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I’m making a pizza (not the one pictured, although DON’T I WISH!), and I don’t have any music playing. This is most unusual. As I wander over to the laptop to remedy this situation, I thought I’d ask those of you who are music lovers and foodies: do you always have music playing while you cook, sometimes, never, or what? How does your music enjoyment interact with and overlap with your food enjoyment?

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?

Swanky!

November 11th, 2008


Swanky!

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

Even the bathroom icon people are pretty sophisticated.

“Suppression is very American. … If you don’t like abortion, don’t
have one. … Why should it matter to straight couples if gay couples
get married?” - John Irving, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, November 8,
2008

My dad died three years ago today. That’s going to linger with me all day anyway, but especially because my dad, despite conservative leanings, was already impressed with Obama back then. I bet he would be feeling happy and proud today, and crying like a baby.

I really liked Obama’s comment during his acceptance speech that, to all those who didn’t support them, he would be their president too. I felt like that did two things really well: it suggested that he would be open to input from those outside party lines, and it also, in good managerial style, quietly affirmed his authority. Any manager who’s ever had to take over an existing team knows that you sometimes come into a situation where you don’t have consistent support and you have to play that card both ways: I’m nice, I listen well, and/but don’t even question that I’m the boss. I think that was well played.

I’m just so proud that we did it. And relieved.

Posted in Dad, Politics | No Comments »

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?

STUDS TERKEL: Studs Terkel dead — chicagotribune.com:

The author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago symbol has died. “My epitaph? My epitaph will be ‘Curiosity did not kill this cat,’” he once said.

I stood in line behind Studs Terkel at Treasure Island once when I was in college. I was looking at him pretty intently, I guess, trying to determine if it was him, and he noticed me and smiled and said “It’s me.” I don’t know how often he had college students recognizing him, but he seemed perfectly at ease with it all.

I always had great fondness and respect for him, and for his love of storytelling. He’s a hero to me, and he will be missed.

Front of house, October 2008Went to Metro Archives over lunch to meet with a woman named Debie Cox. Karsten was put in touch with her by someone at a party when he mentioned that we’d had little success in tracking down info about our house. After Debie found out which house was ours, she apparently got intrigued. Normally, she says, she doesn’t do research for homeowners — she’ll just tell people how to do the research themselves. But she got intrigued and dug up tons of good background info about the house.

Long story short, it looks like our house was probably built around 1849. It was probably built by a fellow named Pritchard, and he probably lived there for a few years before selling it in 1855 to someone named Collette for the whopping price of $2000. It probably is the oldest house in the Germantown neighborhood, but it is almost certainly not the oldest brick house in Nashville, as we’ve been told. It is, of course, one of the oldest houses in Nashville, period.

So anyway, we saw lots of maps and deeds and whatnot, and Karsten’s going back to make copies of it all for our own files and to pass on to the next homeowner whenever we finally decide to sell it (which won’t be for a long time, I don’t think).

This stuff fascinates me. I’m glad we found our way into a mystery house; it’s been a fun adventure.

Raven’o'lantern

October 28th, 2008


Raven’o'lantern

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

Sweet carving job on a pumpkin at Sitening HQ.

Amazon.com - Your Account.png
Amazon has been doing some tinkering again, this time to their Account page. This set of tweaks was long overdue. They didn’t change the functionality of the page; just its organization and readability. But I noticed, as I hit my account this morning for the first time in a while, that it made a big difference in the confidence I felt approaching the page that I was about to find what I was looking for.

Big results like that out of organizational changes are priceless. Studies I’ve done in the past have suggested that if the customer feels that she can easily find what she’s looking for in her account page or section, she’s more likely to visit that page more often with minor questions. But if that page or section is difficult to navigate, she will avoid it, will use customer support channels more frequently, and will generally feel less confident in the site as a service. Clearly this has tremendous implications to customer lifetime value, so from an ROI standpoint, the Amazon account page is probably well justified.

But I haven’t even told you my favorite part of the redesign, yet. It’s on the FAQ page they put together to explain where everything is and why they did it. In answer to the question “How did you decide on this design?” they provide this answer:

We consulted the foremost experts in the field: our customers.

Well played, Amazon. This customer appreciates the effort.

see also:
Amazon site redesign
Amazon email mishap - “please fill in”
Amazon cart “saved for later” items gone?
Update from Amazon.com

I hate to copy the post outright but it’s so short, and the whole quote is just hilarious. Because it’s so true.

From Seth’s Blog: “Trying to convince a CEO of anything is a little like trying to convince a cop not to give you a ticket. It’s possible, but rarely worth the effort, given the odds.”

And how.

Believe it or not, it gets better. In the linked interview, he goes on to say:

Instead, just do it. Go fast, get where you’re going. The odds of getting stopped are small, the price of the ticket is small and if you’re doing the right thing in the first place, it’s worth it.

The only quibble I have is that the “price of the ticket” may not be all that small; it could well cost a great deal. I can vouch for that. But I certainly agree that if you’re doing the right thing, it’s worth trying to get where you’re going anyway. One of my favorite quotes is from Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker:

Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.

