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Here's an out-take from an e-mail from my co-writer, Kevin Reardon, who sent an update of recent activity he's had on some of our collaborations... Seems like decent general writing advice... "On the "cut" side, I have had several cuts with minor artists and what I've noted is that there is a consistency in what I have been able to place: 1. Pick a theme that can be summarized in 2 to 3 words ... and stick with it 2. Keep it positive and make it conversational and real (My reply to this was: It's not always possible to keep it positive (the blues will out, after all), but it IS possible to not go all "dark side"...) 3. Find new and unique ways to say it with visual metaphors and irony that clearly separates the story from other songs ... net. give it a twist 4. Enable the listener to see and personalize the story, and to visualize the scene and characters in it - either by describing it or better by connecting with something each person does so they can immediately relate it to something they know or dream about ... net: show me don't tell me 5. Trim the words to give the singer space 6. Make the melody as interesting and fun to sing as possible On the "TV/film" side, obviously we've had some good success with Hate To Say and Hard At Work. I've also had a others so what I've learned is that we need the above 6 items to apply but it is also crucial to not include names of people or places that would limit the use in a TV or film production due to conflicts with the action taking place in the scene." Now while this may seem limiting, in fact these are pretty good editing tools with which I've worked once the flash-and-rush of the original inspiration and first draft have passed. Lemme know if you've got anything similar you use. Till the next time... keep 'em tight and keep 'em in tune... g
From yesterday's Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides blog (writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides), prompting followers to write a "milestone" piece comes the following bluegrassy, up-tempo set of lyrics... TAKING STOCK (c) 2015 G. Smith (BMI) --------------------------- We've made it seven years, and we're alright. Folks said we'd never make it, Past our wedding night. Sure the road might've been bumpy, and the money's sometimes tight, But we've made it seven years and we're alright. We've got ourselves a brand new baby boy; It's cliche to say but He's our pride and joy, We might stumble in the darkness, and trip over his toys, But we've got ourselves a brand new baby boy. Little things are big things when they come; 'specially when they're few and far between. Regrets? You know that we've both had some; But our side of the fence is where the grass is truly green. And I fin'ly got a steady full-time job. Guess it's time that I quit jokin' About which bank to rob. It never would've happened without your uncle Bob; But I fin'ly got a steady full-time job. Little things are big things when they come; 'specially when they're few and far between. Regrets? You know that we've both had some; But our side of the fence is where the grass is truly green.
I believe I've posted a prompt or two from a writing web-site I keep an eye on, and, well, this one goes all the way back to the first part of January - write a "resolved" poem or lyric... Not sayin' it's 100% just yet... but the goal is to write daily and complete something, editing as needed once you're done... So... here ya go... g ------------------------------------------------- A DIFFERENT AULD LANG SYNE (c) 2015 G. Smith (BMI) -------------------------------------------------- It's that time of year once again; Gonna gather with family and friends. We'll watch the ball drop as the champagne corks pop, And celebrate the year as it ends. For the new year we're all gonna make, Resolutions we'll probably break, Before the Rose Bowl's half done, or the Sugar's begun; Or before we're completely awake,,, But this year - I'm not gonna give up smokin', Not try to drink any less, Won't go to the gym or work out any more, Won't relax or reduce my stress. I will go to church every Sunday, Read the Bible all the way through; Practice random acts of kindness to strangers, And spend some more time with you; Yes, spend some more time with you. I doubt I'll save much more money; Or be able to pay off our debt; But I'll stay away from the casinos, Bet you I'll win that bet. Don't think I'll watch much less TV; Or travel to someplace that's new. I might read a book every now and again; But I will spend some more time with you, yes; I'll spend some more time with you. I know I can't make up for that something we've lost, Just by sayin' what I'm gonna do; But I'll prove it by payin' whatever it costs, Just to spend some more time with you, yes; Just to share more of my time with you; Just to give all of my time to you.,
Happy March, y'all... Been a pretty tough start here in the land of Alan Jackson... and not just because of the weather... a family crisis and too much work and not enough focus time to really finish anything despite a couple of decent starts... In any event, what follows is the first/(real) rough draft of something from various lines in the first episode of JUSTIFIED, which I am just now discovering (and trying to keep from binge-watching...) Hope everyone else's creative juices haven't been frozen up, too... More later (he says hopefully)... g =+=+=+=+= FIRE IN THE HOLE (c) 2015 - G. Smith (BMI) ---------------------------------- In the hills of eastern Kentucky, You better be good if you can't be lucky; And I was pretty good underneath those lights, Pounding the ground every Friday night. I had what it took to make it as a pro... Fire in the hole... But no college called my senior year, So I decided to volunteer, Two tours of duty in the Middle East, Earned stripes on my sleeve, but caged the beast. Still, it was better than digging out coal... Fire in the hole... Something burns deep down inside; A glowing ember that you can't hide. It's better to burn out than it is to rust; I'd rather be ashes than dust... I'd rather be ashed than dust. I came home and couldn't find a job; Even the banks are too broke to rob. I never thought of myself as an angry man; Maybe I'm too close to understand. Cash in your dreams, but don't sell your soul... Fire in the hole.... Fire in the hole.
