Quotes Songwriting

Jerome Kern: Write 20 Tunes To Get 2 Good Ones

[Composing is] like fishing. You get a nibble, but you don’t know whether it’s a minnow or a marlin until you reel it in. You write twenty tunes to get two good ones – and the wastebasket yearns for music.

I don’t let a single day pass without writing something…That is a lesson some of today’s so-called songwriters should learn

(Michael Freedland – Jerome Kern: A Biography p.81, p.97, p.141)

Jerome Kern was one of the greatest tunesmiths of the 20th Century. He wrote around 1000 songs. That’s not a typo.

One. Thousand. Songs.

How come he wrote timeless tunes like these?

A Fine Romance
All The Things You Are
Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man
I Won’t Dance
Never Gonna Dance
Ol’ Man River
Pick Yourself Up
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
The Last Time I Saw Paris
The Way You Look Tonight

Because he wrote hundreds of second rate songs. Here’s a few that haven’t stood the test of time

Abe Lincoln Had Just One
Ain’t It Funny What A Few Drinks Make?
And Russia Is Her Name
Bagpipe Serenade
Bull Frog Patrol
Bungalow In Quogue
Come Tiny Goldfish To Me
Edinboro Wriggle
Go Little Boat
How’d You Like To Spoon With Me?
I’d Like To Meet Your Father
I’d Like To Wander With Alice In Wonderland
I’m A Crazy Daffudil (sic)
I’m The Echo, You’re The Song
I’ve A Bungalow In Babylon On Great South Bay
Jockey On The Carousel
Kiss A Four Leaf Clover
Love Is Like A Little Rubber Ball
Mind The Paint
Moo Cow
Nesting Time In Flatbush
Paris Is A Paradise For Coons
The Old Clarinet
Tulip Time In Sing Sing
When The Rain Comes Pitter-Patter
Who Cares If My Boat Goes Upstream?
Why Don’t They Dance The Polka Anymore?
Why Take A Sandwich To A Banquet?
You Can’t Make Love By Wireless

Just like the Beatles, he wrote well because he wrote a lot.


Here At The End Of The World Video

A new video for an old demo

Download the demo here

Former Pupils Nottingham Sounds

3 Awesome Videos From Nottingham Artists

Nottingham is getting a well deserved reputation for exciting new music but some artists extend that to making great videos too. Here are 3 of the best.

Boat You Row – Seas Monster Eyes (Directed by Rob Gravenor)

Featuring former members of Tastebuds and Zadkiel, Sea Monster Eyes’ debut video won the grand prize at the 2Weeks2Make It 2013 film festival.

Hands Up If You Are Lost – We Show Up On Radar (Directed by Tom Walsh)

Andy Wright has a long history of making great videos but this is a high point

Two Devils – Dog Is Dead (Directed by Prano Bailey-Bond)

A much higher budget than the other two, but stunningly inventive all the same

Great Guitarists Nottingham Sounds

It Bites – Old Man And The Angel (Live)

One of my favourite bands ever – crazy chops, great melodies, lots of times changes and key changes and a sense of humour.

and *Nottingham Connection* keyboardist John Beck has been writing with Nottingham artist Indiana

Totally Off Topic

James Hong

You want to read this post?


It’s over here

Behind The Song

Behind The Song: Let’s Build An Airport

Let’s Build An Airport was written during FAWM 2011. In keeping with the rough and ready vibe of that songwriting challenge I wrote it from scratch and demoed in a single night.

The original inspiration was simply a list of bizarre children’s books that I’d seen in a school library on a break from teaching. I had intended to do a surreal list song, but I never got beyond the first title “Let’s Build an Airport” by Kath Mellentin and Gillian Clements.


I just spilled out my frustration over a descending chromatic chord progression that has been done many times before (e.g. ‘If’ by Bread and Stairway To Heaven). But switching off my inner critic seemed to be a good thing and I’m really proud of some of the phrases and imagery – ‘As deep as the clouds’, ‘rootless and artless and freer than birds’ and catching ‘that burning ball in the fist of one hand’.

Though the song is using a commercial airport as a metaphor, in my mind’s eye I see Lancaster bombers taking off when I hear the song, so I was thrilled to get some sound library recordings of a real life WW2 bomber crew and in my mind Rachel McClean’s cello is almost the musical representation of a Lancaster bomber – heavy, yet elegant and quintessentially English.

Download Let’s Build An Airport

Here’s a video of one of the first ever public performances at the London ‘FOP’ (FAWM Over Party) in 2011.


Songwriting With The Beatles & James Bond

Everybody knows the James Bond Theme right? I’ve been working a major series of posts about the chord progression from that piece of music, as used by the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Barenaked Ladies, Queensryche, Buddy Holly, Eminem….

Download the 18m podcast here or listen to it on Soundcloud

or watch part one below

Leave me a comment if you learnt anything! (and check out Beatles Songwriting Academy for more songwriting help)


The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

…but you will be able to download it from the iTunes store.

Musicians at large are totally locked into the Apple ecosystem (me too). Watching the CompassionArt DVD a while ago really brought it home. The sad thing is this probably isn’t even product placement…

So many Christian artists consuming the fruit of Steve Job’s labours. Wait. Wasn’t it an apple that got us all into trouble in the first place?*

*That’s right Bible moths – the bible says “fruit” it never specifies the kind. Could have been a banana. Or a whole fruit salad

Live Video

Let’s Build An Airport – Live Trent Sound

A while ago I did a live broadcast for Notts radio station Trent Sound – here’s Let’s Build An Airport from that session


One Direction In Scary Film Trailer

A great redubbing of One Direction’s Gotta Be You video

But my favourite by the Bad Lip Reading guys is still the NFL (American Football) clip compilation