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.

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.


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.


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.

So You Want To Be A Rock N Roll Star: Why Songwriting Matters

My first impression of the book was guarded. I didn’t warm to the title as it is songs that interest me. There is no paper copy available (only kindle e book) and the audio version has an unusual sound quality with a lot of echo. I hadn’t heard of Marc Platt’s music. I bought an audio copy based on other reviews and I have given it my top star rating.

The book may have it’s faults but I learned a lot from it. Marc tells you the things that you need to know but other people are unwilling to tell you. e.g. Your friends and family will always say nice things about your songs. Other musicians will praise your songs if you do the same for them. Here are a few snapshots

There are a lot of songs out there so don’t bore us; get to the Chorus. People can easily jump to the next song. grab them in 30 seconds or less. Keep the song short. 3 to 4 minutes . Keep up the attention and don’t meander.Look at the faces of the audience during the song. Not every song has to be Stairway to Heaven.

Melody, rhythm message. When building a song all three need to work together. Unless you are a genius then a great message will not save a song without a good melody. Keep checking all three as great production will not save a bad song.

You can find more info on Marc’s web site.

Best Bit: There is no such thing as a bad audience. Your Songs are not your children, if they don’t work then change them. The audience response during the song is far more important than after it has finished.


Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told Me About the Creative Life : Austin Kleon

The one negative thing to say about this book is that you don’t get a lot of words for your money. It is quite short and costs around £6.00 as an ebook. If you really want to save the money then I will tell you the 10 things. ‘Steal like an artist; Don’t wait until you know who you are to start making things; Write the book you want to read; Use your hands; Side projects are important; Do good work and put it where people can see it; Geography is no longer our master; Be nice (the world is a small town.); Be boring (it’s the only way to get work done.); and, Creativity is subtraction.’

It may be brief but I think the book is well worth reading because my biggest problem with song writing is not so much the words or the tunes but the attitude and the feeling. When I am in the zone a song just seems to flow, the really hard part is getting in that zone. This book has some great pointers about moving towards that state.

Best Bit: Don’t just write what you know, write what you like, or even better write what you love.
It would have 4 stars if a little cheaper or longer.

The Mayor of MacDougal Street: Dave Van Ronk

The Coen Brothers’ new film, Inside Llewyn Davis was inspired by this book. Only a few incidents from the book are represented in the film and even those that are are greatly changed. I like the 1960s New York in the film but I found it very bleak. This book is very different, whilst Dave didn’t have the financial success of his contemporaries like Dylan and Joni Mitchell he was a successful musician in his own terms. A good jazz/folk/blue guitarist and songwriter, able to make a living playing his songs. The descriptions of late 50s early 60s Greenwich village are interesting, as is the description of the life of a musician at that time, how he earned a living and the people he learned from. The stuff about the reverend Gary Davies are fascinating.I listened to the audio book version as I don’t have a lot of book time at the moment.It was well worth the listen.

You might be wondering why I have added this to a song writing blog. The main reason is that it gives a feel of the mind space that produced some amazing songs. How the people were living and making a living. How they worked as musicians, the coffee house scene and how it changed their writing.  There are also a few more specific things that are interesting. Apparently if Dylan had a great line he wouldn’t worry too much if some of the rest of the song wasn’t as strong. He didn’t rework much, he just wrote another song.

Tom Paxton wrote a song a day for over a year in order to get really good at writing songs.
The singers at the time worked very long hours to make a living so a lot of what may seem moments of inspiration are more the result of spending a long time singing and playing. There is a parallel to the Beatles early years. Just keep at it till you get good.

Best Bit: Realising how much the 60s singers “borrowed” from what had gone before.  Blues songs, folk songs anything that would serve as a source of inspiration.