writing

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

Bruce, Phil, Blair, Vanessa, Neel, and Linda

Rhyme-a-rama with Blair Packham!

We figured it was time to talk about rhyme; a cornerstone of songwriting. So we invited one of our favourite singer/songwriters – Blair Packham – to take a closer listen to songs with a plethora of rhymes and one with virtually none! We talked about:

  • The songwriter’s personal approach to rhyme
  • Does rhyme distract from the the emotion of the song?
  • Kinds of rhymes – rhymezone.com
  • Perfect rhymes for something certain (e.g. right/might)
  • Assonance rhymes for uncertainty or negative feelings (e.g. around/down, blood/rush)
  • Pat Pattison – how do rhymes serve the song?
  • Rhyme schemes
  • Neel’s notes on rhyming from Pat Pattison’s Songwriting course on Coursera
  • The notion of the “illusion of authenticity” – stay tuned for a future theme show with Blair!

Listen to the show

 

Download the lyrics

Simple Twist of Fate by Bob Dylan

Cry Me a River by Arthur Hamilton

You’re the Top by Cole Porter

Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

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

big treble clef falling on man - notes from a non-songwriter - songwriting tips

Notes From A Non-Songwriter or “The Stuff You Need To Know”

When I joined Song Talk Radio as social media maven over a year ago, I knew nothing about songwriting. In the past, I learned to read music and play a few instruments including flute, bass clarinet, French horn and the drums. But I had never entertained the thought of writing a song.

In my first few months at Song Talk Radio, I didn’t understand much of the songwriting jargon the team (Bruce, Neel & Phil) would throw out during our broadcasts. I found myself frantically googling in the background to try to understand what they were talking about. These days, I understand most of what they discuss, but every once in a while they use a term I’ve never heard before.

Here is a list of terms that I’ve learned through my time on the show, and I hope it might be helpful to beginner songwriters too. I’ve found it a helpful resource to refer back to.

A Tacet: Latin for ‘be silent.’ A word used in orchestral and vocal scores to direct a particular instrument or voice to remain silent during a particular passage or section.”N.C.” (‘no chord’) is often used in guitar tablature or chord charts to indicate tacets or rests in the accompaniment. Read more

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, Neel, Vanessa, and Bruce

The 2017 Year End Wrap-Up Show!

Join the gang as we go over our favourite bits of the last year and lots more stuff!

We talked about:

Listen to the show:

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

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

Blair, Phil, Neel, Vanessa, and Bruce

Blair Packham and two of his favourite songs

For this special episode, good friend of the show Blair Packham (frontman of The Jitters, co-creator of Song Studio), brought in two of his favourite songs and together we dove deep into each song. We talked about:

Listen to the show

The Songs