mudcat.org: A Plague of Songwriters?
Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2] [3]


A Plague of Songwriters?

George Papavgeris 18 Dec 03 - 02:23 PM
Clinton Hammond 18 Dec 03 - 02:30 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Dec 03 - 02:48 PM
The Shambles 18 Dec 03 - 03:03 PM
mg 18 Dec 03 - 03:16 PM
PoppaGator 18 Dec 03 - 03:23 PM
Amos 18 Dec 03 - 03:41 PM
PoppaGator 18 Dec 03 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 18 Dec 03 - 04:16 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 18 Dec 03 - 04:22 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 18 Dec 03 - 04:28 PM
The Stage Manager 18 Dec 03 - 05:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Dec 03 - 06:27 PM
Art Thieme 18 Dec 03 - 06:32 PM
Amos 18 Dec 03 - 06:38 PM
Joybell 18 Dec 03 - 07:13 PM
The Fooles Troupe 18 Dec 03 - 07:15 PM
George Papavgeris 18 Dec 03 - 07:20 PM
The Fooles Troupe 18 Dec 03 - 07:23 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Dec 03 - 07:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Dec 03 - 07:34 PM
Leadfingers 18 Dec 03 - 08:00 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Dec 03 - 08:24 PM
Alaska Mike 18 Dec 03 - 09:01 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Dec 03 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,Russ 18 Dec 03 - 09:58 PM
The Shambles 19 Dec 03 - 02:29 AM
GUEST,clanger 19 Dec 03 - 04:13 AM
GUEST,MC Fat 19 Dec 03 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,Santa 19 Dec 03 - 06:07 AM
Leadfingers 19 Dec 03 - 06:31 AM
GUEST,SM at Work 19 Dec 03 - 07:19 AM
The Fooles Troupe 19 Dec 03 - 07:24 AM
GUEST,Das Lied Politzei 19 Dec 03 - 08:23 AM
GUEST,Santa 19 Dec 03 - 08:44 AM
GUEST,Songwriters Revolutionary Front. 19 Dec 03 - 09:03 AM
GUEST,Islamic Folk Jihad 19 Dec 03 - 10:19 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Dec 03 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,Rain Dog 19 Dec 03 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,Das Lied Politzei 19 Dec 03 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 19 Dec 03 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,The Benn Agency 19 Dec 03 - 11:55 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Dec 03 - 11:57 AM
GUEST,The Benn Agency 19 Dec 03 - 12:05 PM
breezy 19 Dec 03 - 12:13 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Dec 03 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,Guest, Questioner 19 Dec 03 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,The Benn Agency 19 Dec 03 - 03:24 PM
PoppaGator 19 Dec 03 - 03:40 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Dec 03 - 04:06 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:






Subject: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 02:23 PM

In the world of collective nouns, my favourite is a "business" of ferrets (so apt!). But recently in various threads there seems to be a tendency to create a new one: a "plague" of songwriters.
Now, why is it that in the folk club or session environment we often (rightly) endure and support the average or below-average singer or player of an instrument, yet we judge songwriters so much more harshly; as if they are to be scolded simply for wanting to inflict their creation/abomination on us?
Songwriting is a form of expression, like singing, playing music, reading poetry or prose, story-telling, joke-telling etc. The majority of songwriters do not aspire to greatness; only to tell the others about the world as they see/feel it. It's like somebody lending you their kaleidoscope - you may not see what they see, but you get the idea.
So, two questions:
a) Do we judge songwriters more harshly than other folk singers/ musicians and if so, why?
b) What advice would you give to a songwriter wanting to inflict their "baby" project on you, in order to make it more interesting for you?

Seconds away...Round one: Discuss


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 02:30 PM

a) Do we judge songwriters more harshly than other folk singers/ musicians and if so, why?

The audacity of public originality?

b) What advice would you give to a songwriter wanting to inflict their "baby" project on you, in order to make it more interesting for you?

For me? Well, don't suck for starters... heh (Good advice eh?? LOL) I donno.. how do you write a song so that I'll like it? I'd be happy if -I- could write songs that -I- liked!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 02:48 PM

a) The difference is that usually in a folk club, the below average singer and or instrumentalist is "participating" in a communal setting - everyone is usually joining in. This indidividual is usually doing their thing for fun, not profit.

