Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Argotist - Interviews with Songwriters on Poetry and Song

I found this interesting series of interviews on the Argotist Online website. The series is called Interviews with Songwriters and can be found here. As the site sets out:
Poetry, especially in the 20th century, became a victim of specialization. That was the trend – the notion that in order for someone to be good in a discipline one needed to devote all his or her time to a specific aspect of it. This makes sense in the sciences because the more we know the broader the area of study becomes and there is simply not enough time to know everything about all the sciences. Following the lead of the sciences, the whole of Western culture became specialized. This was not necessary. I think we are beginning to recover from that misstep. The sciences are discovering that it is beneficial if all the sciences collaborate to move toward a more comprehensive picture of what we know and don’t know. Specialization was essential as a way of moving away from the ancient centralizations like monarchy, a single dominant religion and so forth. And specialization should continue, but in conversation the arts can lead and are leading this development – not toward an elimination of specialties, but conversation and collaboration.
What does this mean in comparison to song? From the interviews, the theme develops that the song is a better "delivery system" than a poem to affect an audience emotionally - to elicit that emotional response in the listener... I guess it depends on the song or the poem - in other words, quality is definitely a factor, but all things being equal, I'd tend to agree that the song stays with us longer (which I'd attribute to the blatant tonal quality in the music - the melody - that is thrust upon us in a song, rather than the sometimes pedantic and repetitive meter of a poem that can wear thin after a while - Melody Over Meter?)...

In any event, poet or songwriter, may the Muse be with you...

Seneca Imdependent Musician Program (IMP)

I think that this is a fantastic new program, but you decide for yourself... If you live in the GTA, you'll be able to take a full-time two-semester Independent Musician Program at Seneca College geared toward establishing yourself in the Indie music scene. Maybe I'll take a sabbatical from my daytime gig to do something like this one time... this is from promotional material:
The Seneca College Independent Musician Program (IMP) is a unique and intensive 8-month course of study, designed to provide musicians with the tools they need to succeed as "Indie" artists.

Today's Independent Musician must be an entrepreneur, capable of performing a wide range of tasks, from recording and performing to financing and marketing. The IMP curriculum puts equal emphasis on musical, technical and business skills, taught by working professionals in the areas of recording, performing and music business. The IMP program can help musicians from all musical genres realize their dream of making a living doing what they love.
Follow the link to the program to see what courses are involved... you'll find quite a wide variety, all relevant and interesting... it's some Muse news you can use...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lyric of the Week > The White Stripes > June 25

Come and tell me what you’re thinking
‘cause just when the boat is sinking
a little light is blinking
and I will come and rescue you

Lots of girls walk around in tears
but that’s not for you
You’ve been looking all around for years
for someone to tell your troubles to

From “Apple Blossom”
written by Jack White

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alanis Morisette - The Ex Factor In Songwriting

And to continue with the theme in today's posts, another singer-songwriter rises from the ashes of a failed relationship - Alanis Morisette discusses her new album and her breakup with actor Ryan Reynolds here (sample below):

Alanis also revealed her break-up helped her focus on her songwriting, and provided her with inspiration for her new album 'Flavors of Entanglement'.

She added: "In the middle of my break-up, I went to London for 12 days, wrote 12 songs. It was all very immediate and visceral. It was very in the moment.

"One of the main themes of this record is recovery, rising up from the ashes. So it's sort of an unravelling of my own personal life, hitting my own rock bottom and rising up."

Imbruglia: 'Divorce will help my music'

Another note from Ireland Online:

Natalie Imbruglia has taken something positive from her split from rocker husband Daniel Johns - their painful break up has given her music a major boost.

The singer admits that she makes her best records when she has experienced painful events in her life, and her impending divorce has given her plenty of material for her new album.

Imbruglia wrote her 1998 debut, 'Left of the Middle', about a broken heart and it went on to be a major international success.

Her two subsequent albums, made while she was happily married, have failed to emulate the success of her first record - debuting in the UK at number three and 12 respectively.

And she is convinced that her forthcoming third studio album, the follow up to last year's greatest hits compilation, will be her best work in years.

She says: "After a break from songwriting, my life experiences have really helped me to be more creative. I think when it comes to creativity, I am more inspired by suffering than happiness."

Imbruglia and Silverchair frontman Johns split in January after five years of marriage.

Well, you never want to see the "life experiences" be painful or sorrowful to add to your creativity, but as it's been often said - "great art comes from great adversity". The Muse has a sense of humour that way I suppose... and that's probably why so many "sophomore" efforts fall flat when a band has hit the bigtime with its first effort... the adversity is gone.

