chorus

Adi, Bruce, Linda, and Neel

Songs about mental health

It was Canadian Mental Health Week‘s 66th year and we thought we’d put a spotlight on songs that talk about the challenges of maintaining mental health.

This year’s hashtag is #getloud.

For this special show, we had guest host Adi Aman from Beige Shelter, and four songs that talk about mental health.

We talked about:

  • Beige Shelter’s mental health advocacy song, Light Your Way
  • Song Meanings, a great site to see others interpretations of popular songs
  • suicide
  • addiction
  • the role of music and art in mental health
  • Loving Vincent
  • Oliver Sacks and his work with Alzheimer patients and the power of music

Listen to the show

Download the lyrics for the show to follow along:

The songs

Vanessa, Phil, Robert, David, Linda, Bruce and Neel

Robert Priest – how to write songs for children

We had the pleasure of having the prolific Toronto poet, novelist, and singer/songwriter Robert Priest (with David Hynes on guitar) back in the studio to share a couple of his children’s songs. We talked about…

  • testing a song on a 6-year old
  • moving from writing for adults to writing for children on the same day
  • chord choices for children
  • writing for younger and older children (the differences)
  • kids deserve quality songwriting
  • Inchworm” (an old favourite)
  • repetition in kids’ songs
  • using words that kids will have to look up (why not?)
  • the work habits of a prolific writer
  • Gilbert and Sullivan style (The Ships of Bath)
  • do you have to have kids to write for children?

Listen to the whole show

Robert-Priest-Lyrics

Watch the live performances

Vanessa, Phil, Linda, Bruce, and Neel

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 – I, III, IV, V (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

Listen to the whole show

White-Blank-Page

Operator-Jim-Croce-Lyrics

One-More-Minute

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

Listen to the show!

Download the song lyrics and follow along

BLEED

FLY

Watch the live performances

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!

Listen to the show

Download the song lyrics and follow along

Beauty in the Grey

Deliver Me

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

Watch the live performances

 

Listen to the show

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

Listen to the show

Bruce, Ed, Phil, Vanessa, and Neel

Ed Roman a Canadian original

Ed Roman is an award-winning singer/songwriter, performer and multi-instrumentalist from Shelburne, Ontario, Canada.  Blurring the lines between pop, rock, folk, and country music genres, Ed’s uniquely crafted songs have received regular rotation on more than 100 terrestrial radio stations across North America and more than 400 stations, worldwide. On this program we had some lively discussions about:

  • What is “Canadiana”?
  • Being human and the influence of family on songwriting
  • Music as a way to deal with dyslexia
  • Forming a band at the age of 14 and writing original tunes
  • Lyrics have many meanings for the listeners (good!)
  • Emotions in the performance
  • Protest songs – what happens behind the scenes?
  • Holding onto unresolved chords versus fulfilling expectations

Download the lyrics

The Way She Goes

I Told You So

Listen to the whole show

Watch the performances

Vanessa, Bruce, Michelle, Phil, and Neel

Michelle Thibodeau moves from opera to pop

Michelle Thibodeau is a pop-folk singer/songwriter from Moncton, New Brunswick, now based in Toronto. She performed live for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber (2012) and David Foster (June 2017) as well as recently playing the leading lady “Nancy” in a professional production of Oliver the Musical. Her most recent single “Checkmate” (Oct 2016) was played nation-wide on CBC and Michelle is currently working on her third album of original music. At the age of 16, Michelle began writing songs on both guitar and piano, and 10 years later it is still her primary passion. For more information on her upcoming releases and performances in the GTA and the Maritimes, visit michellethibodeau.ca.

Download the lyrics

Checkmate

Easy Target

Listen to the whole show

Watch the live performance

Bruce, Brandon, Belinda, Sintja, Phil, Vanessa, and Neel

Sintja Baba – songwriting with a band’s support

Multi-instrumentalist and back up vocalist Sintja Baba has been playing alongside various Toronto acts and is currently playing that role in Marlon Chaplin’s band. She started her own band THE NAIVE, where her music has taken the shape of various genres. Her EP, “Saw the Sun” is a medley of catchy upbeat hooks and mellow ballads. We talked about:

  • Jazz program at University of Toronto
  • longterm song development
  • songwriting as expression of longing
  • Brazilian music influences
  • theory versus intuition
  • keyboard as cello

Listen to the whole show here:

Saw The Sun lyrics: saw-the-sun-lyrics

Dirty Streets lyrics: dirty-streets-lyrics

Artist website:
www.thenaivemusic.com

Twitter:
www.twitter.com/sintjababa

Facebook:
www.facebook.com/thenaivemusic

YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6qOAVsw-qknKN5ZDGxqycg

SoundCloud / MySpace:
www.soundcloud.com/thenaivemusic