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  1. #101
    In Zollo's book I'm reading about a (relatively) new wave of singer-songwriters, like Aimee Mann and Chrissie Hynde. Anyone know their work?

    Re: Elvis Costello: I honestly haven't listened closely, but I hope it gets better than Almost Blue. Sorry, but I strongly dislike gimmicky lyrics like those, and it was no fun watching the great Chet Baker croon this in a drug haze---like it was 'deep' or something.

    But if the man's got better stuff I'd love to hear it. He was bright, humble, and reverently knowledgeable about the GASB writers in the interview...

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #102
    I'm digging Chrissie Hynde. She has more---well, balls. I like the voice, the pain and projection. It's a certain kind of pounding rock (that I'd probably love to drive to), but then she can do this:



    Aimee so far a letdown, after Zollo was raving about what a great melodist she is. Didn't hear it (on Humpty Dumpty, or the other 3 I couldn't quite get all the way through). I also found her voice prissy and kind of timid. Excellent, intelligent lyrics, though---which makes me want to try her again. Maybe I was too hasty and completely wrong...

  4. #103
    This is pretty cool. The man knows what he's doing, and can tell a story...



    And this one's a straight-up tear-jerker right out of the ASB. I like his voice, too...



    And this one really sucker punched me! Went the other way with it after the 1st verse...


  5. #104
    Patti Smith: I knew of her for years as a sort of uber-intelligent odd duck, but never listened. Figured I'd start at the beginning with Horses. I did like her wounded voice---it had guts. But the songs seemed repetitive musically, great lyrics notwithstanding, just sort of unmelodic.

    But this one grabbed and moved me---and made me want to hear more this good from her. Everything comes together in this one---and it has a melody I'd cover in a heartbeat...


  6. #105

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    Chrissie Hynde is one hell of a songwriter. Musically interesting, lyrically dimensional.

    Loves me some Elvis, too. Only after I took a few lessons from Raj did I hear @ 1:34 in "Alison", above, the guitarist playing a pretty standard ii-V-I lick, but I love the song all the same.

  7. #106

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    Oh, and if you want to hear how music can support a lyric, check out Television. They had a real knack for marrying the mood of the lyric to the music, or vice-versa, I don't know. But in an odd way their songs are very coherent.
    Last edited by Thumpalumpacus; 06-11-2020 at 12:40 PM.

  8. #107
    I like Elvis's version of Almost Blue better than Chet's Still don't buy that lyric, though. Gimmicky, and it wears thin fast. Those other tunes are MFs, though...

  9. #108

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    Here's hoping that contemporary songwriting students are acquainted with this guy.


  10. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus View Post
    Chrissie Hynde is one hell of a songwriter. Musically interesting, lyrically dimensional.

    Loves me some Elvis, too. Only after I took a few lessons from Raj did I hear @ 1:34 in "Alison", above, the guitarist playing a pretty standard ii-V-I lick, but I love the song all the same.
    I think the band on "Alison" was Huey Lewis & The News.
    I was a big fan of Costello early on. Up through "Trust" especially, though I heard a few albums after that as well.

  11. #110

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus View Post
    Oh, and if you want to hear how music can support a lyric, check out Television. They had a real knack for marrying the mood of the lyric to the music, of vice-versa, I don't know. But in an odd way their songs are very coherent.
    I loved that band! I wasn't always sure what Tom Verlaine was singing but I have gone through several copies of "Marquee Moon". Remember having the live set, "Blow Up" on a Roir cassette back in the early '80s.

    The guitar interplay of Verlaine and Richard Lloyd still appeals to me.


  12. #111

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus View Post
    Chrissie Hynde is one hell of a songwriter. Musically interesting, lyrically dimensional.

    Loves me some Elvis, too. Only after I took a few lessons from Raj did I hear @ 1:34 in "Alison", above, the guitarist playing a pretty standard ii-V-I lick, but I love the song all the same.
    She wrote one of the few songs that can make me cry.


  13. #112

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    I loved that band! I wasn't always sure what Tom Verlaine was singing but I have gone through several copies of "Marquee Moon". Remember having the live set, "Blow Up" on a Roir cassette back in the early '80s.

    The guitar interplay of Verlaine and Richard Lloyd still appeals to me.

    Aside from the musical interplay which you rightly mention, I love the poetry of their lyrics, which, with their hazy shades of meaning, invite the listener into the creative process.

  14. #113

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus View Post
    Aside from the musical interplay which you rightly mention, I love the poetry of their lyrics, which, with their hazy shades of meaning, invite the listener into the creative process.
    I did enjoy the lyrics too, yes. They're lumped in with punk bands but they really weren't a punk band. Too talented and inventive. ;o)

  15. #114

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    She wrote one of the few songs that can make me cry.

