Tom Waits On … Craft Or Inspiration?

Interviewer – What is your approach to – is it a craft or something that just comes to you?

[Songwriting is] a craft by all means, you can tell it’s a craft when you hold two songwriters up side by side, one who’s good and one who isn’t – you can tell who is craftier, I guess.

It’s not some kind of divine inspiration or anything, there are times when you’re moved to write something but I don’t think you quake and talk in tongues or anything, I think that’s a lot of poppycock and balderdash myself. You work on a concept, work on an idea, and you read and you listen to other writers and you listen to the radio – and then you get better, hopefully.

It’s still a matter of what your own taste is but I do think there’s a strong difference between someone like Randy Newman who is certainly a craftsman when it comes to putting a song together, someone who can evoke such a feeling from his listeners and it comes from him really sweating over a song and [someone] who really writes ridiculously childish songs that don’t have meat to them or real vision – I think it’s certainly craft.

Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters (p.25)


Radiohead – Loud Or Quiet? – Make Your Mind Up!

Two funny Radiohead videos (Radiohead fans speak out/Do Cute Kids Like Radiohead?) and one serious one

Lastly an interesting vid about the Ondes Martenot a weird old instrument that Jonny Greenwood plays on How to Disappear Completely


Aha? No.

The idea of divine inspiration and an aha moment is largely a fantasy. Anything of value comes from hard work and unwavering dedication. If you want to be a good artist you need to look at other artists, make a lot of crappy art, and just keep working.

Sydney Pink Brain Pickings

Former Pupils

Hepburn on TFI Friday

Here’s an old vid of former pupil Sarah Louise Davies playing on the Channel 4 TV show TFI Friday (some time in the 90’s?)


Tom Waits On…Forcing Songs

I’ve been gleaning some songwriting wisdom from Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters (you can find a lot of the interviews online at Here’s the first instalment…

Interviewer: Do you do anything to force the songs at all?

I have a vice out in the garage, I used to put my head in it, screw it tight….I don’t force them but if you don’t jump on your back a little bit now and then you won’t write jack so I usually try to – Coffee and beer usually helps for a writing climate for me.


I’ve just been trying to write, beat your head against the wall for tunes. Sometimes they come out easy, sometimes they don’t come out at all…I don’t know – the ones that come out hard are usually the ones that aren’t any good, I guess


Sometimes it comes out of the ground just like a potato and then other times you have to go in and use physics and math and finance and threatening remarks or embarrassing them

Song Vault

Djimi Traore

He raised a half-full glass, a ghost of football past
A football hymn
mp3 demo     Chords (pdf)     Lyrics (pdf)     Behind The Song     Lyric Video

No one ever sang before the Beatles
Since the Beatles came we’ve never stopped
The players of renown, every villain, every clown
Has added to the sound that shook the Kop

I dreamt that we were drinking in the Sandon
A tall dark stranger sat across from me
He raised a half-full glass, a ghost of football past
Said his name was Djimi with silent D

Djimi Traore tell us the story
Those derby days on Merseyside
Djimi Traore, the grit and the glory
Of every European night
Remind us of our history
Remind us of our destiny
Djimi Traore

Shankly came from Huddersfield in winter
We’d been in division 2 for 5 long years
He claimed a little room where the players kept their boots
And turned Liverpool into a team to fear

The Gunners lost at Anfield 5 years later
April 18th 1964
Can’t Buy Me Love was on the charts and we sang with all our hearts
Cos the league was ours, together we’d walked through the storm

Djimi Traore tell us the story…

Oh you beauty, what a hit son, what a hit son
Oh you beauty, what a hit son, what a hit son
Now Steven Gerrard, now Steven Gerrard, now Steven Gerrard.

I woke with Djimi’s last words ringing through me
11 men can play, the 12th must sing
Could be a clearance off the line, a goal in extra time
You grab your chance to shine, your chance to lift the team

Djimi Traore tell us the story…


I Write…

Inspiring words from My Fair Lady lyricist Alan Jay Lerner 

I write not because it is what I do, but because it is what I am; not because it is how I make my living, but how I make my life – A.J. Lerner: The Street Where You Live (p.224)

More from Broadway greats – Ira Gershwin and Jerome Kern