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By Danny McBride - 06/06/2007 - 09:20 AM EDT

Something came in the mail today which really excited me. It was from ASCAP, the performing rights society to which I belong. (You probably already belong to ASCAP or BMI or SEASAC or SOCAN or PRS or whatever, or you soon will- -If you don't know what all these acronyms mean, search this site and find out!!)

What got me so jazzed was an invitation to an upcoming event about the "Arts and Crafts" of songwriting, or some such title. ASCAP was inviting ME. There was an email address on the post card, so I signed up right away. I've always loved arts and crafts. I remember summer camp as a kid. It was my favorite thing to do. No swimming or boating or hiking for me....A little paste and some construction paper....Yes, the kind of paste you could eat....And I was in my glory.

So maybe we would be doing needlepoint, little pillows with G-Cleffs on them, or those wavy staves with eighth notes floating aimlessly nearby, tied together, and probably upside down from the way they should really be. We've all seen greeting cards like this, drawn by the tragically tone deaf, without any inkling that these drawings of notes could ever actually MEAN something in another parallel universe. "Hap-py Birth-day blah blah blah..." Maybe with lambs or other small barnyard critters. Or how about those computer chip cards that actually play a tri-tone scale of near-pitch notes that make anyone with musical ability cringe, recalling squeaky chalk boards, and first year violin students. Or maybe none of the above.

As it turns out- -none of the above. I had mis-read the card. I have actually signed up for "The Art and Craft of Songwriting". This should be interesting too, even if it's not my first choice. We all know that the "craft" in songwriting, at least at first, is spelled with a "K", as in Macaroni and Cheese, because that's all you can afford to eat until you get that first cut. But I shall attend with an open mind. And ears. I might learn something, especially about cooking the macaroni so it comes out a little firmer.

Anyway, several well known songwriters with big-time credits will discuss the art and craft of successful songwriting. They will lead "a creative discussion aimed to be an inspiring and educational reality check". They advertise that they will talk about writing for today's market, song structure, demos, song critiques, and war stories. Well, at least that part sounds interesting...War stories... I always liked John Wayne in "Sink The Bismarck". Of course, I liked the Johnny Horton theme song better. Don't remember? A classic "story" song. (And a number one chart hit from the sixties!)

So I WILL go and soak up whatever information these hitmakers have to impart. And also because they may have tips on needlepoint or macaroni and cheese. They all started somewhere, probably first being told "NO".

I urge you to go these kinds of things when they come around to your neighborhood- -you never know what useful nugget might just turn the light bulb on over your head. You may think you know enough not to bother with stuff like this. You may. You may not. Which mind set will advance your career? You decide. As experienced as you may be, you can always refresh yourself by dropping in on one of these FREE seminars. I may be the only person there not on the panel with a tune somebody has cut. Or I may be the least successful. One good thing about songwriting is that if you want to stay anonymous, you can. Go and learn something useful. Learn more from www.ascap.com.

Meanwhile, I'm hungry, and the noodles are almost done. You know, if you add a little REAL cheese to the powder mix, it really improves the taste. Soon we move up to bologna. And maybe a plate, too, so we don't have to eat straight from the pan leaning over the sink.




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