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March 18, 2010

Songwriters on Songwriting ***

*** Songwriters on Songwriting, Paul Zollo, 2003

At 700+ pages with interviews with 60+ songwriters, this book approaches the rat-killing category. I've been gnawing on it for six months and finally got free of it. It covers interviews from 1987 to 2000. There are some amazing interviews in this book, the Leonard Cohen interview being one of my favorites.

Subjects include icons in the field (Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, John Hiatt), quirky songwriters (Tom Lehrer, Frank Zappa), old school guys (Pete Seeger, Willie Dixon, Burt Bacharach, Hal David), folks you don't think of as songwriters (Madonna, Yoko Ono) and folks you've never heard of (Meshell NdegeOcello). Also there are folks you would expect to be in there who aren't (James Taylor, Marc Cohn, Cat Stevens, Bonnie Raitt).

I'd say 4 stars for songwriters and 3 stars for the general populace.

While reading this book, I was trying to think of a great songwriter under 30 who is a significant force in the market. Who would be the James Taylor, etc. for this generation? The closest I could come to was John Mayer, but he's over 30, now. Any ideas?

11 comments:

~kelly said...

I don't know that you could answer that question now. Was James Taylor as iconic pre 30 as we know him today ? All you can do is place your bets on the ponies and wait a decade or so- songwriters, like so many other things-wine, cheese, 1000 Year Eggs- improve as they marinate in time and experience... Jason Reeves looks like a good bet. Perhaps.

~kelly said...

*

Brad Whittington said...

James Taylor released 6 Billboard top 10 albums before he was 30.

1970 – Sweet Baby James (#3)
1971 – Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon (#2)
1972 – One Man Dog (#4)
1975 – Gorilla (#6)
1976 – In The Pocket (#16)
1977 – JT (#4)

I don't see anybody like that out there these days.

Brad Whittington said...

I updated the post to reflect an unstated aspect of my question, that the person be a significant force in the market, like James Taylor was. I'm wondering if there is anybody who is a hit based on their songwriting, not their dancing. Of course they would have to be a good singer/musician as well to be a hit. Mayer is a good example, since he had several Grammys before he turned 30.

~kelly said...

Get the chevy ready, let's head toward the levy... Apocalypse is upon us...

~kelly said...

...the levy was dry... Some good old(er than 30) boys spotted with whiskey & rye: Rob Thomas? Darius Rucker? Dave Matthews ? . .. I give up.

~kelly said...

Sheryl Crow... Alanis Morisette...on the bright side- I'm making your blog more popular . . .

Brad Whittington said...

Nice names, but you're proving my point. All those people are over 30, some of them over 40. Where's the 20-something songwriter who is doing it now?

~kelly said...

yes, I know. I concurred back @ the Chevy comment- it's disturbing...

Brad Whittington said...

Ah. You win the Ms. Cryptic America award for 2010.

~kelly said...

i do like cryptic.