Coldplay's Chris Martin's Songwriting Trauma

From Ireland Online:

Coldplay frontman Chris Martin rarely shares a bed with wife Gwyneth Paltrow when he is writing music - because he works at night in a hidden corner of their London home.

The singer confesses the creative process is a tortuous one for him, and his best lyrics are often fuelled by insomnia.

Martin, currently promoting the band's new album 'Viva La Vida', tells Rolling Stone magazine, "My problem is that I often take a sleeping pill in order to go to sleep, but then I get excited about a song, so I go and play music, and then it kind of kicks in halfway through.

"I have a little corner where nobody can hear me in the middle of the night, and that's where I spend most of the night times. I wake up the next morning and find these strange notes to myself. I'm a little bit ashamed about it."
Nothing to be ashamed about Chris... the Muse moves when the Muse moves... may she stay with you...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Lyric of the Week > Jackson Browne > June 4

I’ll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these days
These days--
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them

From “These Days”
Written by Jackson Browne

Hockey Night in Canada - Theme Song Contest?

From the CBC website comes the following article which has me starting to think of words that rhyme with "hockey" and "Canada"... not that easy, let me tell you... but maybe the muse will assist...

Scott Moore, the executive director of CBC Sports, says he doesn't know why the deal to keep the Hockey Night in Canada theme song fell through.

Deal to keep Hockey Night theme song falls through

No breakthrough in licensing agreement talks between CBC, composer

Scott Moore, the executive director of CBC Sports, says he doesn't know why the deal to keep the Hockey Night in Canada theme song fell through.

Negotiations to keep the Hockey Night in Canada theme song have collapsed, meaning the CBC program is now in search of another anthem.

Copyright Music & Visuals, the Toronto agency representing the song's composer, Dolores Claman, said on Friday that the deal had fallen through.

That news came as a surprise to the CBC, said Scott Moore, executive director of CBC Sports.

"We're disappointed, as many Canadians are," Moore said, adding he found out about the deal falling through from CBC News.

"We have no real idea why the deal fell apart," he said. "We're not sure why because the other side hasn't communicated with us.

"You have to ask the other side what happened."

Copyright Music & Visuals said it had offered the public broadcaster a chance to renew its licence to use Claman's song — a staple on HNIC since 1968 — on terms that were "virtually identical to those that have existed for the past decade."

Previously, the CBC paid about $500 for each game broadcast by Hockey Night in Canada, the agency said.

After the first two years of a new agreement, the rates would rise about 15 per cent, an increase Copyright Music & Visuals president John Ciccone called an industry standard.

Moore would not say what the price was, nor would he comment on what the agency claimed it to be.

"We offered to continue paying the richest licence fee in Canadian television, which was the price they asked for," said Moore. "We also offered to buy it outright for a high six-figure sum."

A call made to Ciccone by was not returned Friday.

Claman, who has written about 2,000 jingles over her career, is also credited with the Ontario theme A Place to Stand, which she co-wrote with her husband, Richard Morris, in 1967.

Contest for new theme in works

Moore said Friday the two sides had agreed upon a price, but added an "unfortunate set of circumstances," including an outstanding lawsuit, hovered over negotiations.

A lawsuit filed against the CBC in late 2004 by the composer alleges that the broadcaster was overusing the Hockey Night in Canada theme and has not been settled. Copyright Music & Visuals said the litigation hasn't interfered with the CBC's use of music, nor was settlement of the suit a condition for the proposed new licensing agreement.

"We really can't do business with a lawsuit hanging over our heads," Moore said. "We feel that we've done everything we possibly can."

CBC Sports will now move on and launch a new national contest in conjunction with Nettwerk Music Group to find a new theme song, he said. Canadians will be invited to write and record an original song for Hockey Night in Canada, with fans and a jury of experts choosing the best new composition.

The winner will receive $100,000 and proceeds from any royalties will go to minor hockey across the country. More details on the contest will be revealed in the next week.

"We expect a lot of terrific music, and we expect that the new theme for Hockey Night in Canada will be as iconic as the last two themes have been," Moore said.

Earlier on Friday, Liberal heritage critic Denis Coderre told reporters in Ottawa that Conservative Heritage Minister Josée Verner must defend one of Canada's most famous musical traditions and do everything possible to ensure the CBC continues to broadcast the theme.

"The Hockey Night in Canada theme is a part of Canada's culture that goes beyond sport," Coderre said. "If the minister wants to show that she cares about Canadian heritage, this is her chance."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


The 2008 Humber Songwriting Workshop will be held July 19-25.

Discover your best songs ever – mentored by some of the most talented and successful artists in the business – at a haven by the lake. The Humber Songwriting Workshop is a pretty amazing place to spend part of your summer holidays...

