Friday, December 31, 2010

Music After 50 - A Great Resource for Songwriters of All Ages

I first found out about "Music After 50" on Facebook. It has been a great resource with interesting and well written articles. Their website is If you are an avid user of Facebook as I am, I would suggest that you "like" their Facebook page to stay up to date on the latest articles. Although the site is called "Music After 50", the topics of the articles is useful for those of all ages. You can find articles about training your voice, how to practice, songwriting tips and much much more. The most recent post is about whether the piano or the guitar is more useful in the songwriting process. I hope that all songwriters and musicians out there have a safe and fun New Year's Eve. I have been neglecting this blog the last few months, so maybe my New Year's resolution should include posting more articles.

ping web site

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cartersville Songwriters Exchange Christmas Party



On Wednesday, December 22nd, Randy and Patricia Owens hosted a party for the Cartersville Songwriters Exchange at their home in Cartersville. It was a great time! There were probably about ten talented local songwriters there to share food, talk, and of course, to make music. I debuted a Christmas song I had just written, "Great Recession Christmas" and Allen Hicks also delighted us with a Christmas song he had written entitled "My Bell Jingles to an Empty Room". We also played a few classic rock and folk favorites. This continues to be one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a musician and a songwriter. The next meeting will be tomorrow at 7:30 at the City Loft in Cartersville.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Amazon Pop and Rock Albums Picks, Classic and Modern, Songwriters, etc

I have been adding albums to my Amazon store that may be of interest to long-time Rock and Pop music lovers. Check them out. My picks will probably appeal more to people who still like alternative or edgy music, groups such as Rogue Wave, The Shins, Radiohead and These Arms Are Snakes. If your tastes are more pop, check out Broken Bells, Gorillaz and Blondie. Songwriters will appreciate selections such as David Gray's Greatest Hits. You can also find something here if are looking for fusion and jazz with a strong rock influence - check out Firebird VII by Phil Manzanera. Please support The Seeds of Song by purchasing music through my online store.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Great Deals on TV Speakers

Find great deals on TV Speakers. Great brands such as Logitech, Creative Inspire, Jamo and many others. Whether you have a plasma television or an LCD television, you can find speakers for it here: tv speakers.

Great Recession Christmas

Here's a song that I wrote that captures the mood of the nation this Christmas season. Especially for me. I have been unemployed since March. The Santa in this song is so desperate it is implied that he may resort to crime. Your comments are welcome, as are links to your own Christmas Songs.

Great Recession Christmas
by David Patterson on Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 1:11am

Jack Frost is nippin
Santa he's a sipping
from a flask he's pulled out of his coat
His eyes look crazy
His beard's so dirty
I wonder how old Santa stays afloat

Street Lights shimmer
In the dead of winter
Illuminating panes of darkened glass
Silent Night plays
Parents they pray
These hard times aren't going to last

It's a great recession Christmas
In the good ol' USA
Just give us some money
Because we can't earn no pay

Santa comes creepin
Odd hours he's keeping
He's sick of his scuffed up old shoes
His hands are shaking
From what he's taken
It's clear that old Santa's got the blues

Sirens split the night
Their blue lights bright
There is trouble in the town tonight
Desperados dance
In a game of chance
It's symptoms of the urban blight

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Open Mic Mania, Cartersville 07-21-2010

The photos below are of everyone who played in the Open Mic Mania except for me. It was a fun night, I'm sorry I left early but Kathy was tired and begging me to take her home to Smyrna so that she wouldn't have too hard of a time waking up to go to work tomorrow.



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pearl Jam's New Video for "Amongst the Waves" - Oil Spill Video

Pearl Jam has released a new video for their song "Amongst the Waves". The video's proceeds will be donated to Conservation International's Marine Program, a program devoted to raising environmental awareness about how valuable our oceans are and encourage humanity to work together to protect and preserve the oceans and the creatures who make the ocean their home. This is a beautiful video with lots of great camerawork that captures the beauty of the ocean from above and below and also features video of surfers and others having fun on the wave. It ends with video of the oil spill and of the clean up efforts. So please watch the video, enjoy the music and think about the message. Eddie Vedder is a songwriter who has the gift of being able to write songs that have a socially relevant message without coming across as being preachy. So enjoy the video. Enough said.

Pearl Jam Oceans from Pearl Jam on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Songs with the Longest Titles

According to the Guiness book of World Records the song with the longest title is "I'm a Cranky Old Yank in a Clanky Old Tank on the Streets of Yokohama with My Honolulu Mama Doin' Those Beat-O, Beat-O Flat-On-My-Seat-O, Hirohito Blues," written by Hoagy Carmichael. Hoagy later claimed that the song ends with "Yank" and the rest was added as a joke.

A favorite long song title of mine is Pink Floyd's "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With A Pict" from the album Ummagumma.

There is another song by a Swedish Group, Rednex, which is longer than "I'm a Cranky Old Yank etc" - I don't know why it isn't listed as the longest song by the Guiness book of World Records. The title of that song is "The Sad But True Story Of Ray Mingus, The Lumberjack Of Bulk Rock City, And His Never Slacking Stribe In Exploiting The So Far Undiscovered Areas Of The Intention To Bodily Intercourse From The Opposite Species Of His Kind, During Intake Of All The Mental Condition That Could Be Derived From Fermentation." By Rednex.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Songwriting Tips From Last Night's "Guitar Pull"

I had the opportunity to meet with some of those involved with the songwriter's website last night. We had a good time talking, sharing beer and barbeque, and of course later out came the guitars. Marc-Alan Barnette, a singer-songwriter from Nashville performed some of his fun, upbeat country songs. He is a seasoned performer and a superb guitarist, and the lyrics of his songs were captivating and often full of wit. Mark and some of my friends from the Cartersville Songwriters Exchange who were also there traded stories about performing at various open mics in Nashville. Mark gave us some good tips regarding the art of songwriting. I think the key one was keep the listener wanting more by throwing in variation musically or by telling a story that makes the listener curious about how it will end. He suggested that lyrics should have a conversational feel about them that draws you in. Mark also suggested staying away from some things that people may be trying to escape from - such as depressing topical news events such as how bad the economy has been lately or the oil spill. Too many of the people at Nashville open mics according to Mark go on and on about some topic in a preachy kind of manner or seem to only be able to write depressing songs. Then we had the opportunity to play some of our songs and get feedback. I'd like to thank Denise for inviting me and Jules for being such a wonderful hostess and sharing her beautiful home with us for a few hours. And also for the wonderful Brunswick stew and barbeque. Pictures of the event are posted in my Flickr slideshow below.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

North Georgia Open Mic Hosted by Cartersville Songwriters Exchange

Starting in July, The Cartersville Songwriters Exchange will be hosting Open Mic Mania, a chance for Georgia songwriters to perform and take part in a contest to win prizes that include cash, gift certificates, studio time and CD replication discounts. The winners will be chosen after three rounds of competition to be held over successive months and will by picked by a panel of judges, local/regional music industry representatives. The criteria upon which performers will base their decisions are stage presence, vocal ability, crowd participation, and overall talent. Performers may only perform their own original material.

If you are a songwriter, this is a great opportunity for you to get exposure and network with fellow musicians. The first Open Mic Mania will be held on July 21st at The City Loft in historic downtown Cartersville. The contest will be begin at 7:00 PM. The entry fee for the monthly Open Mic Mania contests is $10 per performer. The entry fee is waived for Cartersville Songwriters Exchange members.

For more information about rules and how to register please visit

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to Come Up with an Idea for a Song - How Do You Approach the Blank Page?

As songwriters we have all been there - we sit down to write some new lyrics as the basis for a new song, but then draw a blank. How do you get around this readers? It seems as though that first verse or chorus is the hardest to write. Here are ways that I use to get the creative flow started.

1. Come up with a story to tell. The song "Heartbreak Hotel", written by Tommy Durden and Mae Borden Axeton, was inspired by a news story about a man who committed suicide. In the man's pocket was a note that read "I walk a lonely street." Tommy Durden came up with the lyrics. He said that he imagined the lonely man checking into a hotel frequented by those lonely broken hearts and this was the basis of the song. I once used an illustration from a tarot card deck as the starting point for a story.

2. Try changing your chord progressions, tuning your guitar to an alternate tuning, or adding chord color variations. New sounds can help you break out of the same old associations and evoke different moods that can inspire feelings and words inspired by such feelings.

3. A friend of mine says he often thinks of the title of a song first and then goes from there. I have written songs based on a memorable expression or a clever line - often something that has an element of humor.

These are just some of the strategies I employ. What are yours?

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Police v. The Clash – Songwriters Match Up #8

Two eighties supergroups vie for this week's songwriters match up. Both groups revitalized rock with a fresh infusion of diverse musical influences - among the first major white bands to have a sound that incorporated ska and reggae. With the exception of the U.K., ska and reggae were little known in the United States. The Police were more of a new-wave band and The Clash was defintely more punk, although The Police was also punk influenced.

