Peterborough Songman – Cyril Rawson

Cyril Rawson appeared in a recent local newspaper article out of Peterborough, Ontario by Paul Rellinger. It’s rather lengthy and detailed, so I won’t post the entire article here, but I did want to include the following quote:

The common thread that ran through Rawson’s early playing days was an interest in, and penchant for, songwriting – something that no doubt had its roots in his family background. His mother taught piano, his father taught accordion and both operated Rawson’s Music Store, here in Peterborough and in Lindsay. Eventually young Cyril worked in the family business, managing one of the stores after high school graduation.

“But retail wasn’t for me, so I packed my bags and went to Toronto” says Rawson.

Before the 1980s dawned, Rawson added songwriting to his growing list of accomplishments, writing his first song, The Heritage, for Michael T. Wall and Hibbs. Come 1987, he was signed on as a staff writer for Millhouse Music in Nashville. The Music City became his home as he subsequently toiled for Glen Campbell Music (writing there with, among others, a young Alan Jackson) and Balmur Entertainment. By the time he parted ways with the latter in 1999, more than 200 of Rawson’s songs had been recorded in Canada; more than 25 in the U.S.

That’s a pretty impressive number of cuts… may the Muse stay with Cyril and us all… and as Cyril relates on the Songbridge interview:

Use and trust your imagination and emotions first, then balance it off with the craft. Get your thoughts and feelings out on paper and then step back, look at it again and let the craft of songwriting step in when you rewrite but DON’T rewrite until you write yourself right out of the song, learn when to be satisfied that the song is finished. Listen to hits and try to figure out why they were hits but DON’T try to write that same idea, find an idea that has as powerful a meaning or groove or whatever but make it your own, remember you heard that other hit and so did millions of other people so it’s old news. Write up, in other words try to surround yourself with writers that in your mind can teach you or help you in your weakest area and yet still compliment what you do best. If you are a lyricist first then find a great melody writer to work with, if you do both equally well in your mind, write with someone who has had some commercial success writing for a variety of artists, not just themselves, writers whose songs have reached a lot of ears in the industry and still had success. DON’T settle for mediocrity and DON’T after writing your first few songs think you know it all, you DON’T. Of course, learn the basics of rhythm, rhyme, format, melody, etc. first.

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