The setting is pastoral
The camaraderie is inspiring
The food is healthy and delicious
The resources are state-of-the-art
And, most importantly, the faculty and guests are world-class
They’ll guide you, encourage you, and give you plenty of opportunities to perform your music and demo your work – both in class and at a professional venue in downtown Toronto. So, whether you’re just testing the waters as a songwriter, or have an impressive repertoire you’d like to share with other tunesmiths, the Humber Songwriting Workshop is the best place to be.

For additional information, visit

Toronto City Roots - June News

Riverboat Revival Friday June 27

For the second year, City Roots kicks off at Hugh's Room with the Riverboat Revival - celebrating Toronto's famed Yorkville coffee house of the 1960's and 1970's. Even if you attended last year's show, you'll want to return to hear City Roots performers cover the songs of the famed artists of the era: Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Ian and Sylvia, Lonnie Johnson, Steve Goodman, Tom Rush, and others, plus Ronney Abramson as herself.


WHERE : Hugh's Room, 2261 Dundas St. W. Toronto (just south of the Dundas W. subway station) ample, free lot parking across the street

SHOW TIME: 8:30pm, Kids of all ages welcome

INFO/TIX : 416-531-6604 / website email $15/ $17 at door

DELICIOUS DINING: 6:00pm onwards Licensed Dining Room with Full Menu

Two Day Free Festival June 28 and June 29 at Distillery Historic District

For the fifth year, City Roots is back at the Distillery Historic District. This year we have 37 performers, on 3 stages, featuring a wide variety of Toronto's roots music community. Festival is free, donations welcome!

* Singer/songwriters * Blues *Folk *Bluegrass * * Aboriginal performers * World music & ensembles including Latin, Afro, Peruvian, klezmer, flamenco

Saturday June 28 hours 1pm- 11pm

Sunday June 29 hours 1pm- 7pm

Performers: Blair Packham, Brenda MacIntyre, Brian Gladstone, Creaking Tree String Quartet, Danny Marks, Darlene, Doc McLean, Donne Roberts, Foggy Hogtown Boys, Good Lovelies, Guitar Boys of Alderon, Jay Linden, Jerome Godboo, Jory Nash, Kyp Harness, Laura Fernandez Band, Layah Jane, Metis Fiddler Quartet, Nancy Johnson, Noah Zacharin, Peter Boyd, Mr. Rick Zolkower, Rob Lutes, Roger Scannura & Ritmo Flamenco, Ronney Abramson, Rukanas, Sherry Ryan, Sisters of Sheynville, Steve Raiken, Sue & Dwight, Sultans of String, Suzie Vinnick, The Undesirables, Tim Harrison, The Palomino, Tony Cox, Yiddish Swingtet

Visit City Roots Website

Stop, Collaborate and Listen

From Seattle Weekly, and its Reverb blog section, there comes a nice piece on the pros and cons of songwriting with a partner as opposed to on your own... I guess we all go through this as songwriters and this is a nice overview of this "problem" by John Roderick, the singer/songwriter for Seattle band The Long Winters.

Here is a sample of the lengthy and insightful article (I particularly like the commentary on "Democracy" in band songwriting):
Over the years I've written scores of songs with other people, and some of my partnerships were both prolific and fun, but as I got older I turned more and more toward writing songs alone. The passionate arguments and beer-soaked jam sessions of collaboration seemed like fun, back when I had infinite patience and no confidence, but when my attention turned away from funk jams and toward three-chord ballads I found my partners were making fewer interesting contributions. As I got better at writing songs, my partner's suggestion that the chorus be played with a Reggae backbeat just seemed like it was wasting precious time. Democracy is a lovely idea, in bands as well as nations, but it's seldom implemented perfectly and is often a mask for dishonesty. I've known many bands where the pretense of equal contribution to the songs was a real handicap: clearly one person was doing the best songwriting, but most of the band's energy was spent stoking the egos of the minor contributors. "Oh yeah, play the chorus reggae style? Yeah, good idea. Let's try that. Hmmmm, yeah, interesting. Yeah, what if - I love the idea, but - uh, what if we try NOT doing that?"
Sometimes that Muse is testy... Hmmm?

In Memoriam - Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley, legendary vocalist, guitarist and rock and roll pioneer died yesterday (June 2/08) at the age of 79.

Author of the oft-covered head-sticker Who Do You Love?, Diddley is often credited as being a key player in the metamorphosis of blues into rock – having drawn upon rhythm and blues as source materials during his (and rock and roll’s) formative years. Utilizing a unique, rectangular “cigar box” guitar that he designed in 1958, Diddley’s never-before-seen guitar work and fiery songwriting helped define rock and roll as we know it.

May the Muse stay with you Bo...

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