar 07 - 11:36 PM
GUEST,moorfields 28 Mar 07 - 10:52 AM
Dave'sWife 01 Apr 07 - 10:17 PM
Stringsinger 01 Apr 07 - 10:43 PM
alanabit 01 Apr 07 - 11:33 PM
Mike Miller 02 Apr 07 - 10:03 AM
Dave'sWife 25 May 07 - 11:19 AM
cshurtz 26 May 07 - 03:09 AM
Dave'sWife 26 May 07 - 07:22 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:













Subject: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 10:17 AM

With the NOMAD festival right around the corner, I've been trying to come up with some fresh ideas for workshops. I've done eight million (give or take a few) Songwriters workshops and too many of them are just song swaps preceded with the same introduction... "Here's a song I wrote..) As my sons would say, "No Duh!"

So, I'm going to ask to do a workshop Titled Songwriter's Favorite Songwriters. Now there's a twist... where none of the songwriters can introduce the song saying, "Here's a song I wrote.." I'll ask the participants to pick their favorite songs by other songwriters, and try to explain why the song works so well.

When the thought occured to me, there was no question which song I'd want to do first: The Last Minstrel Show. That song is so evocative of the passing of an era that it is like a short movie for me. The melody even captures the feeling of an era long-since passed. There's a tiredness and a wistfulness to the song that draws me into the scenes as if I was there. Now, I have to track down all of the words, as I don't have a recording of it. Have to see if it's in the digitrad here.

O.K. you songwriters... if you were in this workshop, what song or songs of other songwriters would you do, and why?

Let's try not to make this another "list" thread. Ya want to be in my workshop, you gotta give a little thought to what you're doin.' You can't just introduce the song by saying, "Here's a song I didn't write."

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Peace
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 10:20 AM

Jerry, I am marking this thread and I will get to it in a little while. However, the song I would put forth here is "Mail Myself to You" by Woody Guthrie. Back later.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Peace
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 10:21 AM

PS,

I think 90% of what Guthrie wrote is so-so at best. The other 10% pure magic at least.

BM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 10:31 AM

Well Jerry, we could refer back to that thread,"Songs I wish I had written...". OK, so I am just being mischievous...
To your question. I might want to talk about Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row." It has one of the best opening lines ever. "They're selling post cards of the hanging," is such an evocative image for chaos, perversity, corruption and despair all at the same time. And then the song goes into verse after verse of graphic metaphor. I don't think songs of that sort existed before. The author has stepped onto new ground for a popular songwriter. The rhymes are sharp and the metre is precise. It is also proof that a complex, long song can remain interesting. Most of us are better off not even attempting that sort of thing, but it is a stunning example of what a master of the craft can achieve.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 10:34 AM

I agree with Brucie about Guthrie. He claimed he wrote a song a day. He just wrote so damned much. Even that ten per cent represents a mighty body of work.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: I'M GONNA MAIL MYSELF TO YOU (W Guthrie)
From: Peace
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 10:43 AM

I'M GONNA MAIL MYSELF TO YOU
(Woody Guthrie)

I'm gonna wrap myself in paper
I'm gonna dot myself with glue
Stick some stamps on top of my head
I'm gonna mail myself to you

I'm gonna tie me up in a red string
I'm gonna tie a blue ribbon too
Climb up inside my mailbox
I'm gonna mail myself to you

When you find me in your mailbox
Cut the string and let me out
Wash the glue from off my fingers
Stick some bubblegum in my mouth

When you find me in your mailbox
Wash the glue from off my head
Fill me up with ice cream sodas
Tuck me into a nice warm bed.

I'm gonna wrap myself in paper
I'm gonna dot myself with glue
Stick some stamps on top of my head
I'm gonna mail myself to you

The story I heard about this song was that Woody wrote it in response to reading/hearing that some European people were trying to mail their children to America (USA). The first I heard the song was by Pete Seeger on his Carnegie Hall album. I have sung the song for kids, young adults and old adults, and it NEVER fails to elicit smiles and laughs. NEVER. I followed Seeger's example and developed an interstitial monologue (talking between the stanzas). Why does it work? I think for many reasons:

A)        It is simple and it addresses the childlike sense in all of us (much the way Paxton's "Marvelous Toy" does), and in the 'style' of Steinbeck, it does so with short, uncomplicated words.

B)        It tells a story from a child's perspective. But, the story is outrageous, and the singer can present it straight faced or not. It still works. I have on occasion burst out laughing at some of the images in the song.

C)        It's hard to screw up.

D)        "Stick some stamps on top of my head"—I sometimes sing this and let the last word just carry on and on and on—take a gasping breath, stop playing for a few seconds and start singing the word head again and go for another 20 seconds. Audiences love it. Adults laugh and little kids just join in.

E)        The melody is within reach of darned near everyone, and the chords are very simple.

F)        It is a song that requires artistry also, because the phrasing is crucial. It gives beginners a chance to play a song and more advanced musicians a chance to 'strut their stuff'. You can make the musical bacup as simple or complicated as ya want; it cannot 'hurt' the song, because the song does the walking and the performer goes along for the ride.

BM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Peace
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 10:44 AM

Alanabit: Desolation Row is nothing short of WOW and MY GAWD.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 11:14 AM

Agreed Brucie. I think most of us who tried to step on that ground, would only make fools of ourselves. That would be another point to make at Jerry's workshop. Experimentation is good, but it is even better to know what you are good at! I think the greats do.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: sian, west wales
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 11:20 AM

I'm not a songwriter OR a performer, but "Handfull of Songs" would be a good 'un.

Apple-polishing or what??? Go to the head of the class?

siân


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 11:37 AM

You're right about the other thread, Alanabit. With a subtle difference. Another song I'll add when I have time to pull the lyrics off the album is Devil's Right Hand by Steve Earle. The workshop idea will spur me into learning some great songs that I might not otherwise bother to learn. And some of the songs I'd like to do are songs that I don't "wish I'd written." That'd be like wishing I had climbed Mountain Everest in my skivvies. I don't wish for the impossible. That's the secret of having wishes come true...

No Sian, you don't really have to be a songwriter to post to this thread. I don't think any thread should be exclusive of anyone..
Besides, my apple was getting kinda dusty..

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: JedMarum
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 11:52 AM

Great idea Jerry. I played at a Folk Alliance in Austin a few years ago - it was more then 20 minutes into the first day when I realized I hated singer/songwriters ... I am a singer/songwriter!

Of course I'm joking - but like you, I find those songwriter workshops NO FUN. Forcing songwriters to bring to the workshop someone else's song, and to exlain why they value that song really forces everyone to focus on the workshop aspect of a songwriter's workshop - and not on the 'here's a lovely song I wrote' aspect.

I don't mean to belittle the 'lovely song I wrote' thing either. The trouble is, after 10 or 12 of the 'lovely song I wrote' performances, it doesn't matter how good the 13th song is - I can't listen anymore!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: JedMarum
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 12:04 PM

having said all that - I have a few songwriters whose work I love and respect and study.