    A popular staple of the '80s female-fronted dance band we had. C.H. wrote heartbreakers very well.


    And she played a Tele!
    Last edited by citizenk74; 06-11-2020 at 09:24 PM. Reason: addition

  16. #115
    I'd like to take it in a different direction for a bit: I appreciate and respect the lyrics; personal voices; and messages of the folks I've mentioned---and sometimes the musical piece. With writers at the Stevie Wonder/Randy Newman/Donny Hathaway, etc. as my gold standard, I frankly find some of these others musically limited, and thereby somewhat unsatisfying. (I should add to the above list the remarkable Guinevere, by David Crosby). I'll be called a snob, and it won't kill me.

    Ironically, and to me not a little amusingly, I started a book on what American song has become now, today. Part of my reasoning: the Bible I once used was Alec Wilder's American Popular Song. It's still seminal, but his attitude toward the newer post-'50s writers ranged from dismissive (called them 'amateurs in print, and more than once) to hostile. I felt he was threatened by his way going the way of the Phoenix---and that he was absolutely an elitist---which chills my blood generally. So I decided to write about the worthy 'pop' (general and dumb term) writers, the good melodists/lyricists. And I did find many.

    However, after researching some of these folks sampled in my previous posts, I too often had to hold myself back from morphing into Wilder II. I'd never call them 'amateurs'---they're as professional and accomplished in their way as the day is long. But in purely musical terms, well supposed (harmonic) sophistication per se doesn't make for superiority, but as my departed friend Tom Olin would say: 'a 2 is not a 9'. The 'everyman'---'you can do it, it's easy' aspect of rock 'n' roll has never appealed to me. It's often the defense of the ignorant. And, sorry, the 'apples and oranges' argument will not sway me.

    Off the soapbox, I'd like to discuss the work of a very talented songwriter whose was also wildly popular. Beloved.

    Joe Raposo.

    There was such musicality in his melodies, and such humanity in his lyrics (even when 'sung' by animals!). It's important to me when work of such quality is so widely embraced. Makes me believe in what I'm trying to do myself all the more, and that quality coupled with soul can out---given the proper vehicle and being properly exposed.

    Here's some of his best:







    (Sorry for Helen---couldn't find the delicious Sesame St. rendition with the horse)


    And, best for last, one of the all-time champs:



    Now you can come after me---LOL!!
    Last edited by joelf; 06-11-2020 at 08:58 PM.

  17. #116

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    Joel, no one contributed more tunes to the GASB than Irving Berlin and he was "musically limited." He liked to play on the black keys, as they were raised and spaced more widely than the white ones. He once said playing in the key of C was for people who studied music. He wrote most of his early songs in F#. Later, he had a transposing piano built and could then compose in various keys.

    [NB when the italics start in the following quote they continue you to the end of the post. I can't undo them. For that I apologize.]

    >>>In Alan Jay Lerner's autobiography On the Street Where I Live Lerner recounts the following story: Moss Hart was producing a Berlin musical, and Berlin came to see Hart to demonstrate some new songs. They sounded absolutely horrible, and Hart was disturbed and perplexed. Then an idea occurred to him. "Irving," he said, "play 'Blue Skies' ". Berlin played "Blue Skies", and it sounded absolutely horrible. "Irving," Hart said, "your new songs are great!" TheScotch 08:15, 18 August 2007

    Berlin didn't write down the music for his own songs. Reportedly, Alexander Doyle earned 50 cents a page for writing down the music to "Alexander's Ragtime Band," the song that made Berlin famous. Afterward, Berlin hired musical secretaries on a longer-term basis. Helmy Kresma was Berlin's musical secretary for over 50 years.

    I get that you don't like what you don't like. But if you bring in "musically limited" as a disqualifier you gotta throw out Irving Berlin and you can't throw out Irving Berlin! ;o)

  18. #117

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    I did enjoy the lyrics too, yes. They're lumped in with punk bands but they really weren't a punk band. Too talented and inventive. ;o)
    I love that they combined punk energy, psychedelic imagery, baroque structures, and occasionally wankery so seamlessly. They were also the first musicians who made me think, "Hey, so that's what a Fender is great for", 'cause I sure as hell couldn't get those sounds on my Les Paul. They could also be touching and at points elegaic.

    Who was their drummer? Billy Ficca, Google tells me. Even on their slow songs I love the energy he applied.

