Archive for the ‘Songwriting’ Category

Quickie

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

(I can’t believe it’s been THAT long since I updated here.)

It was a crazy productive weekend, and to reward myself for my diligence yesterday, I spent all evening writing lyrics. By hand. On paper. With a pen!

The PubCon Twitter song. Apparently, this songwriter takes requests!

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

By somewhat popular request (OK: two people), I’m capturing the Twitter song here in my songwriting blog.

I’ve been trying to do better about keeping the content of this blog related to Honey Bowtie Music, meaning Karsten’s and my writing, our pitching & publishing, and our life at our home office & studio, so I wasn’t planning on doing any kind of post PubCon follow-up here, but hey! this is relevant to songwriting. It’s some of the only writing I did while I was in Las Vegas, so it counts.

The story is: on Wednesday afternoon, I was taking a break in my hotel room, watching the #pubcon search feed in Tweetdeck burn up while everyone chatted about the “5 bloggers and a microphone” session, when I noticed that Kate Morris tweeted:

#pubcon someone needs to write a country song about losing love for twitter!

Fearing that there might not be too many other songwriters in the PubCon crowd, I felt it my duty to respond to the call.

@katemorris Just for you: “A hundred forty letters / And spaces in between / Isn’t near enough room / To say what you really mean” #pubcon

@katemorris 2nd verse: “It’s getting kind of silly / How everyone I meet / Instead of asking if I blog / Now asks me if I tweet” #pubcon

@katemorris I’ll let the rest be crowdsourced. It’s more the Nashville songwriting style to collaborate anyway. :) #pubcon

Only the rest never ended up crowdsourced, since everyone was caught up in what was going on the session. I mean, how wrong is that? Paying attention to the panelists instead of Twitter?

So if you attended PubCon and you end up here after searching for blog posts about it, here’s your chance: take a swing at writing additional verses in the comments. This is not limited to PubCon attendees either. My Nashville buddies, long-time net-friends, and songwriting colleagues are all encouraged to play along. I’ll update the post with the song’s progression, and it will be ready for performance by March in Austin.

Everyone who comments with additional verses gets songwriting credit. As we say in Nashvegas, “add a word, get a third.”

So who’s up for some cowriting?

You heard it here first. And maybe last.

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

It could just be the DayQuil talking, but I think I’m going to undertake NaSoWriMo (as in, 30 songs in 30 days) AND, uh, let’s call it NaBooWriMo (as in, attempt to finish a first draft of a book) at the same time this year. After all, I like to have multiple things going on at once, and this will certainly accomplish that.

If it IS just the DayQuil talking, I reserve the right to pretend like I never said this. So what if it’s on my blog?

Songwriters: found anything better than MasterWriter?

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Some time ago, I wrote that I was abandoning the leading software for songwriting: MasterWriter. I proposed a few alternatives, but in reality, those have turned out to be disappointing for the purpose, as well.

I’m just wondering what I’m overlooking. Yesterday I found Minim, which looked promising, but after downloading it and working with it I don’t think it’s right either.

I can’t imagine I’m the only one out there who’s frustrated. What are the rest of you doing for songwriting tools?

Songwriting and politics

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

I briefly skipped across something in a feed a few days back referring to this, but I didn’t realize what song the campaign was using, which means I didn’t realize the songwriter in question is none other than my neighbor, Gretchen Peters.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Once again, nice flag-waving title, and the chorus generally sounds pretty upbeat:

Let freedom ring
Let the white dove sing
Let the whole world know that today is the day of a reckoning
Let the weak be strong
Let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away
Let the guilty pay
It’s Independence Day

That penultimate line is the giveaway. The song, written by Nashville veteran Gretchen Peters, tells the story of the mother of an 8-year-old daughter who escapes an abusive husband by torching their house, with him still inside.

“The fact that the McCain/Palin campaign is using a song about an abused woman as a rallying cry for their vice presidential candidate, a woman who would ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest, is beyond irony,” Peters said. “They are co-opting the song, completely overlooking the context and message, and using it to promote a candidate who would set women’s rights back decades.”

[...]

Now Peters says she’ll be donating her songwriting royalties from the song to Planned Parenthood — in Palin’s name. “I hope with the additional income provided by the McCain/Palin campaign, Planned Parenthood will be able to help many more women in need,” Peters said.

It’s certainly not the first time politicians have used a song for a campaign without paying attention to its underlying message, but it’s arguably one of the more bewildering usages.

Exciting but mysterious

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

The publisher of “Mango Sun” emailed us this morning to let us know he has “major” interest in the song.

Thanks, Josh Ritter, for getting me ready for Monday

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

Monday is the anniversary of my dad’s death, again. It was a reflective time for me last year and it’s looking like it will be the same this year.