If I was attending your workshop I would bring this song to sing and discuss.

Michael Troy's song, LAST DAY OF MAY stands alone as beautiful and powerful set of images - it is rich in its "tell the personal tale" quality - showing the pictures, without ever telling you the story. He lets the well known biblical expressions tie his Memorial Day lament to expressions our culture has known well for generations ... in the flow of his sparse, image rich lyrics - we hear a deeply personal story, a human story of loss that has touched everyone we know.

Tied together with a respectful, bluesy melody and simple, repetitive chord pattern this work is a masterpiece. It moves audiences deeply, everytime and the first time they hear it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 12:07 PM

Wow! That's a beautiful song, Jed! Never heard it, but I can see why you'd choose it... wonderful choice..

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: THE LAST DAY OF MAY (Michael Troy)
From: JedMarum
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 12:09 PM

Here're Michael's lyrics:

The Last Day of May

1. On the hillside of tears
Stones stand like soldiers
All at attention, all in a row
To brave to stay, to young to go

2. Here's to the boys, who all went before me
No honor or glory, could ever repay
The lives that you spent
Just tears in showers, and hands full of flowers
On the last day in May.

Chorus

Though the valley of death, did swallow them whole
God let no soul, die in vain
When the boundaries of peace, get out of control
Let the Angel of Mercy, hold close their names.

3. There's a house, with a wall
With all of the pictures, of all of the children
All of them grown
There's a woman in the house
Who raised all the children
Who could never sleep easy, till all where at home

4. Here's to the mothers, who paid the ultimate price
Made to live out their lives, in grief all the years
Here's to the fathers, who comfort their wife
With nothing to offer, but buckets of tears

Chorus

5. In fields of green pastures
They lie by still water
All at attention, all in a row
Though flesh turns to dust, souls are forever
They restored the order, our cups overflow

Chorus



... and here is a link to a lofi, quick loading MP3. Look at the list of songs and click on track #13 Last Day in May


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Highlandman
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 12:23 PM

Jerry, that's a great idea -- I know I'd learn more from that format than from a song swap.
As to "The Last Minstrel Show," I think what does it for me is the way the writer shows insider details, what a person in that position would see and feel, without a lot of explanation. Just draws you right into that world, or at least makes you feel like you understand it some.
Now off to do my homework and come up with my own suggestion for the class to discuss. :-)
-HM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: DebC
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 12:32 PM

If I could sing ONE song, it would be Richard Thompson's "Has He Got a Friend For Me". In under three minutes, Thompson managed to capture the loneliness, jealousy and self-pity that a young girl feels at seeing her friend and her boyfriend together. The song resounds for me because I can remember vividly feeling like the girl in the song when I was fifteen.

Deb Cowan


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: THAT'S WHAT MAKES YOU STRONG (Winchester)
From: Ebbie
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 12:52 PM

Not a new one but this song of Jesse Winchester's is one of my favorites. Anyone who can sum up truths like this is somebody I would like to know. Unless I'd find myself totally intimidated- but I don't think so. This writer is a person who has done some thinking and learning, and loving.

THAT'S WHAT MAKES YOU STRONG
Jesse Winchester

If you love somebody
Then that means you need somebody
And if you need somebody
That's what make you weak
If you know you're weak
Then you know you need someone
Oh, it's a funny thing but
That's what make you strong…….

That's what make you strong
That's what gives you power
That's what lets the meek come sit beside the King
That's what lets us smile in our final hour
That's what moves our souls and
That's what makes us sing

And to trust somebody
Is to be disappointed
It's never what you wanted
And it happens every time
But if you're the trusting kind
This don't even cross your mind
And Oh it's a funny thing but
That's what make you strong……

That's what make you strong
That's what gives you power
That's what lets the meek come sit beside the King
That's what lets us smile in our final hour
That's what moves our souls and
That's what makes us sing


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: 14fret
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 01:03 PM

Randy Newman and/or Guy Clark.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: CStrong
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 01:33 PM

Hugh Prestwood

"The Moon Is still Over her Shoulder"
"That's That"
"The Song Remembers When"
"On the Verge"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Peace
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 02:02 PM

"Agreed Brucie. I think most of us who tried to step on that ground, would only make fools of ourselves."

Maybe not so, alanabit. Your CD that starts out with the "Castle" song (dang, I can't recall the title) is a work of art with a sense of imagery and wonder. It feels to me in many ways like Steeleye Span's "Sir James the Rose". When I first listened to the song I was asking questions--from a songwriter's perspective--like, "How the hell is he gonna get himself outta THIS?" and BOOM, you did. Every time.

No, you didn't write "DR", but you did write some pretty awesome stuff by anyone's standards.

BM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Highlandman
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 02:17 PM

Okay, I'm back with my nomination:
Don't Cry In Your Sleep by Jim McLean
It's in DT here .
Why?
(1) Trad sounding diction consistently all the way through, no modernisms, and (AFAIK) historically accurate...
(2) Telling details: you can hear the children singing, see the flames leaping, feel the defeat and despair of men huddled like cattle...
(3) The song isn't just a snapshot of a single idea, but runs through a series of emotions: from nostalgia to fear and grief, to bitterness and anger at the men who didn't resist (what could they do?), to a glimmer of hope at the end...
(4) And a haunting rhyme scheme that breaks away from the doggerel effect the tune might lead to. Great song, Jim.
-HM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 02:22 PM

Jerry, here's an idea:

tunr the thing on its head. Decide first on the 2-3 (or 5-6) aspects of songwriting that you want to promote in the workshop, and then find (others') songs that exemplify those points. Even better, invite the participants to offer suggestions for other good examples from their experience.

Such "aspects" could be (but are not limited to):
- saying a lot with few words (the opening of DR is a good example)
- melody enhancing the lyric
- using "hooks" in lyric and/or tune
- structure of story line (serial, back to front, flashback, static)
- rhyme enhancing the story (especially internal rhyming)
- unusual subject
- unusual viewpoint
- 1st person versus 3rd person
- etc etc


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 02:45 PM

Jerry, this is an interesting idea. I also applaud your selection of a Steve Earle tune; I think Steve Earle is one of the best songwriters working today. I would offer another Steve Earle song called Jerusalem. I perform this song regularly as part of my mostly-original set, and I find that it really resonates with my audiences.

Jerusalem is a song about some of the most bitterly contentious issues in the world today, yet it doesn't take sides, nor does it offer simplistic solutions or slogans. It recognizes the common humanity and desire for peace among all of the people of the Middle East, and the rest of the world as well. It acknowledges the sense of hopelessness that so many of us feel about the situation in the Middle East, but it rejects hopelessness, and expresses not only the desire for peace, but the belief that peace will triumph ultimately. It matches a beautiful crafted melody with poignant lyrics and a heartfelt message, and manages to lift up listeners and make them believe that we can fashion a better world out of the anguish we all feel in these times. It doesn't call for one group to triumph over another; it expresses the belief that, in these times especially, nobody wins unless everybody wins.

