Friday, March 28, 2008

Measure for Measure - Songwriters' Blogs

The NY Times has a wonderful new blog feature called Measure for Measure: How To Write Songs and Other Mysteries. As detailed in the "About the Blog" section:

With music now available with a single, offhand click, it's easy to forget that songs are not born whole, polished and ready to play. They are created by artists who draw on some combination of craft, skill and inspiration. In the coming weeks, the contributors to this blog -- all accomplished songwriters -- will pull back the curtain on the creative process as they write about their work on a songs in the making.

The "accomplished songwriters" include Andrew Bird, Darrell Brown, Rosanne Cash and Suzanne Vega. If the first post by Andrew Bird is any indication ("Words Will Tell") the blogs will get very detailed about each songwriter's writing process/thoughts - the true creative process.

Here's to the "calcified arhythmitist" in all of us (read Mr. Bird's post to get that one) and may the Muse be with us all... Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Record Your Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic Guitar Central has a nice article by Sean Coleman titled "Record Your Acoustic Guitar" although it's equally applicable to setting up any home digital recording studio, not just to record acoustic guitars...

As I've learned, and as Mr. Coleman states: "...these days, a prospective home recordist has access to more multitracking, effects, and mixing options than the Beatles or Bob Dylan ever had in their heyday—often in a system the size of a briefcase."

Now if I could just write like John, Paul or Bob...

The author reviews audio interfaces (including my choice of the M-Audio Fast Track USB Pro), microphones, headphones/monitors and mic preamps (another reason to like the Fast Track as it is also a mic preamp). It's a great place for an overview for those who haven't set up for digital home recording yet.

"Think carefully about what you want your recording to sound like and what system will enable that in the most cost-effective manner. And remember that there’s more than one way to make a great recording. The best engineers have always been the most resourceful, and many of the most famous records of all time have been made by musicians and engineers who figured out ways to make do in less than ideal circumstances. With a little ingenuity and imagination you may end up amazed at how far your home studio can take you—no matter how humble or high-tech it might be."
Let your home studio take you far and may the Muse be with you...

Canada's Bill Henderson - A Songwriter and Mentor

There's an article entitled - A Man of Music and Mentorship in a British Columbia daily (The Vernon Morning Star). The article features a look at Bill Henderson, his thoughts on songwriting and a look into his upcoming songwriting symposium in Vernon, B.C. I encourage you to read the entire article, but I've included some quotes here:

"When I was a kid, I was very timid," he said.

"Music was a channel that I could use where I could be myself and I felt comfortable being myself - the rest of the time, I didn't."


"But emotions and energies tend to get bottled up sometimes, and if people don't release them, they can be quite unhealthy . . . and people who feel that way can do some pretty strange things that society doesn't always feel all that good about."


A founding member of Chilliwack, one of the most-influential rock groups in Canada, and a Juno-award winning producer, Henderson has made music history in a career spanning four decades.

But escape wasn't his only muse and, in addition to tears, Henderson put a lot of blood and sweat into his music.

"I remember way back when people would tell me I was talented and they couldn't do what I did, and that really struck me as odd, because I had spent so many hours learning to do what I had done," he said.

"I sat up every night playing and playing and playing the guitar and trying to figure it out and working at it.

"It was a lot of hard work, but it's what I wanted to do. There's no question, there's nothing else I wanted to do more."

Now, along with band-mate Roy Forbes from his side project UHF, Henderson mentors aspiring songwriters.

In partnership with the George Ryga Centre, Henderson and Forbes will host a one-day songwriters symposium on April 5 in Kamloops and a songwriters weekend workshop with aspiring artists April 12 and 13 in Summerland.

Three dozen area songwriters, including four from Vernon, have been selected to participate and will learn tricks of the trade, as well as have their work critiqued at the workshops.

The 13th annual weekend workshop is being held at Ryga's former home, steeped in songwriting tradition.


"This is not an airy-fairy exercise. It's very down-to-earth," Henderson said.

"This is the real stuff of songwriting. This is what you have to learn to deal with before you can really write good songs."

Expecting a broad range of participants, Henderson added, he's looking forward to having his work cut out for him.

