Fans Turn Into Songwriters

Bob Boilen of All Songs Considered on NPR had a recent interview with Evan Stephens Hall of the band Pinegrove. The band just released its latest album Marigold and had a wonderful experiment before the album’s release – they released the lyrics and guitar tabs in advance of any of their fans actually hearing the album. As a result, many of their fans interpreted the lyrics and tabs and created their own songs. A wonderful experiment!

You can hear the experiment and fan’s interpretations here on the All Songs Considered site or find it with your favourite podcast app.  May the Muse be with you (as it was with these fans)…

Sheryl Crow – A Karmic Truth

Sheryl Crow recently performed at a fantastic Tiny Desk concert and afterward participated in a wonderful interview by Ann Powers, music critic at NPR.  You can find that audio interview and article here.

Ms. Powers covers a particularly poignant part of the interview, in which Ms. Crow is discussing the craft of songwriting today, as follows:

Mentioning a report she’d heard on NPR about how social media has reduced the average attention span, she said “while the kids are all writing fast food — which is super cool ’cause it tastes great, super filling — we’re sort of still writing salmon. We’re the songwriters that are here to tax your attention span.”

I like that – let’s all tax our attention spans and listen to some substantial songs out there (including Sheryl’s new album Threads).

May the Muse continue to be with Sheryl…

Some Songwriting Tips from Legends

Luke Saunders from Happymag.tv has compiled some interesting tidbits of songwriting in this online article.

My favourite one (of many) was from Leonard Cohen:

Songs don’t dignify human activity. Human activity dignifies the song.

Read some other great songwriting thoughts from Nick Cave and Tom Waits are also in the article.

May the Muse be with you…

Peace, Love & Understanding – Nick Lowe in Variety

Nick Lowe is featured in this Variety article after being honoured with the American Association of Independent Music’s Icon Award. A fascinating read from the Cruel to Be Kind songwriter/producer: a remembrance of Johnny Cash, working with Elvis Costello and the history of What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding…As for that song, Mr. Lowe opines: “The song is a standard. Whenever I hear people do it now it’s almost like I had nothing to do with it!”

May the Muse stay with you sir…

The Music and Lyrics of Billy Joel

Colorado College

Colorado College hosted a symposium this past weekend.  I wish I had known about it before, I would have participated as it was open to the public… as per the symposium’s website:

“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” is a scholarly symposium on the music and lyrics of Billy Joel, the consummate singer-songwriter whose compositions translate larger cultural concerns into accessible and compelling musical narratives. In the spirit of Joel’s music, this public musicology conference aims to share academically oriented insights on this popular figure and his output in an accessible and approachable manner.

Thankfully, someone (Pianomanross) recorded the keynote event, which was actually a phone call with Billy Joel himself!  Here’s the content of the call with Mr. Joel and it adds a heap of colour to the art and craft of songwriting… enjoy the listen and may the muse be with you…

Petition to have Rush inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

So here’s a link to a petition that was started by your’s truly after years of Rush being ignored for induction into the Performers category in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  Please pass it on and let’s get the quintessential Canadian prog rock band into the RnR HoF – where they deserve to be… It’s 2012 and too late for this year, but let’s put some pressure on for next year’s induction ceremony… Rush shouldn’t have to wait until 2112 when “the meek shall inherit the earth”, modest rockers that they are. Let’s make it happen in 2013!…

May the Muse be with Geddy, Alex and Neil… and no opinions should be divided on Rush getting this recognition!

Juno 2012 Songwriter’s Circle

From the Juno Awards site:
JUNO Songwriters’ Circle brings together some of today’s most talented Canadian singer/songwriters, sharing songs and stories on stage. Host Dan Mangan hosted the discussion, perform some of his hit songs and got up-close with audiences in this truly unique setting and not-to-be-missed event.Participating Artists: Host Dan Mangan will be joined on stage by fellow 2012 JUNO Award nominees David Francey, Kiran Ahluwalia, Lindi Ortega, Max Kerman (Arkells) and Terri Clark.CBC has a great podcast of the circle and here’s part 1…

May the Muse be with you as you listen and enjoy great Canadian (unsung) songsters!

Barrel of Monkeys and Photographs – Jim Bryson on Kathleen Edwards

Voyageur (Kathleen Edwards album) - Wikipedia

Well, Kathleen Edwards most recent release,  Voyageur, is the darling of critics, rightfully so, with its cathartic songs leading to new beginnings from a dissolved past.  I just wanted to share a quote from an interview by David McPherson in the latest Canadian Musician magazine (January/February 2012 edition).  The quote comes from a fellow Canadian singer-songwriter, Jim Bryson, who contributed to Voyageur via emailing parts and pieces of songs back and forth with Edwards (and is part of Edwards’ touring band and a proud new papa to boot – congrats!):

If Edwards chose not to use one of Bryson’s ideas, he didn’t take it personally. “I know how records work,” says the seasoned songwriter. “It’s like taking photographs. You take 100 and you may only use three of them. If it’s a signature part and you really feel connected to it you can have a discussion, but otherwise, if you are playing on someone else’s record, it’s theirs …at the end of the day, it’s her deal. It’s not like I can throw a barrel of monkeys down the stairs and mic it and expect her to use it.”

Now that’s an image that’s hard to get rid of… hmm… probably a novelty record in that idea… Don’t go calling the SPCA on my… I was only joking… But the lesson is to collaborate with respect for the song’s originator… now that I can work with and may the Muse stay with Kathleen, Jim et al…

Love Shines

Love Shines (film) - Wikipedia

Just finished watching a beautiful documentary about Ron Sexsmith’s troubles to get a “hit” in the land of radio (a la Bob Rock as Producer). I’ve been inspired lately by many things, some sad, some happy… This film had both… the praise and adulation of his peers and the “wall” that he can’t break through to reach a wider audience – and in the mix, such wonderful works of art, including the title to the film Love Shines.  Ron writes some haunting melodies with lyrics to match… watch this film!

Love Shines in our grief… A childhood (and adult) friend of mine passed away recently… a widower himself, he leaves behind a daughter… so much pain…

Love Shines through our happiness. My wife and I saw Paul Simon at Massey Hall recently and, just last week, Elvis Costello and the Impostors at the Sony Centre (nee O’Keefe then Hummingbird).  So much talent, so much joy brought to so many.

And to bring it all full circle, there was having Elvis Costello talking about Ron Sexsmith in Love Shines and calling him a “Man Out Of Time” (basically). Beyond belief…

May the Muse be with you all… and trailer below