I don't think I'm a naive person, and I don't think simplifying the issues will make our problems disappear; that's one reason why political songs so often leave me unsatisfied. But the song Jerusalem gives me hope, which is about the best thing that a song can do.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 03:23 PM

Good choice, Whistle Stop. Even though many of Earle's songs are about people in hard times, and sometimes desperate straits, they are generally not without hope. It just makes the hope more realistic for me.

Jerry

Thanks for the alternate suggestion, El Greko. It would be well worth a try. It depends heavily on who is in the workshop and whether they are willing to do some advance planning before the festival. I tried a songwriter's workshop where I asked people in advance to come prepared to do songs that were written in differrent ways... from the first person, from direct experience, songs that came in a dream, songs written about an actual historical event, etc.
It worked pretty well I think, but I had some wonderful songwriters in the group, including Gordon Bok, who gave some real thought to what they were doing.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,harvey andrews
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 04:09 PM

I always use Steve Goodman's "Hotel Room" to show how even the most mundane of subjects can make a song that works. I just see him in the room after the gig deciding as an exercise to write about what he sees. We've all been in that room but never thought of it as a song.He did, and that's what made him so good. Look around, write what you see. Not a bad exercise to learn a craft!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: breezy
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 04:54 PM

Mike Agranoff has the Last Minstral Show on CD

Its a very good song as a closer or encore

My songwriter of this month is Anthony John Clarke, but then I'm 9 years behind , still I'm catching up fast.

Hi Harvey


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,slickerbill
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 06:46 PM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,slickerbill
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 06:54 PM

There's a couple I would go with right off the top;

Definately agree with the Steve Earle suggestions above, but I'd add "Ellis Unit 1" or several of his other story songs. Simplicity of melody and lyrics, and yet pack so much emotion and story in there.

Townes Van Zandt's "Poncho and Lefty". Story with ambiguity. Just captures the complexities of life, loyalty, and with an unbelievably beautiful melody...

Often I include Hank Williams, "Oh Lonesome Me", but heavily borrowing from the Neil Young version. Both ridiculously prolific writers.

I think for all of em it's the simplicity I enjoy. Rich imagery, yet not wordy or over long. Great choruses. sb


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Peace
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 07:15 PM

"They only let him get away, out of kindness I suppose".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,slickerbill
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 11:39 AM

"or so the story goes"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 11:53 AM

You will correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the "Oh Lonesome Me", which Neil young recorded on "After The Gold Rush", was a Don Gibson song.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 12:01 PM

To be honest I think its a little bit pointless.

Songs work in different contexts. The pub singalong, the dance, the rave, the singaround , the folkclub, the concert stage, the video, the sports arena, the rock arena......

A song you admire may not be the sort of thing that would work given the audience you have, the performer you have use of......


Of course we can say we are true artists and we write for ourselves. But I think an important part of songwriting, poetry , srorytelling....has to be communication.

theres a certain pragmatism to songwriting, which I think is too often overlooked, and which is an important part of the craft.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 12:07 PM

Kate Long's "Where will I go from here?"

So much content packed into a few words.

It should be the boomer anthem.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Peace
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 12:15 PM

Oh, Lonesome Me was written a recorded by Don Gibson. One of the first songs I learned. Was about 10 at the time.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 12:16 PM

I don't think it is pointless at all. In fact, the point which you have just made about pragmatism and context is one of the most important aspects of what makes a song work. When I was singing in rock bands and playing on the street, I needed a very different sort of song to the one which I need today. We all know that satire will not work in a beer tent... Far from giving a reason not to do the workshop, I think you have given another very good factor which the participants should be aware of. I wish I was going!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Highlandman
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 12:36 PM

WLD's point is also the reason there can't be a simple "best." I agree with Alanabit that it should be part of the analysis of what makes a song "work" -- how well does the writer pull off what he's trying to do?
Comparing songs like McColl's with Earle's head to head might be pointless, but both could be studied in the same workshop with reference to the songwriters' apparent intention. In fact, I would suggest that a song that promises to be traditional sounding but unintentionally wanders off into a modern social commentary would probably be a good "bad example" for the workshop. That is, if I could think of one, I would suggest that. ;-)
-HM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 01:07 PM

So, where did the idea of comparing songs and their relative value come from? It sure ain't mine. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the workshop that I'm considering. The workshop would be very simple... for a songwriter to perform a song by another writer that works well for him. That doesn't mean it would work well in a beer tent or a church revival or a roller rink. It would just be an interesting (to me) chance to hear songwriters express their appreciation of the work of other writers. A different perspective in talking about the whole mystery of creating a song.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: TRACK OF WORDS (Steve Knightly)
From: Grab
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 01:28 PM

Not that I'd count as much of a songwriter, but I'd vote Steve Knightley. Galway Farmer, Tall Ships, Sit You Down and Widecombe Fair are all great, but I'd probably opt for Track Of Words as a truly amazing bit of writing.

I'll lay a track of words before you
You can walk them for a while
They might be some comfort to you
When you face the weary mile
Maybe you'll smile

You can choose a word like 'shelter'
Here's another word like 'rest'
I'll place words like 'safe haven'
On the paths you know the best
These words will caress

I'll lay a track of words before you
So let them be your guide
To lead to the right turnings
When you've lost the way inside
I know how you tried

I'll lay a track of words before you
Then every voice you've ever heard
In your heart on quiet hillsides
And every gentle breeze will stir
This silent track of words

Justification? Well, you notice that it's expressive without ever nailing down who's expressing it, or about whom. It works equally well as a letter to an existing lover, or to a lover leaving, or as a parent for their child, or even about a song cheering you up in the hard times, or any number of other interpretations. It's a song with *depth*.

Graham.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 01:47 PM

the point I'm trying, and obviously not making is that we may be able to perform songs, but we may live in a social context where its impossible to write songs like that

desolation Row is a great case in point. sure we all nursed our alienation in college dorms to the strain of that anthem. You could even take it to the concert platform like Chris Smither does.

however if you you are working within the confines of a three song floor spot if you wrote such a song, I think you would be booted offstage. so examine these masterpieces that work for you by all means - then get real about the actual nature of the creative opportunities that God has handed you as a writer.

recently i was amazed to find that a couple of djs were playing a six and a half minute song I had written - so maybe I'm paranoid - however I've been there when an a&r man was auditioning tapes - most of them didn't stay playing for a minute. Similarly I've been to Radio Derby and Radio nottingham breakfast shows when they have played about one and a half minutes of a three and a half minute song, and thats after getting you up as some ungodly time(for a musician) for breathtaking shallowness.

best of luck with your venture anyway!

al


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 01:49 PM

last sentence should read "for an interview of breathtaking shallowness"

sorry!

al


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,slickerbill
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 02:49 PM

Well I'll be. So it is. Thanks for the education amigos. Still think it's a great song though. sb


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 03:20 PM

Gotcha, WLD:

I've done promotional spots for festivals and concerts on a public service tv station, and they allow you one minute before they cut away. It's barely time to get in one verse and the chorus. There's absolutely no time to introduce the song (unless you want to use some of your precious minute of time.) It's a bizarre experience. Imagine someone being enticed into coming to hear a concert by listening to a one minute sound bite.

