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FAWM Set Lists Showing Up

Day 90: Fat Flish

Today I was back in the saddle on the bus and a park bench writing lyrics for a kids song that Harpo & Zeppo drew out of my overgrown garden shed of a subconcious that starts “I’m a little fat flish simming in the swea” – yeah I know, you’re gonna love it. But at least it is a song and I am writing it and finishing it and blogging about it. So result.

And just so you know

Day 89 was a wipeout – after visiting the white porcelian wishing well every half hour all through the night, my muse held her nose and said “I simply cahnt work under these condition dahling” and flounced off to bother Nicholas Tozier.

Day 85 was a wipeout in a good way cos I was rockin out at the Vauxhall Griffin Pub, in erm Vauxhall, London in the fine county of Londonshire at the FOP. That’s FAWM Over Party. WLA!*

Hosted by the erudite and criminally friendly Johnny Cashpoint we ate, drank, jammed and forgot our lyrics. Hoopshanks was the best at forgetting his lyrics and in fact is better forgetting his lyrics than the rest of us are when we remember them. I had a great time jamming with Morti, Sentense & Hoops, and took part in final jam session where I can confidently state I was playing the same chord progression at least one of the 6 alternatives happening simultaneously. I have no idea of the title. I suspect no one else has either.

A good time was had by all. There may be videos, photos or police statements to prove this at a later date.

Here’s my set list

Let’s Build An Airport
You You You – with Sentense
If You’re Here This Morning – with Hoopshanks

Scores on the doors at the end of March. I’ve written 87/90 days. 27 songs.

WLA!* = We Love Acronyms!

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FAWM Showing Up

Day 83: Crash And Burn

Crash and burn fellas, crash and burn. Epic Fail. Today a combination of a bad cold, too much Piriton & no real game plan meant I just couldn’t drag my sorry behind in the direction of any songwriting. The best I could manage was to play through a few inspiring jazz standards. I’m talking Here’s That Rainy Day, Cry Me A River, Ain’t Misbehavin’…

The next few days are looking like sleep, read, sleep, try to workout what I’m gonna play at The FAWM over party in London, sleep, and make me a plan…

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Uncategorized

Write Like Mad Men

Jeff Shattuck has a helpful post on what the advertisement industry can teach us about songwriting and [spoiler alert] it’s pretty much the same thing that Vineyard writers have been telling us for years. Should we be worried about that ?!?!?

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Uncategorized

Nameless and Awesome

Hope this brightens your day a little – have a good one…

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[If you’re subscribed to this blog via email, you will have to click on the post’s title to watch any video content (the link will take you my site).

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FAWM Showing Up

Day 81: I’m Still Here

Unlike Bob Dylan I’m still here. I’ve started to make some headway on the many songs in various states of being and one of my main goals is to get the FAWM kids album all stitched up and finished. Today I think I’ve almost finished ‘writing’ the mystery bonus track for it. Just needs some ‘mastering’ (my euphemism for “just take the really loud bits down a notch”)

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Music Biz 2.0

What You Need To Know About Rebecca Black

Jay Franks’ book FuturehitDNA was one of the highlights of my reading last year. This post on Rebecca Black gives you a glimpse on why he’s such an insightful student of the music biz…


WINNER: ARK MUSIC FACTORY
If Ark were a true record label, Rebecca’s parents wouldn’t have fronted the $2k for her video. Now that it’s a huge success, I guarantee they are flooded with requests from parents to make their children stars. They’ll make revenue from this for several years.


WINNER: OTHER ARK MUSIC FACTORY ARTISTS
Look beneath the surface and you’ll find a few other singers who got in before “Friday” blew up are now finding some internet success too. Check out Alana Lee, who supposedly introduced Rebecca to Ark with her 2 million views. Or the 5 other artists who each have over 350k views in one week as of this writing.