The songwriter usually "performing" in an environment where the listener is an audience, not a participant. Songwriters often have aspirations of performing on a higher stage. They become open to criticism.

If I am given a home cooked meal, I am likely to be less criticial that I would if I pay to have a similar meal in a restaurant.

Please note - I am using the words "usual" and "often" in my comments. There are no universal truths in the scenario that El Greko suggested.

b) Be patient and open to suggestion.


Ron


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 03:03 PM

The writer (and usually the performer) of original songs does have a hard time. They can be accused of pushing their creations upon people but of course if they don't sing their song - no one else will. So they are rather damned if they do and damned if they don't.

We are all different and I would liken songs to houses, which we all need. Songs (to folkies anyway) are just as necessary. Some of us will move in to a house exactly as it is, some of us will knock it around a bit, to our own personal preference and some will need to build from scratch.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: mg
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 03:16 PM

well, if someone is pretty awful but they sing a song everyone knows, you can all chime in and keep them on key etc...if it is not a song anyone knows, but has a tune or chorus, you can hum along etc..but if it is a tuneless sort of tune there is sfa you can do except listen to the lyrics and I am not one who really listens to the lyrics..I'd rather read them..who knows...there are some great ones that come along this way...mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 03:23 PM

I just posted a fairly lengthy rant in another thread, decrying the abysmal quality of "original" material imposed upon the audience by individuals and groups who can be perfectly enjoyable performers as long as they stick with good, established, proven songs.

The way El Greko posed his opening argument here gave me pause. Why, indeed, should aspiring songwriters be judged more harshly than other amateur performers? Perhaps I've been unfair in my attitude.

NAAAHHHHH!

Ron has got it right. Amateur/mediocre singers and players of known tunes (traditional or popular) tacitly invite the audience to participate (by "active listening" if not by outright sing-along-ing), but with aspiring songwriters, we have no alternative but to sit still and listen, for better or for worse.

In my salad days as an active busker, a great many of my fellow performers were writing songs, and most of them, well, sucked -- big time. The offenders were still my friends, and were usually fairly talented singers and/or pickers as long as they stuck to proven material, but I rarely enjoyed listening to their efforts at composition, and it was worse when they asked me to comment. (I'd usually white-lie, of course.)

There are rare exceptions, of course. Only one of my many musical acquaintances from that era ever really impressed me as a songwriter, even when she was just a teenager. After many years laboring in obscurity, and she did eventually "make it" to moderate commercial success (and substantial critical success as well). But, that's just the exception that proves the rule, as far as I'm concerned.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: Amos
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 03:41 PM

It can take as much time and focus to learn how good songs work as it does to learn how to play an instrument well. It is not a trivial proposition. And people who bumble around with it, without bothering to understand why songs survive and why they don't, are just blocking traffic and imposing. "It's Henglish, ain't it? Well, there y' are!! Hi speeks Henglish!! Woddyer tink?"

A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 04:07 PM

We do need a continuing supply of good new songs, so there do need to be new songwriters learning their craft at all times. And, I suppose, it is only to be expected that even the best writers' early efforts be less than impressive.

But, sheeeesh! There are just so *many* really lousy self-penned songs, many not showing a glimmer of promise.

Part of the problem is that the current structure of the music business offers greater compensation for writing/publication than for performance, and anyone hoping to make a living at music is almost forced to take a shot at being a "composer."

Hence the appeal of non-commercial music.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 04:16 PM

IT all depends on the circumstances of the performance.

IF I have paid out something in excess of the price of two pints of beer I expect a certain standard in return. As posted above that can be a less than brilliant rendition of something I can join in with or something worth keeping quiet to listen to.

If I am paying a premium on top of that for a major performer topping the bill I expect the support spots to be of a quality to reflect what I have paid.

