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)
Often on Song Talk Radio, this question arises. Sometimes, it’s fun for the hosts to try and guess. “Your song sounds very cerebral,” or “Your song sounds very intuitive.” The guests themselves tell us how well considered every decision in their songwriting process is, or tell us “It just came to me.” This question of process in creative endeavour is as old as the creative endeavours themselves. On Blair Packham’s show, he talked about his own journey on both the intuitive and the cerebral roads.