You're right about not being able to write some kinds of songs. That's why the "Songs I Wish I'd Written" thread didn't quite get it for me. There are a ton of great songs that I could never write. But then, each of us write songs that no one else could write.

Best to write what you know.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Frankham
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 04:44 PM

Hi Jerry,

The danger with any workshop is that the baby often gets thrown out with the bathwater. I have observed some good songs being trashed by well-meaning but ignorant suggestions.

What constitutes a good song has so many variables and what is meant as weelittledrummer has pointed out is relative to the place, time and situation.

What I've noticed about contemporary singer-songwriters is that many of them are ignorant of the broad shoulders on which they stand. You really can't talk seriously about songwriters unless you include the high level of art by such masters as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, E.Y. Harburg, Hammerstein and Rodgers, Rodgers and Hart, Kern, and quite a bit more.

Also, how many know the names of Walter Donaldson, or Percy Wienrich? In short, I don't think that many of the Singersongwriters have done their homework.

Those who think that social controversey and acknowledgement of corruption and social criticism started with Woody or Bob Dylan, they should check out "Yip" Harburg's memorable song,
":Brother Can You Spare A Dime." Or they might look at the unusual departure from Cole Porter in "Love For Sale".

The Singersongwriter as a phenomenon I believe started with the recording companies wanted to finance their operations with an ancillary publishing company with revenue created by songs they could publish themselves. Hence, the Singersongwriter became a commercial viability.

This is meant to denegrate the fine work by Steve Earle, who in my view is very close to the Guthrie tradition, or the economy and evocative imagery of an early Chris Christopherson or Bruce Springsteen. Pop they may be but they have the elements in their songs that are mentioned above,
1. Specificity


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Frankham
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 04:50 PM

2. Fresh imagery (not cliches)
3. Economy in words
4. Marriage to music
5. A sense of structure (pentameter and song form)
6. Some who have sophisticated harmony and melodic development.
7. Focus (keeping the idea from wandering)
8. Vernacular (natural speech patterns unaffected)
9. Versatility (a sign of mastery of craft)

If you haven't already read it, I recommend Jimmy Webb's wonderful book on songwriting, "Tunesmith".

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 05:38 PM

Hey, Frank:

Count me among the ignorant. And not because I don't recognize the brilliance of Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart and the others you mentioned. I write intuitively, basically for my own pleasure. I am not schooled, don't read music comfortably, know next to nothing about music theory, use whatever chords I can figure out, and the melodies come from within. I would never think of myself in terms of the great songwriters you mention. And I surely don't write songs to make money. Like most of the people in here, I write out of love for the music, and my "Masters" are not Kerns and Hammerstein and Porter. They are "traditional," or "author unknown." I believe that they made up songs, rather than "wrote" them, just because they enjoyed doing it and it was a way to make a little more sense of their daily life, it's frustrations, humors, loves, dissappointments and confusions. My teachers are mostly dead and gone, and most of them were not trained musicians, skilled in music theory.

There's something to be said for doing something for the love of it. Whether it's strumming three chords on a guitar or plucking a banjo. That's why I don't make comparisons, or think of my music as anything special. That doesn't mean that I can't appreciate the songs that others write, or express my appreciation for their work.

Right now, I'm listening to a CD by Big Al Whittle. It's been a long time since I've put a CD in the machine and got really excited by the music. Big Al is another window on the world with his own perspective and sense of humor. He's made my life richer, and if this workshop comes across, I might be tempted to do one of his songs.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Highlandman
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 06:23 PM

From Jerry's original post:
"I'll ask the participants to pick their favorite songs by other songwriters, and try to explain why the song works so well."
I was trying to do just that, not intending to contribute to a drift toward competitive comparisons.
I think that in order to make a workshop idea like this live up to its potential (which IMHO is great) the participants need to go a little farther than "I think this is a good song," and make some attempt at thinking through the "why" of it.
Some people seem to be able to internalize the makings of a good tune or good lyrics instinctively. For me, a little thought and analysis, even if in the end it is inconclusive, helps me digest what I'm learning and make it part of my toolkit, if you'll pardon the mechanical analogy.
-HM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 06:50 PM

Good post, highlandman. Yes, I would like it if the participants could give some intelligent analysis of why they feel that the song works... the melody wedded to the words, the economy of the words, the visual imagery, how what is left unsaid draws the listener into the song far more than if it were said explicitly, the use of internal rhymes, the consistency of perspective... it differs with every song. I would learn a lot from that. That is why I always encourage people to add "why" to threads that otherwise just become "list" threads. If I lead a workshop and it comes together, I expect to learn far more than I "teach."

Just think of all the songs that have memorable lines that become part of who you are.. "out of kindness, I suppose" was a good example. Another great, unforgettable line from a reggae song about a cheating wife... rhyming with "ring on her finger" from the previous line.. "He thought he shot her down, but he only winged her."
Finger and winged her... the whole song is funny, but that rhymn pattern really hit me. Sometimes it can be the melody that brings the whole song together.

Whether this workshop could work would be totally dependent upon everyone in the workshop. I've been in too many workshops (sometimes with fine songwriters whose names everyone here would recognize) where the participants either couldn't express their whole process (which I kinda doubt) or were just unwilling to. One memorable workshop, one of the participants got so angry with one of the other songwriters, who just made flip remarks like "I just face the wall and the songs come out," that the workshop almost descended into fisticuffs.

But sometimes a workshop, like a thread can take on a life of its own, and that is exciting.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Highlandman
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 06:51 PM

Then again that's not to say we should analyze things to death. I think we've all suffered through that bit enough!
To Jerry's latest post, there are lots of pursuits in life where doing things "for the love of it" has results of more lasting value than doing them for pure professional or theoretical reasons. I have various bits of furniture and handicraft in my house, some produced by professionals and some by amateurs. If the house should catch fire, it's not the professional pieces I'd be likely to drag out first. I think the same holds for music.
-HM
PS -- OMG I don't mean to start a PRO vs AM debate now!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 08:44 PM

Just wanted to say publicly how much I am grateful for Jerry's kind comments about my work.

I remember one time driving home from a gig with a wise old fellow musician. I was saying that another musician of mutual acquaintance couldn't handle rejection of his work.

My wise old friend said - if you can't handle rejection, you can't handle this job. And that, I'm afraid is very true. Every one of the musicians we idolise has faced unfair criticism and downright unfriendliness at some point. No one ever kicked a dead dog. lotsa crap flying about in this job.

So weak egocentric that I am, I'm going to bed tonight very pleased with your comments. let me congratulate you, on your great powers of discernment and good taste!

big al whittle


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 08:57 PM

I calls 'em like I sees 'em, Al.

