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Songwriting Awards

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…

Billy Joel receives the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Tune into your PBS stations on January 2, 2015, for the gala event that was held earlier this week in Washington. The Library of Congress awarded Billy Joel, one of my favourite songwriters, the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Tony Bennett, John Mellencamp and Kevin Spacey were among those on hand to celebrate the music legend, while Barbara Streisand, James Taylor and past Gershwin winner Paul McCartney appeared in video greetings.

Huffington Post wrote about the event here and this is just a snippet from that piece:

Joel’s tunes were enough to have Republican and Democratic congressional leaders sitting side by in the divided capital, clapping to the same beat.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor saluted Joel, a fellow New Yorker, for creating an enduring lyrical and musical legacy for the nation.

“For more than five decades, Billy Joel has inspired new generations of performers, musicians and singer-songwriters,” she said. “Tonight we recognize Long Island’s favorite son, even if he is a Mets fan.”

May the Muse stay with you Billy!

Here’s a video snippet from Euronews with Kevin Spacey on the harp with the Piano Man:

Juno 2012 Songwriter’s Circle Part 2

From the Juno Awards site:

And here’s part 2 of the Juno Songwriters’ Circle courtesy of the CBC with Terri Clark, Max Kergan and Dan Mangan as host… May the Muse be with you as you listen and enjoy great Canadian (unsung) songsters!

 

Juno 2012 Songwriter’s Circle


From the Juno Awards site:

JUNO Songwriters’ Circle brings together some of today’s most talented Canadian singer/songwriters, sharing songs and stories on stage. Host Dan Mangan hosted the discussion, perform some of his hit songs and got up-close with audiences in this truly unique setting and not-to-be-missed event.
Participating Artists: Host Dan Mangan will be joined on stage by fellow 2012 JUNO Award nominees David Francey, Kiran Ahluwalia, Lindi Ortega, Max Kerman (Arkells) and Terri Clark.
CBC has a great podcast of the circle and here’s part 1… May the Muse be with you as you listen and enjoy great Canadian (unsung) songsters!
 

Juno Awards Adds Electronic Music Category

Canada’s Juno Awards has added an electronic music category for next years awards… and the site is open for submissions now…

If only I could compose an Electronic Album, then maybe I could have a shot at a Juno… NOT!  Of course, I’m dating myself but I start thinking of Kraftwerk and Vangelis… I’m sure I’ll be listening for the nominees in this category and learning a few things… why have all these toys with Reaper and VSTs and such if I don’t open my mind to other kinds of music and songwriting… hmm… a side project I guess…

Here’s the category as outlined by the Juno Awards:

The new category is defined as album-length original recordings composed with electronic equipment as the essential songwriting tools and defined by their electronic elements. Musical genres and respective subgenres such as (but not limited to) techno, house, electro, trance, drum’n’bass, dubstep, grime, electro-acoustic, turntablism, sample-based music, ambient and downtempo are eligible for this category.

Well, may the Muse be with you electronic mixers…

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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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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…

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:

Ryan Bingham – Oscar For “The Weary Kind”

“Crazy Heart’s” Ryan Bingham continued to add to his awards season cache with his first Oscar for “The Weary Kind (Theme From ‘Crazy Heart’).” Backstage, where he addressed the press without fellow songwriter T Bone Burnett — who wasn’t feeling well and returned to his seat — Bingham said he has come a long way from living in a Suburban four years ago. Asked if writing sad music would be challenging now that he’s married, Bingham noted that the past is always with him. “We have stuff from the past that is always there. Songwriting is venting and getting the past off my chest.” Bingham also noted that co-star Colin Farrell originally performed the song with an Irish accent. “We were all rooting for him to be an Irish country singer in the movie, but it didn’t work out,” he said.

Enjoy the YouTube video below with Ryan’s performance… and may the Muse be with him (‘cos Oscar is…)

Phil Collins To Receive Johnny Mercer Award

Phil Collins will receive the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame induction dinner on June 17 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York.

"Phil has churned out a massive stream of classic songs that have resonated with audiences around the globe in a career that has won him admiration beyond cultural and linguistic boundaries," said the Hall’s chairman/CEO Hal David. "In our professional community, he is among the most respected musical creators of our generation."

The Johnny Mercer Award is the highest honour bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. It is exclusively reserved for a songwriter who has already been inducted in a prior year, and whose body of work is of such high quality and impact, that it upholds the gold standard set by the legendary Johnny Mercer. Past recipients include the Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, Paul Anka, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Billy Joel, Jimmy Webb, Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Paul Simon, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Stephen Sondheim, Cy Coleman, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.

Collins was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003, on the strength of such big hits as "In the Air Tonight," "Against All Odds," "Another Day In Paradise," "Sussudio" and "Two Hearts." "You’ll Be In My Heart" from the movie Tarzan won a Golden Globe, Oscar and Grammy.

May the Muse stay with you Phil…

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