    The moment I hit play on MM, I fell in love with this:



    This is what I'm talking about above.

  19. #118
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Joel, no one contributed more tunes to the GASB than Irving Berlin and he was "musically limited." He liked to play on the black keys, as they were raised and spaced more widely than the white ones. He once said playing in the key of C was for people who studied music. He wrote most of his early songs in F#. Later, he had a transposing piano built and could then compose in various keys.

    [NB when the italics start in the following quote they continue you to the end of the post. I can't undo them. For that I apologize.]

    >>>In Alan Jay Lerner's autobiography On the Street Where I Live Lerner recounts the following story: Moss Hart was producing a Berlin musical, and Berlin came to see Hart to demonstrate some new songs. They sounded absolutely horrible, and Hart was disturbed and perplexed. Then an idea occurred to him. "Irving," he said, "play 'Blue Skies' ". Berlin played "Blue Skies", and it sounded absolutely horrible. "Irving," Hart said, "your new songs are great!" TheScotch 08:15, 18 August 2007

    Berlin didn't write down the music for his own songs. Reportedly, Alexander Doyle earned 50 cents a page for writing down the music to "Alexander's Ragtime Band," the song that made Berlin famous. Afterward, Berlin hired musical secretaries on a longer-term basis. Helmy Kresma was Berlin's musical secretary for over 50 years.

    I get that you don't like what you don't like. But if you bring in "musically limited" as a disqualifier you gotta throw out Irving Berlin and you can't throw out Irving Berlin! ;o)
    Mark: I know all about Berlin. Why wouldn't I?

    Geniuses are different, and are to be treated as such. I think you know full well I would never designated him as 'limited' in the same sense as the self-limiting purveyors of the aforementioned 'everyman' rock mentality.

    If anything, I'd bet anything that he was frustrated as hell, his ears being as big as they were. He had to have arrangers harmonize his songs, hanging on their every chord and correcting them with 'No, no---it's more like...', and not knowing the proper name for the perfect chord ringing full in his ears. I'd bet anything he wished he was a trained musician. Knowledge would've driven his great talent to even greater heights---and he'd have felt better not having to rely on the mechanical skills of lesser talents.

    The jazz world is also certainly rife with major figures who were self or street taught, and ended up voicing frustration over feeling they'd hit a dead end. I've heard this about Wes Montgomery. Charlie Parker was always saying he was going to study with this one and that one (never did).

    But these people (and Berlin, and Stevie Wonder) A. were in the highest percentile of ability. B. did not revel in being limited---they searched for knowledge, in their own way, but they sought it.

    Once again, I'm frowning at the 'it's only rock n roll---let's not get too deep' mindset---even among some of the talented. The end result, too often, is music that's not what it could be---and if they're fine with that, 'salud'---but I ain't buying it.

    Self-limitation is the stuff of also-rans...
    Last edited by joelf; 06-16-2020 at 06:29 AM.

  20. #119
    Interview with Dylan in today's NY Times (hope the pay wall doesn't stop you):

    Bob Dylan Has a Lot on His Mind - The New York Times

  21. #120
    And Mark: to put it another way (and I won't flog this horse anymore after this): I was a 'scholarship student' of the jazz educator Marshall Brown ca 1980-81. He was a great teacher and I was young and foolish (great tune!). I kept resisting his telling me I needed to work on technique more, squawking that I just 'want to be lyrical'---or something.

    'If you really are lyrical, all the technique in the world won't hurt you'.

    Reminds me of a great Mark Twain quote: 'When I was 15 I was sure my father was a complete idiot. By 20 I was amazed at how much he'd learned'...

  22. #121
    This is one of many gems from Holland-Dozier-Holland. (I'm seriously thinking of including it in slower, near-dirge-like fashion on a streaming concert next Thursday---lays very nicely in E Minor).

    Diana's voice (and looks) are to die...



  23. #122
    WKCR, my absolute favorite radio station (which streams, BTW) just played a long, rambling, and (what else?) brilliant title track from Dylan's new recording---Murder Most Foul. Sounded like the whole thing was improvised, stream of consciousness---that kind of thing. Started with a film noir scenario---some guy got his head blown off in a car---after many whistle stops it morphed into a recitation of jazz names: Monk; Bird: Art Pepper. Ended with 'Mr. President. help is on the way!'.

    Wisely, this was mostly recited or done in a sort of sing-spiel. Wise b/c the man has virtually no voice left (echoes of the great Pete Seeger in his 90s---he kept on keepin' on, too). Reminds me of that great line from the Band's Up on Cripple Creek: 'She said I can't stand the way he sings, but I love to hear him talk..'.

