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The Muse's News

Issue 3.5 - August 2000
ISSN 1480-6975

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This issue sponsored by:
Lyricist - A Songwriter's Best Friend


I n   T h i s   I s s u e :

@-- Editor's Musings
@-- Q&A with Nancy A. Reece from Carpe Diem Copyright Management
@-- Music Reviews - by Ben Ohmart
@-- Songwriting Book Review - by Jodi Krangle
    SELLING OUT - by Ken Rose
@-- Musical Notes - Songwriting Contests & Market Info.
@-- Muse's Clues - by Irene Jackson
@-- Songwriter In Spotlight - Up & coming songwriter/performer,
    Marc Corey Lee
@-- On Site Featured Article - An article already online for your
    viewing pleasure.
@-- Classifieds & Useful Services
@-- Contact information
ISSN 1480-6975.  Copyright 1998 - Jodi Krangle.  For more contact
information, see end of issue.
If you enjoy The Muse's News, why not suggest it to friends? ----------------------------------------------------------------
This ezine featured at - the Ezine Search Engine(tm) - ================================================================= ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ S p o n s o r M e s s a g e : (Please support the sponsors that support this newsletter! Thanks!) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ LYRICIST! THE SONGWRITER'S BEST FRIEND HAS ARRIVED . . . Virtual Studio Systems, Inc. is proud to announce Lyricist, the first of its kind word processor designed for musicians, songwriters, and poets. Includes rhyming dictionary, spell checker, thesaurus, album categorization and more. Visit our web-site to download your FREE 30-DAY TRIAL COPY and find out about our low 90-day introductory sale price. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
E d i t o r ' s   M u s i n g s :

The subscriber list broke the 5,000 mark this month.  Woohoo!  It's
actually at just over 5,200 and I sincerely thank all of you that
have taken the time to read this newsletter over the years.  I'd
like to extend a personal welcome to the 300 or so newcomers since
last issue.  Thanks for your interest!  I hope you find this
newsletter to be extremely helpful to you.  I'll certainly do
everything I can to make sure it continues to be so for a long time
to come. 

A couple of things to announce:  First of all, there are two new
Songwriter Spotlights at .
Tracy Kash & Debra Davis are both *fantastic* songwriters and
performers (the VOICES on these women... WHOA.  You have to hear to
believe...). Each woman has her own unique style but this is not
the plastic music our day and age is becoming known for.  No, this
music has heart and soul and it'll *touch* you.  Have a listen and
you'll see what I mean.  I'm extremely pleased to be able to
spotlight them both.

Our newest book give-away is a copy of THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO
INTERNET PROMOTION for Artists, Musicians & Songwriters by John
Dawes & Tim Sweeney.  A review is included further below.  The
winner of this extremely helpful book, is Leigh Krampe.
Congratulations, Leigh!  

There was a bit of a problem with the links database at earlier this week but I
wanted to let everyone know that it has been fixed and is now
working properly thanks to extremely timely and efficient help from
Diana N.  Thanks so much, Diana!

And that's it for this month.  For further updates on the site,
check . 