Highlandman:

I'd like to pick up on another of your points. Analyzing, or even over-analyzing a song. While I appreciate craftsmanship and "professionalism" in songwriting, sometimes it seems like I end up doing more "analyzing" in retrospect wondering "where did that come from?" I think that's called inspiration, or a gift, or serendipity, or serendipidty-doo-dah.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Amergin
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 10:39 PM

Well although I am not much of a songwriter...I just write lyrics that I sing mostly to myself....what makes a good song for me are the words...ok some will have a tune that is all right...but a truly good song are the words...it is the imagery....

for example in Eric Bogle's And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, the thing that struck me the most is that part where they are being carried and pushed down the gangplank after landing back in Australia...and the audience, rather than expose themselves to the horrors of a war they will never fight, turn their heads away....in effect burying their heads in the sand...so they could justify sending their children to fight in what was essentially a family argument.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 04:17 AM

Something all the writer's I admire have, is what I call a "song instinct". By that, I mean that they can hear and nurture a song inside themselves. It sounds complete to them and they know it will resonate with others.
The most famous example I can think of, is the discovery of the melody of "Yesterday", by Paul MacCartney. He tells the story of how he heard it in a dream and he kept asking people if they knew where it was from. He knew it was a good song.
The part which forms the backbone of that melody is interesting too. It starts in C and then moves to an E major chord. Most of us would have automatically played an E minor. Macca was able to hear the shape of a melody on a simple, but slightly modified chord progression. The clever part was the instant recognition that this would form an original yet exceptionally accessible melody. The words are simple, but they scan perfectly. He tells you just enough to put you in his shoes.
I asm only repeating what others have said before me here, but it is that marriage of craft to pure instinct which gives reise to the greastest of songs.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 04:22 AM

Oh my typing!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 04:37 AM

apologies to alanabit - will get to you soon as I can!

I suppose you could argue that really professional writers analyse the market - write what is necessary to make money, and the rest of us who write what god sends us are mere bumbling amateurs. And in the sense of strictly dollars and cents - maybe this true.

My wife always asks why don't you just write ordinary songs like you hear on the radio. Its a fair point - if no one gets to hear your songs apart from a few old beatniks in folk clubs - what the hell am I doing it for.

I think maybe its because I'm too old and stupid to do anything different. My hero has always been Tony Hancock in The Rebel - a boho activist in suburbia. I think I get off on that slight whiff of bohemian atmosphere that surrounds the great folk club players.

on second thoughts disregard all I've said - I'm the last one to be handing out careers advice.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 04:16 PM

I have felt like that at times WLD, but the mood passes. Of course you could argue that "professional" songwriters produce only that which they think can be consumed on a large scale. The hackneyed country stuff, the disco drivel and the chewing gum for the ears of commercial radio can use that stuff of course. It has to be cliched and predictable, so the words are easy to anticipate and they require no effort on the part of the listeners - if they take any notice of the lyrics at all. The occasonal interesting song can slip through, but it is a bit like finding a rose on a dung heap. It is nice when you find one, but you are not really looking in the most likely place. The people that one calls "professionals" in these genres, have more in common with the professionals of the world's oldest trade. They do it for money rather than love.
I don't think many of us here care much about that sort of song. Money is a possible by product of what we do. It is not the end in itself.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 06:17 PM

I dunno, Alan: I'm thankful for all the people who wrote songs like Wooly Bully, Come Go With Me, Sh-Boom and a million other songs I've enjoyed in life. I have no idea whether someone said, "Hey, why don't we write a song called Wooly Bully? I bet we could make a fortune on it." Truth is (I think) when someone writes a song, there's a mix of wanting to entertain, wanting to say something, wanting recognition for our own ego, and yes, even to get some a that accursed money. Just because I never made much money on my music doesn't mean I'd turn it down (or that I wouldn't be delighted if I did.) There are certainly hacks who try to write for a particular market, and for someone who wants to go that route, there are plenty of books telling you how to get trite right.

As you know, writing songs is something we do, just like singing them. I don't know how most songwriters could stop writing. I suspect that a lot of songs that became smash hits were written for the same reason we write.

It's just a lot of fun.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 25 Jun 05 - 03:31 AM

I have no problem with off the wall songs at all Jerry. Different songs go in different contexts. I love the Stones, for instance, but not many of the songs they wrote would be good examples of what most of us here aspire to. They sound great on the albums and at the gigs. There is nothing wrong with writing for money either. Offer me the loot and I'll take it brother!
In the folk scene, however one defines it, we are looking for songs which stand up with very simple arrangements. That usually means songs with well crafted words, tunes and underlying ideas. I am not implying any disrespect to other genres.
I liked that phrase about "how to get trite right". I think that is what we are talking about, when we are discussing songwriting for commercial radio!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Cats
Date: 25 Jun 05 - 05:55 AM

Sorry to waiver off the original thread but Jon Heslop (songwriter) and I (singer and storyteller) do a workshop...   I tell the story and Jon sings the song, or extracts of songs, about the story, and 99% of the time they are not his songs. Also many years ago in Plymouth, Winn and I did a course entitled, Plymouth the story and the Song, where we took people to various places around Plymouth and Winn did the historical background and I did the songs. Was it a success? Well, TSW did make it into a TV series so ... Anyway, if you are looking for a new slant, try something like that, perhaps.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Frankham
Date: 25 Jun 05 - 09:28 AM

Jerry, I don't think that most songwriters write to make money.
Cole Porter didn't need any money and couldn't get a show on Broadway until Kiss Me Kate but it wasn't for not trying hard.

My point is, it doesn't matter the style, era, or genre of song.
Songwriters write because they love it first. It's a great form of therapy, communication, or wanting to get a story or character down "right".

I agree that all kinds of songs are valuable. I love the "Teeny Weeny Polkadot Bikeenies" as much as Stephen Sondheim but in a different way. They are all important songs to be studied and this knowledge is grist for the songwriter's mill.

I think of the rock song, pop song, folk song, show song, dance song (ala funk and disco) as all part of an important art form that defines our culture and history. There is no cutoff point that says we have to confine our tastes to one style or time. I say appreciate them all and then go and write your own songs for love first.. Then in some cases the money follows.

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 25 Jun 05 - 12:00 PM

Hey, Frank:

I agree with you 100%. I think there are very few songwriters whose sole reason for writing is to make money. If it is, they might be more likely to do jingles for commercials.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 25 Jun 05 - 12:02 PM

... I take solace in that I am not writing songs to make money. In that regard, I am a whopping success!

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Jun 05 - 09:24 PM

I had a think about what you guys were saying.

To be honest I think Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini is a darn sight better folksong than the entire cannon of some folksingers. In the same way that some Chuck Berry songs are.

It tells a bout how we lived in comic story. It tells about fashion and how it translated for ordinary people - and how it was fun for everybody - not just a few supermodels. It tells of the two piece swimsuit fashion. How some people thought it was immodest. It has a catchy chorus.

Contrast this with the hours you can spend in an English folk club - listening to some character drone on forever about my soldier has gone for a johnny, delivered in a voice borrowed from the village idiot, and set to a rhythm implying the entire population suffered from St Vitus Dance.