"There are some people who've got a few things figured out, which is great," he said.

"And there are people who are really at the beginning and obviously don't spend a lot of time working on it and I'm happy to help them learn."

At the top of his agenda? Commitment and curiosity.

"Maybe talent is not that you have the facility, but that you have the curiosity," Henderson said.

"It's just not so simple as someone has it and someone doesn't. Maybe the God-given gift is the desire to learn."

Sharing his gift not only with his students at the symposium, Henderson will take the stage at the Pavilion Theatre on April 4 alongside Forbes and with special guests Blu and Kelly Hopkins.

Tickets for the performance are available at Kamloops Live! Box Office, 1025 Lorne St., or by calling 250-374-7467.

If I was in Kamloops, I'd be going... May the Muse continue to be with this songwriting legend...

Weezer Frontman Taps YouTubers to Write New Tune

From the Wired Magazine Blog comes this recent post by Jenna Wortham:

Weezer Frontman Taps YouTubers to Write New Tune

By Jenna Wortham EmailMarch 25, 2008 | 1:52:00 AMCategories: Celebrity, DIY, Music, Social Networking, Web/Tech, YouTube

Is YouTube becoming a hot new poaching ground for musicians? Rivers Cuomo, frontman for indie geek rock band Weezer, is asking fans on the popular video sharing site to help him write a new song.

Cuomo has posted a series of videos polling fans for their input. The introductory video asked for song title suggestions, inspiring 50 video responses and a 100-plus comments. (80's Radio emerged victorious, beating out Big and Bouncy and Showdown in Candyland.)

The most recent clip (embedded right) polls users for chord ideas. Cuomo has yet to announce a winning sound, but he's got 43 videos awaiting his listen.

No word yet on when or where the fruits of this fan-made labor will debut, but it could be anywhere, possibly on Weezer's summer album or as a digital download. It barely matters. The rare vantage into the stages of songwriting alone makes this whole experiment worthwhile and intriguing, not to mention the fun in watching the interactive exchange unfold between a musician and his audience.

Hey, I've written a song with John Mayer, so I may as well try writing one with Rivers Cuomo...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Song The World Wrote

Another press release about another songwriting contest. I believe the item that speaks for itself, and the idea of the world writing a song

Unique International Songwriting Collaboration

A song written by writers from around the world, over a period of one year, to bring people together and raise money for cancer research.

Oceans of Love - The Song the World Wrote

Toronto, Ontario, Canada (PRWEB) March 25, 2008 -- Aspiring songwriters from around the world have completed a song collaboration which began one year ago ( This unique contest was designed to achieve two goals - bring people together to promote love, peace and paying it forward and to help win the battle against cancer.

The BC Cancer Foundation will be the grateful recipient of a percentage of the net proceeds from publishing, along with another international cancer research organization. (to be determined).

The idea to put together a worldwide songwriting effort originated when Lucy DeLima-Wilson and her son Johnny DeLima decided it was time to unite the world in spreading cheer and goodwill to others. Today, that dream became a reality as the final radio-ready demo was completed.

Lucy DeLima-Wilson states, "This collective brainstorm demonstrates what can happen when people join together without boundaries to create something magical to perpetuate positive change worldwide."

DeLima is in pursuit of Celine Dion as the recording artist because Celine will be opening the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
"The Song the World Wrote" is upbeat and inspirational and represents several countries, as do the Olympics.

The song's title "Oceans of Love - The Song the World Wrote" and its first line were written by multiple Emmy Award Winning Songwriter A.J. Gundell and the world wrote the rest of the song. The song boasts writers from Canada, USA, Ireland, Lebanon, Argentina, England, New Zealand, China, France, Germany and India.

About Lucy DeLima-Wilson and Johnny DeLima:
Johnny is a performer/songwriter in Vancouver. He survived major brain surgery as a teenager and awoke with a newfound commitment to life and giving back. Lucy is a social worker in Toronto who enjoys spreading the ideas of love and unity to others. She believes strongly in diversity and paying it forward.