Lyrics - Ten Points

Joe Strummer and Mick Jones were The Clash's principle lyricists. The lyrics they wrote were classic punk - angry, political and powerful. Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner (Sting) wrote most of the lyrics for the Police. Sting had a two-year stint teaching English literature at St. Paul's Middle School, and his lyrics are noted for their literary quality. This is so close - in keeping with my new system of awarding points, I'm going to have to call this a draw. The Police are more lyrical, The Clash more anthemic. Five points each.

Composition - Ten Points

Both bands wrote more adventurous compositions over time. The Police's later albums, A Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity featured layered synthesizer tracks. The Clash combined elements from folk, blues, disco and even choral arrangements in some of their recordings - violins, marimbas, saxophone, harmonica, xylophone, among the instruments heard on these albums, and lots of sampled effects can be heard on Combat Rock and on Sandinista. I am giving this category to The Clash because I believe they were more daring and unpredictable. Six points for The Clash, four points for The Police.

Originality - Five Points

As noted in the introduction, both bands were innovators - both were among the first white bands to be heavily reggae and ska influenced. I think you could argue that The Police developed a more original sound due to the superb guitar work of Andy Summers and Sting's vocal styling. I'm awarding The Police three points here and The Clash two. Another close call.

Influence - Five Points

Though both bands certainly did have influence, The Clash had more in my opinion, especially on white ska-punk bands that followed such as Rancid, Sublime and No Doubt. I think this is so because The Clash's greater dose of punk. The Clash are the winners here three points to two points.

Durability - Five Points

I believe that The Police have the edge here. Their songs are less about events that were transpiring around a specific period history - the cold war, revolution in South America, etc. Also being not so heavily identified with punk makes it easier to transcend the late seventies and eighties. So this category goes to The Police by three points to two points.

Conclusion - We have a draw, 17 points for each band. I was leaning towards The Police as better songwriters at the beginning of this match up, but based upon my criteria, The Clash managed to close the gap.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bad Decisions, Short Sided Outlook Crippled the Recording Industry

Randy forwarded me a link to a very good blog post this morning. The title of the post is "Four Mistakes That Killed the Record Indstry (sic) Before File Sharing" posted by blogger Jeff Balke. The four mistakes listed in the post are:

1. CD Sales are not the same as record sales

2. Longevity trumps the flavor of the week

3. Destroying the Chain of Distribution is Death

4. Killing the D.J.

I don't want to steal the author's thunder, so I'll post a link to his blog post so that you can read the complete post:

Four Mistakes that Killed the Record Industry

Corporations are the root of a lot of evil - from BP and the calamity in the gulf of Mexico, to the banking industry, and as described in the article, the entertainment industry. The whole philosophy of always having to earn short term profits to pay out dividends to stock holders tends to encourage short-sided policy that hurts business and society in the long term. And they also bring out the worst in people by rewarding excessive greed and ruthlessness. OK time to come down off of my soapbox.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pete Townsend v. Eric Clapton – Songwriters Match Up #7

After a one week hiatus, I'm back with the latest songwriter match up between two classic rock guitar gods – Pete Townsend v. Eric Clapton. Who will come out on top as the best songwriter? This weeks match up will differ from my earlier match ups in that I am changing the way I award points for each section – from now on the point total will be split among the two contestants instead of the way I have been awarding points where the winner takes all. I think that this will help make the scoring a little more accurate.

Lyrics (Ten Points)

Both Clapton and Townsend wrote great lyrics, and their works include some of the most memorable rock music ever written. But Pete Townsend, as the dominant creative force of The Who was more of a trailblazer – his best songs were right in step with the turbulent times in which they were written – the sixties and seventies, a time of heightened generational tensions. Rebellious youth embraced the energy and driving force of songs such as Substitute, My Generation, The Kids Are Alright as well as the ground breaking rock operas, Tommy and Quadrophenia. Eric Clapton's songs are written from more of a personal perspective, often that of the tortured artist and lover such as Layla (written about George Harrison's wife Patty Boyd who at the time spurned his advances). Clapton was not the primary lyricist of many of the great bands to which he had belonged (and there were many great bands – The Yardbirds, The Bluesbreakers, Cream and Blind Faith just to name a few). It took several years for Clapton to move from being guitarist to solo artist and songwriter. He didn't really contribute lyrics as a member of The Yardbirds and Jack Bruce and Peter Brown collaborated to write the lyrics for most of Cream's biggest hits (with the notable exception of Badge written by Clapton and Beatle George Harrison). It wasn't until his work with Derek and the Dominoes that Clapton really started to make his mark as a lyricist with classic rock hits such as Layla and Bell Bottom Blues. Clapton's work is heavily influenced by the blues. Townsend's songs drew from a wider variety of sources. I'm going to award this category to Pete Townsend – although his lyrics were more Pop in general than Clapton's, they are generally more imaginative. Pete Townsend gets the nod – 6 points to 4 points for Eric Clapton.

Composition (Ten Points)

This category definitely belongs to Pete Townsend. His studio work on albums such as Quadrophenia and Tommy is inspiring and more complex than any of Clapton's work that I know of. Then there is the innovative use of the synthesizer on Won't Get Fooled Again and Baba O'Reilly. While overall Clapton may arguably rank above Townsend as a guitarist, his songwriting sensibilities were less groundbreaking and more traditional. Pete Townsend is again the winner, 8 points to 2 points for Eric Clapton.

Originality (Five Points)

Eric Clapton was much more of a traditional blues disciple than Pete Townsend (one of the reasons he left The Yardbirds was because he felt they were getting further and further from their blues roots). His songs were usaully about fairly common topics such as unrequited love and love gone wrong. In more recent years he has broadened his depth as a songwriter with hits such as Tears in Heaven about the tragic accidental death of his son. Pete Townsend was capable of truly weird songs – the whole Pinball Wizard story and earlier songs such as I'm a Boy about a boy trying to retain his sexual identity despite the efforts of a perverse parent who dresses him as a girl are testament to this. I have to go with Pete Townsend here again 3 points to Clapton's 2 points.

Influence (Five Points)

While both Townsend and Clapton were hugely influential, I think that Eric Clapton as a member of several of classic rocks greatest bands as well as a highly successful solo career should be awarded this category. When you think of classic rock guitar sound who comes to mind? Surely Clapton and Hendrix would have to be at the top of the list. As part of Cream, Clapton took improvised extended jams to the extreme, influencing a number of progressive rock and jam bands that would follow. Townsend's biggest influence I believe was the rock opera concept. I think Clapton gets the nod here by a narrow margin – 3 points Clapton, 2 points Pete Townsend.

Durability (Five Points)

It seems as though Eric Clapton has been more successful commercially in more recent years – Pete Townsend's battle with Tinnitus may by partially to blame for a reduced amount of artistic output over time. This lessens the chance that Eric Clapton's work as a whole gets too stale or sounds too dated. Both of these guys will continue to attract new fans for decades because they are both so good. By a narrow margin I am awarding this category to Eric Clapton – 3 points Clapton, 2 points Pete Townsend.

Conclusion – this week's winner is Pete Townsend by a margin of 21 points to 10 points. It is quite an accomplishment to defeat GOD!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Cartersville Songwriters Exchange First Meeting at the City Loft

On Wednesday, The Cartersville Songwriters Exchange met for the first time at The City Loft in historic downtown Cartersville. The owners are very supportive of us and we were waited upon beforehand and had a chance to order some delicious food and drink from The City Cellar, the adjoining restaurant. The founder of the group, Randy Owens, and promoter Chris Hereth addressed us and laid out their plans on how the CSE would be run from this point forward including membership classes, how meetings would be conducted, plans for events featuring open mic competitions and a quarterly showcase. The hope is to generate interest from the music industry as well as to capture the attention of the potential fans of original music in Cartersville and the surrounding area. Afterward, all songwriters present had the opportunity to perform and the option of whether or not to be critiqued. New members Allen Hicks and Jeffrey Putnam performed and we were all impressed with their original material. Allen and Jeffrey perform occasionally in Nashville at The Commodore. They seemed enthusiastic about joining and said they were planning on attending future meetings whenever they could. Other songwriters in attendance were Denise Barker and Billy Owens as well as the usual suspects - myself, Randy Owens and EZ Powell. EZ and Randy provided PA's, mikes and a mixer so much thanks for that! I was getting so used to performing in a purely acoustic setting I was a little unaccustomed to plugging into an amp again. EZ joined me on bass when I performed my set and I got a chance to play harmonica during EZ's set as well as with The Owens Brothers. I am looking forward to next Wednesday's meeting.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Update - Cartersville Songwriters Exchange's New Venue

Here are the details I promised to post regarding CSE's new meeting place, courtesy of Chris Hereth. I assume the meeting time will still be 7:30 PM. It looks as though the day of future meetings will be Wednesday. From Chris's post on the CSE Facebook page:

Okay folks, it's official! The Cartersville Songwriters Exchange has a new home! Starting on June 9th, the weekly CSE meetings will take place at The City Loft in downtown Cartersville! The Loft's owner, Bob Smith, has been gracious enough to not only let us use The Loft for the CSE meetings, but also a lot of other... cool stuff that we're working on for CSE members. (Details are soon to follow.)