Well thats what I think.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 26 Jun 05 - 04:19 AM

In The Heat Of The Day Down In Mobile Alabama
Working on the railroad with the steel driving hammer
Gotta make some money to buy some brand new shoes
Tryin' to find somebody to take away these blues
"She don't love me" hear them singing in the sun
Payday's coming and my work is all done

Is that the sort of thing you are talking about WLD? If it is I agree with you!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: matai
Date: 26 Jun 05 - 10:22 AM

This thread is really interesting and while I've been reading it I've come up with a few things. Firstly, I don't believe the song-writers who make it commercially are writing for the masses. Many of the famous are hugely complex both lyrically and musically. I guess they have good marketing strategies or for some reason people just like them. A few examples apart from those mentioned would be Gina Villalobos (country rock) Heather Nova some of whose songs can easily be performed in a folkie style at a club if you're so inclined and even the work of Alanis Morrisette and Jewel have a certain amount of integrity.
About work-shops: I think having a work-shop about songs by others you like is a good idea but why not take it further and look at how songs written by others have influenced then something you've written yourself. This often happens. I once wrote a song where I lifted a line complete from a Judy Small song. Probably not pc or whatever but the line worked for me so I used it. Sometimes we take a tune from someone else, adapt it slightly, add lyrics and call it our own. The ethics of doing this could make for some interesting discussion at a work-shop.
Yours in song-writing,
m


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Frankham
Date: 26 Jun 05 - 05:49 PM

WLD, loved your post! Funny! "Soldier gone for a Johnny".

Jerry, I like Steve Earle because I think he carries the tradition of Woody Guthrie, simple, direct, tells the story of a character or a situation in few short but highly evocative phrases. He paints pictures with words but is sparing (the mark of a great folk singer) and I gravitate to his social conscious subject matter that I feel he doesn't do in a self-conscious way. He also has a great sense of humor ("Skank for me Condi") and he comes up with an unusual and unpredictable chord pattern now and then. He writes in the voice of the people he writes about.

I have heard those criticisizing the brevity of Woody Guthrie because he is not long-winded, verbose or pretensious.
They would do well to emulate Woody in his ability to synthesize the story into basic strong words. (E.B.White would approve.)

I like that Steve Earle and Woody Guthrie stay focussed on their subject and are not given to pseudo-philosophical ramblings.

Another in this Woody tradition is Si Kahn who captures the flavor of the folk song but introduces his own take. A song for example, Wild Rose of the Mountain could be right out of Appalachian tradition.

Another important and overlooked songwriter in this style is our own Jean Ritchie who has written some memorable songs
that reflect her own background and upbringing. L and N Don't Stop Here Anymore, Black Waters, her Winter song all show a disarming sophistication but still sound true to folk.

Woody has set a tradition for us. The Carter Family basically recycled old tunes. A.P. put his name on a lot of them. Wildwood Flower was written in England and re-translated into Appalachianese by A.P..(Maud Irving comes to mind....)
But Woody blew in with a fresh voice from the dust bowl. Alan Lomax saw that and gave him his first job as a songwriter for the Grand Coulee Dam Administration. It was a good use of Federal funds in my opinion. Woody set a style for contemporary songwriters such as Steve Earle, John Prine, the illusive Dylan,
Steve Goodman, and Tom Paxton (although Tom's writing is to me often redolant but not copying Tom Lehrer. Tom Paxton has his own voice.) Oddly, the songs Turn Turn , Bells Of Rhymney and Where Have All The Flowers Gone departs from Woody's narrative style. Pete's songs become anthemic but not as specific and more a generalized emotion is conveyed. We're caught up in those delicious melodies. It's another style of song writing that borders on the "Art Song". The chord progressions are a little more sophisticated than the spare changes of Woody and his progeny.

I think we may owe Dylan for his foray into abstruse metaphors and personalized "poetry". I think that this was a slippery slope leading songwriters toward pretensious writing though the best of Dylan was anything but this. The imagery that I like best from Dylan oddly is in his love songs. I never really believed the attempt at political or social commentary. It always seemed a little forced to me and we find out later through his interviews and "Chronicles" that he wasn't really into it, either.

Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon seemed to skirt the pretensious through evocative, fresh and perceptive imagery. Their writing was to my way of thinking a benchmark in contemporary songwriting because of it's remarkable originality and the use of subject matter that was not present in earlier songs. Dangling Conversation about ennui and "bows and flows of angel's hair..I've looked at clouds that way" is as fresh and alive now as it was in the Sixties.

Don McClean's Vincent will stand the test of time. It's more of an Art Song than a Pop Song. American Pie certainly broke the record for the pop single and it's references although denied by Don are pretty clear about the evolution of the rock stars.

What makes a song durable is it's ability to transcend the time in which we live by commenting on that time but soaring above it with grace, style and freshness. A songwriter is not merely a journalist but more of a novelist in the shortest novelistic style available. The songwriter deals with the materials of the cultural language that surround us but speaks to us in that language of
other things than we would customarilly hear.

Chris Christopherson, oddly enough is a Woody type writer.
His songs are bare-boned yet sophisticated as he was originally a fiction writer (having sold to Atlantic Monthly). Help Me Make It Through The Night has been criticized by some pretensious folkies as being derivative but this isn't true. Chris invented that phrase which was picked up by other lesser writers. "Take the ribbons from your hair" is now so commonplace that we think of it as being around for a long time. But it was fresh when it came out.

Jimmy Webb has wedded imagery to lovely tunes that are more again along the lines of Art Song rather than folk songs. For anyone serious about songwriting, please read his book called Tunesmith. It's a classic.

So when does the folk style cross over to the Art Song? It's a hard question to answer but it has to do with not only subject matter but the materials used. Three or four chords will not make an Art Song. Basic language sometimes gives way to flights of poetic sounds and sophisticated melodies and harmonies. Usually the Art Song isn't interested in the gritty
elements of social justice or basic story telling ala Woody.

Today, thanks to Woody and others we have a history of a rich musical heritage. We have all kinds of songs that serve different functions. Some can get us on our feet to dance (Yes Disco, and that's the way I like it!) and some tell us a narrative about which many of us are in denial (Rap and Hip Hop). If we remain open we can find a rich world of song out there.

Hope this is what you were looking for, Jerry.

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 26 Jun 05 - 10:37 PM

Well, if were going to be there, and I may or may not (somehow I missed the call for participants, I think, and haven't heard from NOMAD if I'm too late -- probably -- or not), I'd probably do a Tom Paxton song that most folks don't know, and I'd also do a song by my uncle Buddy, who was the first person I ever heard write his own songs. I might also choose from one Dylan song or another, though to be accurate, I don't really do that many Dylan songs.

Then again, for really well-crafted songs, you can't go wrong with Lennon & McCartney, particularly the early stuff. Pure pop fluff but so well-written. I don't do so many of theirs, either, but I can't argue that they don't fit the topic.

Woody, Eric Bogle, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Joanie Mitchell, Alaska Mike, the list goes on. Lots to choose from.