From, of all places, savingcoutnrymusic.com... Happy Presidents' Day, y'all... g =====*===== Steve Earle says it wasn’t his politics that held him back from greater mainstream country success. It was more the oligarchy who was afraid of artists who call their own shots. Steve Earle is not the only one talking about saving country music lately. Brandy Clark amidst her Grammy Awards success said recently, “My name is said in the same breath as people like Kacey [Musgraves] and Sturgill Simpson, Ashley Monroe — like [we’re] saving country music, you know?” http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/steve-earle-brandy-clark-talk-saving-country-music
Happy Groundhog Day, all y'all... Here's an interesting read from American Songwriter's January/February edition on the state of current country music songwriting ... It may NOT be a surprise, but it sure does a decent job of laying out the problems du jour... http://www.americansongwriter.com/2015/01/makin-stuff-writing-influence/ And another good link supporting old-school country is savingcountrymusic.com - rants and raves as appropriate... I should have a couple of posts of things in progress here in the next couple of days for anyone interested in co-laboring on a project or three... In the meantime, keep an eye out for ol' Ned Reyerson... ...if you see him more than once, I'd check your calendar again... and again.. and again... Till the next time... keep 'em tight and keep 'em in tune... g
Been listening to a lot of Jamey Johnson, Eric Church, Haggard, Cash, and (old), Skynyrd, and, well, this just sort of fell out... REIDSVILLE (c) 2014 - G. Smith (BMI) ----------------------------------------- They slammed that door behind me, And threw away the key, Won't no-one ever find me, I never will go free. Like every man who's in here, I didn't do the crime, But I'm paying for my sin here, With my freedom and my time. A jury of twelve angry men, A judge and half a chance, Put me underneath this pen, And stripes here on my pants. There's barb wire out my window, And bars upon my door.' My wife says she's a widow, And won't visit any more. They say the sun comes up Over these south Georgia hills, But it might as well be midnight In this hell they call Reidsville. I turned twenty-one in prison, And to my family's shame, I've ended up with nothin', But this number for a name And they say the sun comes up, Over these south Georgia hills; But it might as well be midnight, In this hell they call Reidsville. It might as well be midnight, In this hell they call Reidsville. They slammed the door behind me, And they threw away the key; Ain't no one gonna find me, And I never will go free. ================= As always, your thoughts, comments, critiques, and such are welcome, and if anybody's interested in a co-write, holler...
Another lyric from the 2014 April Poem-A-Day (PAD) Challenge on Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides blog - complete the phrase "Since (blank)" - fill in the blank... you get the idea... Here's my attempt:
SINCE YOU WENT BACK TO AUSTIN (c) 2014 - G. Smith (BMI) ---------------------------------------------------------- Since you went back to Austin, My world has come apart; Shattered into pieces, Just like my broken heart.