And don't forget to check out Bob's restaurant, The City Cellar (which is downstairs from The Loft - appropriately enough), and enjoy some of the best food in Cartersville! Their website is Please check them and out and tell them we sent you!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Eagles v Creedence Clearwater Revival - Songwriters Match Up #6

This week our songwriters challenge pits The Eagles against Creedence Clearwater Revival. I think I was influenced by The Big Lebowski in coming up with this match up. Will I heed The Dude's advice and pick CCR over The Eagles? It's hard to say at this point, but I will try to make a reasonable analysis. Two great bands American rock bands....


John Fogerty was the primary songwriter of Creedence Clearwater Revival and he wrote the vast majority of the groups hits. Fogerty proved to be a machine, churning out hit after hit over the course of the band's aproximately five years together, writing such great songs as Proud Mary, Green River, Down on the Corner and Who'll Stop the Rain. Most of the Eagles hits were written by Don Henley and Glenn Fry with Joe Walsh occasionally contributing here as well. The lyrics of the songs such as Hotel California are tribute to the band's ability to write memorable and evocative lyrics. Both bands were capable of writing songs that provided political or social commentary – John Fogerty's Bad Moon Rising (supposedly about the re-election of Richard Nixon), Fortunate Son and Green River (songs with obvious reference to the war in Vietnam) were some of the era's best. Don Henley's Last Resort is a powerful indictment of the relentless destruction of nature at the hands of greedy developers. I think there is more poetry in the best of The Eagles songs – and for this reason I think that I should award this category to The Eagles. Ten points, The Eagles.


The Eagles sound was originally mellower with more bluegrass influence and over time became harder and less country. CCR wrote many great songs that were easy for garage bands to cover because they were so simple and straightforward. The Eagles were more ambitious overall, eventually making use of orchestral arrangements on the album Hotel California. There is a greater variety of instruments in The Eagle's work including mandolin and banjo in some of the earlier material. Ten points for The Eagles.


CCR had an original sound that is difficult to categorize – it has been called swamp rock. It was sometimes assumed the group was from Louisiana (actually it was formed in California) because of songs like Born on the Bayou. The Eagles country rock sound had it's roots in the California music scene at the time. In fact most of the original incarnation of the band were performing as Linda Ronstadt band while she was on tour. The fusion of bluegrass, country and rock that was part of The Eagles early sound was unique at the time. It's close, but I'm giving Five points here to The Eagles.


The Eagles were among the vanguards of country rock and among the most successful. You could reasonably argue that Neil Young and The Flying Burrito Brothers among other bands were at least as important to the birth of the country rock genre, but I believe that because The Eagles garnered such extensive radio play during the seventies on both rock and country radio stations, they probably influenced more of the current crop of country rock artists. Five more points for The Eagles.


CCRs straightforward, passionate rock continues to inspire new generations of rock and roll musicians. There are so many great songs here and I believe that it stands the test of time better. Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather still listen to CCR because although it is old, for some reason it is not so heavily tied to any particular decade as The Eagles are to the seventies. Five points CCR.

Conclusion – The Eagles win this weeks songwriters match up 30 to 5
. But I'd still still rather listen to CCR if me and The Dude were road tripping.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cartersville Songwriter's Exchange - New Venue in the Works

According to a conversation I had with Randy, a restaurant owner in Cartersville has agreed to let us start having our meetings in an upstairs room during off hours. From what I understand, he may be interested in having us perform there as well, if we can draw enough customers. This is a very vague post, and I apologize for that - I should have more details in the near future. I am hoping that it isn't a week night, but even if it is, I will still do what I can to make the trip from Smyrna to Cartersville to attend. I am glad there is still support out there for people to help musicians who wish to perform their own material - I hope we can get enough music down to put on a decent show. In other news I have a new song that I am working on dedicated to my old employer "They Sold Me Down the River". The good thing about songwriting is that it is a great way to deal with life hardships. Short post this time, cheers.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Doors v Lou Reed - Songwriters Match Up #5

This week it's The Doors versus Lou Reed in our songwriter match up - who will come out on top?

As I think about these two bands, I can't help but remember from Oliver Stones movie The Doors in which Jim Morrison and company are at a party where Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground are performing. It was implied that The Doors were ambassadors of the psychedelic, consciousness expanding spirit of the west where as The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol embodied nihilistic decline and heroin induced escapism. I am a great fan of both bands. The Doors and Lou Reed pushed boundaries of rock music, and the music they made was uncompromising, especially in Lou Reed's case. Lou Reed was brutally honest and unafraid of exploring controversial topics including fetish, drug addiction, electric shock therapy (his parents subjected him to this as a teenager) and trans-sexuality - not your typical fair and certainly not subjects with wide commercial appeal. Lou Reed wrote songs of this nature from more of an observational standpoint rather than a judgmental one. Jim Morrison was the visionary front man and primary lyricist of The Doors. His lyrics reveal his fascination with psychic dislocation, chaos and shamanistic ecstasy - he considered himself to be more Dionysian than Apollonian. Robby Krieger was the primary author of some of the groups best songs including Light My Fire, Lover Her Madly, Touch Me and Love Me Two Times. The Doors were a pretty cohesive songwriting unit and many of their songs credit the group rather than one member as the author.


Jim Morrison wrote some of the most surreal lyrics in rock music. Songs such as People Are Strange are brilliant in their concise and poetic expression. Sometimes though he was prone to muddled non sequiturs that seem more like filler than substance. Lou Reed's lyrics are grittier, more narrative and are more intense expressions of emotional states. Such a tough decision to make here, but I think Reed is more cohesive and because of this I am awarding this category to Lou Reed with reservations - especially when I think of some of Morrison's best lyrics like "Women seem wicked when you're unwanted, streets will haunt you alone when your down". The verdict - 10 points for Lou Reed.


The musical backbone of The Doors - keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger formed a very adept musical core for the band. They excelled at free form improvisation in concert, and were well served by their well-rounded musical chops, able to play classical, jazz, blues and rock. Lou Reed was arguably at his best when he was part of the Velvet Underground and collaborating with John Cale, who was also a classically trained musician (as Reed was) and who was influenced by avante-garde musicians such as John Cage. John Cale pushed the bands sound into noisier, more experimental territory. However, sound I believe is different than composition - I am going with The Doors since they were so adept and making each instrument work so well as part of an ensemble and for the greater complexity of their arrangements in general. The Doors win this, 10 points.


This one is not much of a contest - I have to go with Lou Reed. As part of The Velvet Underground, it is said that he was instrumental in the formation of alternative rock and punk - the use of noise and volume, the sometimes abrasive quality of the music, and the subject matter of the songs inspired scores of rock fans to form their own bands. 5 points for Lou Reed.


Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground where part of Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable - they would perform at his events and movie projectors would play film on them as they performed. Lou Reed's seventies album Transformer helped pioneer Glam Rock. Metal Machine Music was one of the most outrageous records ever made for better or worse (it is all noise pretty much). The Doors theatrical bent on songs such as The End was a bold exploration of what a rock concert could be and Morrison's uninhibited antics live are legendary. I feel like flipping a coin here - maybe I'll go with Lou Reed because who would have dreamed such an unphotogenic Jewish kid from New York singing songs about transvestites and drug addicts would become a rock star? 5 points Lou Reed.


I'm going with Lou Reed here as well mainly because the strenghth of that first album with The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground and Nico. Heroin is timeless. The Doors seem to be more of a product of their time, and perhaps because of the continuous airplay of their more commercially friendly songs such as Light My Fire and LA Woman on classic rock stations, the material sounds increasingly dated. Lou Reed has written a lot more songs, and because so much of it is so non-commercial and unique, it is harder to grow tired of it. 5 points Lou Reed.

So there you have it. This weeks winner is Lou Reed over The Doors, 25 to 10.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My First Music Video - A Song About Facebook

Well, this week I took the plunge and bought myself a camcorder - the Sony Bloggie. It cost less than $200 and can record in high definition. With Kathy's help I shot my first music video to promote one of my songs. I may be jumping the gun here because I really need to create a YouTube channel and a website with a shopping cart where people can purchase music (after I have better quality MP3's made).

