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On A Songwriter’s Mind This Week #4
September 27, 2015
My first musical The Manors is nearly finished. I’ve found that the recent book I’ve been reading, “Finishing The Hat” by Stephen Sondheim, has really helped me with the process. In particular I am now taking more risks with respect to song structure. In the book Sondheim tells us that one of his golden rules is “Content Dictates Style”. So now when I am telling a story I am much more flexible with the form of the song, for example the rhyme structure, does it need a bridge, what style of music fits best the message (content) of the story. I hope to have it finished in a couple of weeks. Then starts the perilous journey to get it performed somewhere!
I’ve got a couple of ideas for a second musical. In fact I woke up at 6 a.m. this morning with one fresh in my mind that I had to write down. Without giving too much away, it may not be set in the current day - possibly the 60s. We’ll see how that one comes about. I’ve so much enjoyed writing The Manors that I now can’t wait to get it finished and start writing another. More on that as it develops.
I wrote my first proper country song this week, For He Who Is Winning, Another Must Lose. It is set in the UK and tells the story of Lucy, a young woman with mental health problems who is struggling to deal with life on benefits. Meanwhile across town Rich the banker is creaming it in without a care in the world. Their lives are connected by Rich’s cleaner Sarah, who is also Lucy’s carer. It’s not a very happy tale. I had some concerns about whether the country style of music fitted the theme, but there are enough parallels between the olde country life and some of the themes in Lucy’s world. I thought I would try it, and would love to hear what you think. You can download the song for free here: https://soundcloud.com/ryanfoxsongs/for-he-who-is-winning-another-must-lose
On a final note, I’m pleased to be collaborating with a friend on some lyrics at the moment. The song is called Working Class War – I think it’s obvious what it’s about! Putting together some music for that this week, thinking of throwing some John Lennon solo era mixed with a hint of the Manic Street Preachers into the musical melting pot on this one. It’s always fun to co-write as it takes some of the pressure off. Two heads are better than one, especially when your collaborator has such great ideas for songs, like Working Class War. I’ll have that uploaded to my Soundcloud page soon. For some of my enduring fans, you may be pleased to know that I am back in touch with Caroline, who did an amazing version of my song Journey Home a few years ago. I’ve sent her a few songs and hope to hear back from her soon about getting one or two of them recorded. That’s another hidden pleasure as a songwriter, to hear another artist perform your songs. I’ll reserve myself a quiet satisfaction if we pull this one off half as good as Journey Home!