More information about the contest and a sample of the completed song can be found at the Web address below:

For an interview or more information, please contact Lucy DeLima by phone at
(416) 519-6000 or Johnny DeLima at (604) 518-4893.
Web Address:

Pretty ambitious and I'm sure there's some misses when you collaborate with the world at large, but if it hits, maybe it will hit big as a product of the world... Submit a line if you can...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Q Podcasts: Paul Anka and Ray Davies on Songwriting

Here in Canada, we have our public radio broadcaster, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), and the CBC has a weekday radio program, hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, called Q.

Visit the Q website for its podcasts and you won't be disappointed. The program from Friday, March 21, has Jian interviewing Ray Davies discussing his epic rock career as one of the best singer-songwriters of our time.

Paul Anka, who was recently feted by the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame earlier this month, is featured from the program aired Monday, March 24, 2008 (which I happened to hear in its entirety yesterday). From the show site: "The Ottawa-boy Paul Anka cut his first single when he was just 14 years old. He went on to became a legendary singer and songwriter in a remarkable career that has spanned 50 years."

These podcasts are well worth a listen for those interested in how these legends approached songwriting, or if your interest is in these legends as artists... In either case, you won't be disappointed...

World Quest Music Songwriting Contest 2008

"Everyone has a song"

News release from yesterday, which I will set out to explain another songwriting contest (this time from Canada) coming to you and the idea behind the contest (with some interesting judges to boot and a contest entrance fee for amateurs - FREE - which is hard to beat):

The World Quest Music Songwriting Contest is a new Canadian songwriting contest open to both professional musicians and members of the general public.

Musical director and composer Troy Bynoe, along with Sammi Shi, a digital video editor and graphic designer, have based The World Quest Music Songwriting Contest on the theme "everyone has a song".

As such, the contest will open Wednesday March 26th to the general public, with professional entries being received since March 17th.

There are cash and product prizes to be won, the contest is free of charge to the general public, and $10 for professional entries, organizers describe.

The contest itself is open to professional and non-professional songwriters who submit entries at Professional and Non-Professional entries are paired off into two independently running contests. There are no musical categories in this competition, which makes this Contest rather unique, there is a public voting area and a unique wild card vote by select judges.

Judges represent all genres and feature award-winning industry professionals including veteran music publisher Tony Tobias, Gemini nominated Jennifer Podemski, Idol musician Wilson Laurencin, and Doug Bedard of AVR Toronto's "The Plex Show".

The contest runs for five months and entrants can enter up to five (5) songs in the Non-Professional grouping and up to ten (10) songs in the Professional grouping. Both groupings run together, the Professional March 17 through July 26, and the Non-Professional March 26 through August 8. Contestants go head to head online where fans vote for their favourite entries. Semi-Finalists, Finalists and Grand Prize Winners are chosen based on these tallied online votes.

For more information, visit

American Idol Songwriter 2008

Well, I'm not a resident of the U.S., so I don't qualify... but for those of you with an American Idol type song and $10 burning in your pockets, you have until Monday, March 31, 2008 to upload your song to the American Idol Songwriter competition website for a chance to have this season's final two contestants battle it out of your song...

Of course, the competition is not without controversy as detailed in this web post entitled the American Idol Rip-Off. The post contends that last year's songwriter competition for American Idol had 20 finalists, 10 of whom were "pros" who had previous relationships with Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, show bandleader Rickey Minor or host Ryan Seacrest.

Ah well... I guess looking at the glass as a half-full kind of guy, 10 amateur songwriters had a shot at winning that competition... I hope this year, that's what will happen...

Sebastian on Jug-Band Music

From the latest edition of American Guitar: An interview with songwriting legend John Sebastian includes the following exchange on the pre-war jug band blues influence on '60's songwriting:

Jug-band music isn't nearly as well known or clearly understood as, for instance, prewar blues. How would you describe it?

SEBASTIANWell, jug-band music was essentially African-American party music that preceded electricity. It contained elements of so many different types of music-that's one reason people have trouble describing it. Here will be something that's definitely ragtime, maybe being interpreted by a rough bluesy style. But then the next tune is more like hokum where the singer is making fun of himself, the tradition that sprang out of medicine-show music-which was racially derogatory in many cases.