At an informal singaround then you take pot luck.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 04:22 PM

a - I agree that songwriters are given short shrift. I think a songwriter has to be given a chance to provide the song/tune we need. Where would we be if someone such as Pete St. John, or John Connollyy had not perservered with their creations. I feel that if a song is good, it will strike a chord in the minds/imagination/hearts of audiences. Songwriters HAVE to take the abuse, however, such as when a blade is tempered. As the songwriter learns his craft, he gets better with REASONABLE constructive criticism. However we, as audience, must listen constructively.

b - Mary Garvey, I have always assumed a song is to listen to. The words are what are important. Why would you not try to identify the chorus, even if you can't get the verses, to a song as it is being sung? A song that speaks to you, should resonate without the printed page. Oftimes I encounter singers, either with original or cover material, and if the song is good, I TRY to pay attention and sing along. I once had a comment from J.P. Cormier, when he released his Another Morning CD. I had been sitting in a darkened corner of the room. Somehow, when I came up to purchase the CD at the break, he asked me, how did I know the words to be able to sing along with the songs. I had been listening to him from time to time over the previous year or so, singing many of these same songs, so it wasn't hard to sing along with the chorus, and even parts of the verses.

c - I think one of the ways a songwriter can make the listening of his songs more enjoyable include:

    1 - KNOW the song. Don't stop and apologize that you JUST wrote it with more than one song.
    2 - Show enthusiasm for your song, and have a good introduction as to why the song was written.
    3 - DON'T be apologizing if you make a mistake. Keep on going. It destroys the rhythm of the performance if you do. If you have to apologize, do it AFTER you have finished. If the people are clapping, and seem to enjoy it, SHUT the HECK UP! and then Thank the audience.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 04:28 PM

Disclaimer === I am speaking as professional audience. I am NOT an aspiring singer or songwriter. I like to sing-along with performers, in concerts (very quietly) or in pubs (loudly if the sound system is loud). I know very few songs completely, but I can probably sing along with many of them, even new to me ones. It's not hard to figure out what is going to come next in many songs. Try it, and free yourself from the FIVE INCH BINDER of songs (that's my big one, but I have 2 others about 2 inch, and several others smaller)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: The Stage Manager
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 05:41 PM

Interesting questions

"Do we judge songwriters more harshly than other folk singers and if so why?"

I can only answer this from a personal perspective, from being a member of an audience. I go to a club or a session to "join in" the evening in some way. This usually means joining in choruses or being engaged by, or able to identify with, the songs being sung.

While I don't expect floor singers necessarily to have the level of expertise or polish of the guest, I do feel that whatever they do should contribute to a general feeling of inclusiveness, whereby everyone is feels they are making a contribution to the evening.

This probably makes it extremely difficult for an unknown floor singer to come along and sing his own material, unless it is of an unusually high standard or (s)he is able to 'connect' in some way with the audience

Ultimately I feel this has to come down to good folksingers and bad folksingers. When I refer to good and bad folk singers I'm not referring necessarily to a standard level of musicianship. The good singers communicate with their audiences, the bad ones alienate them. I think a good folk singer can get away with a poor song now and then. But it would need to be a truly exceptional song to outshine a poor performer.

The implication of your first question El Greco, via my convoluted way of thinking, is if we judge songwriters more harshly it is probably because they are the poorer folksingers. Fortunately this is not always the case. I guess if you stand up in front of people and expect them to take you seriously, then you have to be a performer first and a songwriter second. If you can do both then wonderful, but there's no point in writing a good song if you can't put it over to an audience.   


"What advice would you give to a songwriter wanting to inflict their "baby" project on you, in order to make it more interesting for you?"

I speak as Mr Sullen in the third row here.   

Slip it in with other songs you are reasonably confident that I either know or like. If we're sailing into uncharted waters I don't particularly want to know about it. I like to feel the captain knows where he's going.

Make it look as though you've sung this song a hundred times before. I'm of a nervous disposition, and don't want to be anybody's Guinea Pig. On the other hand if the song is a run away success and you end up headling festivals around the world, I will want to bang on about how I heard the first performance of your song from here to eternity.

In your introduction don't say anything that might suggest that this song is anything less than sure fire winner. Your insecurities make me uneasy. I also like hints about how this song might relate to me. Please flatter what's left of my intelligence and taste in music at every available opportunity, preferably with a touch of humour.

I most definitely don't want to hear about your problems before, during or after the song. I've got plenty of problems of my own and I haven't come tonight to inflict mine on you.   