Wishing you all the best,

Back to Menu
================================================================= C o p y r i g h t & P u b l i s h i n g Q & A : with Nancy A. Reece of Carpe Diem Copyright Management ----------------------------------------------------------------- Q: I used to work in the music business end. I also am songwriter/singer. In January 1999, my husband and I had a signed written agreement with a producer for his wife to record 4 of our songs (with a co-publishing factor), on a non-exclusive basis, with us retaining copyright. There was an addendum for the release to be in 2000, with our understanding that project would begin once agreement was signed and received. There was no advance. The backing tracks for the recording were not started until May 1999. It has been continually delayed since then. I was told if we came to the State where the producer was, that perhaps they would get completed....although the producer played all instruments on the backing tracks (I am handicapped and it was very difficult). I stayed in contact, and we finally moved there at great expense this year. We had hoped to have a meeting to discuss progress, since it had been nearly 1-1/2 years since the date of agreement. It kept getting delayed and more recent projects took priority. Last week we were finally told that more had been done on one of the songs, but that some other singer (whom we didn't know and never heard of) wanted to use the song on her CD (she had cover design and everything) We asked for more details and queried about the change of artists. The producers' wife then said she wasn't interested in recording any of the songs anymore! The producer demanded a yes or no, on the new artist, without anything in writing. Something did not seem right to us and we needed to consult with someone. We asked for more time (we had, after all been waiting over a year) He got angry and demanded we give an answer within hours (on Sunday). (by email). He scheduled her to come in for recording, with only hours notice to us. Because we could not answer a simple yes or no then, he told us he was no longer interested in any of the songs. My husband asked if he would then be willing to sell the studio recording he had of our songs, since he broke the written agreement. He ignored this request. I am emotionally upset about this, as I trusted his wife, and really want to avoid get into attorneys and such. What do you suggest I do? This is so hard for me to take, especially being physically in pain as well. Please help ......Thanks ------------------ A: I am sorry to hear that you have become frustrated over what you hoped would be a productive relationship. If I understand correctly, your signed and fully executed agreement with the producer was a Co-Publishing Agreement. If this is the case then any remedies or definitions of breach should be defined in that agreement. If I misunderstood and you did retain ownership of the works then your Agreement with the Producer probably indicated that he had first right to record. It is clear there that the time limit on the "hold" placed on your compositions was the year 2000 but I'm not sure if an exact date was indicated. The producer has every right to withdraw the decision to record the works. Mechanical royalties are only paid on units sold. Understand that if the works have been released before then anyone can secure a compulsory license to cover the work. They must, however pay appropriate fees. The masters are of no use to the Producer because he does not hold the license to release them. This situation should be helpful to others to understand the importance of stating clearly in writing the terms and deadlines of any given situation. ----------------------------------------------------------------- New questions and answers for July can be found at ----------------------------------------------------------------- ***** Carpe Diem's owner and president, Nancy A. Reece has been involved in the music business since 1983. She was the president of an independent advertising agency for eight years as well as a successful personal artist manager for nine years. She represented the careers of several recording artists and songwriters including those with EMI, Zomba and Liberty Records as well as Benson, Starsong, WoodBridge, Temple Hall and N'Soul Records. She also represented, for a number of years, a Grammy and Dove nominated record producer. Reece has won awards of excellence in print magazine advertising and has been named as one of 2,000 Notable American Women (1995) as well as being listed in the International Who's Who of Professional and Business Women (1993). She was also named Cashbox Magazine's Promoter of the Year (1989). **If you would like to ask Nancy a copyright or publishing question for our continuing Q&A section, please send your e-mail to She can't guarantee she'll get to all of the questions, but she'll certainly try.** Back to Menu
================================================================= M u s i c R e v i e w s : by Ben Ohmart -----------------------------------------------------------------
