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Two Songs In One Day?


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Glyn and Sherri’s “One Lonely Night Closer to Gone” is done. I’m actually pretty happy with the way it turned out—but I still shouldn’t be the one singing it, not with a line like “How far gone do I have to be/Before you know you were my man?” Unless I want to add it to the “play this in gay bars” list. I could have fun with having a whole set’s worth of songs about wanting guys, and missing guys, and breaking up with guys—all sung by me… And I believe I know a gay bar in Portland that still has an open mike. Link (to the song, not the gay bar) is http://www.soundclick.com/share?songid=9197120.

Skip Johnson’s “Young Donohue” is musicated, too. Tried to record it with a banjo lead (since it’s a murder-on-the-Oregon-Trail song, banjo seemed appropriate)—but I am simply not good enough on the banjo. Substituted a guitar lead instead (and found it was hard to play the guitar that fast). Music for the verses recalls my own song “Dead Fishes”—very fast bluegrass, albeit in a different key—but the chorus is a lot different. I hope that’s enough. Link is http://www.soundclick.com/share?songid=9193797. Two songs in one day. I wish I was getting paid for this.

So why do I consider these good songs? My standards for stuff I want to musicate are pretty high; I don’t do a lot of these—a dozen or so a year—and usually they’re songs by lyricists I’m pretty familiar with, whose work is consistently good. I’m not above tweaking something if it’s quick and easy and obviously will make the product better—but I’m not interested in re-writing people’s stuff. (And I didn’t have to in these cases, either.) I’ve done a couple of Skip’s songs before, but never one of Glyn’s (she has written a couple of real gems, though). And both of these follow the Wrabek’s Rule: either be saying something new, or something old in a new way. They were fun to do.

A couple of wrinkles from the Coventry writers’ group. They’d like all the songs written for the Bedworth Folk Festival (the “Songs for Charity”) to be written with what they’re calling “the money chords”—C, Am, F, and G (or in Nashville parlance, since we can use any key, I, VIm, IV, and V). Those were the first four chords I learned on the guitar; my friend David told me with those four chords, I could play half the rock ‘n’ roll songs ever written, and he was right (but they’re the half written before 1962). Of course, this is a folk festival we’re writing for, so I may want to rearrange the chords slightly, so they don’t sound quite so “rock-y.” That’s doable; “Cuddle in the Darkness” also uses those chords, and it’s a pretty obvious two-step.

The other requirement is more difficult. The songs, I’m told, should be commercial enough or have enough “mass market appeal” to sell copies, and be played on the radio. I doubt that’s doable for my material in general, and certainly not for the “Song for Charity” I was working on—that one’s coming out much too risque. (It’s probably a throwaway—but it’s got a verse and chorus now, so I might as well finish it.)

I remembered I did enter one other contest—it was a casting call for a supposed new TV series, “Please Don’t Stop the Music.” That was the one I had wondered about, because it didn’t list a deadline (those were also the people who said they didn’t want any “singer/songwriters,” only “songwriters”)—but the ad was on craigslist, and I don’t give ads on craigslist a lot of credence. I’m still tempted to answer some—like the one from the country singer (and songwriter) looking for a guitarist able to travel around a bit, because she’s got gigs in, like, Vegas. Her material is not bad—and I think I could play most of it.

Joe

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