Saturday, April 21, 2007
I figured it was the last time I'd get to see Billy Joel, so I dragged my wife to the ACC to catch the concert Friday night... Billy was funny as always, and a great entertainer... He made a point of introducing some of his songs (like Everybody Loves You Now from his first solo album, Cold Spring Harbor) as NOT hits... he likes his "misses" too... a true songwriter...
A review of the concert can be found here...
An interesting comment, and if you see some of the videos you'll see that half of them look very professional, and some don't... it appears that some of these artists are already signed to record deals... For example, a nice poppy song by Lindy called Window had this remark attached to it:
- This contest is bs if you are letting artists who are already signed to UNIVERSAL make the top 10...Lindy is great but he shouldn't be here
- This is what keeps me coming back to songwriting. To put it a tad dramatically, it's like finding a way to have a dialog with your subconscious and I love that thrill of discovery... I trust my subconscious and I listen to my heart a lot more then I used to.
Monday, April 16, 2007
- Thanks for your good wishes. I'm actually going to be performing in Montreal - for some reason Massey Hall is not doable for Feist. Hey, it's always nice to have an excuse to go to Montreal. I am going to see the Massey Hall show though. Now it's just practice, practice, practice.Take care,Robin
Which comes first, words or music?
It's an eternal conundrum: Do wordsmiths speak before musicians hum?
'I'm a conduit, I interpret," vocalist Rosemary Clooney once said. "Most of all I look for a word that means something to me."
Jazz singer Mark Murphy, speaking about Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and Jack Kerouac said, "I like the flow of words and the way words sound. With Cole Porter, the harmonies are there and the fantastic word thing is there. It has to be a very astute combination."
Cabaret singer Mabel Mercer, says: "I think constantly about the lyrics and what they mean, and I try to make my listeners feel the vision of what the words are saying."
So why don't lyricists -- the wordsmiths -- get more respect?
How many times have you heard a radio announcer introduce "Hoagy Carmichael's immortal Stardust"? It isn't Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust, it's Mitchell Parish's. (Parish also wrote the lyrics for Carmichael's lovely One Morning in May.)
And how about One for My Baby (And One More for the Road), called by Frank Sinatra "the ultimate saloon song"? Harold Arlen gets the credit, but if ever a song lives on its words, it's this one, and they were written by Johnny Mercer. In his groundbreaking book American Popular Song, Alec Wilder wrote: "Marvelous as is the musical setting, I believe the honours must go to the lyric."
Sonny Rollins is only one of the musicians who read the lyrics of songs to their sidemen before they play, and many hear the lyrics as they perform, even though no one is singing.
That's a question often asked: Which comes first, the words or the music? Sammy Cahn (Call Me Irresponsible) said: "The telephone call comes first," meaning the deal to start writing. Dave Frishberg, one of the handful of songwriters who compose both words and music (My Attorney Bernie), says: "I think of a title. That's what comes first."
Some songs begin with a word. For Cole Porter, one of those words was "de-lovely," coined by his friend, actor Monty Woolley. Other songs have also been cued by a phrase. Carmichael and Frank Loesser were going out with their wives for dinner one evening when someone said, "Here we are, out of cigarettes." They instantly sat down at a piano and came up with Two Sleepy People. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart were in a cab, going to a brunch party, when a handful of words tumbled into their minds. At the brunch, they skipped the Bloody Marys and scrambled eggs with lox, sat at the piano and, in 45 minutes, completed With a Song in My Heart.
Rodgers liked his lyricists to bring the words to him before he began to write the music. (Oscar Hammerstein did, Hart didn't.) The names of Rodgers and Hart and Rodgers and Hammerstein are almost inextricably linked, as are a few other creative unions, most notably Gilbert and Sullivan, and Lerner and Loewe. (If you also thought of Dubin and Warren, Dietz and Schwartz, and Burke and Van Heusen -- good for you.)
But there have been so many songwriting teams in which the lyricist often is ignored: Consider E.Y. (Yip) Harburg's lyrics for the songs in The Wizard of Oz, including a little ditty called Over the Rainbow. Stephen Sondheim's name is notably absent when West Side Story is mentioned, and sometimes even Ira is forgotten and only George gets the credit for songs such as Love is Here to Stay.
Ira Gershwin, late in his long career, wrote a book recalling collaborations not only with his younger brother, but also with Kurt Weill, Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen.
Sondheim (mentored by Hammerstein) happily needs no assistance. He has become, with Loesser and Frishberg, Porter and Irving Berlin, Joni Mitchell and Hank Williams, a complete, self-contained songwriting machine.
(A curious aside: In some hymnals, only the writer of the text is credited.)
A listener writes (not really, I made that up): "I remember words, my husband remembers music. Is there a male/female thing going on?" The research on this is incomplete, but venerable bandleader Dal Richards says, "Sometimes when I see a couple dancing, the woman will be singing the lyrics. Perhaps the words prompt memories. The man may be humming, but the woman is singing."
In some male/female songwriting teams (Dave and Iola Brubeck, Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager) the guy wrote or writes the music and the woman the words.
Then there are the songwriting teams who, at the end of the day, were never sure who had written what. This list includes the incomparable (Betty) Comden and (Adolph) Green who wrote lyrics for Leonard Bernstein's New York, New York (from the musical On the Town) and Jule Styne (The Party's Over).