A lot of this music was unsingable for young folksingers. My solution was, OK, let's take out the parts that we can't say. So I ended up rewriting tunes like "On the Road Again" and taking out the racial epithets. As modest as this was, it was the beginning of songwriting for me. One of the nice things about this material at the time-this is confession number 857-was that nobody knew it wasn't your tune.

Why did jug-band music become a foundation for '60s rock songwriting in bands like the Spoonful and the Grateful Dead?

SEBASTIAN I think it had a couple of things that musicians enjoy. It had antiquity, it had lack of familiarity, and it had an atmosphere of naughtiness and contrariness. So guys like Garcia and me were listening to the Harry Smith catalog and going, "What a cool thing about a gal who might slit you with a razor! Whoa-I don't know any girls like that!"

In the Spoonful you often played instruments like Autoharp and keyboards. Was your songwriting focused on guitar?

SEBASTIAN It was really focused on the guitar for many years, but I used keyboards, which I can't play to this day, as a way of defamiliarizing myself with my musical medium. We're all trying to do this in one way or another: shake yourself loose from the pattern that your fingers are used to following. That's how you come up with something that might have a unique quality. I think this is where this whole [alternate] tuning thing came out of-somehow making the guitar less familiar. Good things do come out of throwing yourself off the cliff one way or another.

The Autoharp totally came about because I had heard Mike Seeger on a Newport Folk Festival album with the New Lost City Ramblers, and I was trying to impress girls at summer camp.

Some interesting insights into "borrowing" a pre-existing style of music and making it your own and to "shaking" things up by writing with a different instrument or tuning...

Now go write songs and may the Muse be with you...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Kristofferson's Life In Music

I read this great article online about Kris Kristofferson and his songwriting career. The article is by Simon Cosyns of The Sun and can be found here. I just had to include the following excerpt:

For Kris, there were few musical high points in the late Seventies and early Eighties but that all changed when he became a member of the country supergroup The Highwaymen with Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.

“I didn’t think I was in their class as a performer. My songwriting is what got me in there. I guess it gave me enough audacity to think I belonged. Willie plays the guitar like a classical musician and has a powerful voice. He phrases like a jazz singer, almost like Frank Sinatra.

“If I’d ever dreamed back when I was a janitor that I would be standing up on stage with those guys and be close friends with all of them, I would’ve thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”

In 2008 he’s still writing and singing, but he doesn’t know when the next new song will come to him. It seemed right to ask Kris if he thought that music was the most important aspect of his life.

“It’s closest to the soul,” he answers.

I like that... after everything he's done in his career - his songwriting is what's "closest to [his] soul." That's the way I need to keep it when I've gone off into a tangent of trying to be commercial and get a song published... The Muse is with Kris and may it be with us all...

Korg Pa500 "Baby Blue" Songwriter Station MIDI Keyboard

Korg introduced the Pa500 Songwriter Station/"Baby Blue" Professional Arranger. It's a completely self-sufficient DAW with lots of features and the ability to hook it up to your computer as a MIDI keyboard to use with your own home recording software. I have a laptop/USB audio box/USB keyboard and software that I use to record, so I'm fairly mobile and can take my system on the road, but something like this system opens up even more opportunities for portability or a fast way to "get the idea down".

From Korg's website:

The "Baby Blue" Professional Arranger available at the amateur price

For the musician, composer, performer and entertainer, the interactive Pa500 is the perfect musical partner. Like its big brothers - the Pa800 and the Pa2XPro - the Pa500 uses our RX (Real eXperience) technology to deliver a sound unprecedented in an arranger keyboard. With exclusive Korg features such as the XDS Dual Sequencer, intuitive TouchView interface, quarter-tone on-the-fly and a four way joystick for realistic articulation, the only thing really missing is a big price tag.

Stunning Sound

It all begins with sound. Based on the EDS (Extended Definition Synthesis) engine found in the Korg M3, Pa800 and Pa2XPro, the Pa500 provides 80 voices of polyphony and a breathtaking quality of sound. Over 880 fully editable sounds are preloaded (including a full GM soundset and 56 drumkits), representing a full range of musical instruments from almost every genre - each exploding with depth, nuance, subtlety, accuracy and richness. The User area has space for up to 128 user sounds and 64 drum kits.

