Amazing Songwriter interviews from Sodajerker

7d829ee9ff43abd3ca4914aebe46c257_sodajerker1-940-470-cI have no idea how they do it (perhaps they have a selection of pictures of songwriters in compromising positions) but they have interviews with an amazing range of people. There are 69 podcasts at time of writing, many of them famous but there are a lot that I think “Who is that?” I then check them out and find they have written loads of songs that I love.  For example  Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil who wrote ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin”, ‘On Broadway’, ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’, ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’, ‘Don’t Know Much’, ‘Just Once’, ‘Here You Come Again’ and ‘Somewhere Out There’.  There are loads more people like this who write classic songs, all the way from the Brill building up to more recent times.

There are also more recent writers that I haven’t heard of but I know their songs, check out the chat with Eg White, he sounds great fun. There are also loads of singer songwriters that you will know Chris Difford, Glen Tillbrook, Rufus Wainwright, Billy Bragg and Tom Robinson. There are so many classic song writers in the list that you owe it to yourself to take a listen.

www.sodajerker.com

 

“Best Year Yet.” How the song came together.

I started writing this blog because I want to get good at song writing. Part of that process is understanding how other people go about writing songs. The problem is that most people who have got good at writing songs, particularly those who make a living doing so, don’t talk about it. I also suspect that those who do, don’t want to give all the dark details about how the song evolved, just a glossy version.

I decided I would write a “warts and all” description of how I write songs in the hope that it will help others who, like me, are still learning. Here is a description of how I wrote “Best Year yet”.

I was listening to a news program and the politicians were talking about the “Great Austerity” in the UK. The phrase had echoes of “The Great Depression” in the 1920s and I wanted to write a song about it. I collected together Ideas and wrote a song focused on how bad things are at the moment. It had the following chorus and was generally rather downbeat.

G
It’s called austerity
A
the great austerity
D
put your life on hold
C
The future was sold
Am               D
The bright tomorrow’s been delayed.

I liked parts of the song but the whole thing was just all doom and gloom so I filed it away.

Sometime later I read Carole King’s Autobiography and one of the reasons she wrote so much is that she was always trying to write a follow up hit when she was working in the Brill building. It was a good way to get very focused.

It gave me an idea for an exercise. I have no idea what has been a hit over the past year as I generally take little interest in the charts but I thought it would be interesting to choose a number one single from the last year and try to write a follow up hit. I listened to a few and in the process I realised that a lot of the choruses used a lot of repetition and a single memorable phrase. There is a good book called “Best Year Yet” around the idea of New Years Resolutions so I chose that and wrote the following chorus.

A                     D
Gona be the best year yet
E
best year yet
D
best year
A                     D
Gona be the best year yet
E
best year yet
A
Gona be the best

I then added it to the verses of “Great Austerity” and thought it balanced the downbeat words with a more positive feel. This is a live demo that I did of it.

I tried it out a few times and thought the song worked well but I had some feedback on the recording from a guy that I respect a lot. He was a little harsh but I think he was right. He said that the recording needed a lot of work and that the chorus repeated a bit too much. So I simplified the chorus and rerecorded with a bass part and two guitars.

G                     C
Gona be the best year yet
D
best year yet
G
Gona be the best

This is the final version.

I’ll be interested in any feedback and would love to hear how your songs developed. That is one of the main reasons I am writing this.

It starts at 3.45 in the video.

Never lose a song again.

Lost Phone

When writing songs, poems or other creative words ideas always seem to occur when we are out, walking, driving, working or otherwise away from home. Unless you get those words down quickly they may get lost. A book or phone works well but there is always the fear that it too will get lost. The best option for many is to use a phone or a tablet to capture the idea and immediately make a copy of the work . This article explains how to automatically save the notes using the internet (“In the cloud” is another expression) and make copies on your other device(s).
There are lots of different places you can store the information. Apple has icloud, Google has “Google cloud”, Amazon has “Cloud Drive” and there are many others. I have written about Dropbox here as I have a lot of experience with it and it just seems to work every time. It is free ( for 2 GB) and there are Apps for all the common devices. The ideas should work for all the other varieties but you will need to adapt them and check they work with all your devices. e.g. iCloud is focused on Apple kit.
Setting up DropBox
The first thing to do is to get a free account with Dropbox. When you sign up you get 2Gb of space included. Unless you need more than that then you need never pay a penny to Dropbox. (2 GB is roughly equivalent to very roughly 50,000 A4 pages of text.)
Go to www.dropbox.com and choose “Signup”. You then need to enter your name (first and last), your email address and a password. Select agree to conditions and then “Create account”. Now choose the “basic” plan. And click continue.
Now download the free app that works with the device you are using (PC, MAC, Tablet or phone). Once this is installed you will be able to copy a file onto Drop box and have it available on all your other devices. You can also access the file using a browser. This could be handy if you need to print a copy but you only have an internet café available.
So you now have the basic set up, your words will always be backed up if you copy them to Dropbox. There are a couple of other things to think about to make the system work smoothly.
Automatic copying and updating

If you want to make some changes to a file then you can copy the Dropbox file, change it and then copy it back again. This is OK but there are ways to make this automatic.
On a PC or an Apple Mac the Dropbox program you download will have a copy of your files on the PC. If you change the file it will automatically synchronise those changes with all your copies.
On an Android phone/tablet you need an app to do the synchronisation for you. I use “Dropsync Pro”. There is a charge for this of a few ponds but I think it is good value as it means I never forget to sync things. It just works and I don’t have to worry about which copy is correct.
On an ipod touch, ipad or iPhone it is part of the dropbox app.
I also have a tablet running WebOS. There is a great app for that called “Tapnote” which does everything for you. Unfortunately HP don’t make WebOS stuff any more.
When you have the system set up the way you want then test it a few times to make sure it is working properly and that you understand what it does.