Please note my reaction and that of my colleagues. If we are less enthusiastic than you think we ought to be, please don't assume that repeated singing on every subsequent occasion will force us to come to our senses. I can assure you it won't. We are your audience, you are a folk singer, while we are predisposed to like you and want you to do well, we remain judge and jury in this matter. Our decision is final. In this instance we felt you should have done better.   

Oh goodness! I've gone on a bit. I hope I haven't offended anyone.


SM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 06:27 PM

"Songwriters often have aspirations of performing on a higher stage. They become open to criticism."

Perhaps that explains why I've never been conscious of this anytime I've been singing a song or two I've written, because that doesn't describe me. Or perhaps it's just because I've been being insensitve, and all around me they are giving signals of disapproval that I completely miss.

If there are people around who are giving El Greko those kinds of signals I'm sorry for them.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 06:32 PM

Just a couple of points

In the 1960s we had folk clubs (pubs with entertainment) all over Chicago. Every night of the week there was a well-attended HOOT (open stage) somewhere where those of us who were learning the folksong craft could go and work out. It was extremely valuable to have a place where we could BE BAD without too many hard words from others. For singing our 3 allowed songs we got a couple of drinks and a meal (usually). It felt like real pay. One could stay fed and a bit spiffed going to these. It was at these hootenannys that I learned that 3 songs, filled out with folk tales---tall tales---jokes could be made to last at least a half hour. (Everyone else only got ten minutes.) By the yime anyone figured out what I was doing, I was decent enough to actually get hired around town.----------- Maybe the singer/songwriters ought to work out enough to build their skills first rather than sell themselves to a venue operator who is too kind-hearted or P.C. or un-schooled enough to tell them the truth----or even just to recognize the truth.

But we've had several threads of late about songs and stuff that is "shite". Nobody, these days, seeems to have a decent shite detector or so it seems. But some folks like shite. Once, one's nose used to be enough. Now, in these dumbed down days, it might be too much to expect aspiring performers to recognize when they really aren't very good yet,

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: Amos
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 06:38 PM

"'an another think --- songs is about feelinks, isn't it?? Well there y'are!! Hive got feelinks, too!! I speaks Henglish an' got feelinks, an' wot more could I ever need, is wot I wann know??!! 'ere's one Hive been workin' on, needs a bot o' polish, but p'r'aps you'll like it anyway, I hope -- heh heh -- lessee...'ow does it start then...hmmm...."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: Joybell
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 07:13 PM

I think that a lot of problems could be solved by giving performers a set time for their act. In folk clubs it could be the same for everyone if you really wanted to be fair. I well remember frequently sitting through "3 songs" that each went for 10 minutes. Telling performers they can do x number of songs is a recipe for disaster, I reckon. It can become a real power trip. I always ask for a set time for myself and stick to it.
                           Joy-who-hates-to-leave-the-stage-too.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 07:15 PM

Shambles

"The writer (and usually the performer) of original songs does have a hard time. They can be accused of pushing their creations upon people but of course if they don't sing their song - no one else will. "

Yea man, right on -- now I've written a few - oh hell, if anybody wants them - they can look 'em up in the "Songs you've posted" thread - although some of them have allegedly been submitted by others than me to the Mudcat Songbook, just waiting on the next update run.... :-)

And I have so few songs that I want people to know about. Most of my output is uter crap - tear it up and throw it away level crap. If I TRY to write a song, it always seems sort of forced - even to me - the ones that I keep are the ones that have grabbed me by the throat and never let me go until I put then on paper - then I have peace and can forget them. I don't really care if others don't "get" them - not any more - I'm too old and cynical now.

And if you use a tune everybody knows, you are decried for lack of being "original", but if you make up some weird sort of original wailing crap, many others don't like it... unless you are a Pop singer that a Record Compnay has "invested" in.

One thing about those old "Tin Pan Alley" songs, they usually had "a tune you could whistle" ... :-)

Now "Rap", - we don't need no stinking tunes!

Art
"Now, in these dumbed down days, it might be too much to expect aspiring performers to recognize when they really aren't very good yet,"

Right on!