Massaka - Dynasty of Massaka 31 tracks of sampled rap music here that gets quite imaginative, and silly, sometimes. The techno and black rap world has combined to produce some sounds I've not heard before. Statements that need to be said, and fun, fun, fun, it's all here, depending on what you happen upon first. One of my favorites is a short bit of fluff called 'Your Name'. Now, I'm not sure why I should single this out. It's not even a song really. Sounds like a couple of guys who keep asking 'Your name?' to girls getting on the bus. I don't know, you have to hear it to appreciate it. Or not. One stand out track is 'Break It Down', with rock-techno background sounds/tune/rabbit scaring stuffs credited to 'CT The Asian (Vietnamese) Techno House Rock Artist.' It will make you into a Columbo, listening for the clues in the back and forgetting the larger picture in front. Okay, you've got to like rap to really Dig this album, but there's something for everyone here, definitely. Is there too much humor in it? Can there be ENOUGH? ------------------ --------------- OTHER NEW MUSIC REVIEWS SINCE LAST MONTH INCLUDE: JP Jones - Screwface - ICU - Jeff Silverman - Steve Bardsley - Folding Edifice - Cassie Rose - --------------- ****** Ben Ohmart has had 100s of stories and poems in zines and journals, and had 4 plays produced last year. His lyrics will be on 2 CDs this year, 1 a gothic album, the other a rock album. He's currently writing films, with hopes of having one done in Malaysia soon, and is also trying to break into the prison of television. He's white, 26, single and loves British comedy. He lives in Boalsburg, PA, and enjoys watching rabbits eat his garbage. Contact him at: . **Ben has kindly consented to do music reviews for this publication and also for The Muse's Muse itself. If you have an independently released CD or tape that you'd like to get reviewed, send it off to: Ben Ohmart, P O Box 750, Boalsburg, PA 16827 or drop by his Music Reviews web section at for more details.** Back to Menu ================================================================= S o n g w r i t i n g B o o k R e v i e w : by Jodi Krangle THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO INTERNET PROMOTION for Artists, Musicians & Songwriters by John Dawes & Tim Sweeney - ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I've mentioned John Dawes' MUSICIAN'S GUIDE TO WEB PROMOTION before. He's now taken that and run with it. In collaboration with Tim Sweeney, John has put together an easy-to-understand guide to internet promotion that any self-promoting songwriter should read and learn from. Do you have a web site and no one knows about it? John & Tim have step-by-step instructions that will put you on the internet "map" - everything from adding a signature to the bottom of all your emails to promoting your web site in the materials you produce OFFline. One of the major points made in this book is that Offline promotions can't be underestimated. If you perform, let people know at your shows where they can find you. I know for myself, if I really love a performers, I'll definitely seek them out. What's the easiest way to find them? The internet. A url is like a business card and it's becoming more and more necessary every day. Getting traffic to your web site isn't where it ends, however. That's only where it *begins*. Having your visitors *participate* and respond to your web site, is crucial. That's why creating a strong web site presentation is talked about in detail. You have to start somewhere, after all. Issues such as how to protect your music online and copyright of music are all covered. An extensive checklist is included at the end of the book along with a very helpful appendix of internet resources. And best of all? Most of the methods laid out in the book won't cost you a penny beyond the set up costs of your web site and connection charges (and even connection charges could be nothing if you use a free ISP). THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO INTERNET PROMOTION is well worth the investment and a fantastic resource for those new to the internet and how it works. Even if you're not new to the internet, John & Tim's book will undoubtedly inform you about methods you haven't yet tried. At the very least, it's a great way to focus your efforts. I highly recommend you pick up a copy for yourself to see what I mean. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ S p o n s o r M e s s a g e : (Please support the sponsors that support this newsletter! Thanks!) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ UNLEASH THE FULL POTENTIAL OF THE INTERNET WITH SONGSCOPE.COM! SongScope is a valuable tool enabling you to build an on-line song catalog, accessible only by proven industry professionals. Receive FREE email informing you every time record producers and industry professionals make requests. Songs listings are only $19.95 per year. An ecommerce enabled marketing/promotion page and tour calendar are also available for performing songwriters to get further artist exposure. See for details or contact: ~ Tel: 770.754.4543 ================================================================= F e a t u r e d A r t i c l e : STAYING CREATIVE IN THE MAINSTREAM WITHOUT SELLING OUT by Ken Rose ----------------------------------------------------------------- Although most artists get their earliest inspiration, as well as the desire to enter the jungle of the music business, during the turmoils of childhood and adolescence, I would like to keep this article focused on songwriting instead of psychology. To make a long story short, I grew up using music as an escape and as a form of personal expression from within the confusion of a family that had less than adequate communication skills. The aggression and freedom of Led Zeppelin and the creative honesty of John Lennon were all it took to get me hooked. Playing in bands led to producing and songwriting, which, in turn, led to publishing contracts from my late teens to the present. Being a rebel with a message was as important as the music that came from my guitar (sometimes it still is!). The freedom of "pure" expression does not necessarily pay the bills. Make no mistake about it - being a professional songwriter is a job. I am blessed to be doing what I love, with all