And think of all the wonderful women lyricists, among them, in addition to those already noted, Lil Green, Lil Hardin Armstrong and Peggy Lee.
Worth checking out is the recent film Music and Lyrics in which the man (played by Hugh Grant) writes the music and the woman (Drew Barrymore) pens -- apology for the cliché -- the words.
The last word in this matter forever belongs to Dorothy, the wife of Oscar Hammerstein II. Fed up with people praising what they called Jerome Kern's Ol' Man River, she declared, "Jerome Kern didn't write Ol' Man River. Jerome Kern wrote 'Dum dum dum dum.' "
Lyndon Grove lives in Burnaby, B.C.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Well, bless my wife, she let me get these monitors that I've been wanting to get... a good deal at Revolution Audio... the M-Audio StudioPro3 Monitors. Will at Revolution Audio was helpful as always, though he wouldn't throw in the ProjectMix control board!
Anyways, a great deal for $87.99 brand new in the box... The MSRP is $150 and these are going for over $100 as starting bid on eBay. I've done my homework on my recent purchases (these monitors and my FastTrack Pro) and the deals at Revolution Audio are unbeatable... they are really giving a hand up to the home recording enthusiast...
- Hey Lorenzo
Good to meet you and hear your song at SAC on thursday. Very clever lyrics. If you would like to co-write a tune, give me a holler.
That just adds to the encouraging words received last week from the team at Revolution Audio (MySpace), Liz Harrison (this blog) and before that from Kim Boyce (on MySpace)... It all equals a desire to make this goal of mine come to fruition...
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Both Ms. O'Brien and Ms. Sedun thought it was overly complicated, that I was trying to be too clever with lyrics such as "Never did they wane into mundane pretense... Though she never would admit she knew him in the biblical sense..." They also thought the song needed a chorus.
I did meet Joe Sbrocchi, a MySpace friend... He brought a song Tu Eres Mi Cancion which was well-received by the attendees, although the panelists didn't appreciate the chorus portion (I thought it worked well with the song personally). Check it out for yourself on Joe's MySpace site...
Joe offered to maybe co-write a song with me... I will definitely follow up with him on that...
The second is an Open Mic night sponsored by FACTOR at the Cameron House in Toronto. The next open mic night is Tuesday, April 17/07. I won't be going to that one, but I will be keeping an eye for when the next one might be... It's nice that the etiquette for the open mic is put right in FACTOR's link to it, that way you know what to expect...
A TIP for those of you with home recording software (I have Sonar 6 on my laptop): If Windows XP wants to reboot after it's downloaded and installed some updates, LET IT! Everything came out distorted and off-time as the little message kept popping up telling me that XP needed to reboot and I kept ignoring it... I guess with Sonar already opened, something that XP's update service installed starting sharing some resources or memory that Sonar was already using... anyway, I've filed this away as "Lesson learned..."
The deadline date is May 4/07.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I did go to the TSA's News page and found this nice blurb about the meeting I attended back in February:
- Our first meeting of the new year got things off to a good start with participants presenting 7 blues-inspired songs. A special thanks to Lorenzo Policelli, our guest this month, who brought us his blues song Encore along with his great enthusiasm for all things that have to do with songwriting. Discussion at the meeting touched on the problem of the difference between poetry and song lyrics. At what point do "poetic" lyrics cross the line and start to work against the songwriter's desire to engage and communicate with the listener? We're happy to report that we have completely solved this problem and will reveal our discovery to the world in the coming weeks and months. Be sure to visit this website often so you don't miss it!
I will definitely try to make it out to another TSA meeting in the future (if they'll have me...)
Saturday, April 07, 2007
I brought my 12-string and played a song called My Papa's Clothes. My throat was dry and I started too high so I went quickly out of my range, but the song itself was appreciated by Lynn and the group. Others presented their songs as well (on CD... dammit, why'd I bring my guitar?!)
It was nice to be at Revolution Audio again for a "class". They are very supportive of home studio enthusiasts... and they know their stuff!
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
If you get a chance to pass this along, please tell your friends, hear the song/see the video here, and vote and comment. There's only a week to go...
Lynn will share her experiences with TV work, recording, commissioning of her songs, busking... She will share a couple of her songs and talk about her songwriting process using those songs as examples. Topics will include:
- Inspiration & subject matter
- The importance of structure
- Creating beautiful melodies
- Lyric - conversational style, rhyme
- Writing songs that matter
- Marketing or sharing your songs
- The artist's life
Sounds like a full day. Kudos to Revolution Audio for sharing its space for our group...
SUNDAY APRIL 15
Uncle Herb will be back with his own show this time....he's calling it Musician's Breakfast....and it'll be a jam with Uncle Herb...perhaps we can all toast him for putting together this "open stage". If you're hankering to get up and do some performing, come out to The Woodhouse for a chance to do so today.
SUNDAY APRIL 22, 2007
Melanie Joy will be our guest today....she's a Bloor West Village resident who has a great pop/rock sound. Check out her myspace page...you will be impressed as I was with the solid songs and polished productions there. Also performing will be Mike Mazzei who's got some great songs too.
SUNDAY APRIL 29, 2007
Trish Kerr will be bringing her entertaining brand of blues out to the west end for us today. Also performing is Tony Bird who's got his finger in the blues pie too.