Thursday, May 29, 2008

Songwriting Therapy! Who Knew?

I came across this wonderful article that discusses music as therapy. It's very inspirational and, considering my last post about my banged up arm and not being able to play guitar at the moment, puts that relatively minor pain into perspective in contrast with the "hero" of the article, little 5-year old Noel Young (who's name is so very close to Neil Young... hmmm). I have a link to whole article below and a sampling of the article as well.

"Music is a powerful pain buster"

Noel Young is only five years old but already he's working on his second CD.

Noel, a participant in the music therapy program at the Alberta Children's Hospital, has a rare blood disease that compromises his immune system.

He has been in the hospital six times over the past 20 months and is currently in the midst of an eight-week stay.

Young works with music therapist Rebecca Hill on an ongoing basis and the sessions are a godsend, according to his mom, Anne Robillard.

"The music therapy has been great," says Robillard, looking on as her son whacks a hand-held drum, accompanying Hill on guitar as she sings the Transformers' TV show theme. "First he was in isolation and he wasn't allowed to leave the room, so it was great to have Rebecca come to him. This has been the worst admission and it's been really great to have this because he's in a lot of pain and bored.

"He looks forward to the sessions."

The tyke has developed a bond with Hill, who appears in his room with her guitar slung over her shoulders wheeling a cart full of colourful instruments.

"He likes trying all the instruments out," says Robillard.

But the highlight for Noel was the CD he made. Hill brought her Macintosh computer into the room and, using the music-making application Garageband, helped Young compose and record his own music.

The process, Hill says, "gives the patient creative freedom to express some of the emotions associated with hospitalization through songwriting and musical improvisation.

"Like many five-year-olds, Noel loves superheroes, so we wrote and recorded a song that allowed Noel to be the superhero and have superpowers. Opportunities like these allow children to gain back some of the power they have lost in the hospital environment."

This is a free service courtesy of (

The Muse is a healer too!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

4 Weeks - No Play, No Write, Makes Me A Sad Boy

This post has nothing to do with songwriting, other than I'll probably have some material once I start playing guitar again... As you can see, my two-week old car was totaled in an intersection when I was T-boned back on May 1/08. The passenger side was hit, my SUV was tossed onto the driver's side and I (luckily) crawled out the moon roof and walked away (sort of). I was taken to the hospital and I've been suffering, at times, excruciating pain in my right neck/shoulder/arm...

So I haven't been blogging as much... I haven't been able to play guitar, nor have I been writing... But, this too shall pass... It's been 4 weeks, so I thought I'd commemorate the event and have a record of it online somewhere...

I guess the Muse was with me... Be careful out there on the roads!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Canadian Songbook at Luminato (Toronto)

Hosted by singer-songwriters Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle, the Canadian Songbook is one of the events of this year's Luminato Festival. You can found out more here, but I'll give you the company line:

The story of a nation is told in its songs as well as its history books, and Canada has never lacked for superb musical narrators. From the chansonniers of Quebec to such icons as Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, Canadian troubadours won acclaim throughout the world, their distinctive voices helping construct an epic account of a land and its people.

Now, in an intimate evening at Massey Hall, these critically acclaimed musicians pay homage to this country's greatest songwriters. Festival artists and special guests will be accompanied by Luminato's own hand-picked house band. Great music, great artists, and a hook to catch the hearts of anyone to whom Canada is more than just a name on a map: it's not just our songs they'll be singing, but our stories too.

The event lists the following participants: Marika Bournaki, Alex Cuba, Karen David, Luke Doucet, Molly Johnson, Danny Michel, Mikel Rouse, Ron Sexsmith, Nikki Yanofsky and Dan Zanes.

Time: Monday, June 9, 2008 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $40 to $60
Venue: Massey Hall

May the Muse be with You, eh...

In Defence of Billy Joel

I think Billy Joel is a fantastic songwriter and I'm proud to say so. I've always enjoyed his songs and I can sing them long after I've heard them - they've got real staying power, well, because I think, they're real - Billy Joel is (or appears to be, mind you, as I've never personally met him) a genuine guy who writes about what he knows/experiences/feels...

So I enjoyed coming across this online article from Courant. Catch the whole article in the link above, but here is a sample from staff writer William Weir:
One thing you can't deny: The guy can pack a house. Tonight, Joel plays the first of 10 shows at the Mohegan Sun Arena. In honor of the occasion, let us argue on behalf of Long Island's favorite son, one William Joseph Martin Joel.