my heart, but along the way I have faced many obstacles regarding the fine lines between art and the marketability of my music. I firmly believe that having strong material is the most important factor of getting an artist to cut your song, but that is only the beginning. In this age of marketing, radio formats, advertising and the wishes of everybody involved in a project to have a hit there are definite guidelines that must be adhered to during the songwriting process. I won't mention names in my article, but the extremes I have experienced range from producers bringing in proven hits and saying "when I come back after lunch I want one of these" to artists, that do not write, who want to be truly unique without using a proven "formula" to acheive a result (a great concept for the chosen few of us that can reach the public and never lose a fraction of their musical voice). Whatever the request the goal is the same: to have an artist record your song. When I am writing for an artist they usually have an idea of where the project is going in terms of direction. I love Lennon, Beck, Eels, Tom Petty...but that is not what Geri Halliwell wants on her next record! You will probably not get a cut by giving the record company material that does not suit the expressed needs of the project. Two years ago I wouldn't even write for mainstream pop artists because I thought it wasn't "cool" and I did not want to be judged by my "alternative" peers in that light (that was my re-rebel phase, after a string of no success big budget commercial rock/pop records that munched a couple years' time without the result I had expected). The reality is clear: a Geri Halliwell cut (if it ever happens) would allow me the luxury of complete artistic freedom for some of my pet projects as well as escalating me to more successful co-writing circles. It makes sense to me now (a few years of therapy and a few terminated publishing deals helped me to that conclusion!). Within the pop format of less than three and a half minute songs that my 10 year old daughter can understand, it is a challenge, and an art, to come up with good lyrics. I try to stay with the "creative flow" and do not judge my lyrics until they are done. If something is too corny, or too heavy, I just find another way to express the thought. The options are usually unlimited and the story or theme of the song will still follow the original train of creative intuition. It took me a long time to learn that the creative energy that fuels the pop tunes is no different from the energy that fuels the killer pieces of art and expression that inspired most of us. At least that philosophy works for me. I love music of all genres so I just try to apply that love to the situation at hand. A good example: I was in Europe co-writing with an award winning writer who has had more than a few international rock hits. From the beginning of the session he was very uncommunicative and aloof. He sat in the corner, did not say much, and within the first hour I had basically formed the structure of a new tune by myself. At that point he started throwing out some lyrical and melodical concepts that would have made Milli Vanilli look like The Beatles. My initial impulse was to ditch the writer, session and the song, go for a long walk, and move on to the next day's co-writing session with another writer. After a few frustrated minutes I decided, first of all, it was my job to come up with a song, and, secondly, that I had to just be myself and make the most of the situation (this particular writer had a major publisher and we all know that two companies pitching a song is always better than one - especially if your co-writer is more successful than you are!). Basically I challenged myself to write a good song regardless of the less than creative vibe in the studio. I diplomatically took note of his ideas, let him doodle around and find keyboard sounds that were on every current top 10 record, and spent an hour in solitude getting a lyrical and melodical concept together. The bottom line is that the song came out great and will probably end up getting cut in the future. Regardless of my co-writer's input the situation motivated a good song. And that was the goal. Inadvertently this person's presence inspired the moment and that earned him his co-write. I ended up with a quality tune, there was no "politcal" stress, and I can decide in peace if I want to work with the guy in the future. A happy ending for all. Two years ago I would have just bailed out, ended up with a burnt bridge(you never know when you'll need to cross them again) and missed the opportunity to add a song to my catalogue. By the way, 99.9% of my co-writing partners are gifted, motivated, and creative artists who are inspirational during the songwriting process. They are also respected friends who can give and take criticism while having a lot of fun at "the office". Professional songwiting is still a job...and an adventure! ****** Ken Rose, born in Los Angeles, has been a professional songwriter-producer-musician since he was 16. He is currently signed to Famous Music Corp. and is spending most of his time co-writing and producing music in London. A solo project is also on the way. Back to Menu ================================================================= M u s i c a l N o t e s : Songwriting Contests & Market Info. In the interest of conserving space, I will only be including changes to this listing in this newsletter. All other contests and market information that have already been listed here, are displayed at & . Please check there regularly for updates! ----------------------------------------------------------------- COOCH MUSIC HAS LAUNCHED ITS "AMATEUR SONGWRITING