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Songwriting Associations

John Prine, Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan honoured for songwriting

John Prine

The Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award, awarded biennially, was created by PEN New England a few years back to celebrate the craft of songwriting, specifically the lyrics.  So it’s no surprise that John Prine and the husband/wife team of Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan were honoured for their lyrical prose this year! This year’s honorees were chosen by a committee that included U2’s Bono, Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello and Salman Rushdie.

These songwriters create such wonderful lyrical tapestries, fulfilling PEN’s description of the award:

Long before we were able to articulate our thoughts, we expressed joys and sorrows by singing. Patterns emerged, becoming language and making the world intelligible. That’s why the ancients depicted Orpheus, demi-god and singer, playing his lyre with animals around him in a peaceable kingdom, and it’s why we chose the lyre on the award medallion.

There is an unbroken lineage from that breakthrough Orphic moment, down through all the bards, troubadours, and balladeers to the present. Every literary genre is a tributary of that great river.

Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan

Here are some quotes from the event:

Prine’s lyrics are “sophisticated but simple… Who writes songs like that? Two people come to mind – God and John Prine.”  – John Mellencamp

“It’s not always fun writing together. Sometimes the fur flies. It’s not an easy enterprise, but it’s satisfying… We’re different. If two people know all the same things, one of you is unnecessary.” – Tom Waits on writing with his spouse and fellow honouree, Kathleen Brennan

May the Muse stay with these 3 wonderful songwriters…

SOCAN Songwriting Prize 2016

Check out this year’s SOCAN Songwriting Prize shortlist of 20 contestants (10 for the English language prize and 10 for the French language prize).  Listen to them all, choose your favourite and vote!

For two weeks, from June 9-23, 2016, SOCAN invites music fans to vote for their favourite song from the nominees lot by visiting www.socansongwritingprize.ca or through Twitter using the hashtag #mySSPvote and identifying the performer’s name in the tweet. Fans can vote once daily through each platform for each of the English and French prize competitions.

The winning songs are planned to be announced the week ofJuly 4, 2016.

Winners will receive $10,000 in cash, a choice between two brands of Godin Guitars (a Seagull Artist Studio CW guitar or Godin 5th Avenue Jazz guitar), a Yamaha PSR-S970 keyboard, and a $500 gift card from Long & McQuade.

Support your Canadian songwriters and may the Muse be with you…

Blue Light 30-30 – Week 5 Challenge

So, we received this week’s challenge on Monday, and look at me – caught the lightning bolt last night (Wednesday) and my entry just kind of wrote itself – though I think I could have done better in the mix (and as a non-performing songwriter I know that my singing is sub-par).  Jordan Howard, Creative Director of CCS Rights Management is looking to pitch songs for a 19th century “Dexter”-style show starring Christina Ricci – so that took me to a pretty dark place:  There must be some mistake, I didn’t mean to let them take away my soul… I know the devil wears a blue dress, but this neon blue image took over for me and the 30-30 shotgun image completed this macabre work… the longer version (yes, there is an even longer version) also worked in pentagrams and black candles for a full-on Satanist vibe…

I’m back on my Matt Dusk pitch song now – lighter fare for sure! I’m busy over March Break, so I’m making the most of my not-so-free time now… May the Muse, and not the Devil, be with you…

One Gun Salute – Week 4 Challenge

Okay, another tough week – country pop with an EDGE was the order for this week a la Ron Irving… we weren’t supposed to mention marriage or kids, so what do I do – my first line is about a “man and his wife” – but the song’s narrator isn’t married so I’ll take that as compliance with the rules.  I didn’t have time to make a full demo so I layered some guitar and did a rough vocal to get an idea for the song.  The “edge” comes from the cheekiness in the title – “one gun salute” and the double entendre in the last verse…

Let me know what you think and may the Muse be with you… and not shoot you…

Super Happy Fun Time – Week 3 Challenge

Well, Heather Gardiner, Head of Music Supervision & Licensing for Vapor Music, issued this week’s challenge – to write a 60 second piece of music for use in an advertisement (that could also be cut into 30 and 15 second pieces):

The spot features a child so we’re looking for something child-like, light and playful, fun, capturing the moment and that captures the spirit of a child. However, we don’t want to be emotional or heart-stringy — we’re looking for something that’s purely fun.