I don't have any real video editing software. Windows Movie Maker was unable to import the mpegs as they were recorded by the camcorder. First I converted them to WMV's but after I edited my project in Windows Movie Maker it kept failing when I tried to export my finished project. I ended up compositing it in Flash and exporting as an .avi and then re-importing the movie into Movie Maker and exporting as an MP4 for the web. I reduced the sized and quality to make sure it could handle the export, so now I have a very amateurish video - (I lip synced to a pre-recorded sound track) but at least it is more interesting than just setting up a tripod getting everything in one shot.

The video has been posted to YouTube. I am toying with branding myself so I chose the name "Davey Bryans", derived from my real name. Is it a dumb name? Or is it too much like a porn star name?

Anyway the video is below and your feedback is appreciated.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Animals v The Kinks – Songwriters Match Up #4

This week's match up is between two more great British bands, The Kinks and The Animals. Both bands formed in the 60's. Ray Davies was the primary lyricist of The Kinks and his songs were known for their observations on English culture, humor and word play. The Animals were basically a blues band that became more and more psychedelic nature over the course of the band's career. Until the mid sixties, The Animals did not write much of their material, either covering blues hits by American artists, drawing upon folk for material such as The House of the Rising Sun, or else recording material written by Brill Building songwriters recruited by the groups producer at the time, Mickie Most. By 1965 ended, the group switched to Decca Records and producer Tom Wilson, who gave them more artistic freedom to write their own material.

Lyrics – The Kinks

Ray Davies has written some of the best Rock lyrics out there – he is particularly adept at satire and social commentary. The Animals had their share of unforgettable songs, but many of the best of them had been written by others including Don't Bring Me Down and We Gotta Get Out of This Place. 10 points for the Kinks

Composition – The Animals

This was a very close call but I'm giving this to The Animals primarily because of later works such as Sky Pilot and Spill the Wine. With these songs, The Animals proved that they were capable of progressing beyond the usual blues and folk covers and become an innovative force in the realm of psychedelic rock. 10 points for The Animals.

Influence – The Kinks

The Kinks have been called one of the most influential bands of the British Invasion. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website states that "Ray Davies is almost indisputably rock's most literate, witty and insightful songwriter." They were instrumental in the development of hard rock and heavy metal music with songs such as You Really Got Me helping to inspire and influence bands such as The Clash, The Ramones and Van Halen. Musicologist Joe Harrington noted that “the Kinks did a lot to help turn rock 'n' roll (Jerry Lee Lewis) into rock (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, the Stooges)." 5 points for the Kinks.

Originality – The Kinks

The Kinks fusion of dance hall music, blues, folk, country, hard rock as well as Ray Davies' distinctive lyrics and songwriting are all reasons that the band has developed such a devoted cult following. 5 points for The Kinks.

Durability – The Kinks

The Kinks continued to put out occasional hits into the eighties and nineties and have a larger body of work that doesn't make the band sound as dated as The Animals. 5 points for The Kinks

Conclusion – The Kinks are this week's winner 25 to 10.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Want Free Guitar Lessons? Try YouTube

I am a self-taught guitarist - I learned to play by ear and by learning the chords to lots of songs so that I developed a sense for structure and and color. But it is hard to continue to grow sometimes by just trying to learn new chords and doodling around - you find it hard to break out of the same old patterns - and when the same old chord combinations in your musical toolbox no longer can inspire you when you sit down to write a song.

Lately I have been searching YouTube for terms like "rock chord progressions" or "rock guitar riffs". You can find a lot of good videos, many done by professionals who slow it down enough for you to follow while they explain how to play a certain riff or strum pattern. I recently wrote a new song I was kind of pleased with after checking out a few of these videos and getting inspired by learning new progressions. This was actually a happy song, a welcome change from the mood of songs that I usually write. I played it at the Cartersville Song Exchange for the first time last Saturday and my fellow songwriters there liked it, so that felt good.

I plan to continue looking for useful videos on YouTube to learn new techniques and riffs. You have to love the internet! There has never been a better time to learn guitar with all of the free resources that you can now access.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pink Floyd v Led Zeppelin Songwriter Match Up #3

This week's songwriter match up pits two seminal British rock bands against one another. The songs of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin are mainstays on almost any classic rock station. Of the two, I would say that Pink Floyd was the more avant-garde for their time, focusing heavily on psychedelic lightshows and elaborate stages that were part of their performances. Pink Floyd also put out more concept albums and was less about writing hit singles than Led Zeppelin (although Zeppelin was also album oriented). Led Zeppelin for its part was one of the major inspirations behind the birth of the heavy metal rock band. The musical contrasts of light and heavy were also explored in a way that influenced many other bands. Note how popular heavy rock bands had names that reflect this - Iron Butterfly, Vanilla Fudge, etc.. Page was a fan of Pentangle and Joni Mitchell, and a acoustic sections are often incorporated into some of Led Zeppelin's biggest hits that start relatively quietly with fingerpicking contrasted by a subsequent hard rock electric sound later in the same song.

Lyrics - Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd has put out so many great songs with compelling and sometimes disturbing lyrics. Explorations of madness, alienation, euphoria all come to mind. Between Syd Barrett and the songwriting team of Roger Waters and David Gilmour, the talent was certainly there. Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant was the primary lyricist of the band. Plant's lyrics definitely work well with the music and vocal stylings and for the most part I'd rate him a good lyricist. But then there are some lyrics like this one: "I saw a lion he was standing alone with a tadpole in a jar" (from Dancing Days). 10 points for Pink Floyd.

Composition - Led Zeppelin

John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page were well rounded, experienced studio musicians comfortable with playing and arranging complex compositions. While perhaps the dominant influence in Led Zeppelins music is blues rock, there is also folk, funk, jazz, eastern influences and even some ska. Both bands have had orchestras providing full symphonic treatments of their music, perhaps the most notable example was Led Zeppelins Kashmir as performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I'm giving this one to Led Zeppelin. 10 points.

Influence - Led Zeppelin

I can't think of another band that made so many 70's teens aspire to become rock gods and drive their parents crazy by cranking up their electric guitars or hammering away on the drums like John Bonham than Led Zeppelin. And Led Zeppelin's sound was so influential to 70's bands like Aerosmith and Rush that both started by covering Led Zeppelin. 5 more points awarded to Led Zeppelin.

Originality - Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd's fusion of science fiction, philosophy and psychodrama plus the exploration of themes such as madness and alienation make their work unforgettable. So many great concept albums - Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, The Wall and Animals. Pink Floyd is a legendary band fully deserving of taking the prize in this category. 5 more points for Pink Floyd.

Durability - Led Zeppelin

I have to go with Led Zeppelin. It is a very close call, but I could imagine future generations that were not as drug-oriented as those that were young in the decade when these two groups were in their heyday choosing Led Zeppelin over Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd tends to be perhaps a little tiring at times because it is too brooding. The quality of the music of both bands ensure that they have the durability to win fans for decades to come, but if I have to award a winner here it would have to be Led Zeppelin. 5 Points.

Conclusion - Led Zeppelin comes out ahead 20 to 15.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

David Bowie v. Elton John Songwriter Match Up #2

This week's match up pits two of rock music's most unconventional stars against each other to determine who is the best songwriter.

David Bowie, born David Robert Jones, was perhaps the most influential "glam rocker" as the androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust and later The Thin White Duke.

Elton John's outrageous stage costumes and exuberant uninhibited concerts wowed his fans and he became one of musics most successful artists. The single "Candle in the Wind" (the version written after the death of Diana) has sold over 37 million copies, and according to Wikipedia, is the best selling single of all time.

Both of these artists had their heyday in the 1970's, the golden age of album oriented rock.

Lyrics - Elton John / Bernie Taupin
To clarify, Bernie Taupin wrote or co-wrote the lyrics of many of Elton John's greatest hits, including "Candle in the Wind". David Bowie's lyrics always work well for his brand of rock and who doesn't love the weirdness of "Ziggy Stardust" or the sci-fi influenced "Major Tom"? But all in all, Elton John's lyrics have more of an emotional depth and a compelling narrative quality. Ten points for Elton John.

Composition - Elton John
Both Bowie and Elton John were innovative composers, but Elton John comes out on top. Listen to "Funeral for a Friend" or his version of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Elton John's works are often more ambitious and more classical, sometimes employing full orchestral arrangements. Ten more points for Elton John.

Influence - David Bowie
David Bowie was the essence of what 70's rock stars aspired to be - exotic, charismatic, enigmatic. He played a part in shaping the music of Joy Division, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and I'm sure many others that I don't have the time to research. He collaborated with greats such as John Lennon and Brian Eno. And the sound of Mike Ronson and crew in the Spiders from Mars band as well as his dabblings with electronica and funk all contributed heavily to the evolution of rock music. Five ponts for David Bowie.