I can tell because last night we went to see Josh Ritter (whom Jae has been talking about for years but I’m just catching up). There was a song he played with lyrics that said “tell me I got here at the right time” and it was bittersweet and melancholy and painted a picture of loving someone through illness, and it got me thinking about the process of caring for my dad while he was sick and the acceptance I had to come to about the possibility that in one of my trips back to Nashville, I would not be there when he died. And that’s basically how it worked out in the end — Karsten and I had just made it back to Chicago that evening and decided not to go by my parents’ house until the next morning since it was already pretty late. And my dad died that night.

Sometimes the loss hurts more because I know I could have seen him alive one more time, but more often I know I was there at the right times all the previous times.

Anyway, it’s funny how once you’re reminded of something difficult, you can see connections in the loosest ways. So all through the rest of Josh Ritter’s set, I was primed to reflect on all kinds of loss, but especially my dad. And then he played “Kathleen,” which is one of the few songs of his I knew before last night, and I like it but it’s a tough one for me, because it so heavily references the Irish standard “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” and that’s one of the songs my dad used to sing when he was a nightclub performer and is the source of my name. Of course, Ritter’s song goes off in a different direction, but I think if you carry the connection over and think about his song in the context of its heritage, it makes his song even more intriguing. The Irish song is a plea to that song’s Kathleen to hold out hope in the narrator, to recognize that he sees she is unhappy and that he can once again bring her the happiness that she has lost. The Ritter song is a plea to its Kathleen to place some hope in the narrator, to recognize that he appreciates her and can see her clearly and can make her happy even if it’s just for one night. Each song is a kind of begging, but from nearly opposite ends of the lifecycle of a relationship — and, you could even say, nearly opposite ends of life itself.

Anyway, I thought about that while he was playing the song, but I was also just washed away in grief every time I heard the line “I’ll be the one to drive you home, Kathleen.”

And yet I walked away from the show feeling hopeful, and creatively inspired. I think there’s another post about that I need to write, because there are other factors at work there, but I definitely took away ideas from listening to Ritter’s brutal and beautiful honesty, and I intend to use them.

No really, gravelly crap

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Just sang on a scratch demo we need to send off to an artist we’re writing for. Gawd, I hate doing that. My voice sounds like gravelly crap. Gravelly crap with a clothespin clipped onto my nose.

I was going to do it yesterday, but after a weekend full of drinking and hanging out in smoky places, there was no way I was getting more than a two-note range out of my voice.

Anyway, it’s done, and it gets the idea of the song across, so who cares about anything else, right?

Odds and ends: the weekend recovery edition

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

I’m so lame. I never got around to posting on Blog Action Day. But my excuse is that I’ve had a real roller coaster of a week. I went from, well, managing myself on Monday to having two direct reports on Wednesday, and that’s only part of it. So yeah, I really do think activism is important, I just didn’t take the arbitrarily designated day to talk about it. I wish I could link to my activism category, but I’ve been slow with this whole content import and re-tagging thing, so I’ve only gotten around to tagging one of my old posts with it. Oh well. There’s always next year.

***

On Thursday evening, Karsten and I went to hear Peter Plagens give an art lecture at the Frist with our friends Brad and Jed, and I’m pretty sure we were all creatively inspired. It was awesome. He basically talked about the struggle to embrace the new once you’ve become comfortable and familiar with the not-so-new, but unlike that rather trite-sounding summary, he was articulate and witty and insightful.

***

Speaking of embracing the new, I spent this morning working on updating the top-level honeybowtie.com site. I needed to replace a lot of the clunky tables, image-based text styling, and Dreamweaver-generated Javascript from oh-so-long-ago with a more adaptable CSS-based design. I’m not in love with how it looks yet, but it’s definitely a step in the direction I’m trying to go. The idea is to incorporate the blog and the rest of the site a bit more seamlessly, but I’m obviously not there yet.

***

Karsten is spending the day working (and I’m occasionally collaborating with him) on a project we’ve been trying to get around to finishing for several months now. Between all the chaos of the house renovation, my day job, our flea and rat troubles, sick cats, and vacation, it’s been delayed a bit. So with any luck we’ll have a scratch demo recorded by tomorrow night, even if it’s only a chorus. The artist we’re communicating with about this song has been waiting long enough and we need to get this one wrapped. I’m also trying to round up some other song ideas she might be interested in, so I guess we have next weekend already planned, too.

***

This vodka and tonic is simply perfect. I am a bartending genius, I tell you.

When a $300 order is a potentially bad thing

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

I just had to renew Honey Bowtie’s subscription to Billboard and I did it, of course, on Magazines.com. But that’s a $299 order (side note: yes, Billboard is a ridiculously expensive magazine, but it’s such a great way to follow a broad cross-section of the industry), and because I’m running several tests on the site that I don’t want to skew with such a huge order, I had to very carefully step around all the spots on the site that would have tracked me and added my purchase to test results.

I am such a geek.