Sunday, February 27, 2011


Hey no followers! Back again to show some ideas about making metaphors that mean something.

There are lots of metaphors that have been so over used so as to lose all meaning. You know what they are, there probably is no point in repeating them here.  Breaking hearts, love battlefields, our own know.  Probably if they have been a part of the literature for the last 400 years, they should be abandoned.

At any rate, there are some exercises that you can do to help you create metaphors that don't totally suck and lull your listener into a coma.

Make some lists of nouns, and crash them together.  Use your taste to guide you.  Since I'm a completely lazy bastard, I would prefer to use technology to do this, so I can think about important things, like getting a I've found ways to automate this process so I can choose to be stressed out  by other things.

Last week, I spoke about two websites that I use to generate random nouns to help with object writings. In making metaphors, I use them also. Lets explore, shall we?

The first webpage I talked about last week was the Paper Tiger Random Noun Generator .   It has a really basic interface, just a drop-down menu that lets you choose the number of nouns you want generated.  Last week, of course, we were just using one generated noun to help us with choosing a subject for Object Writing.  This week, let's see if we can get some interesting word visuals to happen.  Let's start with making the generator generate two random nouns for us, like so:

Ok. This time, I was pretty lucky I got to an interesting pair in only a few pressings of the generate button.


So right there we have some fodder for interesting images from the friction created by rubbing two dissimilar ideas together:  Maybe that Iron Maiden record you used to have was so great that when you put it on your turntable, it was a vinyl earthquake. Or perhaps the way she walks in those pleather pants is an earthquake of vinyl.  Not bad. Try it. See what you come up with.

Last week's second webpage was a more inclusive Random Word  Generator. Which is great for this week's example, because we can not only start slamming nouns together, but we can also slam adjectives and nouns together, verbs and nouns together, or adverbs and verbs together.  Check it out:

The page if you'll recall is found here:  Watch Out For Snakes Random Phrase Generator

Here, we are able to create a phrase made of random words up to four words in length.  We are able to choose what part of speech we want to pull each random word from, and we are even able to choose how common we want those words to be.  Here's an example:

In this example, I chose an average adjective for the first word, and a very common noun for the second word.  

My yield was:
So: I  walked through the newly poured sidewalk on the way home, and by the time I had reached my front door, I had coagulated concrete all over my shoes. Not bad, but they go together a little too well, in my I hit the New Phrase button again to get another pair. 

This time:


Ok. No matter how wrong your decisions are, you try to convince me they are right with your unresting justification. 

It's kind of nice, but putting justification in a song may be a little much. 

Anyway. Those are the tools. Go play.

What I did this week:

Finished the song we've been working on, two different ways and made a decision about which way is better.  

Went to hang with one of my favorite people in the world, Commander Holyfield.

Found another song I started long ago, and started to work on it.

Played at an open-mic style songwriter's night. Played 6 songs and remembered all the words and most of the chords! Also heard three new people that were really good. 

Oh yeah!  Got ideas for at least one podcast....just have to figure out how to make that happen. 

and looked for a job...some more....

Again, please go get Pat Pattison's books, they are well worth it: Writing Better Lyrics

Talk to you soon. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What I'm Working On This Week

Ok. This week, I've decided to introduce all of you (zero followers at the start of this entry O_o) to the way I'm getting back into songwriting, what I've been working on, and maybe some tools I use to try to get ideas flowing onto the paper.  

First things first:  I've been keeping up my regular Object Writing Schedule, and I have two links to share with you that have sort of taken the stress out of actually CHOOSING an object:  I started spending WAY too much time picking an object to write about, because I either didn't think the first object I looked at was good enough, or because I kept choosing similar thing (chair, table, coffee cup, chair, teacup, coffee get the idea).  So I went looking for tools I could use to have the computer think of objects for me. To the google oracle I went, and within  couple of minutes, I found two that I have bookmarked in order to use again:

This is the first one I tried, and I'm continuing to use it for the generation of the Object Writing subject. It has a simple interface, you just choose how many nouns you want the page to generate, and away you go! Now, obviously, since the general category of words generated is "noun," not every word that is produced is going to be usable as an Object Writing subject. But, usually, within a few clicks,  I'm able to get something acceptable. For Example, from clicking right now: bath, quality, tray.  Only two of those words are usable.  Go! Ten minutes on bath!