Robin


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 07:20 PM

No, McG of H, nobody has ever made such comments to me about me - well, not to my face anyway. But I often hear "generic" moans about songwriters; about their insufferable introspection sometimes; or about them "taking over" the folk scene to the detriment of traditional song and music; etc etc. So I want to get a sense of the "wrong" things a songwriter can do - and by extension, the areas where he/she must pay attention, over and above the quality of the songs themselves.
And the answers so far are fascinating - some very good points are made. I will summarise tomorrow, but meanwhile keep going...
Harvey, if you read this, it might give us some hints for the course at La Jeuss in the summer.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 07:23 PM

Yes, Joybell,

I'm more of an instrumentalist rather than a singer, I do enjoy the buzz, buit only from large groups, small groups freeze me with nerves.

Set time, rather than a number of pieces. If that's just one song, fine. If the audience is full of "friends", then popular demand may generate an encore...

There's a Brisbane "folk venue" which only accepts "original" songs and instrumentals.

The problem is that I like familar stuff, and would be bored with just "all new stuff" - from an audience point of view.

RObin


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 07:32 PM

I wasn't implying you'd thump them El Greko, just that they'd be be lacking in the ability to recognise good stuff.

One thing is that a song needs to be sung-in, generally, and that normally means sung a good few times in public, somit's best to spread trhta roud a bit.

And it's advisable to sandwich a new song in between songs you've already sung-in, and if possible after you've sung one people know and like hearing you sing (if they know you), so they trust you when you sing something they haven't heard before, and give the song a chance.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 07:34 PM

I wasn't implying you'd thump them El Greko, just that they'd be lacking in the ability to recognise good stuff.

One thing is that a song needs to be sung-in, generally, and that normally means sung a good few times in public, so it's best to spread that round a bit.

And it's advisable to sandwich a new song in between songs you've already sung-in, and if possible after you've sung one people know and like hearing you sing (if they know you), so they trust you when you sing something they haven't heard before, and give the song a chance.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 08:00 PM

As a Song Thief of Long Standing I have nothing against Song Writers at all, as long as their songs are worth singing and are available to Thieves like myself.If No One wrote any new songs, all we would be doing was to rehash the 'Old'songs. If we did not let the Song Writers do their thing, we would have missed out on Harvey A, Ralph Mc Tell and Uncle Tom Paxton and all. Sadly Too many song writers do
not have the talent of Harv, Ralph and Tom ,and only manage the occasional bearable song out of dozens.
From the point of view of this thread, and its instigator, I am at a severe dissadvantage as I regularly attend at least one of the Clubs where El Grecko turns up to try out his latest offering. And I hate him!! I dont mind writers, I dont mind guitarists, and I dont mind singers, but when they do all three so well - and are NICE people as well. I think its a bit much for us mere mortals.
I know a number of writers, and some of them deserve ALL the crap you can throw at them,but at least they are TRYING and every now and then they come out with a beaut. I often wonder how many songs Paul Simon never sang, or Tom Paxton or any of the other good'uns
So IF you are a writer, dont despair and if you are an audience, dont just switch off - Give em all a chance, even the guy who will only ever write the crap.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 08:24 PM

Tom Paxton told me, many years ago, that he wrote a song every day. I don't know that he still does that (kinda doubt it) but you can be sure the wrote a lot of songs he never sang for anyone..

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: Alaska Mike
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 09:01 PM

I sing mostly my own songs when I perform. Many of my songs have become quite popular with the festival audiences that I have played for over the years. Some of these listeners have paid their money to come to the festival for the express purpose of hearing me sing my songs. But not all of these gems started off as polished as they might be now.

I believe that it is fair to criticize original songs when the songwriter is performing them. Many of these songs are still in the stage where they can be improved upon with a few minor adjustments. I have always been willing to hear what people have to say. Consiquently, I have been able to improve my songs by cutting out some of the verses of an epic, or adding a short bridge, or changing a word or phrase that was confusing.

I have produced 3 CD's of my original compositions. All 3 of my recordings have sold well enough to be profitable. In addition, I have received music publishing contracts for six of my original songs. Other performers have sung my songs on stage and recorded them on their CD's. There are no greater compliments that a songwriter can obtain.