Effects Everywhere

For many years, Korg workstations, synthesizers and digital recording studios have included outstanding studio quality effects that are simply breathtaking. In that same tradition, the Pa500 offers four stereo processors plus a Final semi-parametric three band EQ containing a treasure trove of effects, from rich reverbs and dazzling delays to guitar-type modeling effects from Korg's renowned REMS series - 124 different effects in all. And you'll appreciate the separate three-band EQ on each track for dialing in that perfect sound.

Done with Style

No doubt: Korg's Style programming is world class. The Pa500 delivers a deluxe set of styles, programmed by some of the leading arrangers in the world; each of whom worked according to their musical strengths. The result is over 320 preloaded Styles that provide unparalleled realism and detail, adding anything from tasteful guitar picking, a tight bass and drum groove, a powerhouse R & B rhythm section all the way up to a full orchestra! Styles follow your timing, voice leading and chord changes to create an amazingly defined musical performance in real-time. With up to eight parts, four variations, three intros/count-in, three fills/break and three endings, each Style is a complete musical environment. Additional parts or "riffs" can be sequenced and triggered in real time using the assignable Pads. Advanced features such as Syncro Start/Stop, Fade In/Out, Assignable Pads, Tap Tempo and Manual Bass allow you to spontaneously add complex and professional touches to your performances.

Guitar mode

Creating convincing guitar parts from a keyboard has never been easy - until now! When creating a guitar part for your Style, you can chose a chord, capo position, and literally transform the keyboard into the fretted strings of the chord to allow realistic picking patterns, strums, chokes, slides, hammer-ons and other "guitar-specific" artifacts. The result is stunning. Best of all, the Pa500 can automatically enhance the guitar tracks of existing Standard Midi Files.

All together now

Need to switch sounds fast? Four STS (Single Touch Settings) buttons allow you to have up to four sounds split and layered across the keyboard and switch them all instantly with a single button press. The STS assignments can be saved independently for each Style. Each of the 256 Performance settings can instantly recall the Style, Sounds, effects, tempo, key and scale used to perform a particular song.

Creative sequencing scenarios

In addition to traditional "track at a time" workstation sequencing, the Backing Sequencer allows you to create songs quickly and easily by capturing multiple Style driven parts at once. You don't need to be a master programmer - even beginners can write their own song in minutes. In fact, you don't even need to play at all! Using the Step Edit/Entry feature, you can simply type in the chord changes, fills and style changes in step-time - a big boost for arrangers and non-keyboardists. This quick approach to programming is also useful in the studio for creating professional, great-sounding backing music for commercial, film, video, multimedia or internet applications. The sequencer provides massive editing power - you can even edit the tone parameters of each track.

Non-stop entertainment

With Korg's XDS Dual Sequencer, one can load as the other plays, and a DJ-style cross fader can blend between them, providing a seamless, continuous musical performance. The Pa500 can playback SMF (Standard Midi File), Karaoke files, and GM (General MIDI) files - and is able to display lyrics in most popular karaoke formats. There is also a practical Marker function to allow you to jump directly to a given position in the song: you can fix the markers using the internal sequencer (or using a computer based one - the marker format is standard) and then remix your favorite songs during a live performance for added spontaneity.

Expanding SongBook

The exciting SongBook feature was developed to make your life easier while playing live. The SongBook is a Musical Database, completely user programmable, containing all the settings needed to play a particular song. You have only to search for the song you would like to play by Song Title, Genre, Artist, Tempo, etc. and press "play". Each SongBook entry will instantly recall every setting you've saved in order to play that song perfectly - Sounds, Style, Performance, Volumes, Muted Tracks, FX settings, Easy Edit, STS settings, Master Transpose and more. This indispensable musical feature is unique to Korg.

