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John Lennon Songwriting Exhibit opens at Grammy Museum

On October 9, 2010, on what would have been his 70th birthday, visitors to the Grammy Museum were also able to view the new John Lennon exhibit called ‘Songwriter’ which opened on October 4.

The Exhibit features many items donated by Yoko Ono Lennon. Yoko comments in the Exhibit about Lennon’s songwriting stating that: "in his songs, he was really real, he believed in truth." Ono continues that ideas for songs would come to Lennon at unexpected times and he would be writing down lyrics while they were on airplanes.

The exhibit occupies part of the 4th floor of the museum and showcases many original handwritten lyrics for songs like "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" and "Working Class Hero". Items on display range from Lennon’s Beatles days like his Sgt. Pepper jacket from 1967 to a harmonica and a collarless suit from 1963 that John can be seen wearing on the 45 picture sleeve of "I Saw Her Standing There."

At the end of the exhibit is a special white room, in true John and Yoko style, showcasing a large video screen with John performing ‘Imagine’ and other songs. There is also an interactive wall inviting people to add their thoughts to the phrase "Imagine a world…"

Click on the link for more information on the Grammy Museum, and may the Muse be with you… Ci vedimes…

Tom Waits – Nominee for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2011

From the info page at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee page for Tom Waits:

Only one songwriter could be covered by the Ramones (“I Don’t Want to Grow Up”) and the Eagles  (“Old 55”).  Beginning with his first album in 1973, Tom Waits has carved out a unique place in rock & roll.  His music mixes Chicago blues, parlour ballads, beat poetry, pulp fiction parlance and – when you least expected it – heart-breaking tenderness.  His enormously influential live shows combine elements of German cabaret, vaudeville and roadhouse rock.  After establishing a successful early style as a wry singer-songwriter, Waits went through a dramatic expansion with Swordfishtrombones  (1983). Disregarding musical borders and commercial considerations, he set off in wild pursuit of the Muse.  Waits has composed film scores, musical theatre and an operetta. He has co-written with Keith Richards and William Burroughs.  His songs have been covered by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Solomon Burke, Marianne Faithful, the Neville Brothers, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss and the Blind Boys of Alabama. He has recorded with the Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, the Replacements and Roy Orbison.   A tribute to his great influence is how many of his songs have been recorded by artists who usually write their own – including Bruce Springsteen (“Jersey Girl”), Tim Buckley (“Martha”), Johnny Cash (“Down By the Train”), Bob Seger (“16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six”), T-Bone Burnett (“Time”), Tori Amos (“Time”), Steve Earle (“Way Down In The Hole”), Elvis Costello (“Innocent When You Dream”) and Rod Stewart (“Downtown Train”). 

The Muse has been with Tom for a long time now… He is certainly deserving of this honour and if he doesn’t get in, something’s very wrong with the world…

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What A Tale My Thoughts Could Tell…

Canadian Songwriters Hall Of Fame Newsletter

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Press Release:

On Thursday, October 21, 2010, two of Canada’s most celebrated songwriters, Ian Tyson and Jim Cuddy, will be live in performance and in conversation for the second episode of the innovative new master series, “If You Could Read My Mind” created by the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Through conversation and music “If You Could Read My Mind” contemplates the continuation of the Lightfoot lyric, “what a tale my thoughts could tell” and digs deep to unearth why Canada is such a hot bed for songwriting talent. The series got off to a phenomenal start this past February with its inaugural sold-out show, featuring the Canadian legends Gordon Lightfoot and Gord Downie.

Hosted by CBC Radio’s Laurie Brown, the October 21st event will also feature emerging Canadian artist Wayne Petti from Cuff The Duke, who will bring his unique blend of alt-country singing-songwriting to the stage for a special performance.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see Jim Cuddy and Ian Tyson in an intimate setting at the world class, acoustically spectacular George Weston Recital Hall at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Contact TicketMaster today!