This one I found a little later, looking for something for an exercise we'll get to in a couple of weeks.  This one is nice, because it has a few extra features that will make it helpful later on.  Not only does it allow you to choose between words of any type of speech (noun, verb, adverb, adjective, interjection, etc.), but you are also able to choose how common you want the word to be. very nice.  Examples:  glow, plant, cream, contribution. Probably only two of those are usable as Object Writing subjects, since the point of Object Writing is to IMMERSE yourself in sensory language using the object as a springboard.  Ten minutes: cream...Go!

As far as my own songwriting is concerned, I'm finishing up a song...just need to get the last two lines of the bridge to not suck...but the form is there and I did some recording...I have decent acoustic guitars, bass, and one ok electric guitar. This week I will be recording another electric guitar and hopefully some vocals (if I can come up with those to lines before the week is out). 

I have also been sketching out an idea I have about Dumbo.  The thing is, As it stands, the chorus I have written in 12 lines long! ...I wonder what the longest chorus in popular music is....any ideas, zero people who are reading my blog? <crickets>

Next week, we'll explore some web 2.0 ways to go through Pat Pattison's exercises from Writing Better Lyrics.

Take care.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Let's Get Back To It!

After a long hiatus, I'm returning back to the craft and discipline of songwriting. I've been out of it for years, and I think all of the circumstances at play in my life have all converged to a single  Maybe a little back story is in order...

Let's see...where to begin....ah.  Here:  I am a graduate of Berklee College of Music. I went to that school of one reason: to learn how to play guitar like Steve Vai. Somewhere in the middle of my college career, I began to get the feeling that I wasn't really up to being a  virtuoso, and I started to get the songwriting bug.  I took some songwriting classes and went on the annual Berklee trip to Nashville two spring breaks in a row.  I sort of went back to my roots.  I listened to songwriters my Dad used to play for me instead of crazily technical guitar players.

I graduated in 1998 with a degree in Guitar Performance. I moved to Nashville not long after that. It was in Nashville that I was faced with the grim realities of making a living and paying I worked...came home up early and worked some more. My career took a turn into the Guitar Manufacturing Industry while my family started to grow. Three years ago, I moved to Savannah, GA to pursue a really nice job working for one of the best guitar builders of the last 60 years.

...Then, inexplicably, that company laid off all but 4 of their employees, including me.  I started to look toward Nashville once again. I began to outline some goals for myself that would get me on the track I should have started 15 years ago: becoming a songwriter in Nashville.

There's the back story.  What are these goals?

Firstly, and obviously, I need to start writing lots of songs, and finishing songs I started way back in the early days...let's FINISH some shit.

Secondly, I need to play at as many open-mic situations as I can, not only so I can get better at performing as a singer-songwriter, but so I can start the sometimes painful (for me) process of NETWORKING.

Thirdly, I need to study and dissect my favorite songs by my favorite artists.

Fourth, I need to go see shows of songwriters I admire, so they can start seeing my face as much as possible, so they start recognizing me.

Fifth, I need to co-write more...naturally, this will become easier the more networking I do...the more I see writers whose style I admire at these open-mic nights, the more I can approach them about possible co-writes.

Sixth,  I need to join NSAI, TSAI,  or the SGA and either BMI or ASCAP.  I was working with ASCAP long ago and was starting to develop a relationship with those I need to start to try to do that again.

Seventh, Nashville is a songwriting community.  That means to play with the A-list, you have to be there, doing things that will allow you to brush up against all the right people. Nashville is like graduate school for songwriters.  Let these people teach you what to do.

So. Here we go. I hope you will learn something from the mistakes and follies that will no doubt populate these posts, but let's have a good time trying to figure Nashville out together.

Here's what I'm working on this week:

I've been re-reading Pat Pattison's excellent book, Writing Better Lyrics.  In that book,  he outlines the process by which you can train yourself to open your mind to a writer's awareness. It's called Object Writing.  I've been disciplined enough to do an Object Writing every morning for two weeks.

I've also been working on about three new songs, all ideas that I've been working on for sometime now... just taking the key concepts and making rhyme worksheets for all the important words....we'll see how they go...I'll let you in on the process as I work them towards completion.

Also.  Still looking for a job.

I'm looking forward to keeping this blog going and expanding the things I talk about here.

Thanks for reading.