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).
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
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:
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
Having been immersed in the wonderful world of singer-songwriters during my time at Song Talk Radio, I’ve attended quite a number of gigs and open mics over the past year.
Everyone I’ve seen perform has great talent in singing, playing an instrument and writing music.
However, I find there’s a lot of variation in a performer’s ability to make an emotional impact on me as an audience member.
A singer may have an amazing voice, but if every song in their set (or even a single song) is delivered in the exact same way and with little variation in emotional expression, I might leave thinking: “That was a good show”, but not feeling that my mind was blown or heart inspired.
So, I’d like to share an exercise – the Song Interpretation Exercise, to be exact – that may help in taking your performance up a notch in the mind-blowing, heart-inspiring department.
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)