now a note to my stupid dimwitted collaborators- -
I know you think your version of my masterpiece is an improvement,
but let me tell you how it really is- -You couldn't rhyme "June"
with "Moon" without help, and I'm changing it all back before we
cut the demo!! Did you ever hear the word "stanza" before? Do you
know what "scansion" is? Look it up- -I'll wait!! What do you think
of when some one says "metaphor"? (And don't say a "meadow for"
grazing sheep.) Onomatopoeia? Synecdoche? Give up? Good.
of the great moments in songwriting can be when you and a partner
have the lightbulbs go on over your heads at the same time, and
you just KNOW that you've created something special. But how often
does it seem as though you are writing two different songs, each
of you with a slightly different take on the matter at hand? If
your experiences have been like most, that happens a lot.
at the great songwriting teams down through the years- -Gilbert
and Sullivan, Lerner and Lowe, Lennon and McCartney, and loads of
others. They all went through times when they didn't even speak
to each other, the work had so gotten muddled between them. And
you think you're going to do any better?
you do it- -in the same room at the same time, or with phone, fax,
and computer- -there comes a time when one of you wants it one way,
and the other totally opposite. And yet you realize that the sum
of the individual parts makes a greater whole, so you keep at it.
(Or, of course, you don't, and that's the end of it.) But if you
read the biographies of the greats, you will come to realize that
in many cases, as much effort went into keeping the collaboration
together, as was put into the actual writing of the songs. (I strongly
suggest reading about Rodgers and Hart, and how it became Rodgers
and Hammerstein. It's a fascinating story, and you should read it
for yourself...But basically, after many successes, Richard Rodgers
came to a point where he could no longer work with Lorenz Hart,
and sought out Oscar Hammerstein, who had also been successful with
other partners, and what they did together changed the Broadway
"hey!" You say!! Many of the greats go it alone...Irving Berlin,
Cole Porter, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan. True, almost,
because they all have collaborated occasionally. And there in lies
the real secret to collaborating:
choose somebody whose work can stand alone without needing any help.
If you work with somebody whose work you like, perhaps you can create
something even better together than either of you could do alone.
But if you choose somebody who cannot write a whole work on their
own, then I predict problems.
so you only write words- -Then they should be able to stand alone,
like a poem. Or if you only write music, then the same is true-
-The "instrumental" version of your tunes should be able to stand
songwriters, of course, write both. They may be stronger as lyricists,
or their melodies may be their strong point, but if they are not
able to write whole songs by themsleves, then you probably are going
to have a less agreeable time writing together.
you may be the kind of writer who makes "writing appointments" and
shows up with a few fragments hoping to polish things off with your
partner on a regular schedule just like office work. Or you may
be the kind of writer who gets "inspired", and calls up all excited
about your stroke of genius, and how you have to get together right
away, or sing your idea over the phone. Whatever works. But if you
can pick a partner with equal or complimentary skills, you will
be well off.
I've got to call up this birdbrain and tell him that the cassette
he sent me is CRAP!! And say it as nicely as possible!!
luck, and remember: Which comes first, the music or the lyrics?
HA!! Neither!! It's the phone call!!