writing

Back row: Michael, Blair, Linda, Neel, and Phil. Front row: Ritah and Micah

This Is Spinal Tap: 35 Years Later

This week SongTalk Radio has a special episode celebrating the 35th anniversary of the classic film, “This Is Spinal Tap”. And joining us in our trip down memory lane is one of our favourite guests on the show Blair Packham. We talk about where and when we first encountered this classic cult comedy and how true it was to our own experiences in the music business (hint: very!)

On this episode, Neel, Phil, Michael and Blair talk about:

  • how the film was made
  • what has made the movie so popular many decades later
  • our favourite Spinal Tap moments
  • why this early mock-umentary was so influential
Phil, Michael, Patrick, Vanessa, Linda, and Neel

Patrick Ballantyne: An album of longing

This week Song Talk welcomed Patrick Ballantyne back to our studio. Patrick is a veteran songwriter and musician who has worked with many top-selling artists such as The Trews, Meredith Shaw and Big Sugar.

On this episode, Patrick brought in a few songs from his upcoming new release so our Song Talk audience got to hear the premieres of two tracks – Vicious in Your Vanity and Beneath Your Skin.

We talked with Patrick about:

  • the origins of the songs on his new album
  • the difficulty of writing lyrics
  • his collaboration with Colin MacDonald from the Trews
  • how to organize songs for an album
  • the way lyrical inspiration changes as the songwriter ages
  • Patrick-Ballantyne-Lyrics
  • Patrick Ballantyne on WikiPedia
Bruce, Blair, Vanessa, Michael, and Neel

What’s a cover song anyway?

Our own Michael Proudfoot proudly stepped into the world of cover songs. He uncovered a treasure trove of examples and ideas. Have a listen as the Song Talk Radio team plus Blair Packham (The Jitters) tackles:

  • when everything was a cover
  • the difference between 45, 78, and 33 1/3 rpm records
  • professional songwriters writing for professional singers
  • How The Beatles shifted pop culture by both writing and performing their own songs
  • Jimi Hendrix covers All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan)
  • authenticity (Sarah McLachlan) and self-expression
  • Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Carole King, Leonard Cohen
  • singing someone else’s song – making it universal
  • Husker Du, Love Is All Around (Sonny Curtis)

Listen to the whole show

 

Neel, Linda, Vanessa, Phil, and Patrick

What’s the hook of a song?

Ever wondered why hit songs are so memorable? You know, the ones that you can’t get out of your mind for weeks (or years). Well, it could be the hook. In this episode the Song Talk Radio team does a deep dive into the many and various ways that songwriters have created memorable passages in songs. These include:

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Linda Lavender on song development

Singer/songwriter Linda Lavender shares the story of her song They Won’t Catch Me Again. Follow her journey from it’s birth on a five-hour road trip to its studio recording. We talked about:

  • Linda’s album The Rosseau Sessions with Often Running
  • Bluegrass music
  • Influencers like Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, Alison Krauss
  • People on the run, rebels, a female protagonist

Listen to the whole show

Michael, Bruce, Neel, Vanessa, and Phil

Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie review

Did you love the new movie Bohemian Rhapsody? Hate it? Something in between? Listen as Bruce, Neel, Phil, Michael, and Vanessa let loose! Hear their takes on the Bryan Singer helmed Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic released in late 2018. While they found much to criticize, they had a few raves too.

Listen to the whole show!

Making the most of a three-chord song

On this program Bruce, Neel, and Phil, (and Linda) each brought a three-chord song to share. We looked at what each song needed to do (if anything) to compensate for the lack of chord diversity. We talked about:

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The lyrics

Download the chord/lyric sheets to follow along:

Ming-Tea-BBC

Now-You’re-Leaving_Lyrics

Radiohead-Street-Spirit

The-Joker

Bruce, Allister, Linda, and Phil

Songwriting App Review Show – Part 2

The Song Talk Team reviews songwriting apps, with special guest Allister Bradley, who went above the call of duty and showed up on crutches!

Listen to the show

We talked about:

  • MasterWriter – a lyric-writing app with built-in thesaurus and rhyming dictionary
  • Music Memos – like having a back up band in your pocket!
  • GuitarTuna – free app for tuning your guitar or uke
  • SmartClick – Allister’s handy metronome app of choice
  • Garage Band – y’all know what this is, but did you know you can use it to record a complete song on your phone?
  • OnSong – for cataloging your song, and as a teleprompter for your performances
  • Capo Touch -a great way to learn your favourite songs
  • iRealPro – for charting your songs
  • Liquid Notes – for helping your understand chords and growing your chord palette
  • RhymeGenie and Tunesmith – a fully-functional rhyming dictionary with all the nuances – Allister was very impressed, and keep track of all your collaborators and commercial pitches with Tunesmith
  • CBC Music

Eric Walker, jazz/pop/blues fusion

Eric Walker is a singer/songwriter from Toronto and a member of the blakeley walker band. He was a founding member of the Toronto Songwriters Association which has met the second Saturday of the month for the past 17 years. We talked about:

  • playing Harry Belafonte songs on the ukulele
  • writing a song with 47 chords
  • master songwriting teacher Andy Krehm
  • composition teacher Gordon Dalimont
  • SONG – “Umbrella” – looking back at the beginnings of a relationship
  • SONG – “Renovations” – building and renovating love
  • short chorus – good or bad?
  • how the Toronto Songwriters Association events work

Listen to the whole show

Julian Taylor – dual roots and great songs

Julian Taylor is a Canadian singer-songwriter formerly with the band Staggered Crossing. His songs have appeared in television series including Degrassi: The Next Generation.  He now fronts the Julian Taylor Band. Julian dropped by the studio with his daughter Ella. We talked about:

  • Skookum Music Festival, Vancouver
  • Basic core band members together for 24 years!
  • Music first or lyrics first?
  • Finding a “treasure chest” of memorabilia in the attic
  • New album called Avalanche
  • Checking the quality of the melody – whistle
  • Sweeter – unusual song structure, lots of Canadian references
  • Love Connection – cool structure
  • started writing songs at age of 4
  • Mohawk/West Indian musical background

Listen to the whole show