You wouldn't think he would need any defending, what with his selling some 100 million records. Dozens of his songs have been radio mainstays for decades. Yet Joel still gets tagged as a musical lightweight and remains a critics' punching bag.

It's curious that the Piano Man has remained such a divisive figure; his last pop album was in 1993. But to consider Billy Joel means more than to simply ponder the enduring appeal of "Just the Way You Are." It's to consider two very divergent traditions in popular song and the history of American songwriting. It's a debate that goes back to the slick tunes of Tin Pan Alley and the rough-hewn American folk songs.
I like that imagery... the slick and the rough... Billy's certainly done both, but I think of him as more rough than slick... but I guess I identify that with myself as well and with the same stocky, slightly chubby, balding frame that we share... Doesn't mean we don't have anything valuable to say...

May the Muse stay with you Billy...

Ivor Novello Awards - Go Squeeze

Squeeze's two venerable frontmen, Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, walked away with the Outstanding Contribution to British Music” award at yesterday's Ivor Novello Awards ceremony in London.

Mark Ronson presented the trophy to Difford and Tilbrook, and called the Ivors, "the most prestigious songwriting awards in the world, the Grammys of songwriting".

It is the second time Difford has won an Ivor Novello Award, having previously won the “British Songwriter” Award in 1998. His band plan to start work on their first album in ten years in 2009. They are scheduled to play Womad (27th July), Beautiful Days - Devon (15th August), V Festival – Weston Park 16th August) and V Festival – Hylands Park (17th August). Squeeze then head to the USA for a massive tour in August.

Other winners at the ceremony included Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, who won a Lifetime Achievement award, Amy Winehouse (Best Song for "Love Is A Losing Game") and Radiohead (Best Album for "In Rainbows").

Phil Collins, won an International Achievement award suggested that the Ivor Novello recognition could mark a "full stop" in career. "My priorities in life have taken a considerable change in the past couple of years," he said. "I've got two little boys and my world revolves around them."

The odious MIka, meanwhile, was named Songwriter Of The Year.

Songwriter Amber Rhodes Holding Contest - June 8 Deadline

Nashville, TN (CNS) - Songwriter and singer Amber Rhodes is holding a songwriting contest for aspiring writers. Rhodes, who was a finalist in the "American Idol" Songwriting contest and was named "Who New to Watch" in 2008 by CMA Close-Up Magazine, is excited about giving others the chance to win a writing session in Music City.

Rhodes told Celebrity News Service, "I'm a songwriter and I know what it's like to be a struggling songwriter who wants to be heard. With the help of my publishing company, Sharp Objects (Nashville), we're opening the door to aspiring hopefuls to be heard! ...and you never know what hit single might come out of it!"

The winner of the contest, who can be anyone from a novice to an accomplished writer, will receive a writing session in Music City with Rhodes. "This is the first songwriting contest held by Amber, who was a finalist in American Idol-Songwriter," Music City News Media & Marketing told CNS.

Rhodes released her debut CD, Goodbye Yesterday, in 2007. She wrote, or co-wrote, the ten songs contained on the CD. "I'm really passionate about the writing process as well as performing. Both are a terrific personal outlet for me to express myself while being creative," Rhodes told CNS.

Rhodes went on to say that writing has always been inspirational, therapeutic and motivational for her. "There are so many creative writers out there who may not necessarily be singers or musicians and this is my way of opening the door to let them all shine and be heard! Kind of our own Idol-Songwriter contest!"

Contestants can enter immediately by visiting the participating radio station web sites or at Only one song can be submitted per entrant. The deadline to submit songs for consideration is Sunday, June 8, 2008. Songs will be judged based on the initial 15-second allure, lyrical content and musical composition. A finalist will be selected from each participating station and the contending songs will be posted on where the public can vote for their favorite.

Online voting begins June 14 and ends June 29. Winners will be announced on June 30, 2008. The following stations have jumped on board as a participating host of the Amber Rhodes Songwriting Contest: WCJW/Warsaw, NY, KAUS/ Austin, MN, WLOC/Horse Cave, KY, WKSR/Pulaski, TN, KTJJ/Farmington, MO, KRAZ/Santa Barbara, CA, KSNI/Santa Maria, CA, KKJG/San Luis Obispo, CA, KJUG/Visalia, CA

The Grand Prize winner of the Amber Rhodes Songwriting Contest will be entitled to a co-writing session with the recording artist in Nashville, a single song publishing deal with Sharp Objects and a professional recording of the demo. The Grand Prize package also includes round trip airfare to and from Nashville, hotel accommodations for two, meals ($100 value), ground transportation to and from the airport, and ground transportation to and from the writing session.