Originality - David Bowie
I'm giving this the "The Man Who Fell to Earth", David Bowie. I think Elton John's song "Bennie and the Jets" lyrics sound as though they could have been about "The Spiders from Mars" (not saying that they were written about them, just the imagery the lyrics create). He was more instrumental in the establisment of 1970's "Glam Rock". He also became a flim star and incorporated some of the cinematic themes into his work. James Brown's 1976 single "Hot" (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved)" borrowed the main riff from "Fame" by David Bowie (I just found this out - I assumed at first that Bowie had stolen that riff from James Brown). Five points David Bowie.

Durability - David Bowie
This is a tough call, but I believe that David Bowie continued to innovate longer than Elton John. Just about all of Elton John's best songs are from the 70's and his later work often tended to be rather forgettable. While also more dominant in the 70's, David Bowie put out more interesting music in the 80's and 90's. Five points David Bowie.

So in conclusion, based upon the criteria I have established, Elton John wins 20 to 15. Personally I am more of a Bowie fan, but since this contest is focused on just one aspect of quality, songwriting, I have to give the nod to Elton John.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 One Way to Find Musicians and Songwriters to Collaborate With

I recently bought a one month membership to for just under ten dollars.  If I would have opted for a year or three months, it would have been cheaper per month, but I am betting that I will find someone in less than a month to jam with.  There is a fee membership level, but with a free membership you can't even directly message people through Bandmix.  So far I have contacted four people whom I think may have potential to be collaborators.  Two have responded.  One lives in Cartersville and because of my contact with him, he joined the Cartersville Songwriters Exchange, which I am helping to promote.  I am going to try to get together with the other respondent some time this week.  I think one of the biggest problems I have had is that I have been too reluctant to get out of my room and actively get involved in making new contacts and finding musicians to play with.  Well, I am a not the most outgoing person.  If I can get past the awkwardness of meeting with a stranger and possibly make a friend who enjoys making music as much as I do it will be well worth it.  The person I hope to meet with this week is roughly my age and has similar musical tastes, so I'll give it a go.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Buddy Holly v. Chuck Berry - Songwriter Match Up #1

The first songwriter match up – Chuck Berry v Buddy Holly & The Crickets – has turned out to be quite a challenge. Both were such great pioneers in a number of areas.

Buddy Holly was one of the first artists to write their own songs and produce their own music. He was also one of the first to use the recording technique of multi tracking (which had just been invented by Les Paul). Up until this time, most artists would often just record live on one microphone. Buddy Holly and the Crickets was one of the first to feature what might well be the most common band configuration; lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and drums.

Chuck Berry revolutionized the sound of rock guitar borrowing freely from boogie, swing and soul. His sound was famous for its use of two-note chords or double stops played fast and furious infused with the edge and energy that supercharged the rock'n'roll era. He also was a great showman and his trademark duck-walk and one legged-hop.

Lyrics – Chuck Berry

I had to give Chuck Berry the nod lyrically. His songs are about the classic rock'n'roll themes – cars, women, high school etc. I think there is more humor in his lyrics than you will find in Buddy Holly's songs – listen to “Too Much Monkey Business” or “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”. Ten points for Chuck.

Composition – Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly was such a pioneer in the studio and he had such talent as a composer that I have to go with him over Chuck Berry in this. There is a greater variety of sounds in the body of his work and he was moving towards to more complexity. Listen to the string arrangements in songs such as “True Love Ways” and the instrumental middle section of “Everyday”. Ten points for Buddy.

Influence – Chuck Berry

This was a tough call – but overall I feel that Chuck Berry should get the nod here. So many of the great classic rock bands either covered his hits or else ripped off his guitar licks! Buddy Holly songs were also covered by lots of other artists as well but not so many at such a pivotal time – The Beatles, Stones and Yardbirds all covered Chuck Berry songs. Five points for Chuck Berry.

Originality – Buddy Holly

I'm going with Buddy Holly here. His whole rock'n'roll geek look as well as mixture of pop and rock'n'roll helped define a new direction for music and bands. His role as an innovator in the studio also compels me to give Buddy Holly the edge. Five Points for Buddy Holly.

Durability – Draw

I admit it – I wimped out here. I think Chuck Berry's lyrics are definitely more rooted in the late 50's – whereas Buddy Holly's lyrics are more timeless in their expression of teenage love. But Berry's signature rebellious and energetic riffs and rhythms sound as good today as they did back then.

So the final verdict... A draw.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cartersville, Georgia Bands - The Owens Brothers

Billy and Randy Owens have been part of the Georgia music scene since the 1970's. The bands that they have been part of include Fourty Fingers, Sundance and The Apple Corps...and probably a lot more, these are just the ones that I know.

As the Owens Brothers, Billy and Randy are available to perform at the usual venues for bands such as clubs as well as private parties. They cover hits from the 50's to the 80's and love to take requests. Their tight sound and vocal harmonies really do justice to their Beatles covers and other classic rock material. They are currently based in the Cartersville, GA area.

The Owens brothers also write their own material. They are talented songwriters and I have greatly enjoyed collaborating with them at meetings of the Cartersville Songwriter's Exchange. Randy is primarily a guitarist / volcalist, but he can also play drums and keyboards. Bill is a smoking lead guitarist who also can handle vocals, keyboards and bass. They have their own studio equipment and they love to help other songwriters develop their own songs.

The Owens brothers are always eager to find gigs - do yourself a favor and contact them to provide great entertainment at your next party or as headliners at your bar, coffeehouse or restaurant. To find out more, visit their website at

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Webinar Review: The Songwriter and Social Media - Putting it all Together

While doing some research on the use of social media, I found a free webinar to attend last week on the site It was entitled "The Songwriter and Social Media - Putting it all Together." The author is Matthew Moran, who was generous enough to put this together and conduct the webinar free of charge as his way of giving back to the community of songwriters. In this post I will summarize what I learned from participating in the webinar.

First of all Matthew provided a list of important considerations that must be part of the songwriters plan of action. These are:

  1. The formulation of a marketing plan
  2. An assessment of your talent / ability
  3. Internet presence / creation of a website
  4. Product / merchandise to sell
  5. The creation of a mailing lists
  6. Building a list of useful contacts
  7. Becoming adept with social media and how to use it effectively

Your marketing plan should create an incentive for fans to follow you. Matthew recommended making sure to give them something that they can walk away with. Perhaps in exchange for their email address you could give them access to a free music download (Just one suggestion).

You will need a website, preferably a blog. Stay away from Flash websites as search engines do not index these well, meaning that your site will not show up in search results for desirable search terms. Matthew recommends Wordpress to create a free blog website. Provide visitors to the website the opportunity to listen to your music, find out where you will be playing, join a newsletter mailing list and access to buy your music or related merchandise.

Create a free CD sampler to give out when you play live.

Build your mailing list of emails and a newsletter that you can send out to let fans know about your upcoming performances. You can use an email marketing service such as Newsletter Builder to create your email newsletter and maintain your lists of recipients. This will also allow you to track how many people have opened the email and clicked upon the links that you may have provided in it.

You will need contacts at venues that play live music as well as other songwriters (working songwriters and performers) to help you find the gigs you will need to present your music to the masses.

Social media can be useful - emulate those who are having success. Don't spend too much time on this at the expense of the other things you need to be doing. Video is becoming increasingly important. Learn how to create your own channel on YouTube and promote this - create videos of your performances to post on your website or Facebook profile.

This was just a rough outline of the webinar, but I hope you will find it useful.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Best Rock and Roll Songwriters - Match-ups and Criteria

I have rethought how I am going to approach this discussion of what band or artist deserves to be recognized as the best songwriter - there are so many that are just so different that any comparisons might be too much like apples to oranges. Therefore, I looked over my list and came up with the match-ups below as well as how what criteria I will use to determine who is best. See below:



lyrics  (1-10 points)

compostion (1-10 points)

influence (1-5  points)

originality (1-5  points)

durability (1-5  points)


Chuck Berry Vs Buddy Holly

David Bowie Vs Elton John

Pink Floyd vs Led Zeppelin

The Animals vs The Kinks

The Doors vs Lou Reed

The Eagles vs Creedence Clearwater Revival

Pete Townsend vs Eric Clapton

The Police vs The Clash

The Beach Boys vs Crosby, Stills and Nash

Bruce Springsteen vs Neil Young

The Grateful Dead vs Bob Dylan

The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones


As always, any feedback is appreciated. I will start at the top of my list next week, so look for it!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Best Rock and Roll Songwriters - Week One

