imagery

Phil, Vanessa, Neel, Etain, and Bruce

Leonard Cohen, the late great Canadian troubadour

What can you say about the exceptionally talented poet, novelist, and prolific singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen.that hasn’t already been said? Well, the Song Talk Radio action team didn’t worry about that. Bruce, Neel, and Phil simply dove into their memories and had a close look at three of his many, many songs. Bruce brought the poetic Bird on a Wire (1969), Neel shared the dark and foreboding Everybody Knows (1980’s), and Phil had us pay attention to one of Cohen’s last recordings, the prescient Leaving the Table (2016).

Have a listen!

Dan Edmonds making it up in the moment

The Song Talk Team had the distinct pleasure of spending an hour with the very talented and original singer/songwriter Dan Edmonds. His fresh takes on music and how it’s made were both illuminating and engaging. He played two of his intriguing recordings – “Love Can Be a Tunnel” and “To Be That Needle”. We talked about:

  • improvising lyrics in the recording studio
  • letting the listener make their own meaning from the words
  • the two-chord song
  • the fun and challenge of touring
  • finding management

Here’s the show. Have a listen!

 

Where’s Bob Dylan?

Okay, so we couldn’t get Bob to come to the studio for the show. Not surprising considering how the Nobel Prize people can’t find him either. On this show about Bob Dylan we discussed:

  • The new film from Ron Howard  – The Beatles, Eight Days a Week
  • How the Beatles wrote songs
  • Should the Nobel Prize for Literature have been given to Bob Dylan?
  • What was Bob Dylan’s contribution to the music world?
  • Bob’s lyrics and melodies
  • How much his early career was influenced by the times (early sixties)
  • His long career
  • Two of his songs: “Shelter from the Storm” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues”
Neel, Phil, Jacob, Bruce, Nicole, and Janice

Jacob Moon a song writing star

With 10 albums over a 20-year career, Canadian singer/songwriter/guitarist Jacob Moon dropped into the studio to share a wealth of helpful tips and clear insights. “Live a Little” is a truly exceptional tune, a perfect marriage of lyrics, melody, theme and variation.  “Is That All You Got” is a gutsy rocker that looks at calamity with defiance and a “bring it on” attitude. The hour just flew by as we discussed –

  • live performance looping
  • putting cover songs on YouTube
  • social media
  • how to reharmonize your chords using the same melody
  • the influence on Jacob of songwriters Paul Simon, Ron Sexsmith, Joni Mitchell, and Jackson Brown
  • the benefits of writing a song using only a bass guitar (or the bass notes on piano)
  • open (alternate) tunings including the ever-popular DADGAD
  • how a great song requires hard work and lots of rewrites

Listen to the whole show

Check out Jacob Moon’s engaging and heartfelt performances

Nicole, Phil, Marlon, Dave, and Neel

Songwriting as craft with Marlon Chaplin

The extraordinarily talented singer-songwriter and producer Marlon Chaplin joined us to talk about his crafty approach to songwriting, and share two songs. Dave Miner also joined us to fill in for Bruce as co-host. Thanks a million, Dave, you were great!

Download the lyrics for Marlon’s songs to follow along as you listen.

We talked about:

  • different approaches to co-writing
  • how to tell if a song was written by a drummer
  • the “one little thing” to mess up your chord progression (in a good way)
  • sure, it’s a country song, but there are elements of rap too
  • how letting ideas simmer for a while affords you some objective perspective before you start writing
  • why the world needs more bad songs
  • songwriting as craft
  • Gary Wood’s episodes to see more interesting capo setups
  • how to develop different guitar parts from verse to chorus
  • going from a Major I to a Minor V when you’re feeling a bit of melancholy

Listen to the whole show:

Watch the live performance:

Link to Marlon’s channels:

Bruce, Patrick, Phil, and Neel

“A song is good if you like it,” says Patrick Ballantyne

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.

Listen to the whole show:

See the live performance:

The unusual world of songs with unusual lyrics

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:

 

Exploring poetic lyrics with Liz Jaremyn

The ever talented Liz Jaremyn returned with two great songs. Here’s some stuff we talked about:

Listen to the whole show:

Talkin ’bout song structures

Bruce, Neel, Phil and Janice spent most of an hour on the subject of song structures with 4 different examples. We talked about:

  • the prologue verse (I Left my Heart in San Francisco)
  • writing for musical theatre (My Funny Valentine)
  • the connection between segment style and lyrical content (Band on the Run)
  • Sloan’s song with its many sections and its Beatles influence (Fading into Obscurity)

All in all, a fun and informative show. Thanks for the tweets Tony!

Further Reading:

Arranging Songs: How to Put the Parts Together

Sonja with the team

Doing that country thang with Sonja Seiler

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