The two runner-ups will receive an autographed Epiphone Guitar and 8X10 photo along with a framed award certificate. All finalists will receive a certificate of participation and an autographed 8X10 photo of Amber Rhodes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Digidesign Introduces Transfuser for Pro Tools Users

I'm not a Pro Tools user, but if you are, then this may be of interest to you. Through June 25, Digidesign is offering a free, fully functional preview copy of their latest product, Transfuser. Just what is Transfuser?

Transfuser is a real-time loop machine, phrase sampler, and groove creator, all in one RTAS plug-in product for all flavors of Pro Tools. Transfuser looks to be extremely intuitive; designed primarily for home recording engineers needing powerful sampling and looping from within Pro Tools, Transfuser will undoubtedly become a favorite of pro engineers everywhere.

The time-limited, free version of the software is available now at the Transfuser preview site here. You'll need a recent version of Pro Tools (LE, HD, or M-Powered), as well.

American Songwriter - Lyric of the Week

People are strange
when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly
when you’re alone
Women seem wicked
when you’re unwanted
Streets are uneven when you’re down
When you’re strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you’re strange
No one remembers your name

from "People Are Strange"
written by John Densmore, Robert Krieger, Raymond Manzarek, Jim Morrison

London to Hold Songwriters' Week

Well, I don't plan on going to London anytime soon... but if you happen to be there, why not check this out...
Music Matrix and Arts Council England are to hold the first London Songwriters Week later this month.

The event is designed to celebrate the art of songwriting, as well as providing a platform to showcase new songwriting talent via a series of showcases, seminars and performances.

The event will be held during the week of the Ivor Novello awards - May 19 to 23 - and includes a mix of Q&A sessions and performances.

The week's events will cover issues such as how to make money from your songs, writing music for film and TV and the move from producing to writing. Most events will be free to the public.

For full details of the events

Monday, May 12, 2008


The 2008 USA Songwriting Competition deadline is fast approaching. Win a
top prize of $50,000 worth of cash and merchandise such as cool gear from
Sony, Ibanez Guitars, D'Addario Strings, Peavey, Audio-Technica and more.
Also, have your winning songs played on radio! Enter in Pop, Rock/Alt,
Folk, R&B, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Instrumental, etc.

Since 1995, USA Songwriting Competition has been honoring songwriters from
all over the world. Winners came from Australia, Japan, Canada, UK,
Germany, Brazil, South Africa, USA, etc. Past winners have gotten
recording contracts, getting their songs on film, TV as well as getting
cuts with major artists. The 2005 Winner of the country category had his
winning song cut by Faith Hill. The 2005 winner of the pop catgeory was
signed by MySpace/Interscope records.

Entries must be entered by May 30 or earlier. The entry form can be found at:

The Mayer Songwriting Process - Patent Pending

John Mayer is teaming up with for a tongue in cheek look at how a his songwriting process has evolved, "having not been inspired since 2004." Discussing song ideas, including not being able to get the girl, Mayer deadpanned, "If I can't get the girl, why don't I just tell them I'm John Mayer?" Making a cameo in the clip is 'Heroes' star Kristen Bell. Watch it here:

Morissette: Songwriting Helped Her Cope

United Press International

Here's Alanis sharing some insight...
Morissette: Songwriting helped me cope

Published: May 10, 2008 at 1:38 PM
LOS ANGELES, May 10 (UPI) -- Canadian singer Alanis Morissette says she wrote songs for her new album, "Flavors of Entanglement," to help her deal with problems in her private life.

The "Jagged Little Pill" singer told she was able to work thorough a number of personal issues by writing songs for the new album, which is set for a June 10 release.

"The record chronicles the rock bottom finally being hit," Morissette said.

Morisette's decision to call off her engagement to actor Ryan Reynolds in 2007 was said to be part of what the singer called "a personal unraveling of significant relationships in my life."

The Grammy Award-winning singer said she is in a new romantic relationship and remains hopeful about the future and true love, said.

"Oh yeah. My nature is always hope filled. It's more about values matching now," Morissette told the Web site. "That's the foundation."

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be reproduced, redistributed, or manipulated in any form.

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