Dear Readers,

I thought it might be fun to compare notes on which Rock Bands or solo Artists we think are the best songwriters. To this end, I have compiled a list of some of the biggest names, the legends; I each week I will take two of them and argue the merits of each and choose the band or artist I consider to be superior. I will have to objectify the criteria somehow - some system that would perhaps try to assign some weight to areas such as lyrics, composition, volume of work and originality. I am sure that the list of bands I have selected for this competition will not make everyone happy - part of the rationale that I used in the selection process was based upon whether or not I owned enough of each band's music (so that I could go back and listen to the best of each) to make a reasonably well informed argument concerning whichever band is deemed to be the best. Here is the list I came up with:

The Animals
The Beatles
The Beach Boys
The Doors
Elton John
The Rolling Stones
Bob Dylan
Joni Mitchell
Neil Young
Crosby, Stills and Nash
Chuck Berry
The Eagles
Led Zeppelin
Credence Clearwater Revival
Eric Clapton
Bob Marley
Bruce Springsteen
The Clash
Buddy Holly
The Grateful Dead
Jimmy Hendrix
The Kinks
Patti Smith
Pink Floyd
The Police
Simon and Garfunkle
Lou Reed
Pete Townsend
David Bowie

So what do you think?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Learning Harmony

Lots of my favorite rock songs make use of at least some vocal harmony. At the last meeting of the Cartersville Songwriter's Exchange, I tried working on this with Randy on a couple of his songs. I could get it after he sat down and we figured out the third. Singing in the third of the key of the regular vocal makes for a nice harmony - the third and the fifth all will work for a major key harmony. Sometimes it is hard not to have a "sympathetic ear".

Having a "sympathetic ear" means that you tend to continue to sing the normal vocal part instead of sticking to your part, because you can no longer hear your harmony vocal in your head. Sometimes I am falling into this trap. It helps to practice by singing the harmony part solo while playing the individual notes on guitar to keep yourself in key; I'm finding that I may need to practice in this way every day in order to get my part down and to not lose the key when it comes time to perform. I will be meeting again with Randy tomorrow and I hope to impress him by being spot on.

Well that's all for now. I hope everyone has a fun and harmonious weekend.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Beatles Songwriting Trivia, Miscellaneous Trivia

The information in this post is from The Book of Useless Information which can be purchased at

The Beatles featured two left-handed members: Paul, whom everyone saw holding his Hoffner bass left-handed, and Ringo, whose left-handedness is at least partially to blame for his "original" drumming style.

The Beatles performed their first U.S. concert in Carnegie Hall.

The Beatles song "A Day in the Life" ends with a note sustained for forty seconds.

The Beatles song "Dear Prudence" was written about Mia Farrow's sister, Prudence, when she wouldn't come out and play with Mia and The Beatles at a religious retreat in India.

When I'm Sixty-Four" was the first song to be recorded for the Sgt. Pepper album. "Within You Without You" was the last.

When John Lennon divorced Julian Lennon's mother, Paul McCartney composed "Hey Jude" to cheer up Julian.

John Lennon's first girlfriend was named Thelma Pickles.

John Lennon's middle name was Winston.

Ringo Starr was born during a World War II air raid.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Songwriter and Musician Auditions in Smyrna, Georgia

I just found this on craigslist.



8:30PM TIL 12:00PM

Attention Musicians, Bands (Country, Rock, and Jazz) A JAM PRODUCTION is now holding Open Mic and Auditions for a touring recording artist and reviewing talent for bookings into local clubs, colleges, fairs and festival.

JAM is celebrating its 34 years in the Music Industry and now reaching out to you to help guide your music career. Come network with booking agents, music managers, clubowners, festival promoters, college talent buyers, music attorneys, film producers, record executives, etc. IT DOES NOT COST YOU A DIME! You may just meet the right person to help launch your music career.

All Open Mic and Auditions must register and be approved by JAM before you can perform. We are looking for exceptional talent in musicians, singers, and songwriters.





Here is the link to the original post:

The information you need to include in order to register is below:

  • Name of Musician
  • Name of Band
  • Address (City, State, Zip)
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website Address
  • Requested Date & Time of Performance

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Songwriter's Poetic Tools

Songwriting isn't easy, but great songwriters know the power of metaphor, alliteration, imagery and symbolism. Below are some of my favorite lyrics to serve as examples of these devices.

METAPHOR - a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity.

"There's a bad moon on the rise" - John Fogerty of Credence Clearwater Revival wrote this as a reference to Nixon being elected president.

"Squeeze my lemon till the juice runs down my leg" - I first heard this listening to a Led Zeppelin album, but bluesman Robert Johnson was the true author. I shouldn't have to explain what the lemon metaphor means if you are over thirteen.

ALLITERATION - the repetition of the same sound.

"Sitting on a sofa on a sunday afternoon" - from Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson.

"My love she comes in colors, you can tell her by the clothes she wears" - from a song written by Arthur Lee of the sixties group Love.

IMAGERY - words that invoke poetic images.

You're eyes without a face - from the Billy Idol song Eyes Without a Face. It was a great video as well.

"Beneath the halo of a street lamp I turned my collar to the cold and damp" - more Simon and Garfunkel from The Sounds of Silence.

SYMBOLISM - similar to metaphor but often tied to religious or political messages. Bob Dylan is a master of this.

I want to know who'll stop the rain - John Fogerty and CCR again referring symbolically to the war in Vietnam.

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" - Bob Dylan's symbolic nod to the counter-culture referring to how you didn't need to be told be the establishment talking heads on television how to interpret and understand the great social changes that took place when this song was written in the sixties. The name of a group of sixties radicals known as The Weathermen was inspired by this lyric.

"It's a hard rain that's going to fall" - Bob Dylan's symbolic reference to the bombing of Vietnam.

Although I am sure that the vast majority of people who read this post are already quite familiar with these devices, it is helpful to be reminded sometimes about what makes great lyrics unforgettable. I'll end this post with one of the most unforgettable lyrics I know:

And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Time to Become a Better Musician?

It is rather ironic, but even though I have just created this blog on songwriting this month, at the present time I think that I am more inclined to spend time becoming a better player than writing more songs. One reason for this is that I think I could be better inspired if I could play more complex and interesting chord progressions. The songs I write are usually only four or five chords usually. Mostly the old I, IV, V type progression with a relative minor. I usually use suspended chords and seventh chords to help make things more interesting as well, but I'd really like to explore some jazz and swing progressions and see if those colorings might take me to new places lyrically as well as musically. I know I need to work on a more disciplined approach when I practice - to follow through on clear objectives. Even though I have more time than ever since I lost my job, I am spending a lot of time obsessing about what I am going to do now. I really, really hate job hunting! Sorry about getting off on a tangent. I just joined my first pay per post blogger network and I need to insert the random phrase below into this post to verify ownership:

Underneath a libel washes the motorway.

Before I get off on any more random tangents, I think it is time to end this post.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Can You Get Paying Gigs Playing Your Own Material?

Yesterday was the second meeting of the Cartersville Songwriters Exchange, founded by Randy Owens. Even though just Randy, his brother Billy Owens and I were the only ones who showed up, it was a good meeting. We all have strong original material and we got a chance to bounce ideas off of each other and play our songs. Still there are doubts - will people pay to hear unfamiliar songs? Can we get gigs as we try to build a following? I guess we will find out. We wrote down a list of songs that we would like to collaborate on, develop and record. I would like to accomplish three goals in this order:
  1. Record quality demos with Randy and Billy of my three best songs.
  2. Register the copyright of the three songs.
  3. Start getting gigs and performing my stuff live.
  4. Promote the songs on websites such as YouTube and etc.
Any feedback is appreciated.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Paul McCartney's Original Lyrics to the Beatle's Hit "Yesterday"

According to Paul McCartney, the working title of his song "Yesterday" was "Scrambled Eggs". Paul had heard the melody in a dream, and the next morning he sat down at the piano to make sure he could get something down before he forgot it. The original working lyrics were as below:

Scrambled eggs
Have an omelette with some Muenster cheese
Put your dishes in the wash bin please
So I can clean the scrambled eggs

Join me do
There’s a lot of eggs for me and you
I’ve got ham and cheese and bacon too
So go get two and join me do

Fried or sunny side
Just aren’t right
The mix-bowl begs
Quick, go get a pan, and we’ll scramble up some eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs

Scrambled eggs
Good for breakfast, dinner time or brunch
Don’t buy six or twelve, buy a bunch
And we’ll have a lunch on scrambled eggs

According to Wikipedia, McCartney said the breakthrough with the lyrics came during a trip to Portugal in May 1965:

"I remember mulling over the tune 'Yesterday', and suddenly getting these little one-word openings to the verse. I started to develop the idea ... da-da da, yes-ter-day, sud-den-ly, fun-il-ly, mer-il-ly and Yes-ter-day, that's good. All my troubles seemed so far away. It's easy to rhyme those a's: say, nay, today, away, play, stay, there's a lot of rhymes and those fall in quite easily, so I gradually pieced it together from that journey. Sud-den-ly, and 'b' again, another easy rhyme: e, me, tree, flea, we, and I had the basis of it."

