chords

How to write a break-up song

True to form for Song Talk Radio, the day before Valentine’s Day seemed a good day to talk about break-up songs. So Phil brought “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)” by Jim Croce, Neel chose “One More Minute” by “Weird Al” Yankovic, Bruce performed a new original tune “I Don’t Love You Anymore”, and Vanessa selected “White Blank Page” by the band Mumford & Sons. We talked about:

  • conflict in break up songs
  • break up song experts – The Smiths, Jann Arden, Morrissey
  • “Operator” chord progression – 1, 3, 4, 5 (Nashville numbering system), finger-picking, guitar riff
  • “One More Minute” – original song in a doo-wop style, one idea repeated getting more extreme, a bridge might have helped
  • “I Don’t Love You…” – Key of E, lyric tune-up to bring clarity, needs a bridge?, Neel finds the word “hating” too harsh
  • “White Blank Page” – maximum drama through arrangement, a religious song?, abstract songs let the listener interpret
  • remembering phone numbers in the age of the cell phone

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White-Blank-Page

Operator-Jim-Croce-Lyrics

One-More-Minute

Phil, Bruce, Gravely James (Chris), Vanessa. Linda, and Neel

Gravely James: Rockin’ the blues with soul

Blues-rock-soul singer-songwriter Gravely James shares his journey from a trumpet-playing kid to a kickin’ singer-songwriter. He also treated us to two incredibly energetic performances of his songs. We talked about:

Download the lyrics for Farewell Anita and Snapchat Lady

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Deep Dive: Penny Lane & Strawberry Fields – how do they work? with Blair Packham

Songwriting master Blair Packham stopped by and we gave a deep dive on The Beatles Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane. Friend of the show Mike MacInnes sat in for Bruce.

Stuff we talked about:

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Phil, Bruce, Avery, Vanessa, Linda, and Neel

How to manage your own career with Avery Florence

Avery Florence stopped by the studio on the cusp of her first tour. She was excited! “Road trip!” Her songs were a treasure trove of musical delight, and her tips about managing her own career were helpful to anyone trying to make a living as a singer/songwriter.

Here are some of the things we talked about:

  • the music business
  • The Harris Institute
  • touring, booking your own gigs
  • The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron
  • writing when inspired
  • collaboration
  • recording “live off the floor”
  • guitar or piano?
  • breaking up with a band

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Download the song lyrics and follow along

BLEED

FLY

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Phil, Bruce, Jeffery, Linda, Vanessa, and Neel

Great songwriting tips from Jeffery Straker

Canadian and internationally-reaching singer/songwriter Jeffery Straker joined us to talk about his process, collaborations, and great songwriting advice.

We talked about:

  • Conservatory training vs. ear training
  • When not to give your chorus a conventional “lift”
  • Editing your song, even the main title and hook so it brings your idea to a better light
  • How to use space in your song
  • What does “prosody” mean?
  • Economy of lyrics
  • Does your song need a bridge?
  • Collaborating with Royal Wood and Lawrence Katz
  • Keeping track of and building a bank of your song ideas

We also welcome Linda Lavender who will be helping out on the tech board in the future. Thanks and welcome aboard Linda!

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Download the song lyrics and follow along

Beauty in the Grey

Deliver Me

Neel, Phil, Bruce, Vanessa, and Anthony

Songs from your childhood

We talked about the first songs that resonated with us as kids.

Stuff We Talked About:

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Neel, Bruce, Vanessa, Anthony, and Phil

Holiday Special 2017

Bruce, Neel, Phil and Vanessa each shared a song that meant something to them for the holidays. Bruce featured a song from a series of The Beatles releases from 1964 to 1969 that he and his brothers bought each other for Christmas. Vanessa brought in a ballet number from her childhood as a dancer. Phil showcased a feel-good (well, except for the drunk tank) song from the Pogues. And Neel featured a song from his childhood that may have played a role in his wanting to be a musician.

We also talked about:

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Check out the songs

Bruce, Phil, Vanessa, Robert, Dave, Bob, Neel, and Anthony

Robert Priest, songwriting poet

Multi-talented Toronto poet, novelist, and singer/songwriter Robert Priest brought two great songs to the show. He also brought two talented musicians to back him up – guitarist and vocalist David Hines and guitarist Bob Cohen. We talked about a wide range of things including:

  • the difference between poetry and song lyrics
  • collaboration in song writing
  • song structure
  • work habits
  • breaking down the inner critic
  • “highway” songs
  • writing for children
  • a poem about John Lennon
  • Robert’s website

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Neel, Phil, Vanessa, Bruce, and Anthony

Creating songs when you have an unconventional singing voice

You don’t necessarily need to have a fantastic voice to write or even perform songs well. We looked at some of our favorite songwriters with unusual voices and how they did it.

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We talked about

 

Neel, Bruce, Patrick, Phil, Vanessa, and Anthony

Patrick Ballantyne’s Canadian song picks

Popular guest co-host and guest on Song Talk Radio, Patrick Ballantyne dropped by the studio to share two of his favourite Canadian songs. “Help Me” by Joni Mitchell is a great example of her unique combination of melody, structure, and lyrics to evoke a casual conversational tone. Includes a great instrumental hook. Patrick’s other pick was a song by Ian and Sylvia, “The French Girl”, in a very unusual version recorded by Gene Clark. As we discussed the tunes, we talked about:

  • Patrick’s new album – “Calendar”
  • Hearing songs of yearning at the age of 13
  • Joni Mitchell’s unique vocal style
  • adding a 2/4 bar in a 4/4 song
  • When the root chord is a 7, it creates tension
  • Led Zeppelin

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