Less is more

With all the technological power packed inside, it was vital that we also made the Pa500 easy to understand and easy to use. But we went even further, creating an instrument that provides an intuitive, musical, fast, foolproof experience. With our amazing TouchView display you can simply think, see and touch the panel for easy and intuitive control. So that musicians of all levels can make great music quickly, there are two interface modes: Easy and Expert. The Easy mode shows only the essential elements with bright, bold icons - useful for beginners or playing live - while Expert mode provides full editing control. And when you need more information, check out the on-board contextual Help System - in any of seven languages! In addition to 61-velocity sensing keys, the Pa500 provides a four-way joystick, assignable switch, assignable slider, assignable pedal jack and four pads provide the tools to spice up your performance by changing effect settings, adding or muting parts, slowing the tempo, or even adding "mini-sequenced" solo, arpeggio, or backing riffs. Nothing stands between you and your professional performance.

Save it for later

In addition to providing a USB/MIDI computer connection for moving and saving data, the Pa500 can also save and read data from SD / MMC memory cards for instant access to your custom data, MIDI files and songs. The back panel also features MIDI (In, Out), Audio Ins (1, 2) and Outs (L, R), damper and assignable pedal connections, headphones.


Hiding inside is a full stereo sound system with two double cone speakers in a bass reflex enclosure for the best sound in a small box. The Pa500 is completely self-contained and easily transportable - whether rushing to a gig, jamming with friends, or teaching a new tune to the band. We couldn't fit any more fun in here if we tried.

Keep your Pa500 feeling new with operating system updates. These updates are available as free downloads from and will ensure your investment is protected.

Please note: Cosmetic and Technical specifications are subject to change without notice.

An interesting product for sure... I'd love to get my hands on one to test it out...

Michael Stipe on Songwriting

From the April 2008 edition of Spin Magazine, there is an article on R.E.M. and an interview with Michael Stipe.

Stipe said he feels much more comfortable about his writing ability now that he is older. The singer started his career writing about himself but now realises he can connect with his audience without baring his soul.

He added: "There are songs I wrote in the past that were gender-specific. '7 Chinese Brothers' was about me breaking up a couple - and then dating both of them, a man and a woman, which is a terrible thing to do, but I was young and stupid. At the time I was writing about what I knew, and what I knew was myself. I found out I'm not that kind of writer. I think I'm better when I write about things that are not me."

That's always a debate - whether a songwriter can capture a universal feeling with the personal subject matter that he/she knows about. I think that there is always some personal in the universal, and some universal in the personal... What do you think?

May the Muse be with you

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lou Reed on Technology in Music

U.S. singer-songwriter Lou Reed has criticized how technology has changed the way people listen to music, the Toronto Star reported Friday.

Talking to a South by Southwest festival audience at the Austin (Texas) Convention Center, Reed discussed digital downloading and inventions like the MP3 player and iPod.

"The trade-off is you have a lot available to you and it sounds bad. People have got to demand a higher standard," Reed said. "People who like good sound are gonna be looked at like some kind of zoo animal. It's like technology is taking us backwards."

As for his songwriting methods, the Star quoted Reed as saying not even he knows how they get written.

"People always ask, 'How do you write a song?' And I don't know. I wish I knew, because I could have done 'Walk on the Wild Side 2' and I would now own an island in the Caribbean," he said.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Some More Songwriting Blogs

Some more songwriting blogs...

Just thought I'd throw a couple of links out for other songwriting blogs that I've noticed:

The Soul of Songwriting, by Joshua Pearl, a music producer and director of the Whole Musician Workshop. The site includes Joshua's podcasts which are interesting and cover a vast array of topics, including marketing and the "soul" in songwriting... Joshua started the blog in January and it is going full steam ahead! Nice job!

Another recent blog, just started in February by singer/songwriter Corey Stewart, is Songwriting Zen, a blog with "Songwriting Tips, Songwriting Help and Songwriting Ideas in one Songwriting Resource". This is also a very active blog with interesting tips for indexing your songwriting ideas. Kudos!

Both these bloggers certainly have the Muse with them... I hope you give them a look and tell them who sent you!

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Website/Contest - ISSA

The Indie Singer Songwriters Association (ISSA) has launched as a resource for (who else?) independent singer songwriters. In the future, there appears to be plans to have an Expo in San Diego in 2009.