CONTEST"! Web address at Songwriters are now able to enter a contest that is aimed for amateurs only! Songs are to be judged on originality, lyrics, melody and composition. Quality of performance and production will not be considered. Entry fee is only $5.00. Win Prizes and publishing contracts from J Cooch Music (BMI), music publisher. As Joseph Cuccia from Cooch Music explains, "This contest is for every amateur songwriter who really wants to make it in this industry. Helping the amateur songwriter is what we do best! Every entry is listened to by the staff of J Cooch Music(BMI), music publisher. Giving every entry the guarantee of being listened to by a professional in the industry." Deadline for this contest is August 31st, 2000. Cooch Music will run its Amateur Songwriting Contest twice a year. For information on how to get an entry form, rules, regulations and prize list, visit ----------------------------------------------------------------- MUSIC JOURNALISTS WANTED: Neo, a syndicated music information company serving alternative publications, is seeking high quality music writers. Credentials aren't important - being a lucid, persuasive writer with excellent music knowledge, is. We are a unique service and we accept submissions related only to specific music genres. Please read our submission guidelines at ~ Neo Media ----------------------------------------------------------------- M.I.C. (MUSIC INDUSTRY CONNECTIONS) M.I.C is a new monthly unsigned artists/bands & songwriters magazine which features record labels, professional music managers, film companies, promoters, etc., who are all actively seeking new talent. It is a UK based magazine with worldwide readership. We are eager to develop bands from all corners of the globe and we welcome submissions from everyone. So far, we have had great success and are particularly proud of our multi-national representation to the UK music industry. Three bands have been signed, another band has been given the opportunity to work on soundtracks for Sky Sports, two bands have been approached by Prince's management company and Stereophonics Management Company, another band is in discussions with major record labels and a final band has been given free record studio time (and that's all happened in 2 months!) M.I.C. provides free exposure and publicity for unsigned bands/artist and songwriters etc. We also have our own record label for promoting/showcasing new talent with the first compilation release planned for September 2000. All artists are welcome to send samples of their work, photo & biog. into our demo review section. For a free sample copy of the magazine, please e-mail: or you can view a small sample of the magazine by surfing to: . Please send all demos etc to: M.I.C. PO BOX 1742, SHEFFIELD S8 0GA UNITED KINGDOM. ----------------------------------------------------------------- SONGWRITING FOR FUN & PROFIT: Sparkie Allison Everyone has a song in their heart. Some people want the world to hear it. Some people just want to write it for their friends and family. Whatever the motivation, you can write a song and you can make a good song into a great song with a few simple techniques. This songwriting workshop focuses on developing an idea into a three minute movie that will catch your listener. From impacting the storyline to the use of images, rhyme, melody, re-writing and co-writing, the workshop offers exercises in the evolution of a song. Marketing and an overview of the music publishing business is also covered for those who are interested in pursuing songwriting as a profitable venture. The instructor is an award-winning performing songwriter, music publisher, Founder and Past-President of the Massachusetts Songwriter’s Association. WHEN: Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. * August 19, 1 Session. HOW MUCH: $65 by August 11; or $70 after August 11 TO Register call : 413-545-3653 ----------------------------------------------------------------- SONG SHOPPING CENTER - SUBMIT YOUR SONG - McClure & Trowbridge Publishing, a Nashville TN niche and alternative music publisher, announces today that its WWW, Internet, and office song promotion services, previously available only to Trowbridge Writers, are available to Trowbridge Associates as well. Associates, independent songwriters whom McClure & Trowbridge sign to promotional contracts, now have a "leg up" into the fast paced world of music plugging and the faster yet Internet. ----------------------------------------------------------------- CONTEMPORARY SONGWRITERS WORKSHOP: theharmonyhouse presents daytime or evening workshops through July and August. Workshops include: music and lyric writing plus music industry information. No prerequisites required, comprehensive workbook provided. Location: Toronto area, or to groups (7+) at location of your choice. Call or E-mail for more information, free brochure and registration form. (905) 853-5537, ----------------------------------------------------------------- JOERECORDS.COM IS SEEKING MUSIC: is seeking compilations, unusual, weird, hard-to-find, ethnic and world music. If you are interested in submitting, send to: 4047 49th SW,Seattle, Washington 98116 or contact ----------------------------------------------------------------- Back to Menu ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ M u s e ' s C l u e s : by Irene Jackson ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This month's Muse's Clues will appeal more to guitar players...but if you play piano, or are just beginning the guitar, you just might find this little "toy" an interesting venture! A lot of songwriters talk about getting into a musical rut. Heck, I do that myself all of the time. I am