On 27 May 1965, McCartney and Asher flew to Lisbon for a holiday in Albufeira, Algarve, and he borrowed an acoustic guitar from Bruce Welch, in whose house they were staying, and completed the work on "Yesterday".

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Random Updates and Musings, Hopes and Frustrations Open Mike Follies

It's Wednesday afternoon. I am not feeling much like working on that website I am supposed to finish to market my website design and graphic design talents, and Kathy is wanting us to take a day trip because it is a beautiful sunny day. She says rain is forecast for tomorrow, so why not put off sitting in front of the computer until tomorrow? I suppose I can at the very least write a new post. I'd also like to welcome my newest followers. I appreciate that you have taken the time to sign up and I hope that you enjoy reading my posts on The Seeds of Song.

I plan to go back to REV Coffeehouse to do open mike again tonight. I didn't check out the open mike at The Urban Grind last night – I am still meaning to give that a shot. Anyway, now that I have my nice new business cards, I can promote my songs and hopefully get people to follow this blog. I am starting to feel like a regular there, maybe I can actually find people to play with. The last person I started to try to get something together with didn't work out. I met him while playing harmonica on my back porch. He heard me and was excited about getting together to make some music. He came over and we hit it off at first. He was a pretty good guitarist and knew some good classic rock songs. He did smell like he had been drinking a bit, but I wanted to give it a chance. I said we'd practice up and do the next open mike at REV.

The next time he came over to practice, he seemed a little more buzzed. Still had fun, but I was beginning to wonder how bad of a drinking problem he had. He came over two more times and he was progressively more under the influence. On the night we agreed to play at REV, he brought over a bottle of tequila and it was obvious he had already had a head start on his buzz. I was dropping hints all along that he shouldn't be drinking so much, but you can't persuade a drunk to do anything he doesn't want to do. We drove out to REV and I wondered how this was going to play out.

At REV, I bought a decaf tea for myself and orange juice for Nate, the guitarist. I put our names on the sign up board for open mike participants right near the top – I thought it best to play early because Nate kept stepping out to nip on his tequila and was getting progressively more drunk. Good thing I did. When Nate's turn to play came up, he did Neil Diamond's “Solitary Man” with me backing him up on harmonica. A little sloppy, but better than expected. Next he did a pretty bad, sloppy cover of “Secret Agent Man". Then I finished by doing two Lou Reed song's “Wild Child” and “Walk on the Wild Side” with one of the regulars, Jimmy, playing saxophone. I then got us out of there pretty quick because it was embarrassing me that he was lurching around thinking he was Casanova, hitting on young women who I am sure were probably just wanting him to go away. Maybe if this was a bar with lots of people drinking and various states of inebriation this may not have been so awkward...but being plastered in a room full of coffee and tea drinkers? Out of line.

When I drove Nate home and said I wasn't interested in having him come over anymore if he had been drinking. Time to go Kathy wants to eat lunch. Until next time!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Do You Need to Pay Your Dues to Play the Blues? Does the Best Music Have Its Roots in Pain?

Is the most powerful music find its roots in personal suffering? Artists as renowned as Eric Clapton felt that they needed to suffer to play the blues with authenticity. I sometimes think that it might be a little absurd for me to sing about stuff like heroin withdrawal or being beat down by the man when I have always had a roof over my head and food on the table and really have led a safe, comfortable life. Not that I haven't had to work for almost everything that I have ever had. But where does music's power come from if not from something deeply meaningful? Such as suffering? For some reason it is the sad songs that are my favorites and the ones that I find easiest to write. I really wish it was easier to write upbeat music that wasn't completely vapid. Maybe I 'm dwelling too much on this long as people are enjoying the music does it matter?

Love songs are very hard for me to write. There are so many bad ones. Plus I am kind of a cynic about romantic love these days. Not that I don't love my woman – it is just that I don't trust the soul-consuming fire that can burn those in love. Usually it is really more lust than love.

I could probably spend more time exploring this topic, but I'm running out of steam for now. I'm hoping some of you readers will chime in and post a few comments related to this post.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guitars, Strings, Harmonicas

For what it is worth, here are some equipment recommendations. I have a Dean acoustic-electric guitar which I am very happy with. The sound is rich, it is easy to play, it looks good and it has a built in electronic tuner. I bought it last summer for less than $600, the most I have ever paid for an acoustic, but well worth it. It was tricky to find where to put new batteries in for the built-in tuner when they went dead. In case there is anyone out there with a new Dean guitar like mine, the batteries aren't located anywhere close to where the tuner is. At first, I thought I had to unscrew the tiny screws that hold this in place and look for the batteries inside, but no need. The batteries go in in a compartment in the same area as the output where the instrument cable goes. I didn't get a manual with the guitar (that would have been helpful).

I have been using a variety of steel strings over the years from Martin to D'Addario to discount brands. My friend Randy Owens of the Owens Brothers Band recently recommended Elixir strings. He said they have a great sound, play well and continue to sound good a lot longer than other strings that he has used. They do cost more according to Randy, but the extra value is worth it. I am going to be sure to give them a go next time I change my strings

As for harmonicas, I almost always buy Hohners, even though the prices of simple diatonic harmonicas continue to increase. I bought a Suzuki Promaster harp in the key of A to play blues in E and I am finding that I really like it. It sounds good, and the reeds are more durable. It was expensive though - close to $40 for a diatonic harmonica. At least you can order new reed plates so that you don't have buy a whole new harmonica when they start wearing out.

I hope that you find this information helpful

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Should I Submit My Songs to Songwriting Submission Sites and Contests?

I did a search on Songwriting Contests 2010 in order to share the results with my followers. It seems there are quite a number of sites that claim that to promote your songs by distributing them on feeds and archiving them in databases that are accessed by producers and musicians. But what happens if you send your song in and it is stolen outright? Is it foolish to even consider sites like this if your material hasn't been copyrighted? I'd like a shot at making some money from my songs, but would definitely feel like an idiot if I let someone else make all the money from my work because I was too lazy to protect my material before I started promoting it. If anyone can offer advice, please feel free to comment on this post.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Notes on Poetry and Lyrics

Poetry and lyrics... they have much in common, but there are also important differences between the two. Most of it stems from differences in delivery. Poetry must appeal to a reader while musical lyrics have to appeal to a listener. Some of the best rock songs have lyrics that are too simplistic to stand on their own as poems, but when these same words are sang by a talented vocalist in a musical framework, the impact and meaning of these same simple words can be greatly amplified. As an art form, music structures time, sculpting it into an expressive statement.

So the lyrics of great songs can fall along a broad continuum of poetic merit. Lyrics can sometimes can stand on their own as poetry but does not always mean that the more poetic the lyrics, the better the song. It's like comparing apples to oranges. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Mick Jagger said, “Bob Dylan one said, 'I could have written Satisfaction, but you couldn't have written Tambourine Man.' It's true, but I'd like to hear Bob Dylan sing, 'I can't get no satisfaction.'”

Compare the two songs... Satisfaction and Tambourine Man. Both are great songs, but Tambourine Man works better independently as poetry. But does that matter if the intent is to use words as lyrics? Artists like Mick Jagger understand that music can transform simple phrases into powerful anthems.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Upcoming BMI events

More upcoming events for musicians and songwriters.

March 16th - Submission Deadline for MUSIC 101 - Building the Beat:

March 19th - Submission Deadline for the BMI Unsigned Urban Showcase:

March 31st - Next Fresh Thing (LA) - details to be posted soon

April 1st - BMI Rock Showcase (ATL) - details to be posted soon

April 8th - Guitar Sessions (LA) - details to be posted soon

April 20th - BMI Unsigned Urban Showcase (ATL) - details to be posted soon

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

REV Open Mike - Lots of Talented Songwriters and Performers

Tonight for the 2nd week in a row I packed up the guitar and drove to REV coffeehouse on Spring Road in Smyrna. I got there earlier than last time and got my name on the board right off the bat, which was a good thing because there were only a couple of spots left. Each time I come back to REV it seems to get better - it was especially cool that the first performer covered some of my favorites - The Velvet Underground's "Heroin" and the Replacement's "Alex Chilton". And he did a great job! Most people bring in acoustic guitars, these were performed on an electric guitar really pushing the dynamics on "Heroin" and getting in some tasty crunch. A lot of the others were good tonight, but this first set was the best.

When it was my turn, I played perhaps my best original song "Take it to the Bank" followed by a blues harmonica medley of sorts. It was well received and one of the performers told me he thought it was good, so that was reassuring. Between performers sets I had a chance to plug the blog, suggesting that songwriters check out my blog for information about BMI's free songwriting conference next month mentioned in an earlier post.