At present, ISSA is offering song critiques for $9.95 and has launched its own Songwriting Contest online ($29.95 per song, per category - $14.95 per additional category).

For those who care to dare (or dare to care) about their song-spring, this may be another opportunity to enter a contest and get a little notice thrown your way... Buona fortuna (that's good luck in Italian) and may the Muse be with you...

Thursday, March 13, 2008


From a post from, a favourite site of mine, please pay a visit to Musicovery to discover webradio tailored to your moods and likes... pretty cool as my "dark" 60's mood was hit dead on when Bob Dylan's All Along The Watchtower started playing...

The Muse is with you with this one... now to be able to write like these guys and gals did...

American Songwriter - Lyric of the Week #2

We used to laugh together
and we'd dance
to any old song
Well ya know
she still laughs with me
But she waits
just a second too long

from "Far From Me"
written by John Prine

"Lyric of the Week" is an effort to recall, catalog, harvest and spread the words of those songwriters who you turn to when your own voice strains. What Johnny Cash lyric gets your goat? Does Leonard Cohen know you like a brother? Has Robert Hunter changed your life? This is the purpose "Lyric of the Week" serves: We want to know who you turn to for inspiration. Who are the lyricists and songwriters whose work you mine for new ideas? If you share a lyric that strikes a chord with us and is selected as "Lyric of the Week," then you'll get a guaranteed, extra-cool American Songwriter t-shirt.

To submit your L.O.T.W. send an email to:

Song Contest Raises Grand Prize, Lowers Fee

ANN ARBOR, MI - As the Great Lakes Songwriting Contest celebrates its
fifth year of operations, the entry fee has been lowered and the Grand
Prize increased.

This year, the Grand Prize will be $2,000 cash, plus tuition, room and
board at a music retreat, plus a chance to headline the Winners'
Concert in February 2009. And entrants can choose to enter by mail or
on-line, thanks to a partnership with indie music promoter Sonic Bids.

The contest is open to songwriters of all ages and all musical styles
in the eight states and one Canadian province that border the Great
Lakes: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan,
Pennsylvania, New York, and the Province of Ontario, Canada.
Songwriters give up no rights to their songs as a condition of
entering or winning. Eleven winning songs will be chosen in 2008.
Entries must be postmarked on or before Friday, April 25, 2008.

"A lot of great music has come out of our part of the world, from
Motown to Prairie Home Companion to Chicago Blues and Broadway," says
contest spokesman Bill Frank. "It's produced big names like Bob Dylan,
Prince, Madonna, the Barenaked Ladies, and Jars of Clay, just to name
a few. But some of the best music is written by the locally known,
little-known, and unknown songwriters, and that's what we're looking

Past winners have included an organic farmer from rural Michigan, a
retired Marine Corps captain from Minneapolis, a Chicago novelist, a
former child actress, and numerous high-school and college students.
Winning songs have ranged from hard-rock instrumentals to jazz,
country, folk, R&B, Christian, and various hybrids. For the past
several years, the top winners have performed at sold-out crowds at
the Winners' Concert series at the Trinity House Theatre in Livonia,

Past judges have included Andrea Stolpe, hit songwriter, author, and
instructor for the Berklee College of Music's on-line songwriting
program; Freebo, the singer-songwriter and long-time bass player for
Bonnie Raitt; Chicago's Rich Warren, host of the syndicated radio show
"The Midnight Special;" Nadir, the MTV host, author and prizewinning
songwriter; and Toronto's Jodi Krangle, proprietress of "The Muse's
Muse" songwriters' website and electronic newsletter. The 2008 judges
will be announced when the winners are announced, in October 2008.