What you see in Texas, And cowboys I can’t tell; Since you went back to Austin, I’ve been living here in hell.
Since you went back to Austin, I spend my sleepless nights, Staring at the ceiling, Wondering how to make things right.
Was it something that I should’ve done? Was it something I forgot? Is there anything that I can do? My guess is probably not
Spring has come again here to the mountains Even though you thought it never would; Days have come and gone and I’ve stopped counting, Even though I thought I never could.
Since you went back to Austin, My world has come apart; So many shattered pieces, Just like my broken heart.
What you see in Texas, And cowboys, I don’t care, Since you went back to Austin, I hope you’re happy there.
Well, April is National Poetry Month, and I participate in (okay, play along with), an annual blog challenge to write a Poem-A-Day (PAD) - you find this blog at writersdiges.com under Poetic Asides.
Any way, sometimes these prompts turn into song lyrics... either that very day, or eventually... what follows is in response to today's prompt to write about "a voyage",,,
Here's my attempt - a folk / mountain gospel inspired piece I call...
I AM A PILGRIM (c) 2014 G. Smith (BMI) —————————- I am a pilgrim, Long on my way; Step by step, And day by day. With joyful song, Mile by mile, I’ll reach my destination in a little while; I’ll reach my destination in a little while.
I am a pilgrim Long on the road, Helping my brother Carry his load. Taking my sister By her hand; Together we’ll journey to the Promised Land; Together we’ll journey to the Promised Land.
I am a pilgrim, At the edge of the sea, Charting a course, To what’s to be. Study the tides; The moon, and North Star, Follow the sunset, no matter how far; Follow the sunset, no matter how far.
I am a pilgrim, Long on my way, Step by step, And day by day; With a joyful song, Mile by mile, I’ll reach my destination in a little while, I’ll reach my destination in a little while.
I’ll reach my destination…
Who knows... but this song came together during my run yesterday morning... in about 35 minutes... all I hadda do was add a line or two to finish the chorus and edit a little (still needs a little more of that, I'm sure).
The idea kinda launched itself when I caught Little Big Town's "Pontoon" video with the lake party-boaters... and I've been listening to a lot of Eric Church lately (who is one of the two best, current, country writers/artists, in my humble opinion - the other being Jamey Johnson...)
Enny whey, as always, any thoughts, comments, and suggestions are welcome... ----------------------------- WE JUMPED IN (c) 2014 - G. Smith (BMI) ------------------------------------------------------------------- It was almost June, they said it was too soon, Standing on the river’s edge; You looked at me and we counted to three, And stepped out off of that stone ledge. We climbed out laughing and splashing, That water was cold, cold, cold; But a spark jumped between us on that spring day, That lit a fire in my soul.
When we jumped in; Would those waters be too deep? Would we be up to our knees, up to our necks, Or over our heads when we made that leap? No-one could tell us nothing, We wouldn't sink ‘cause we knew we could swim; And we never gave a thought about treading water, We just jumped in; Yeah, we jumped in. We spent that summer arm in arm, Or at least we were hand in hand; Winding up at the river on Friday nights Sitting together on the wet sand. One thing led to another, You know the way that those things do. How would we tell your mom and dad Why we missed your curfew. When we jumped in; Would those waters be too deep? Would we be up to our knees, up to our necks, Or over our heads when we made that leap? No-one could tell us nothing, We wouldn't sink ‘cause we knew we could swim; And we never gave a thought about treading water We just jumped in; Yeah, we jumped in. That was how many years ago? Ain’t it funny how time flies by? That baby’s got my smile and nose, But there ain’t no doubt she’s got your eyes. I think you think she’s the only thing, Keeping us together, My answer’s clear, but it depends on you And if you wonder whether… When we jumped in; Were those waters way too deep? Would we be up to our knees, up to our necks, Or over our heads when we made that leap? No-one could tell us nothing, We wouldn't sink ‘cause we knew we could swim; And we never gave a thought about treading water We just jumped in; Yeah, we jumped in. --------------------------