Because of the success I have had, my confidence in my songwriting ability is quite high. But I still agonize over each new song that I write. I still get nervous the first few times I perform a new composition. I still wonder if folks will enjoy it, want to hear it again or even learn the song for themselves. And I am still crushed when someone in the audience says anything critical of it.

So to answer your questions El Greko:
QUESTION 1: No I don't think we judge songwriters any more harshly than we judge singers or instrumentalists. It's just that there are so damn many things to judge when a songwriter plays and sings his own song.

QUESTION 2: My advise to songwriters is to write the best songs you can and be willing to work hard to keep improving them until they reach a level of quality that your audience enjoys.

Best wishes,
Mike


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 09:50 PM

Seems like most of the comments support the title.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 09:58 PM

The Question:
Do we judge songwriters more harshly than other folk singers/ musicians and if so, why?

The key word is "we"? Who is El Greko referring to?

Well, I am a boomer and an aging folkie. I assume that my experiences are pretty typical and my current thinking about songwriters is in no way unique. So by "we" I am mean people in my cohort with similar musical autobiographies.

I have noticed that the older I get, the less open minded I become about music. My musical preferences have narrowed and sharpened. Once upon a time I listened to anything, liked everything, and felt that homemade music in general was pretty cool. No more. I am now quite clear on what I like and what I don't like. Same with my friends.

I have also noticed that as I get older I tend to prefer music that has some degree of familiarity. As a Norman Blake album once proclaimed with it's title, "Just give me something I'm used to." Ditto my friends.

In short, I have become an old fart, we have become old farts. We make exactly the same complaints about new music and musicians that my parents made about the music and musicians I liked so many years ago.

We old farts always give ourselves away when we get specific with our criticisms and start giving examples of songwriting being done "right" -- Dylan, Paxton, etc. Old farts holding up fellow farts as paragons of songwriterly virtue.

I wouldn't go so far to claim that we've ALL become old farts, but the chorus of whines I hear about new music and musicians and songwriters suggests that we're heading in that direction.

Russ (old fart and proud of it)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 02:29 AM

I still don't really understand why if we are generally prepared to tolerate mediocre performers (of any material) - and we seem to - why even songwriters are so hard on the writer/performers of posibly mediocre oringinal songs. Unless this is a ready-made defence for them against the charge of pushing original material?

We accept that performers who may be mediocre now, can flower in time to be a fine perfomer but do not appear to offer the same to the songwriter, even when we know that some songs themselves can slowly grow upon the listener or perhaps can develop more of a relevance in time.

True the pushy and over-confident attitudes of some aspiring songwriters for their 'babies' can be a turn-off but this fault is hardly confined to performers of original material.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,clanger
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 04:13 AM

I have heard just as many instrumentalists at sessions take the floor with truely dire self penned tunes.
I think it's down to an audience either being familliar with a style or impressed by abillity.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,MC Fat
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 05:44 AM

The difference between a singer songwriter and a puppy is that after so long the puppy stops whining !!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 06:07 AM

Mike: "I believe that it is fair to criticize original songs when the songwriter is performing them."

That's unkind - you should wait until he finishes.

Russ: I'm not sure (as an old fart) that my tastes have as quite as much narrowed as changed - I used to love singer-songwriters and dislike traditional, now I like the traditional and am not so find of singer-songwriters. Blanket generalisation there...but not being a teenager, teenage angst doesn't have the same attraction and I'm not about to change the world politically.   I don't think that I'm listening to less music, though possibly deeper rather than wider.

I'm not sure about the thread title. A plague of songwriters? There doeesn't seem to be a painful excess of them around, so no. A plague on Songwriters, well, maybe, when the mood is on, but I suppose they've got to learn their trade somewhere. One good new song will forgive a lot of numb bums.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 06:31 AM

I used 'Old Fart' names like McTell and Paxton because I knew people would know these names,and could have used a lot of names of younger writers who would be total unknowns to most of you.I know a lot of young writers wh are writing great stuff and young writers who one day MIGHT write great stuff. I also know Older writers who write a lot
of songs that sink without trace.
A good song will get into the main stream of 'known' songs IF it gets a reasonable amount of exposure, a bad song will get nowhere, no matter how hard the writer pushes it so long as n0o one else takes it up.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,SM at Work
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 07:19 AM

Ok someone tell me, What happens now if a completely unknown singer/ songwriter walks into a session, plays an absolute blinder, and has the audience eating out of their hand?