Maybe your approach would be to sing songs from different sources, so that not everyone does Dylan or Woody or whomever.

Hope I actually find myself there, just to see this.

Bob Clayton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 26 Jun 05 - 10:48 PM

Hey, Frank:

Thanks for the long response. It was right on target... all wonderful choices and perceptive evaluation of what makes each of them so special, and so different.

Maybe someone would like to take on Bruce Springsteen and Lyle Lovett.. Bruce with obvious indebtedness to Woody, and Lyle more of an "art" song writer.

My favorite art song writer is Thieme.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,mackclarke@yahoo.com
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 01:34 PM

Who was Lefty?
Who was Lefty in "Poncho and Lefty?"
Did he exist? Did he betray Poncho Villa?
Anyone who knows please respond here and to me.
Thanks
mackclarke@yahoo.com


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 05:42 PM

Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding.

Rod MacDonald(Cross Country Waltz), David Roche(bro of The Roches and brilliant, but lesser known) from NYC.

Celtic songwriters Andy M. Stewart(Queen of Argyle, Golden, Golden), Robbie O'Connell(Keg Of Brandy), Jimmy McCarthy(No Frontiers...I think) and Mick Hanley(Past the Point of Rescue) come to mind.

Tom Dundee(A Delicate Balance), Al Day(Lonely), Michael Smith(Crazy Mary, The Dutchman), Bonnie Koloc(Children's Blues), along with the better known Steve Goodman and John Prine hail from Chicago and give a regional flavor to classic forms.

Goffin-King, Lieber and Stoller, early Neil Diamond(yes I said it!), Bob Gaudio(co-wrote many of the Four Seasons hits)....Sorry, what was the question??


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 26 Mar 07 - 11:45 PM

I looked up this thread because I just bought a great version of "Defying Gravity" on iTunes. It's one of my favorite Jesse Winchester songs. The version i bought is fairly new, it's by a gal named Cheryl Wheeler and it's got a sort of hawaiian or baja feel to it. very nice.

My iTunes spending habit is getting out of control! I also bought a nice duet version of "Catch the Wind" with Donovan and Joan Baez. I blame that on the subliminal effecvts of advertising. 3 different US commercials are using his solo version of "Catch the Wind" to hawk their products and/or services. I saw the duet on iTunes and just had to have it.. along with a doxen other songs ;-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: mg
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 12:38 AM

Isn't that one with the little boy catching the wind just absolutely darling? I love it...mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,Mike Miller
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 01:19 AM

My choices for best written song are Matt Dennis's "Everythying Happens to Me", for sophistication, imagery, wry humor, and "Somewhere, Over the Rainbow", which is the one song that any audience will sing, no matter who, or how old, they are.
Oh, and Stan Rogers's "Mary Ellen Carter". The man could tell a story.
Most songwriters are in conversation with themselves. The best songwriters are in the business of conversing with their customers.
The, special few, who gave us, what is called, the American Songbook,
the songs of the 20's, 30's, and 40's, should be heard by today's songwriters. Cole Porter's lyrics should be required study.(Check "Night and Day" for internal rhyme and flow and, if you want to see how to funny and hip, listen to all the verses of "Let's Do It").
How's this for imagery from50's singer/songwriter, Matt Dennis?


I telegraphed and phoned, I sent an airmail special, too.

Your answer was, "Goodbye", and there was, even, postage due.

I fell in love, just, once, why did it have to be with you?

Everything happens to me.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: FIRE ON THE PRAIRIE (Aaron Nathans)
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 02:04 AM

I would sing a song written by a friend of mine named Aaron Nathans. He used to live, here, in Madison, WI. He now lives in Wilmington, DE.

The song is called "Fire On The Prairie". It fascinates me because it's something of a musical Rorschach test. What it's about depends on who is singing it, who is listening, and under what circumstances.
On the surface it's a train song in a minor key.I'm sure that you will develop your own idea of what's going on here, though.

FIRE ON THE PRAIRIE

I carry my poker face here in my suitcase,
Long black hair and long leather back,
She leans out the window and leans down the track.
Five hundred miles away from wherever,
Roll up my sleeves and wipe my brow.
Canadian Rye stretching on through forever,
My mind is set on now.

You can see the sunshine through the window,
Hear the train whistle from afar,
See her step up with those big, black boots,
We're the only ones on the car.

I sit catty corner so she can't see me
Two rows behind, across the aisle,
She stares at the tall grass.
I study her profile.
I imagine she works at a hospital,
Answers the phone, takes the pay,
Working from seven to sunrise
Every other day.

Bridge 1:
She's got a book, but I can't see it.
Could that be German on the page?
Is that the skyline of Paris, France?
Is any man safe,
From fire on the prairie,
Slow burn.
Hens and foxes running,
But man never learns.

Our forefathers cut a swath through the prairie,
Moved it and laid down a line full of track.
You can fight the forces of Nature,
But, Nature fights back.
So, they went and set fire to the prairie.
Weeds grow up, put 'em back in the ground.
Some never heeded the warning.
They put roots down.

Bridge 2:
And now this train is getting crowded.
I'm so close I feel her breath,
As if I would get much closer,
I would catch my death
Of fire on the prairie,
Slow burn.
Hens and foxes running,
But, man never learns.

Can of tomato juice here in my pocket,
It's April the world is coming alive.
Soon folks will be wearing their t-shirts,
And loosening their ties.
Every April the roll out new models.
I'm never a buyer
I'm only a spy.
Suitcase beside me, Good Lord behind me,
I step off that big, old train,
And walk on by.


See what I mean?
Stephen Lee


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 02:53 AM

BTW, I forgot the credits on that one:

Fire On The Prairie
by Aaron Nathans
Copyright 2004 by A. Nathans

Stephen Lee


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 03:22 AM

One aspect of this discussion which has hit is that we seem to be talking, for the most part, about craftsmanship as opposed to gut instinct. The two are not mutually exclusive.Steve Earle and Kris Kirstofferson have been mentioned. Both are fine examples of the melding of guts and craft (Earle's "Rich Man's War" or Kiristofferson's "To bEta The Devil", for example).

   The one songwriter who most immediately comes to mind as one who does both well is Tom Paxton. The "Annie" songs alone are amongst the most brilliantly crafted and emotionally moving songs ever written.

    In a music book published back in 1969 called "The Judy Collins Song Book" Collins wrote the following about Paxton:

    "Tom is a rare man; to write a good love song is something,
to write a funny, hard-hitting protest song is something -- to do both is amazing"

    From Woody we can learn to write from the gut; write on the fly. From Cole Porter we can learn craftsmanship. From Paxton and others we learn both.

Stephen Lee


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 09:02 AM

Matt Dennis? I can't believe anyone knows who Matt Dennis is. He's one of my favorite songwriters and singers, but he's almost completely unknown, I finally paid through the nose (Oww, my sinuses) to get a Japanese Import CD of an old record of his titled Matt Dennis Sings Matt Dennis to replace my long worn out record.) Some of his other songs that spring to mind are Violets For Her Furs, which Sinatra recorded, The Night We Called It A Day and Let's Get Away From It All.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 12:31 PM

I wonder-
If anyone ever held a singer/songwriter festival, would they let anyone sing traditional songs?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,Black Hawk
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 01:40 PM

Billy Edd Wheeler

Coal Tattoo. Very emotive lyrics about the coal mining industry, unforgettable tune!