LOSER: MAJOR LABEL A&R
These guys have trouble launching one act a month. Now this upstart has effectively launched 7 artists in one week? And all of them would have been rejected by the same A&R folks. I’m not saying that’s bad (I would’ve rejected them too) but boy someone’s gotta be held accountable here.


WINNER: YOUTUBE
Their ability for anyone to upload anything produces overnight successes like this. This attracts even more people to their platform. Also, this firmly makes them a broadcaster, probably more than any previous video. 21 million views in a week? That’s more than nearly EVERY show on TV (cable or broadcast) receives in a week INCLUDING the DVR play. The fact that they have also successfully conquered with mobile apps and IPTV just increases their reach.

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FAWM

FAWM Thoughts (pt 3)

Previous thoughts on FAWM here

What I learned about myself and writing

Each song builds on all the others

Like Whistler in his court case and the legendary consultant who charged a fortune for chalking an ‘x’ on the defective machine, each song I write in 2011 has in one sense taken me 28 years to write, building as it does on all the experience (musical, theological and exegetical) I’ve gained to date. So there’s no reason why I should agonise over each new song for months or even years.

I need to write too fast

I’m by nature an over analyser so the breakneck pace of FAWM is a great corrective for me.

Writing fast need to be balanced by times of reflection

The one thing you absolutely do not get from FAWM is the time to step back an evaluate. This is a good thing, but there needs to be some evaluation at some point.

Writing fast sometimes needs to be balanced by extended time spent trying to evolve

Pushing the envelope of who you are as a writer sometimes takes longer. I think the Beatles could have written 20 She Loves You during FAWM without breaking a sweat but I don’t think they would have made many A Day In The Lifes. I struggled with both my piano chops and recording/mixing ability during this FAWM. Other minor evolutionary leaps just happened, colourful plume here, an extra toe there… But sometimes the next big thing takes time


What I learned about FAWM

It’s all about the song and only the song. 

In the real world I might judge someone on image and discount them without hearing a note. That kind of filter is irrelevant on FAWM. Sure, the guy is a thrash metal guitarist, but that song might just as easily be a lullaby for his baby, or folk tune about bees played on a mandolin. I’ve been impressed by songs from 16 year old schoolgirls and 50 year old bluesmen. I was shocked to find out one of my favourite silly songs was by the writer of one of my favourite serious songs.

Everyone is on the same page

It’s not just the power of gathering a bunch of songwriters together. In the real world one songwriter might be trying to crank out songs, while another is doing preproduction for her album, and a third is not writing anything cos they’re in touring mode. On Planet FAWM every man jack is trying to write a lot of songs and write em fast. Stylistic posturing, and oppressive quality control go out of the window and everyone is open to any kind of bizarre challenge, random title generator, chord progression concept, co-writing offer or feedback that can help them get to the magic 14 songs. In short everyone’s grateful for any songwriting bone you’d care to throw them.

Would I recommend FAWM?

Totally

I’m more convinced than ever that writing a lot is the only way to learn how to write. If you go for quantity you will get quality eventually. Hold out for quality and you’ll probably get neither. Participating in FAWM WILL make you a better songwriter.

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FAWM

FAWM Thoughts (pt 2)

Last time I looked at things I got right. This time  – what I got wrong

I didn’t really have a proper exit strategy

FAWMing is like living on another planet for a month. Writing songs 24/7 becomes such a way of life that on March 1st the natural response is to either stop dead and not pick up a guitar for 6 months or try to keep going at the same breakneck pace. I needed more than just a vague plan as to what I was going to do next including

  • What am I gonna do with all these songs I’ve written? Let ’em lie fallow for a month or two? Rerecord? Play ’em live? (Maybe I should have some gigs already lined up for March then…)
  • What am I going to write in Mar? (Writing a small amount of something is a good idea, even if it just functions as a sort of mental ‘warm-down’)
  • How am I gonna pick up all my dropped balls (that sounds so wrong). What am I gonna put in the diary to reconnect with family and friends. How am I gonna decompress? Two week supply of Tequlia? Watch an entire season of 24 back to back?

