Friday, 4 April 2014

Under The Influence: George Thorogood

[I'm Down] absolutely terrifies me. It's as good as anything Little Richard ever did. This is what they probably sounded like in Hamburg before they got into writing their own material. It's almost as if they were saying, “See, we're the greatest rock and roll band as performers too, not just the greatest songwriters”

Guitar World July 1997

Funnily enough, I got into [Elmore James] because of The Beatles. Remember that moment in the song For You Blue where George Harrison goes, 'Elmore James got nothin' on this baby!'? That made me say, 'Wow, so there's somebody The Beatles think is as heavy as The Beatles, huh? OK, I'll check him out.'

Music Radar

The Beatles represented freedom to me, they had all the freedom in the world...they were young, they were good-looking, they were talented, they were rich, they were famous...they had it all.

Blues About

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Ticket 21: There Is NO Ticket 21

No seriously.

OK. How about...

...move a double bed into your studio live room and invite a japanese conceptual artist to lie in it giving you advice while you try to record your album...what could possibly go wrong?

Don't like this suggestion? What about this one?

See the full list of songwriting tips here - Tickets To Write

Friday, 28 March 2014

Under The Influence: Joe Satriani

[Across The Universe is] such a beautiful song, and it captures the naiveté of the time. Lennon was so talented in that he could be the funniest, the snidest, and yet ultimately the most poignant guy in the band. Often you find that when the joker in the crowd finally says something serious, it’s far more profound than what the so-called "serious" guys come up with. 

Lava Magazine

John Lennon's fuzzed out guitar playing on the Revolution single is one of my favourite guitar performances. He had a raw and muscular way of playing with distortion that I always found to be unique. David Bowie's Fame features John playing in that way, and it makes the track swing for me. 

His rhythm guitar playing was always spot on, with lots of feel and groove. His knowledge of chords and how to use harmony creatively was evident throughout both The Beatles catalogue and his own. These days ‘Lennonesque’ is a term one could use to describe how using diminished and augmented chords to bring a chord sequence to a higher level. All in all, John Lennon was really a superb player.

Music Radar

Joe started playing drums aged nine after seeing The Beatles on TV. In Sep 1970 he switched to guitar on the day Jimi Hendrix died.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Ticket 23: Use Fewer Words

Using an ultra limited vocabulary can give an almost hypnotic or childlike quality to your song

Examples (with word count)

Love Me Do - 19, I Wanna Be Your Man - 18, Magical Mystery Tour - 36, Don't Let Me Down – 40,  From Me To You - 45, I'll Follow The Sun - 46, Little Child – 46, I Want You (She's So Heavy) – 13, Why Don't We Do It In The Road - 14, Wild Honey Pie - 5, You Know My Name Look Up The Number - 8 (41 with adlibs)

See also

Religious mantras, 'negro spirituals' (e.g. Dem Bones) and advertising jingles


All The Tired Horses - 16 (Bob Dylan), Autobahn - 32 (Kraftwerk), Bijou – 27 (Queen), Do The Hustle! - 4 (Van McCoy), Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime - 21 (The Korgis), Fly Robin Fly - 6 (Silver Convention), Get Up and Boogie - 6 (Silver Convention), God Damn Job (17) (The Replacements), I Feel Love – 18 (Donna Summer), It's a Rainy Day Sunshine Girl – 7 (Faust), Know – 11 (Nick Drake), Let's Go – 2 (Ventures), My Sweet Lord - 37 (George Harrison), Pick Up The Pieces – 4 (Average White Band), Tequila
- 1 (The Champs)

The One I Love – 29 (REM), We Did It Again – 4 (Soft Machine), Wipe Out
– 3 (The Sufaris)

See also

Ticket 24: Use Parallel Lyrics
Ticket 30: Emphasise Key Lyrics By Having The Whole Band Drop Out
Ticket 54: Unify Your Lyrical Imagery
Ticket 67: Repeat Verse 1


The Band Who Were Men Of Few Words
See the full list of songwriting tips here - Tickets To Write

Thanks to The Beatles Bible and Martin Quibell, Nancy Rost, Rod Downburst Johnson, Andy Getch and Geordie Robertson for examples via the Beatles Songwriting Academy forum

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Tea Break's Over

Update: I was busy FAWMing in Feb, and I'll be spending most of March finishing demos, but there will be more posts here soon! 

Also I'm very happy to announce the launch of the Beatles Songwriting Academy Forum - more details here.

[On being invited to Abbey Road in '67] I'm expecting peace love and flowers at the studio. Instead, it's a factory; four guys sitting around on folding chairs, drinking tea. A minute or two later, George Martin comes downstairs in his suit and tie, says crisply, 'Right, lads, break's over', and everyone goes back to work. Very British. Very professional. Maybe that's why they succeeded and we didn't. 

 Mickey Dolenz in Christopher Sandford: McCartney (watch my book review here)

Here's more on just how hard the Beatles worked

Mickey gives a very different explaination for failing to match the Beatles in a Guitar World interview

The Monkees was not a group. The Monkees is still not a group. The Monkees is the cast of a television show about a group. We are not in the same DNA pool as the Beatles. We are in the same DNA pool as Star Trek. 

Guitar World Dec 1997 (p.75)

Friday, 28 February 2014

Ticket 41: Use The Same Ending For Two Different Sections

Using the same musical material to conclude different sections can can give help to unify contrasting parts. This could involve anything from wholesale chords, melody and lyrics (Golden Slumbers, Let It Be) to merely a chord sequence (Blackbird ) or guitar riff (Back In The USSR)

Back In The USSR, Blackbird, Golden Slumbers, Let It Be, Julia, Martha My Dear (bridge 1 & 2)

also Hedwig's Theme (John Williams), Hotel California - chord progression (The Eagles), Imperial March (John Williams), We Wish You A Merry Christmas (trad.)

See also

Ticket 4: Recycle Your 'O's
Ticket 5: Make Sections Contrast With The Other Musical Sections
Ticket 9: Recycle Musical Cells
Ticket 53: Write A 'Jazz-Style Intro' Verse
Ticket 62: Write Two Bridges

See the full list of songwriting tips here - Tickets To Write