Bruce, Neel and Phil were all happy to have Patrick Ballantyne back in the Song Talk Radio studio for the third time. He always brings great songs (listen to “Make Believe” and “Sky” for proof) and lots of experience to share about the songwriting process for our listeners. When writing a song, he starts with the music – almost always on the guitar. For contrast, he has started writing on the piano where he has less competency and is forced to “keep it simple.” After writing solo for many years, he recently joined a group of collaborators and enjoyed the process.
Jeff Greenway returned to the Song Talk Radio studio to share his thoughts on song writing. His approach to writing is through a feeling, not a theory. This was amply demonstrated in the two songs he shared with us. The first, Cavalry, evoked the sadness and confusion you feel when a relationship just isn’t working any more. No one is coming to save the day and there’s nowhere to hide. The second tune, I Need describes the two opposing sides of possible reconciliation. Notice the lyric shift from “don’t come home” to “please come home”. We discussed:
- home recording with a good microphone and Logic
- background vocals
- the use of silence in a song
- chord substitution
- teaching music to children
Listen to the entire show here:
For this special theme show, each of the hosts presented a song with “unusual” or hard-to-decipher lyrics. We delved into a discussion around understanding the intentions behind and interpreting the songs. Download the lyrics here: Unusual Lyrics
- Neel’s selection: A Self Called Nowhere by They Might Be Giants
- Bruce’s selection: McArthur Park by Jimmy Webb (performed by Donna Summers)
- Janice’s selection: Paranoid Android by Radiohead
We talked about:
- The notion that once your song is released to the world, it’s no longer yours and open to multiple interpretations
- Check out www.songmeanings.com to read user interpretations of songs
- What is the purpose for communicating a story through unusual, hard-to-decipher lyrics?
- Use of metaphors
- Writing a song with unusual lyrics as a songwriter’s challenge – break the rules!
Listen to the complete show:
Carmen Toth / Social Potion joined us for the second time to talk about a new song, and an older one, both of which are appearing on her upcoming album.
Stuff we talked about:
- writing lyrics first, songs first, or improvising on the fly during a jam/collaboration
- journalling / creating a “lyrics bank”
- starting a song from an emotion
- marketing to promote other artists
- memorable titles in the world of singles
- working with a producer to focus the song structure and strengthen commercial appeal
- writing universal, relatable lyrics
- using a bridge to bring a new perspective into the song
Download Carmen’s lyrics for the show.
Listen to the complete episode:
From the moment Blair Packham started to speak, we knew we were in for some great lessons from a master songwriter and experienced teacher. If You Were Mine featured a great bridge and instrumental break. In Her Dreams started out as a story of a woman in a call centre and moved to a daughter caring for an ailing mother. In our wide-ranging conversation we also touched on the following:
- who are you writing for?
- does the song connect emotionally with the listener?
- collaboration is good
- ask for feedback and use it
- write from your creativity
- the new singer-songwriter accent (Shawn Mendes song Stitches for example)
- song-writing workshops (songstudio.ca)
Listen to the full episode
The ever talented Liz Jaremyn returned with two great songs. Here’s some stuff we talked about:
- Liz Jaremyn’s previous show in 2014
- Download the lyrics for Liz Jaremyn’s songs
- Overcoming writer’s block vs forcing it
- exploring song structures
- How many sections should your song have?
- Liz Jaremyn’s YouTube Channel
- Writing Better Lyrics – Pat Patison
Listen to the whole show:
Stuff we talked about:
The uber-talented Sonja Seiler brings her own brand of passionate, emotional songs to Song Talk Radio for the second time, this time with a country twist.
Stuff we talked about:
- transitioning from writing on piano to guitar
- letting an idea percolate for a while before writing
- the power of imagery
- what’s the right tempo for your song?
- titles with brackets
- extending a metaphor
- Sonja’s previous appearance on Song Talk Radio
Multi-talented singer songwriter Steven Taetz turned the Song Talk studio into a smoky nightclub with his perfect renditions of his own songs. Waiting for Wishes (co-written with Emma-Lee) had so many “hooks” we lost count (listen for pre-chorus one and two, and the first chorus!). Lately (co-written with Gavin Bradley) had us enraptured as Steven delivered the plaintive lyrics of a man who fears his lover may have strayed. Listen to the awesome bridge!
Listen to the entire show here!
The awesomely talented former recording engineer Bob Guido shared some absolutely mesmerizing sounds with the Song Talk Radio audience. With his guitar and effects he played Letting Go, a dreamy instrumental which showcased Bob’s mastery of melody and form. His second tune Wake Up Call featured Bob’s vocals and lyrics in a haunting arrangement that called for more love in the world. Some of the topics that came up included:
- El Capistan echo box
- WET reverb box
- Brian Eno
- ambient music
- making lyrics sound musical (phonetics)
- Groove Salad – Internet station for ambient music