I didn’t buy hosting

I used my box.net account which worked fine but meant the songs didn’t automatically appear in FAWM’s streaming jukebox. There are other free sites that would have done it, but the FAWMfathers provide a great service and all proceeds go towards running the site (less the 10% that goes to charity). And on that topic…

I didn’t give enough money

You’re always wary of giving online, I donated $10 but $35ish would have gotten me free hosting, a mug, a CD of previous highlights, a llama and given some much needed support for this excellent site.

I wasn’t prepared enough

January would have been the best time to gather song starts, contact potential collaborators, find my way around the site etc

I didn’t have a clear personal finish line

Mainly because I assumed I’d scrape 14 songs at best. When I shot past the goal I had no idea when, why or how to stop. By the evening of the 28th I was raving about 24 being a nice round number like a delirious gibbering maniac.

Next time – part: the final – what I learned

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FAWM

Thoughts on FAWM (pt 1)

What did I achieve by doing FAWM?

I wrote 7 songs last year. This February I wrote 24 songs.

Ah, but are they any good?

Of those 24 maybe 6 are as good as anything I’ve written. My first FAWM song If You’re Here This Morning has already become one of my most downloaded/streamed. I co-wrote songs with people from Texas and California, as well as about 60 of my pupils.

I also had a great time on the forum. I learnt all about strangle disco, chiptunes and mountain dulcimers. I found out that having your zongs busted is not as painful as it sounds and I busted lots of other peoples zongs. I saw one well-known fawmer have an online meltdown and cybersulk, and another suffering from kidney stones and being plagiarised by another band. I tuned in to a podcast only to hear someone say they had “a total man crush” on me before playing one of my songs. I wrote a song using only two strings on the guitar and I challenged others to have a go. About 15 people took me up and wrote some great songs. I got a lot of kind comments about Beatles Songwriting Academy and a few people even used the tips there to write songs. I made virtual friends. I met a great songwriter who lives in the same city as me. Things happened. It was fun.

Things I did right

Paced myself and hit the ground running

I tried to get writing straight away and managed to do a few tracks fairly quickly. That helped a lot, because knowing my temperament if I’d been 5 songs behind by the second week I would have given up. The 1 song every two days is really simple to keep track of.

Had a basic plan for the project

I decided to co-write with some pupils and gather the finished songs as an album. That changed during the month but it was nice to give it some shape. Other FAWMers had goals of writing thumpy palm muted songs, co-writing with their Dad, doing a concept album about Dr Faust or writing a valentine’s song for their wife.

Included my family and my job in it

I didn’t plan it that way, but once I spread the word to my pupils about what I was doing so many were keen, that I was overloaded with song ideas. That meant I could legitimately do my job and FAWM at the same time. Getting my kids to make a mash up track of their toys with me meant that at least Dad wasn’t off on his own for the whole of Feb.

Put metadata on my mp3s

It’s getting to be a habit now, but I gave my FAWM songs an album name (even if I am changing it) and put all my details on them (check out my post on making your song available online if you don’t know how to do this). Many FAWMers are kind enough to make their songs available for free download, but it’s very common to download a great song only to have no clue who wrote it. I’ve been chasing up files, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Anonymous and her song ‘track 2’ is one of my top tunes of the year.

Contributed on forums & left song comments

It’s one of the things that helped me get to know people, and got them interested in my songs and blogs. Doing FAWM is a wonderful experience like going to live on another planet for a month or at least a foreign country if you take time to participate rather than just dump your songs and disappear.

Part 2Things I did wrong!
Part 3What I learned about myself, songwriting and FAWM

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FAWM

Slow Motion Riot – The Kid’s Album

I’m in the process of putting together a 15 track download only album called SLOW MOTION RIOT containing all the songs I co-wrote with kids (my own and other people’s) during FAWM. You can get the individual tracks here. The kids would love to hear your comments so if you like any of the tracks leave me your thoughts here.

And if anyone thinks they have a better image than this for an album cover let me know!

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