SM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 07:24 AM

I'll ask, can I have a copy... please?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,Das Lied Politzei
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 08:23 AM

"zere shall be ein song kommittee ins alles klubs und vee shall say
vitch songs are to be sung bevor ze nacht"
(Extract from the Royal and Ancient Rule Book for Folkclubs"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 08:44 AM

SM: dunno about a session, but from experience at last year's Fylde festival I'd say that I'd rush up to my club organiser and say "You gotta book.....". And as I wasn't the only one, we're having Cloudstreet in the New Year, and Meg has already sung Jenny Greenteeth at the Clarence.

Does that answer your question?

Quality will out, but something about kissing a lot of frogs before you find your prince comes to mind.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,Songwriters Revolutionary Front.
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 09:03 AM

Mien Gott! We thought dieser fascist committees had alles been eliminated and der Rule Buch geburned!

So you slipped through the net.....maybe next time you vill not be so lucky....Volk Polizei Mann

SRF


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,Islamic Folk Jihad
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 10:19 AM

Kill them all and let Woody Allah Mohammed Guthrie sort them out.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 10:49 AM

Hmm Jihad, wasn't Woody a songwriter?

I've often joked that there are singer-songwriters and there are singer-songwhiners. Songwriters are an important part of the modern tradition.   The whiners need to hear the criticism even more to become songwriters.

The jokes about "folk police" are getting stale. Every genre has critics and fans, maybe folk musicians are just too sensitive. (I guess they should be!!!!) To NOT talk about what we like and dislike is a diservice to those who wish to perpetuate the music. I don't think any of us miss the real point of all this - to ENJOY the music.

Over the past year I have marveled at some incredibly talented songwriters as well as those who are performing traditional music. The future is secure.

I've also heard some really bad music this year. Part of the problem we all face is that technology has advanced to the point where everyone can record a relatively decent quality CD.   When I started doing my radio show in 1980 I would receive a couple of dozen recordings each YEAR. I now receive about a dozen a WEEK.

To get back to the original question, there is no real plague. Everything we see and hear, good and bad, is a sign that the music is loved by more and more people. It is healthy.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,Rain Dog
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 10:52 AM

I have never quite understood some peoples attitude towards 'singer songwriters' In the rock / pop world the term is also used in a sneering sort of way. What are people saying ? Do they think there are too many songs in the world and that we should call a halt to all songwriting ? Why stop there ? Let's go back in time and cull a few of those old ones too while we are it. Instead of stepping out one fine morning those people should have stayed at home and looked after their families. And what is it with all these anti war songs ? Surely we can just pick one which can stand for all the wars we have had and all the wars we are going to have.

We should just come up with about 10 songs. That should just about cover everything I think


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,Das Lied Politzei
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 10:59 AM

Arrest zat "Songwriters revolutionary front" und they shall write out, ein hundert copies, of "I took a song to a folk club, but nobody asked for the words"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 11:25 AM

I `ad that Woody Allah Mo`ammed Guthrie in my cab once. `ed just done a song about "`alls of Marble" somewhere out in the desert. It were`nt arf good but it went on a bit.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,The Benn Agency
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 11:55 AM

Of course there is not a plague of songwriters. To think otherwise is to believe there are a chosen few and only they shall be heard. Let anyone who has composed songs or music for that matter do their stuff and give them full rein. Audience reaction will tell the tale in the long run and a natural filtering process will let those that are good enough to rise to the top. This applies to most produced things in life. The bigger problem; who is prepared and qualified to sit in judgement of the composers and how best to offer criticism and advise them?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 11:57 AM

Who is prepared and qualified to judge?   All of us.   This isn't a contest.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,The Benn Agency
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 12:05 PM

Ron,
    Your answer to the second part of the question would be welcome.
    If we are not the "mutt`t nuts" ourselves we must be very
    tactful, do you not agree?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: breezy
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 12:13 PM

SM

Good input and george sego - c - very sound advice

When I hear someone I dont know sing a blinder I invite them to become residents at the club I organise.