constantly searching for a new way to play something, a new chord progression, or a new chord all together, just to get my creative juices bubbling. If you've never found this in your web surfing travels, check it out: Your computer will have to be Javascript-enabled to view it properly...this is a cute little site called Find-A-Chord! On the right-hand side you'll find a whole bunch of chords in the Find-o-matic box. For instance, there are 8 different ways to play a "G" chord! You'll also find a lot of more exotic chords, maybe more than you'll ever need to know :-) In the middle graphic is the fingering on the fretboard for each chord, and on the right are the notation and the base fret (the base fret changes as you move up the neck to play chords higher) The only thing that is missing is the sound of the chord itself, which I actually HAVE seen before on other guitar lesson sites...but just the number of chords alone would make creating wavs for each one an ominous task! Pick a really unusual chord, one that you've never tried before, and sing over top of it. Find another one and put them might not get a song out of it, but you'll certainly push your envelope a little! ****** Irene Jackson is a performing songwriter from Victoria, BC in Canada. Aside from writing, recording and performing, she also maintains a website for songwriters that includes tips, articles and more links of interest. Her latest CD "Motor Scooter" has had attention everywhere from Japan to South America, and a new release is due out sometime in 1999. Songwriting Tips: Homepage: Songs on MP3: Back to Menu ================================================================= S O N G W R I T E R I N S P O T L I G H T : Marc Corey Lee ----------------------------------------------------------------- Even in the age of the internet, it's a struggle for new and emerging artists to be heard. Here's an interview with a fellow who's taken matters into his own hands and has seen a great deal of success doing so. Besides being a very talented songwriter, Marc's music also has a very unique sound to it - and industry heavyweights are starting to take notice. It's a long "battle", but here's Marc's "plan of attack". ----------------------------------------------------------------- Q: What are your songwriting influences? Do you have a musical family or is it something you picked up entirely on your own? ----------------------------------------------------------------- A: I have always been drawn to songwriters who were singer/artists. That genre seemed to reach its zenith in the early-mid 70's. Consequently my strongest songwriting influences come from the period of early 1960's to mid 1970's. Specifically; Roy Orbison, Buck Owens, John Denver, John Prine, Gordon Lightfoot and...the Beatles. In the case of Orbison, I think nobody to date has ever captured that intense emotion that he created by combining those unusual chord progressions with amazing vocal and melodic twists. his songs need to be listen to in the dark! His melodies were other-worldly. Orbison could condense intense emotion (sadness, longing, lust) into a 3 minute mini-opus with such ease. He is one of my strongest influences. Buck Owens captured the intensity of a rock band. His songs are a study in 2 1/2 minute perfection. What great phrases, delivery and structure. Clean simplicity. Verse-Chorus was his domain. Nothing fancy. But pure heart and soul. Listen to "Together Again" or "Tiger By The Tail." It's simple genius. His songwriting influenced me as a kid. In the 60's radio was not as regimented or formatted as it is today. So I would hear The Rolling Stones, Dylan and then Buck's music. I didn't care that it was country. It excited me to no end. Denver is a guy that people laughed at because of his goofy persona. But if you overlook his "super-star" days in the 70's and just listen to the songs he wrote earlier...nobody has had a greater influence on me than John Denver in that period. Listen to "Rhymes and Reasons." That's the stuff nobody knows. It's just purely perfect. People don't realize what a great writer he was. Before the "Rocky Mountain" image thing, he wrote about some deeper things. Things that mattered to me. I heard him in 1971 and was hooked as a kid. It wasn't the "wilderness" thing that drew me. It was his songs about other topics that left me branded forever. Thinks like "Poems, Prayers and Promises." Those types of songs struck a chord with me. The acoustic guitar, the tenor voice, the phrasing. Prine and Lightfoot were (and to a degree still are) what I call "Song Craftsmen." Truly gifted writers. The Beatles? What can one say? There will never be another set of writers like that. Why? The melodies and chord structures. They could convey a feeling instantly. My family was not a musical one. My grandfather played guitar and sang but that was not known to me back when I started playing. No, I was hooked by 1960's radio. I LOVED the Beatles. I came to this country from Costa Rica (in central America) as a 3-year old child. My family listened to Latin music. Things like "cumbias" and "merengues" What today you would call "Salsa." I had not been exposed to the Mexican "Rancheras" music at the time, but I did listen to much Spanish music, being that my relatives were all from Spain. My father worked hard in a factory. Nobody played an instrument. As I grew up in the U.S. I, of course, heard my dad's AM radio in the car. I fell IN LOVE with country music of the time! Buck Owens, Merle, all of that. The twangier the better! Why? I don't know. I was not a "cowboy", I didn't grow up in the US. I wasn't from the South. That music just connected with me. I LOVED it! As I grew up, I would go to the library and