Mac,Tablet and phone
Use a standard file type.
I always write my songs and ideas as a text file (.txt), this will work on all tablets, PCs, Apple MacBooks and phones and tablets. It is a simple file type and doesn’t have a lot of formatting options but because of this it works on everything. Change on one device and you will be able to read it on another.
There are other file types that are almost universal like Microsoft.docx , .Doc and “rich text file” .rtf but I think .txt is the safest option. It just works on everything.
Most devices include a program or App for opening .txt files but if not they are available at a low price. I use “Jota+” on my Android Phone.
I want to hear from you
I’ve described what I do with my equipment but I expect many of you will have interesting variations worth sharing so please let me know if you have any tips.

If I Didn’t Love You So Much

I wrote this with the feeling of a 1930s smoky club, possibly with a jazz band. I heard the sound of the song in my head before the song came together. I then worked on building the chords to give it a bit more punch. Someone commented “Yves Montand is alive and well and living in Southampton!” after hearing it, so I think the feel of the song worked out.

I’ve performed this with James from “Notice To The Builder” playing some excellent piano. I’ll be recoding a piano version with James early next year as he does a great job on it.

 

A Natural Woman: A Memoir:Carole King

I bought this book to find out a little more about how she wrote songs. “Will you still love me tomorrow ”  and “You’ve got a friend” are two of my favourites but she seems to have written for everyone. Check the Wiki Page. Lots of interesting stuff about how songwriters could go into a publishers office and play some songs.  She talks about the Brill building and working in a small room with a piano and table as the only furniture. Lots of songwriters competing to write follow up songs for big artists. It’s a great book but from a song writing perspective she doesn’t give much away.I recommend that you get the audio version of this book as carol sings all the bits of songs that she refers to. This seems a lot better than just reading it on the page.

I have only given it 3 stars because you won’t learn a lot about songwritign but it is an interesting history of the 60s and 70s.

Best Bit: Goffin and King worked 9 to 5 at the office. All those amazing songs were the result of solid work.

GStarGStarGStar

A new way to sing “Happy Birthday”

I thought it would be interesting to write happy birthday in a new way,So I flipped it around to my point of view and ended up with a chorus “I’m so happy you were born”.

 

Agent of Change Petition

I know you get asked to sign a lot of petitions but sometimes it helps to get things moving.
Under the Agent of Change principle, an apartment block to be built near an established live music venue would have to pay for soundproofing, while a live music venue opening in a residential area would be responsible for the costs.
Sounds fair to me.
qr.net/changenow

The Art House, Southampton 20/09/2014

Thank you for hosting me at The Art House on Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, but it was fun and I will certainly be back if you will have me.

Here is a set list in case anyone liked a song but can’t remember what it was called. Some of the songs are on my sound cloud page.

1 All I really need to be happy
2 Bed and breakfast
3 Coffee Monster
4 Club59
5 Do you care enough to fail?
6 First sunny day of summer
7 Food romance
8 King for a day
9 Searching
10 Only see the sun
11 Songbirds sing to keep warm
12 The year I hitch hiked down to Rome
13 Wolves
14 Sheep day
15 The Best Roses in Paris
16 I’m so happy you were born, Happy Birthday
17 Who are you pretending to be today?
18 Bricks
19 Shooting Stars
20 Men have to sing love songs
21 The Quiet Hunt
22 If I turned into a beetle

If you want any further information then you can keep up with where I am playing and the songs I have written on one or more fo the following.

Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/nickhaynesmusic
Twitter https://twitter.com/NickHaynesMusic
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/NickHaynesMusic
WebPage http://nickhaynesmusic.com/

Bricks Venues closing down.

“Every good venue that closes down rips another piece from the heart of the town. A city is more than fancy flats, generic stores and chains of coffee shops.”

Most of my favorite music started in small venues run by passionate people. Many of those are now begin closed to make way for other things. This is a song about how sad it makes me feel that these great places are closing.

I’m planning to put together a You Tube video with some names of places that have closed and others that are under threat.

Some of the places where I had a great time and have now been “redeveloped” include “The Nags Head, High Wycombe” and “The Marquee club, Wardour Street, London”

There are other great places that are still going but have had a few wobbles over the years like “the Joiners, Southampton”, “Talkign Heads, Southampton” and “the Adelphi Club, Hull”

Any suggestions for great venues that have closed and others you will miss if they do.

I know you get asked to sign a lot of petitions but sometimes it helps to get things moving.
Under the Agent of Change principle, an apartment block to be built near an established live music venue would have to pay for soundproofing, while a live music venue opening in a residential area would be responsible for the costs.
Sounds fair to me.
qr.net/changenow

 

Bed and Breakfast

The song began with the title. I thought that bed and breakfast could refer to many things. Initially I was thinking of one night stands. It changed when I was watching a couple in Paris. It was clear that they were together, but to seemed to be invisible to each other. So used to each other that they no longer noticed one another. The phone held his attention in a way that she couldn’t.
The lyrics came together when I remembered the film Shirley Valentine and how she left him to go on holiday.

I wrote the tune at a piano. I liked it but as it changed key a few times in the verse it was difficult to sing with conviction.  Dm Am , Gm Eb, Bb, F Ab Eb F

I tried it at an open mic but I didn’t think the verse was right. The Chorus and the bridge had a nice open feel the I wanted to keep in the verse. I rewrote it to stay in the same key.
Dm Am ,C G, Dm Am , F E  on the second verse it ends on F G A6 to lead to the D in the Chorus.

It’s strange that the first time I rewrite a verse it seems very strange but after playing it a few times it seems it was always that way.