That was my focus this week – and with my 4-year old son’s help, I just kind of stopped at the “purely fun” part of the task – I mean the piece is called “Super Happy Fun Time” for heaven’s sake!  I didn’t quite get up to the feel of having a contemporary song, and was more like a Pee Wee’s Playhouse filler song.  But it was fun…

May the Muse be with you… in Super Happy Fun Time way…

Like A Girl – Week 2 Challenge

Well, I had a rough week with this challenge.  As I’ve already stated, these are uncharted waters for me… My daughter just turned 13 so you think I might be hearing a lot of current music in the house, but God bless her soul, she listens to a lot of older tunes (her favourite – The Beatles).  I wrote one song (Waking Nightmare) base on Rehtaeh Parsons‘ tragic death after her attempted suicide.  I didn’t end up having time to record that one for this week, but I thought I’d put a line or two here:

I can’t fake that smile
It’s been a while
Since I wanted to anyway…
Why do I have to be strong?
When you know what’s right from what’s wrong

Not exactly light fare… Some of the lines in that song (and the working title) were right from Rehtaeh’s journal.  Very sad…

So, another song took hold later in the week inspired by the recent campaign that started earlier this month with a Super Bowl Ad –  the”Like A Girl” campaign. The campaign shows differences in how people perceive the phrase, “like a girl.”  And thus, the first verse is:

He meant it as a joke
When he spoke
But a little piece of me broke
Shattered my glass house world

The girl takes ownership of the phrase and wears it proudly.  I gave myself some wiggle room to be able to put it into the third person if need be, but my daughter helped me out with vocals on this one. Here it is:

May the Muse be with you… and can’t wait to see what Week 3 has in store (and still working on the Week 1 challenge!)

Songwriting Challenge No. 2

Boy, if I thought I was out of my element with the first week’s challenge (due in 5 weeks), this week’s challenge (due in a week) has me hyperventilating even more!  This challenge comes from Rob Wells who writes/produces with such artists as Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez, among others…  Here’s the gist of Mr. Wells’ “reverse” pitch:

I’m looking for strong female based Pop/Top 40 songs.  Think Selena Gomez.  Think Demi Lovato.  Think big.  Think hits.  Think target audience of 13-18 years old.

This challenge will NOT be easy… I’m really hoping the Muse will be with me…

Songwriting Challenge No. 1

So I took my own advice from my last post and signed up (late) for the SAC’s Songwriting/Blogging Challenge.  I was just accepted today, so I’m behind one week, but I can catch up.  The thing is, after listening to Matt Dusk’s “reverse” pitch on how the songs should feel (up and down tempo, Daft Punk/Foster The People to John Legend/Lana Del Rey) I’m feeling I may not be up to the task.  These are not my contemporaries – I have exactly one song in my personal collection (Pumped Up Kicks) so I’m doing research right now listening for the feel that Mr. Dusk wants (now, I have a lot of Matt Dusk in my collection, but lo and behold, he wants something different!).

Wish me luck – I’m waiting for this new Muse to be with me…

The SAC Songwriting & Blogging Challenge 2015

Check out the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) Challenge 2015.  Participants in the Challenge complete a weekly and blog about their experience.  As part of a private Facebook group, challenge participants may collaborate with other SAC songwriters.

The first challenge? Write a song to pitch for the next Matt Dusk album.

So, if you’re a SAC member why not register for the challenge (check out the link above).

Good luck and may the Muse be with you…

Petition to have Rush inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

So here’s a link to a petition that was started by your’s truly after years of Rush being ignored for induction into the Performers category in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  Please pass it on and let’s get the quintessential Canadian prog rock band into the RnR HoF – where they deserve to be… It’s 2012 and too late for this year, but let’s put some pressure on for next year’s induction ceremony… Rush shouldn’t have to wait until 2112 when "the meek shall inherit the earth", modest rockers that they are. Let’s make it happen in 2013!…  May the Muse be with Geddy, Alex and Neil… and no opinions should be divided on Rush getting this recognition!

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