There’s nothing wrong with sobriety, responsibility, or caution; in their place, they make a great deal of sense. But they’re no guarantee of success, and they certainly aren’t associated with many of the great long-term success stories. They’re good tools to have at one’s disposal in times of difficulty, but should not be the default position. Otherwise, what fun is anything?

Danny Dill has passed away.

Mr. Dill wrote “Long Black Veil” with Marijohn Wilkin, a that song has been recorded by Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Cash, Jerry Garcia and a slew of others. His “Detroit City,” written with Mel Tillis, became a standard when recorded by Bobby Bare. Largely on the strength of those songs, Mr. Dill was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975.

He was one of the first established songwriters Karsten and I had a chance to meet and hear perform in an intimate setting when we first moved to town five and a half years ago. It was a pretty powerful Nashville experience to hear him play “Long Black Veil” while we were sitting not 20 feet away in a living room with maybe two dozen other songwriters.

Our condolences to his family and friends.

From the Sitening blog:

Sitening LLC, a bright, growing web marketing agency has hired Internet veteran Kate O’Neill as Managing Director.

Sure, sure, I’m excited about “the focus we’re going to be able to apply” and joining “such a talented group of web professionals.” Whatever. The real reason this rocks is this:

Dude. Coffee goes high tech. I like it.

We’ve changed the blog name to better reflect the renewed focus on songwriting and music and hoping to attract fewer visitors from Google looking for advice on how to care for bee hives. (Yeah, I mean it.) Now to write some more posts for those visitors who ARE coming here looking for songwriting content. :)

You may see other changes afoot here, as well. Just trying to tidy the place up a bit. Pardon our dust.

Update: Such as an even NEWer name. “Sticky, Sweet, & A Little Overdressed.” Might still change. But that’s OK. :)

In the meantime, here are some links to some of our best / most popular songwriting posts in months and years past:

  1. Why I’m abandoning MasterWriter
  2. Purity vs. technique in songwriting
  3. Best songwriters, via Paste and NPR
  4. What makes a song demo work in Nashville?
  5. Should I write a song about it?
  6. Cross-medium inspiration
  7. Songwriting and politics

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?

The 100 Biggest Top 100 Hits

October 7th, 2008

From Mi2N, the Music Industry News Network comes this release. Wondering how it was determined?

The list was compiled by Cashbox chart archivist Randy Price using a progressive inverse point system applied to the positions each record held on the weekly Top 100 charts. In addition, a compensation factor was calculated for each year to allow for more-meaningful comparisons among the chart performances of records from the earlier decades and those from more-recent years, when the average stay on the chart was much longer. Records that had two or more separate chart runs are ranked based on their combined point totals.

The first song from the ’90s that shows up is this:

4. END OF THE ROAD - Boyz II Men (Motown) - 1992

Really? Yikes.

The first one from the ’80s?

12. ENDLESS LOVE - Diana Ross & Lionel Richie (Motown) - 1981

Why do hit songs always seem so embarrassing in retrospect?

Songwriting and politics

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.

Gardens Gone Wild!

October 5th, 2008


Gardens Gone Wild!

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

Our garden has gone almost all summer without maintenance (darn my
pesky thyroid), and it really shows. We haven’t been too concerned
about it, figuring my health us more important than a perfectly
manicured front yard, and anyway perfectly manicured was never our
style, so it’s been sort of a Darwinian exercise in garden tough love.
But next Saturday our house will be on the neighborhood homes tour, so
it was high time to give the garden a quick cleanup.

Karsten’s up on an extension ladder cleaning the top windows (he won’t
let me take a picture of him, though), so I tried to muster the
stamina to do the yard work myself, but I only got as far as weeding
(LOTS of weeding, actually), pruning, and trimming the established
plants, and loosely digging around to position the new plants.
Tomorrow, if my energy is right for it, I may do some mulching. But
just at this moment, I think the rest of the planting is up to
Karsten, and all I have any energy left for is, well, posting this
here picture. Enjoy. :)

Oh hai! Wear dis. Rly.

September 25th, 2008



Oh hai! Wear dis. Rly.

Originally uploaded by Kate O’


links for 2008-09-25

September 25th, 2008

Brr!

September 22nd, 2008



Brr!

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

I’m telling you: our conference room is COLD!

links for 2008-09-22

September 22nd, 2008

links for 2008-09-18

September 18th, 2008

Home!

September 13th, 2008

The hospital discharged me early yesterday evening. Karsten has had his hands full ever since. Keep him in your thoughts. :)

In the hospital room

September 10th, 2008



In the hospital room

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

My new walrus friend is keeping me company in the hospital, wrapped up
in all the scarves I’m going to be wearing for a while.

They were going to let me out tonight, but apparently there was some
parathyroid damage during the operation, and they’re concerned about
my calcium levels. But I should be able to go home around lunchtime
tomorrow. Which will be about the time I start to get really stir-
crazy, so that should work out great.

In the meantime, isn’t my walrus cute? I’m going to try to find him a
bucket.