If You Could Read My Mind” featuring Ian Tyson & Jim Cuddy
Thursday, October 21, 2010 – Showtime 8:00 p.m.
The George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre of the Arts, 5040 Yonge Street
Tickets: $30, $40, $50 – On Sale Now
Available on TicketMaster.com or by calling 416-872-1111.
www.cansong.ca

ECHO Songwriting Prize

Vote now for SOCAN’s fifth annual ECHO Songwriting Prize

ECHO Logo - English

SOCAN has launched the fifth annual ECHO Songwriting Prize, designed to identify what’s next and what’s best in current Canadian independent music. This prize will honour some of the most innovative and artistic songs created in the past year by emerging songwriters in Canada. The writer(s) of the winning song will receive a $5,000 CDN cash prize.

The five nominated Canadian songs, as selected through a rigorous process by an independent panel of 10 music community tastemakers, are:

“Albatross” written by Olga Goreas, Kevin Laing, Jace Lasek and Richard White, performed by The Besnard Lakes
“Celestica” written by Ethan Kath and Alice Glass, performed by Crystal Castles
“Destroyer” written by Catherine McCandless and Stephen Ramsay, performed by Young Galaxy
“Hearts Trompet” written by Edo Van Breeman, Bryan Davies, Richard Saul and John Walsh, performed by Brasstronaut
“Odessa” written by Dan Snaith, performed by Caribou

SOCAN invites you to listen and vote for your favourite song, up until the deadline of September 30, 2010. One lucky voter will win an Epiphone Ultra II Les Paul electric guitar.

May the Muse be with you…

Lennon Letter to Folk Singer

John Lennon wrote a letter to calm a folk singer who once complained that success and wealth could ruin his songwriting, the musician has revealed.

Steve Tilston was just 21 in 1971 when the star read the interview he had done with now defunct ZigZag magazine.

In the hand-written letter, now revealed for the first time, Lennon told the young musician not to worry about becoming wealthy because it would not change what he felt inside.

Here are the words of wisdom in his own handwriting:

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The Muse stay with you John… 70th anniversary of his birth in just one month from today…

Drake’s Songwriting Tip: Use a BlackBerry

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 12:  Rapper Drake poses duri...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Maybe it’s conducive to his rap style of music, but Toronto-born artist/musician/songwriter/actor, Drake, uses his BlackBerry to write his raps:

In this clip from the upcoming doc, Drake bops to the track Kanye West produced for "Show Me a Good Time" and then picks up a BlackBerry and starts punching out some rhymes.

"All Drake’s raps for eternity have been written inside of a Blackberry," producer and engineer Noah "40" Shebib says in the clip. "I mean, to the point where if he doesn’t have a BlackBerry, we gotta go get somebody who’s got one. I’ve had dummy BlackBerrys around that I just pull out for him to write on, like if he needs one … that don’t actually even work!"

Drake cops to his need for a BlackBerry when working on his lyrics. "I can’t write my raps on paper," Drake says. "The BlackBerry keys — my thumbs were made for touching them." The clip wraps up with Drizzy in the booth recording and referencing his lyrics on his trusty smartphone.

Hey, whatever works for you, I say… May the Muse be with him… I’m sure we’re going to see iPad and Android apps for songwriters at some point… (rhyming dictionaries and tab/chord software… hmmm, maybe I should get on that…)

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Recent Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala

_48108056_009572690-1[1] Last weekend, singer Phil Collins received the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame gala.  The singer, who has sold over 100 million records as a solo artist and with the band Genesis, said writing a popular track is "a complete accident".

This year’s inducted songwriters included Leonard Cohen, Jackie DeShannon, David Foster, and R&B band Earth Wind and Fire.  Singer Taylor Swift received the Hal David starlight award.  The link above has all the awards and inductees for 2010.

Speaking on the red carpet, Collins said: "For a songwriter, it’s a huge honour. I was very surprised when I got the news."  The musician revealed that when organizers contacted him about the award, he had originally assumed he would have been presenting it, instead of receiving it. "That’s something that I never thought I’d be qualified to get, I still don’t think I’m qualified to get," he said.  The award is the second major honour this year for the 59-year-old, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March.

Phil Ramone was given the hitmakers award, which is given to songwriters who have written a number of hit songs over an extended period.  Billy Joel, who cited the producer as a major influence on his music, presented Ramone with his trophy at the ceremony in New York.

Paul Simon’s Bridge Over Troubled Water was also honoured to commemorate its 40th anniversary.