Getting up and playing live again is a rewarding experience, and very valuable for a songwriter. It forces you to sharpen up sloppy sections of your work and gives you an opportunity to see how well material goes over. And it reminds you why you are putting forth the effort in the first place.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Come and hear from some of the industry's leading songwriters. This panel will also include an in-depth Q&A session.
Moderated By:  Catherine Brewton, VP, Writer-Publisher Relations BMI
Friday, April 16th, 2010 from 3:00pm-5:00pm
Georgia State Alumni Hall
30 Courtland St
Atlanta, GA 30303

You must RSVP to by April 9th

Space is limited, so please respond ASAP


Monday, March 8, 2010

Keep Those Old Notebooks of Lyrics

Several years ago I had written a song about an image on a tarot card - building a short narrative based on that picture.  I came up with some chords and a melody, but it just wasn't working - the chord structure wasn't quite right, and I had a hard time singing the melody.  Just recently though it all fell in to place.  I hadn't thought about making that song for years but for some reason the new chords just fell in to place one day when I thought about giving it another go.

One of the Red Hot Chili Peppers biggest hits, Under the Bridge, was languishing in Anthony Kiedis' notebook until producer Rick Rubin found it while the Chili Peppers were working on what was to become perhaps their best album, Bood Sugar Sex Magik.  Anthony had written about a time in his life when he was going through a lot of emotional turmoil and was hanging out doing cocaine "under the bridge" - some bridge in downtown Los Angeles that Kiedis wishes to be left undisclosed.  Kiedis was not planning on turning this poem into a song - he thought it was too emotionally angst ridden to fit in with the rest of their songs.  But Rubin thought it had potential, and the poem became a hit song.

Sometimes all it takes is a fresh set of eyes to see what has been right under your nose all along.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cartersville Songwriters Exchange - 1st Meeting

I had a fun and productive time at the first meeting of the Cartersville Songwriters Exchange.  Hosted by organizer Randy Owens, of the Owens Brothers.  We agreed to meet once a week and to exchange MP3s to help us work out material at home.  Our goal is to create a compilation CD and perhaps to sell it at performances.  One we have some songs down, we will look for paying gigs.  And we'd also like to publish and promote our original material.  We discussed the process of getting material copyrighted.  It sounds expensive - $35 a song through the government website!  We all agreed this seemed ridiculous - people used to mail themselves their original material by certified mail, believing that an unopened envelope with a date on it would be evidence enough that they were indeed the original authors.  For some reason though this no longer stands up in court.  If you know of a cheaper, legal alternative to paying the government $35 to copyright songs, please comment below.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Michael Franti of Spearhead Wrote a Hit Song in Woody Harrelson's Bathroom

I heard this story on 92.9 dave FM. Michael Franti of  the group Spear was staying at Woody Harrelson's house while Harrelson was away filming.  Franti was in the shower when an idea for a melody came to him - and he was able to to come up with lyrics as well.  To make sure he got his ideas down before he might forget them, the first thing he did when he emerged from the shower was to write them with his finger on the steamed up glass of the bathroom mirror.

While he was sitting on the toilet, he got a call from Woody.  Michael told him he was sitting on the toilet and had just came up with a song in the bathroom, to which Harrelson replied, "is it a No. 1 or No. 2?".

The song that Michael had written was "Say Hey (I Love You)".  It  made the Top 100, and the album the Top 40.

Listen to Say Hey (I Love You)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Digital Recording at Home - Microphone

I am trying to figure out home to assemble the least expensive but reasonably effective home recording setup.

I bought a very cheap omni microphone that uses a USB connection to hook up to the computer.  The software I am using is Audacity.  My friend Jim Wunderlich, owner of Orbital Sounds studio recommended this microphone for home recording:

You might want to check out the Sampson C01U studio condenser microphone. It features a 19mm internal shockmounted diaphragm with a cardioid pickup pattern for good quality recordings. It's a condenser microphone that can be plugged into any computer with no in/out boxes, no expensive computer pre-amps, just a USB cable. The cardiod pickup pattern rejects sound from the rear and works well for recording vox and acoustics. You can find them for around $70 new and $50 used or so. I have a CO1 in the studio and get alot of use out of it. It's also good for podcasting.

Audacity is free but it definitely has its problems.  I am finding that multiple tracks can get out of sync due to latency.  This would happen when I laid done the drums and then tried to add an additional guitar track.

I'd be grateful for any advice my readers can offer.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Double Vision

Finally got the courage up to do my first open mike in years.  Kathy and I went to REV's open mike.  We were there at almost 8:00 PM, the posted start time, and the sign-up board for performers was already full.  There was a lot of decent talent last night, it's good to know that I live in an area where people appreciate local performers.  REV is run by some really nice people, and the coffee and food is quite excellent.  I choose a decaf caramel apple tea so I wouldn't be too wired to sleep.  I think the facility that REV is housed in used to be a garage - the decor has an industrial motif.  Lighting and acoustics are a bit harsh.

Eventually someone dropped out of their slot and I made my move and wrote my name in empty spot on the sign-up board.  I was able to perform "Walking in the Morning Rain" and "Here's One for Your Ego".  The first song is about domestic tension with a spouse or significant other.  The second is kind of tongue in cheek humor with a little bit of real pain at its core.  I really did look up an old fling and she totally ignored me - she ended up blocking me after I sent her a couple of emails so I tracked her down, cut off her head and drove a stake through her heart - OK not really.  But I did get a good song out of it so that helped me finally achieve closure.

One final comment - does anyone feel self-conscious when performing and you are trying to stand closer to the microphone so you kind of get cross-eyed while you are tracking it visually?  I wonder it looks weird from the audience's perspective?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Local Services


All the jobs I have had...

Creative types often have to take rather odd jobs in order to pay the bills while waiting for someone to recognize their talents.  Maybe this could be the subject of a future song, lol.  Or maybe not.

Well you have to pay the bills... in roughly chronological order:

Ice Cream Truck Vendor
Intelligence Operations Specialist USAF
Summer Help Wood County Phone Company
Graphics, Agricultural School at UW Madison
Environmental Activist
Restaurant Prep Cook
DJ AM Radio Station
Butcher's Assistant
Telemarketer (2 god-awful times)
Administrative Assistant
Electronic Funds Transfer 
Multimedia and Graphic Design
Day laborer
UPS worker
Graphic Designer (3 different companies)
Web Designer (2 different companies)

Which one sucked the most?  Possibly one of my telemarketing jobs in which I was selling a system to help people who wet the bed.  Their celebrity spokesperson was Suzanne Somers (who had that problem as a child).  So lots of jokers would send in cards requesting more information with someone else's phone number on it as a prank and I'd call the phone number and say "I understand that there is someone in your home with a bedwetting problem." Of course then the answer would be something along the lines as "WTF?".  Anybody else have a story to share?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Birth of the Seeds of Song

Being between jobs can be both frightening and liberating. I am a songwriter / guitarist / harmonica player and I am creating this blog in order to help promote myself and others in the North Metro Atlanta area who love to make music and perform. Until yesterday I was working for a media company in downtown Atlanta - yesterday I was fired. I will be getting a month's severance pay and unemployment compensation. Between this and about a year's worth of savings, I hopefully will have some time to step back and really think about what I'd like to do next. I will try to find some freelance web design and graphic design work and also give this whole blogging thing a shot. Maybe it will be a way to help keep me sane and upbeat - in any case, I hope you the reader will feel that you can be part of this journey.

A little about my own journey... I have always loved music, especially rock and folk. Back in the 1980's I taught myself how to play guitar, and got started playing blues harmonica while I was in college by taking a mini-course on blues harmonica. Me and some of my college friends at the University of Wisconsin, Madison started jamming together and formed our band "The Dharma Bums", named after the Jack Karouac novel. I played harmonica and handled lead vocals; Jim Wunderlich was lead Guitarist; Tim Krause the rhythm guitarist; Steve Fischer on bass; and Joe on Drums (first there was Bob then Joe - sorry Joe, can't remember your last name it started with a T but it wasn't an easy name to remember like, say, Joe Smith). We had fun playing at co-op parties, open mikes, and actually at some bars brave enough to take a chance on us. But as most these things go, in couple years people went there separate ways and that was that. Jim is still quite a good guitarist and has his own studio in Hamilton NY. Steve was part of a successful touring band for a while. Jim is the only one of the above I have kept in loose contact with.

Many years that have passed since those days. I had joined the 9 to 5 crowd but always wanted to get back to making music. I have continued to write songs over the years, and sometimes I was fortunate enough to attend a jam session or two.

I am excited about this Saturday night. Randy Owens of the Owens Brothers in Cartersville is having the first meetup of his new songwriters-exchange. So it is time to practice up! I need to perform a song or two to my fellow songwriters and hopefully not mangle it too badly. I'll be back, dear diary with updates.


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