I ask if they mind me trying their songs

Then people come to hear a named guest and also hear and meet the new kid on the block

I make a point to invite the guests to listen to the resident.

Those guests who heard George Papavgeris at my club this year were Roy Bailey, Vin Garbutt, Andy Irvine, Cyril Tawney, Steve Tilston , Martin Carthy and Harvey Andrews. Each one complimented George on his songs and some are now performing them.

I make them an M C

I get a joint gig at Sharps and then I fly to Vancouver the night of the gig

I visit other clubs and sing his songs.

Thats what I do, but then I think the songs are of a high calibre, interesting and melodic with chalenging choruses, but not all share my taste in song.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 01:33 PM

Guest - I have never heard the expression "mutt`t nuts" so I'm not sure what you are saying.

Actually, I was answering the second part of your question.

My point is that music, film and art in general should be enjoyed by everyone. An artist needs to filter the feedback they get from a variety of sources.   Their peers can help them on one level, but certainly the audience gives their opinion as well. Most importantly, who is the artist writing for?    Hopefully themselves, but they should also try to answer what the purpose in writing the song is all about.

I'm also not sure what you mean by "tactful".   I feel the open and honest approach is best. One would assume the artist would be able to accept all criticism.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,Guest, Questioner
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 01:35 PM

I have a question of those who run music venues in the US.

Does a rule that requires performers to stick with original material allow you to avoid having to pay generic royality fees for copyrighted material? My understanding is that that the sponsor is responsible for such fees if there is a live performance of registered material.

If the answer to this is yes, then that would help explain ratio between singer-songwriters and performers of the material of others. (I realize that this also involves the question of distinguishing between material in the public domain and not, and I hope I haven't opened the door to thread creep away from how my question impacts opportunities for singer-songwriters.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: GUEST,The Benn Agency
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 03:24 PM

Ron,
    The "mutt`s nuts" suggests the subject is regardrd as being   
    one at the top of his/her art or profession.
    What I am saying is that it is a bit strong for someone who is
    neither a good songwriter nor performer to denigrate a tryer
    when they themselves could not do half as well.
    As for tact it takes a great deal of thoughtful words to get the
    message across without seeming downright destructive and at the
    same time offering positive advise, especially if the critic is
    not well versed in the art of folk music.
    From what I have seen of your contributions to various items I
    cannot imagine you would ever be tactless enough to say to
    someone,
    "I`m Ron, I thought your song was lousy, the sentiments were
    sloppy, the tune was dull and your singing left much to be
    desired. Now don`t come back till you`ve cured everything"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 03:40 PM

In response to Guest/Questioner in the post before last:

I'm pretty sure that individuals and bands perform "cover" material all the time, all over the US, without royalties being paid to the composers/publishers. This may not be strictly legal, but I know it's common practice everywhere I know about, including the most highly visible music venues in New Orleans.

I believe that it is the musicians, not the club owners, who are responsible for all the good and bad original material, because royalties represent such a major portion of potential income from music. If you hope to make a living at music, your best bet is to perform (and eventually, hopefully, to record and/or have others record) your original songs.

Technically, you aren't allowed to sing "Happy Birthday" without paying a few cents to Sir Paul McCartney -- or is it Michael Jackson? I've sung it many times over the years and haven't paid once; do you think I'm risking incarceration?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: A Plague of Songwriters?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 04:06 PM

I see your point guest, and you are right - I would not give a message like that. The example you gave may be tactless, but I would also say that it isn't very constructive criticism. I might tell someone that the sentiments in their song were sloppy or cliche, and the tune really didn't attract my attention, and the vocal range was a bit limited. I would then offer some suggestions that would make the song more interesting to me.

I do disagree with your suggestion that "it is a bit strong for someone who is neither a good songwriter nor performer to denigrate a tryer when they themselves could not do half as well."   I can't hit a curve ball as good as Mike Piazza, but I know enough about the game to complain when he isn't making an effort. I can't act, but I do know when I see an actor walking through a part in a film.   I may not be able to play guitar, but I know when the instrument is out of tune. I might not be able to write a poem, but I know when one touche me.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and the artist should always consider the reaction and the source. Music is owned by all of us, not just the writer of the song.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
Next Page

  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 28 February 3:09 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.