Sneaky Feelings

Songwriters are a funny lot. We spend hours toiling away in darkened rooms, talking to ourselves out loud, pausing occasionally to step out into the bright lights, only to be largely ignored by the general public. You could be mistaken for interpreting this as narcissism with a backing track, but that, dear writer, is where you would be wrong.

Songwriting is, by far, the cheapest form of psychotherapy you are ever likely to encounter. Here’s why: No subject is out of bounds, there’s a price plan to suit all and the doctor is always in. Bad day at work? Write it down! Trouble with your partner? Lay those feelings down on parchment! Wrote a great song? Errr… But, seriously, this stuff is pure, unadulterated, full-fat, songwriting gold. Whether it’s a form of catharsis, by osmosis or any other “sis” you feel like tagging on the end, those feelings are going to find a way out somehow, so why not channel the little suckers into something positive?

Depending on your writing style, you can probably categorize your work as either fiction or non-fiction or both (Peacock alert! ~ Ed). There’s nothing wrong in being completely detached from your subject matter and sometimes this can really help with the creative process. However, direct your ears towards a copy of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and, in particular, the line “making love in the green grass, behind the stadium with you.” Straight away, you know that ol’ Van has been knocking boots for real beneath the shadow of the floodlights. It’s an instant widescreen moment and a classic example of how, just by including a little piece of yourself in the song, you can move one step closer towards the holy grail of songwriting: A connection with the listener.

-Posted by Mick

Mick Terry is a London-based singer/songwriter. His debut album, “The Grown Ups”, was released in 2010 and he is currently knee deep in Ampex 456 tape working on the follow up. Mick also hosts the monthly “The Living Room Scene” songwriter circle shows in London.

IVC MasterClass: David Poe

IVC is super pleased to present the first installment of MasterClass featuring singer/songwriter, composer David Poe.

Over the course of this multi-part series, David will offer us a unique, 10-point blueprint on songcraft carefully wrapped in Mr. Poe’s inimitable wit and culled from his ongoing experiences as one of the most talented songwriters, IMHO, working today.

On a personal note, I have to say I’m really excited to have David contributing to IVC. From our debaucherous days in the late-90’s as singer/songwriters on the LES of NYC to present day, David and I remain brothers in arms and as a hard-core fan of his work, I consider him one of the best.  Welcome DP! 

We begin with points 1 & 2, more to follow next post.

- Mark

On Songwriting: David Poe

1. Have a controlling idea.  Songs are often best when they’re about something specific.

You can think of it beforehand or reverse-engineer from the awesome chorus that you dreamt then croaked into the iPhone you keep bedside for the rare moments when your partner consents to archiving your illicit union on video.

2.  Show don’t tell. 

Even if the chorus is as simple as how you love/want/need someone, make the verses about why — and do it with imagery, simile, metaphor, personification.  You love her because she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China.  You want her, so you’re an all-day sucker for her love.  You need her, like the winter needs the spring … because she’s a jar with a heavy lid, your pop quiz kid:  a sleepy kisser, a pretty war and she begs you not to hit her.  Let your words fall out like endless rain into a paper cup. 

Bonus points for referencing the songs quoted above.

-Posted by David

David Poe is a singer/songwriter, producer and composer for film, theater and dance. David has seven albums to his credit and has written songs and produced albums for several other artists. He is a composer fellow of the Sundance Institute.