    Accompaniment of 3 chords may as well as been a loop---but who cares? All the more reason to focus on the stories unfolding.

    Dylan is a spry 79 and, like the Energizer, keeps on ticking---and creating. An American treasure...

  24. #123

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf View Post
    Interview with Dylan in today's NY Times (hope the pay wall doesn't stop you):

    Bob Dylan Has a Lot on His Mind - The New York Times
    Yeah, I posted that one in the "False Prophet" thread. Douglas Brinkley has had a few interesting conversations with Dylan over the years.

  25. #124
    Nice Joni doc:


  26. #125

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    Pardon my ignorance but what does GASB stand for?

  27. #126

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fz2016 View Post
    Pardon my ignorance but what does GASB stand for?
    Songwriting Rules of the Road (at least in, and ONLY in my opinion)...-3e962a19-18ae-4f3e-a858-ad5c6a16bb5b-jpg

  28. #127

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fz2016 View Post
    Pardon my ignorance but what does GASB stand for?
    Great American Songbook - Wikipedia

  29. #128

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    Ah nevermind Great American Songbook!

  30. #129

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    Oh just saw your response after the post I did of figuring it out! I felt kinda silly when I realized how obvious it was! But thanks for answering man I appreciate it.

  31. #130

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    I have been too busy to post much lately.

    Been thinking about an old song form, AAA (or all A)

    Old McDonald Had A Farm, Maggie Mae, Blowin' In The Wind, I Walk the Line, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Gentle On My Mind, Amazing Grace....

    I'm especially interested in versions of this where the song has a verse / chorus form yet both parts have the same chords. (The vocal melody changes.)

    This is one of my favorite songs from my childhood, "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms". It's a flexible tune with a wide appeal, open to a variety of treatments. I want to write a song like that!










  32. #131
    (Wet blanket alert)

    I know you meant the older Maggie Mae, not Rod Stewart's.

    B/c IMO that song is rife with such bad writing, and so overbaked in arrangement and performance, I'm not sure whether to laugh or groan. (When the mandolin players come en masse at the end, it reminds me of an old Al Cohn joke: 'I did a record date with 50 mandolin players. No one in Jersey could get a haircut that day'.

    Ex---one of many: this strained and ludicrous rhyme:

    'I laughed at all of your jokes,
    My love you didn't need to coax'...'

    Besides, Stewart himself makes my toes curl---especially the GASB stuff---ugh. Give me Joni or Dylan, even in decline.

    Stewart was OK in the cranked-up Jeff Beck Group back in the late '60s, when he had to scream and rasp to get over that volume. I sort of dug it then. But I was 18.

    Wish he'd go away...
    Last edited by joelf; 07-03-2020 at 05:59 PM.

  33. #132
    Meanwhile, looking for uplifting and protest songs for an upcoming concert, I found this gem by Alicia Keys:




    Always heard she was gifted. I can see why they say that...

  34. #133

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    Other strophic (-AAA, or all A) songs include:
    C C Rider, Baby Please Don't Go, House of the Rising Sun, Shady Grove, Tom Dooley, Deck The Halls, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Freight Train, In the Pines, Man of Constant Sorrow....

  35. #134
    And Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair; and My Babe. This is all I ask is AA with a 2nd ending...

  36. #135
    I take back every snarky word I wrote about the Bergmans' lyrics. If they can write this...

    (Legrand and Blue Eyes don't hurt either)...



  37. #136

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    Here are my pop producer "Max Martin" hit songwriting crib notes:

    Key of G (the most popular)
    113 BPM (the most popular)

    ||: I | V | vi- | IV :|| the "Let It Be" type chords

    ||: C | G | A- | F :|| the most popular chord progression, or some variation of

    Simple lyrics (3rd to 5th-grade level)

    Most popular form:
    (between 30-60 seconds to arrive at the Chorus)
    Intro 4 bars
    Verse 8 bars
    Pre Chorus 8 bars
    Chorus 16 bars
    Bridge 8 bars

    MINOR KEY SONGS:
    ||: i- iv- | bVII bIII | bVI iv- | v- i- :|| typical

    ||: C- F- | Bb Eb | Ab F- | G- C- :|| or a variation of

  38. #137

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    Rick Beato made a video about the I-V-vi-IV progression ("The Four Chords That Killed Pop Music") and why it is ubiquitous.

    The Beatles didn't use this much. ("Let It Be", yes, but that was it.)
    Max Martin himself doesn't use that progression as much.
    (According to Rick.)
    But producers and record labels want them to be used because they are the hit formula.....