check out vinyl records by obscure folk, country and bluegrass groups and play them all day long. I loved Elvis too, who was really a Rockabilly act in those days. It was those things that excited me and later, spurred me on to start writing and performing my own stuff. But it was definitely these guys who were writers first that I identified with. I wanted to be like them. There was nothing I wanted more than that. So I picked up a guitar in a music store when I was 10. That was it. By next Christmas, I had one of my own and two perplexed parents who knew nothing about music really! ----------------------------------------------------------------- Q: So how did you take those influences and make them into your own songs? How did you get started? ----------------------------------------------------------------- A: I started writing in high school. My first attempts really closely emulated the writers who influenced me. I guess everyone sort of "copies" their mentors when they begin writing. It's a natural progression; first you imitate, then you assimilate their styles into your experiences and finally you forge a new style that's a combination of your influences and your own emerging skills. Those first songs were really just exercises in establishing the model; coming up with a decent verse, chorus, bridge and overall mood. I've always been a "mood" writer. When I write, I want to convey a mood. I'm not the kind of guy who can sit in a "writers" room and just churn it out. I have to feel what's going. I remember actually weeping as I wrote some of my songs. I get into it that much. I don't know how those Brill building guys did it...just putting them out like pizzas. That's a real talent. There are still guys like that though, Kostas, Harlan Howard. I'm more of a "one-at-a-time" writer. I began applying the styles of writing that I was into (Beatles, Orbison, etc.) and putting my own experiences into those structures. Not copying per se, but emulating the feel of those songs. On the performance end, I had seen another guy in my school walking around with a guitar case. He was the only one besides me! One day after school, I heard him playing a John Denver song and that started a friendship and musical education that continues to this day. He showed me a lot of things and, together, we found the courage to actually go looking for gigs. We were so naive and uneducated in the music business...we'd walk into a restaurant in suits and ask if we could get up and sing a few songs! On the rare occasion that somebody would let us sing, we'd do the usual acoustic repertoire and then add stuff that we were working on. Things that I was writing. I took what I liked from Orbison and Denver and even the Rolling Stones or Dylan and would make a sort of new "stew" that combined all those influences. I used those same type of chord voicings or melodic twists. Eventually I found myself coming up with my own twists and things that combined so much of what I'd heard growing up. I then discovered that if a song is well-written, people actually RESPOND emotionally. What an epiphany! I can't remember my very first song, but I do remember that most of them were pretty long and tried to fit too much into them. A little bit dirge-like I'd have to admit. But it was definitely a start. I have always LOVED writing. The process intrigues me and fascinates me. It's so subjective. My favorite quote is Hank Williams Sr, when he was being asked about songwriting and said, "God writes 'em, I just hold the pen..." I love that. I still don't quite know how it works. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Q: When did you decide that you wanted to write songs and perform professionally? And what have you done in order to reach that goal? ----------------------------------------------------------------- For the answer to this and many other questions, please go to ----------------------------------------------------------------- Back to Menu ================================================================= " O N S I T E " F E A T U R E D A R T I C L E : How I promoted my CD on the net by John Taglieri John has a regular column here on The Muse's Muse ( and this is his latest article. Keeping with our theme of "self-promotion", here's a walk through John's last year and a half of toil to get himself the recognition he deserves. It wasn't easy, but nothing worth having ever is! Back to Menu
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================================================================= C o n t a c t I n f o & C r e d i t s : ----------------------------------------------------------------- Jodi Krangle ............................................. EDITOR Kathryn Obenshain ...........................GRACIOUS PROOFREADER ----------------------------------------------------------------- The Muse's News is a free monthly newsletter for and about songwriters. Subscribers are welcome to recirculate or reprint The Muse's News for nonprofit use as long as the appropriate credit is given and the ENTIRE text of the newsletter is included (including credits and information at the end of each issue). Others should contact me at All articles copyrighted by their authors. Back issues and other information will be available at: The Muse's News is part of The Muse's Muse, a web resource for songwriters: For further information, send your e-mail to: ----------------------------------------------------------------- - How to place a classified ad, pass on market information or sponsor The Muse's News. - How to subscribe, unsubscribe, etc. - To submit articles,reviews,ideas,etc. SNAILMAIL: Please contact me first at
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