Ode to the Little Brown Shack. Comical lyrics about progress.

Interstate is coming Thru Our Outhouse. Combines the two above styles. Comical protest song about single minded local planning in the name of progress.

Three ways of putting a point across combined with good music.

Very under-rated writer (IMO).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: John Hardly
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 01:40 PM

Rod MacDonald(Cross Country Waltz)

Simply a briliant song -- both lyrically and musically (and the way the two work together).

I'm reminded of "Heartland" by Jack Williams.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,Mike Miller
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 07:03 PM

Thanks, Jerry. I thought that I would be the only one who remembered Matt Dennis. Another one of his haunting melodies is "Angel Eyes".
Am I crazy or has no one mentioned Jaques Brel or Antonio Carlos Jobim. a couple of pretty good guitar playing songwriters?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: DriveForever
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 08:01 PM

I will always be in awe of Steve Goodman for 'Talk Backwards' and
'City Of New Orleans'. Not in my dreams could I touch those masterpieces. Same for Kate Wolf with 'Great Divide'.

Two other greats among many: Stephen Fromholz - 'Hobo Bob'; 'Waltz'

Willis Alan Ramsey for 'Spider John', 'Painted Lady'.

Oh yeah, and Joni for 'Dry Cleaner From DesMoines'

For all of the above, I wish there were a magic formula; all I can say is that they 'nailed it'.

I'll spend the rest of my life trying to write songs like this.

                      - Dave


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 08:47 PM

Hey, Mike:

You being a guest and all, I can't PM you. If you e-mail me at geraldrasmussen@SBCglobal.net with your mailing address, I'd be happy to share a CD of Matt Dennis I put together from three or four CDs of his.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 11:36 PM

Here's another thought about what makes a song "work". Singability! How easy (or difficult) is it for somebody besides the author of the song to sing? For example, Leon Rosselson's "Barney's Epic Homer" is great fun to perform. It, if you'll pardon the cliche', rolls easily off the tongue. Trying to sing the same writer's "No Cause For Alarm", on the other hand, is like having your mouth stuffed with taffy (with six-inch nails in it).

Stephen Lee


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: GUEST,moorfields
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 10:52 AM

I would be tempted to say that really great songwriters write songs that can be sung and enjoyed by almost everyone. ('Where have all the Flowers Gone', 'Both Sides Now', 'Rose Of Allendale'; songs that
my friends and I sang in the past still love to play)

(I'm as tempted to say that some songwriters write songs that are great by virtue of songwriter's performance (Dylan's "Thunder On the Mountain", seems to break some of the principals
of 'economy of lyrics', focus, etc., but for me it's addictive because of that voice).
Not something I'll be performing anytime soon, tho.

There are some really wonderful writers who, generally speaking,
are very introspective, almost intimate; great songs but not something I would feel comfortable performing; for example, Jill Sobule's 'Hodini's Box' or Aimee Mann's 'Jimmy Hoffa Jokes'.

If I had to make a choice, as a songwriter I would definitely prefer
to create songs that most folks could perform.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 10:17 PM

MG - yes that commercial of the little boy using a mason jar to literally catch some wind to blow out the birthday candles is darling. I'm finding that many US commercials are using older folk and folkish songs lately. I like the M&M's commercial that uses the current folkish song "Such great Heights" by by Iron & Wine! Donovan is raking in the royalties though, there are 3 different commercials with Catch the Wind playing currently!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Stringsinger
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 10:43 PM

It's strange but although extremely wordy, W.S. Gilbert's lyrics are easy to remember.

"When you're lying awake with a dismal headache and repose is taboo'd by anxiety,
I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in without impropriety..."

They don't write 'em like that anymore.

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: alanabit
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 11:33 PM

I love that sort of lyrical cleverness, which I also discern in Cole Porter, Lorenz Hart and Tom Lehrer too. I can still also enjoy the really prosaic lines, which show me exactly why a writer cares about a certain subject:
Bless this artist, whose lines are so fine
Whose delicate touch can open our eyes
And capture a moment that's rescued from time
Bless these children

Bless this writer, whose page comes alive
Whose detail is telling and whose reasons are right
The sword gets heavier but the pen's gonna stay light
Bless these children

It is not clever in the way Gilbert was, but writing of that calibre is way out of my reach!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Mike Miller
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 10:03 AM

When I was nine years old, my aunt gave me a book that contained the librettos of three Gilbert and Sullivan operas and a collection of the shorter pieces that Gilbert wrote, using his pen name, Bab. (Iolanthe was not in that book so I had to wait a few years to read the "Nightmare Song" that Frank, so appropriately, cites). I agree that, for wordbending rhymes and satire, WSG stands alone.
But alanabit's moninee, Tom Lehrer, was no slouch in that department.
I used to think that the great songwriters were gone until I heard Shelly Posen's CD, "Manna".

                         Mike


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 25 May 07 - 11:19 AM

This thread caused me to start listening to all my Kris kristofferson Cds again. In another thread I mentioned that I boght the fairly recent tribute CD called: 'The Pilgrim - A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson' You can buy the whole thing on iTunes for $9.99 US. It has some really great renditions of his songs.

His late 60s and early 70s songs are masterpieces of melody and lyric and I have even warmed to his poliitical songs. In that other thread, I mentioned that my current fave song of his is called 'The Circle' and is about the Disappeared (the Los Olvidados) I'm gonna have to transcribe the lyrics for myself since I can't find them online. The cover version is sung by Columbian Folk singer Maria Gomez and her voice is just perfect for it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: cshurtz
Date: 26 May 07 - 03:09 AM

Townes Van Zandt is something else of a song writer. He's so good that I sometimes can't listen to him for spells because it just seems to make all other music pointless (and his music is not necessarily the genre I listen to the most), of course he totally had to destroy himself to make those songs, but damn, just pick almost any one of his songs and it can stand with the best.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Songwriter's Songwriters
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 26 May 07 - 07:22 PM

that is a danger isn't it, cshurtz? Thankfully there are so many fine songwriters that one can avoid having to listen to amateurs if you have a big enough iTune library or CD collection.


GUEST,moorfields mentioned Jill Sobule - I just downloaded her song Cinnamon park which is a very clever lyrics layed over a sample of Chicago's 'Saturday In the Park'. I liked it so much I ordered some of her CDs. I hadn't really noticed her much until I was watching The L Word and they played her song 'Tender Love' over the end credits. it's a very sweet love song with a nice meoldy. I knew she had a cult following and all but she just never came up on my radar. She's also on the Kris Kristofferson Tribute CD doing a duet of 'For The Goodtimes" but the arrangement just doesn't work.


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: 13 August 8:45 AM 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.