May the Muse stay with all the worthy inductees…

Acoustic Guitar: Jakob Dylan

JakobDylan[1] I really enjoyed the article in the latest edition of Acoustic Guitar magazine that featured Jakob Dylan.  He discusses his latest, Women and Country, and waxes poetic on songwriting in general.  Here’s a little snippet, but check out the whole article:

When you’re working on a song, do you feel as if you understand what you’re writing about, or do you even want to understand?
DYLAN No. I think the people who are really good can’t explain how they do it or why, and you should be very suspicious of people who can. Truthfully, when I am asked to explain a song, I always find it an awkward question because I think the song is the explanation. But that’s just the kind of songs I write. If you were able to ask Phil Ochs what his songs were about, he could probably tell you because they are very specific.

Some people aim for a kind of writing where words fall out that on some level make no sense.
DYLAN But what’s unique about that is he or she is the only one who had that idea drop out. You know, a lot of times you let that happen, and you look at the page and you wonder, “I don’t know, is that right or not? Does that make perfect sense?” But if you question it too much and try to use too much logic, it’ll slip away.

Do you ever share songs in progress with your father (Bob Dylan)?
DYLAN No, I never have, and really for no other reason than that I was always confident, especially when I came up in groups—we were chasing our own ideas. I don’t know that somebody like him could truthfully give anybody . . . I think if you’re that good, it’s very difficult to put into a dialogue how [someone else] can also do it. It’s very hard to point somebody in that direction.

I don’t mean necessarily that you’d ask him to explain or teach, but just simply to be an audience.
DYLAN No, I honestly don’t do that with anybody. Also, I really like writing a song and keeping it until the very last moment of playing it for who is going to be playing it with you, because there’s a snapshot that happens one time. There’s an exciting moment when you first record a song; that’s probably the most lasting impression anyone will have of a song, but really it’s just the way you wanted to record it one day, one afternoon, and who knows why.

And now for a treat… a mini-office concert put on by Mr. Dylan and his cohorts in the NPR offices…

 

May the Muse be with you…

Ray Charles’ copyrights a lucrative business

A very interesting article from Reuters about Ray Charles’ effect as a performer on both the songs he interpreted (helping out those songwriters’ catalogues) and his own publishing catalogue that he owned or that he wrote while under Warner/Chappell Music.

Ahead of the 80th anniversary of Ray Charles’ birth on September 23, 2010, the Ray Charles Marketing Group is working with partners on numerous projects including a new documentary on the Biography Channel and the debut this fall of "Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Musical" set for November.  So get ready for a lot of Ray Charles in the near future (hurrah!).

But while he helped other artists/songwriters with his interpretations of their songs, the same didn’t work out for Ray Charles since his reputation sometimes proved daunting to other singers. In other words, because Charles often did the definitive versions of his songs, nobody will record/cover his songs.

Ah, to have that problem one day!  But I won’t, ‘cos I’m a “non-performing” songwriter for good reason… I can’t perform… but I keep the Muse with me…

Rush As Songwriters – Jacob Moon Tribute

Well Rush was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on Saturday, March 28, 2010.  From an article in Monday’s Toronto Sun, Neil Peart discusses the song Subdivisions:

“It’s a very unusual song construction lyrically and musically that we managed to make work,” [Peart] said. “It was written at a time when we weren’t working, so to speak. We were mixing a live album and we just started playing around and wrote a song for fun. Although it’s very serious in it’s musical structure, one of the most complicated actually that we’ve had in terms of arrangement drum part alone, it’s a really intricate drum part to play and consequently I still love playing it almost 30 years later and that’s a good testament.”

Peart is also stoked that YouTube sensation Jacob Moon, who plays Subdivisions entirely by himself on a Hamilton building rooftop, is among three artists paying tribute to Rush Sunday night.

“We all shared Jacob Moon’s performance of Subdivisions quite a long time ago and sent it to each other, ‘Hey have you seen this?’ because it’s such a beautiful cover. The imaginative way that he uses the little cassette player to get my voice in there. It’s superb. And it is that kind of song. It’s a singer-songwriter’s song. I loved to see his version of it and I loved the idea that song has endured to his generation.”

And here is the YouTube video… May the Muse be with you Neil, Rush and Jacob:

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