Contest entrants are not forced to pick a particular category for
their songs. Each song is judged on its own merits, not by how well it
conforms to the conventions of a certain genre of music. Rules, entry
forms, and information on last year's winners and judges can be found
on the contest website,

The contest is sponsored by Songbridge, the song marketing company
based in Ontario, Canada, which provides a weekly pitch sheet to its
songwriting members and a free e-newsletter with tips and insights on
marketing; Elderly Instruments of Lansing (MI), one of America's
largest mail order suppliers of vintage and new stringed instruments;
Lamb's Retreat for Songwriters of Royal Oak (MI), which holds
songwriting weekends in Northern Michigan; and the CD Seller of
Minneapolis, an online company that has created a CD selling tool for
independent performers. The contest is organized by The Michigan
Songwriters, the Ann Arbor-based cooperative that previously sponsored
the Metro Detroit and Michigan Songwriting Contests. The contest has
drawn about 500 entries each year since its founding in 2003.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Nelly Furtado Free Unplugged Concert - March 29

March 7, 2008
Nelly Furtado headlines Earth Hour - Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto is centre stage as world goes dark

The partners of Toronto’s Earth Hour - WWF-Canada, the City of Toronto, The Toronto Star and Virgin Mobile - today announced that multi-platinum Grammy and Juno Award-winner, and Canada’s own, Nelly Furtado will join Earth Hour as the first Canadian Earth Hour Ambassador. She will also perform a free concert at Nathan Phillips Square on March 29 to celebrate Earth Hour.

Nelly Furtado will join other Earth Hour Ambassadors, including Cate Blanchett, Natalie Imbruglia, Silverchair and Rolf Harris.

As an Earth Hour Ambassador and an advocate for the environment, Nelly Furtado will play an unplugged concert at the Earth Hour community event, starting at 7:30 p.m. The organizers are taking steps to make the event as carbon-neutral as possible - including powering the event with green, renewable energy from Bullfrog Power. People from across the GTA are invited to attend.

On March 29 at 8 p.m., cities around the world, including Toronto, will turn off their lights for Earth Hour to raise awareness about climate change - millions are expected to participate. Earth Hour is a WWF initiative that has grown from a single event in Sydney, Australia in 2007 to a global phenomenon that will occur across six continents and in more than 20 major cities this year. In the heart of Toronto, people gathered at Nathan Phillips Square will witness hundreds of buildings in the downtown core turn off their lights, including City Hall.

"The event has taken off not just in Toronto, but right across the country in more than 50 cities,” said Mike Russill, President and CEO, WWF-Canada. “This is a clear signal that Canadians want to take steps in their every day lives to help the planet, and they want Canada to be a leader in the global effort on climate change."

"I'm incredibly pleased that we are able to add some entertainment star power to our powered-down night under the stars," said Toronto Mayor David Miller. "The commitment of these performers to this tremendously important cause is terrific to see. Torontonians are signing up in droves to support Earth Hour, which confirms and supports our drive to be North America's greenest city."

Millions will participate in Earth Hour and Canada is leading the way with more than 20,000 people and 1,000 businesses, in more than 50 cities, already signed-up at Toronto Hydro will measure the impact on the electricity grid during Earth Hour in Toronto, demonstrating the impact we can all make by doing our part to combat climate change.

“Fighting climate change is probably the biggest battle mankind has had to face so far,” said Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group of Companies. “Earth Hour is an important event that will continue to help raise the awareness of global warming and while governments and businesses have the responsibility to find a technological solution, we as individuals must do our part in the fight against climate change. I therefore encourage everyone across the world to switch off their lights from 8 p.m. - 9 p.m. on March 29.”

“Global warming is the number one environmental concern of Canadians today,” said Bob Hepburn, Director, Community Relations and Communications, Toronto Star. “We hope all businesses in Toronto will join us in participating in Earth Hour. It is a simple way for the Star - and for other corporate leaders - to show that we want to be part of the solution.”

For more information about Earth Hour visit

Materials available from WWF-Canada:
1. Nelly Furtado Earth Hour PSA mpg -
2. Richard Branson Earth Hour PSA mpg -
3. Earth Hour backgrounder available at

Media contacts:
Tara Wood, Manager, Earth Hour and Public Relations, WWF-Canada, 416-484-7710, 416-407-0775 (cell),
Paula Lash, Virgin Mobile, 416-655-5555,
Bob Hepburn, Director, Community Relations and Communications, 416-869-4947,
Stuart Green, Office of Mayor David Miller, 416-338-7119,
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