FAWM Songwriting

Why I Failed At FAWM

This year I only managed to write eight songs instead of fourteen. While the the usual suspects, hubris and illness, played a part, there were other aspects that tripped me up and I think they’re worth noting so I don’t make the same mistakes in future. I want to make a whole new set of mistakes!


I’m a big fan of Limitations. They can really help you “get on with it” and cut out one of the most insidious forms of distraction – ‘choice’. There’s lots studies that show that if a supermarket stocks 25 types of jam in the supermarket they won’t sell any because the customers can’t decide which to buy. Only stock 3 varieties and sales are much healthier. But for creativity there’s a tipping point where too many limitations make it harder to work.

FAWM has a massive limitation built in: you have to write a lot of songs in a short space of time. Adding any other artificial constraints could be asking for trouble. In my case I had chosen to ‘co-write with my younger self’, digging out old tapes and using the ideas to write new songs. Just consider how many other steps that assumes.

  • Digitise the tapes
  • Edit and label mp3s
  • Listen and evaluate which ideas are worth working on
  • Relearn old ideas (many of which were badly recorded and a quarter-tone sharp). Where there were mistakes, try to discern what my intention was. Try to work out if I had used a capo or an alternate tuning
  • Compile various versions of the idea scattered across different tapes

This is all work I had to do BEFORE I could get down to writing a song. As opposed to the FAWM-friendly approach of grabbing an instrument and strumming away till I come up with something.

One of my favourite FAWMers is American multi-instrumentalist, Izaak Wierman. He often sets himself narrow artificial limitations like writing a song in every key or every mode. But this year he was stranded in Australia with only a mandolin and a phone to make music with. So, wisely, he chose not to set impose any additional limitations on himself.


Secondly I was already out of my creative comfort zone. I had been ill before FAWM, seriously enough to make me cancel some work commitments. I also had some building work done at my studio which required changing the layout. Just like the Beatles during Let It Be, this was a signal that I should have just done the old familiar things rather than introduce some more chaos and variables. Maybe even spent time fixing the broken things in my system. Getting the room and recording space into a workable state?


Thirdly I failed because I didn’t really want to write. I’ve been on a kind of crusade for the last 5 years trying to make myself a better writer by writing a lot. Some 200 songs later I think that’s worked. But the natural by-product of that process is a bunch of good songs that I haven’t had the time to demo, let alone post online or release officially. So I’m feeling the drag of “what’s the point of writing another 14 songs that are never going to see the light of day?” Part of me wants to stop writing new songs, or at least slow down, so I can fix the next part of the supply chain – how to release music. And if part of you wants to write songs and part of you doesn’t, you’re going to have problems.


I really want to revisit my old music and see if there’s any way to absorb some of the more complex compositional approaches I’ve been neglecting. I’ve pursued a deliberate strategy to simplify and become truly melodic rather than churning out monotonal melodies over tracks constipated with chords and riffs. But I think I’ve got some kind of handle on that now and I need time to go back to the drawing board and explore. And leisurely exploration isn’t what FAWM is about.

So with hindsight I should have attempted everything I wanted to do … in March through December. And let FAWM be a sandbox for my subconscious to play with whatever catches it’s eye.

Next year, whatever I’m feeling and whatever my plans are, I’m going to take February off and just play. And whatever happens, happens.

Lesson (hopefully) learned.

THE END … or is it …?

Why I DIDN’T fail at FAWM

I wrote 8 songs

Writing songs of any description is a victory. If you write bad songs, you may be a bad songwriter, but if you write no songs, you’re not a songwriter at all.

I wrote 3 or 4 songs I’m happy with

One popped right out of my subconscious with no warning. Another is an idea I’ve been trying to write for 2 years. I doubt any of these would have been written without FAWM kicking me in the pants.

I wrote 1 song I love

Other people seem to love it too. The fact that FAWM is so non-judgemental made it easy for me to write and record something so left field for me. The network of writers, musicians and producers meant I could easily hook up with people that had the skills to complete it. The positive response from feedback on the site encouraged me to go all the way and release the track.

A few old ideas have been turned into songs

Some revealed they weren’t worth much and can now be cleared out of my ‘song starts’ folder. Many more ideas didn’t even make it to the writing stage, so again FAWM prompted a kind of spring cleaning of ideas. Others, while not great songs, have proved that they’re good ideas worthy of shaping and developing in the future.

I learned a few things

About co-writing and myself as a co-writer. And of course I have learned some valuable lessons about the right and wrong ways to use limitations and about how I can self sabotage my work.

So did I fail to deliver 14 songs in Feb. Yes.
Did I fail FAWM? No.

FAWM Guest Posts Songwriting

Guest Post: Izaak Wierman – Setting Creative Limitations

Izaak Wierman is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, music educator, and songwriter from western U.S.A. I met him through FAWM and asked him about his view on limitations (natural and self-imposed) as a songwriter.

There Is Always Some Kind Of System

Music is organising sounds, and the possibilities are truly infinite. I took the classical university music path, and one of the things you learn when you are studying the history of music is that there is always some kind of system (even in free jazz). Order from the chaos.

FAWM is a great system. There will be 14 new songs in 28 days. Your time is limited. Try to post a song every two days and move on. From there I usually come up with an additional self-imposed system before February. Since 2011 I’ve come up with some fun ones, and usually rely on some music theory to help. They’re like song cycles, sets of related songs. Here’s a list of some of my past attempts:

  • 7 songs, one for each of the modern modes.
  • 12 songs, one in each key signature, lyrically based on each symbol of the Chinese Zodiac.
  • Songs derived by randomly selecting two or three from a list of 126 fundamental rhythms.
  • 12 two-chord songs using parallel Major or Minor triads at each interval (m2, M2, m3, M3, P4, Tritone)
  • 14 songs each focusing on a specific melodic interval (m2, M2, m3, M3, P4, Tritone, P5, m6, M6, m7, M7, P8, m9, M9)
  • A set of rounds

A Path Through The Wilderness Of Possibilities

I know it looks a little intimidating if you aren’t into theory, but these kinds of systems give me a purpose and a direction and a little step to take on the long path to 14 songs. Also, understand I’m not a die-hard completist. I think the Chinese Zodiac is the only one I actually completed in its entirety. I managed that by writing the last three songs during the following 50/90. I find these kinds of systems really helpful because they give me smaller decisions to make. What’s the key signature? What are the chords I will use? It’s like a game. A path through the wilderness of possibilities. Additionally I’ll take on any of the weekly challenges or forum challenges that strike my fancy, especially for lyrics. I’ve had a lot of success with story cubes, tarot cards, Loteria, and animal totems.

A Mandolin And A Phone

This year was different because I didn’t really have any self-imposed music theory ideas. I intended to leave things a little more open because I knew I would be stuck with mandolin only, and only the phone to record with. I found the acoustic one-take to be surprisingly difficult because the simultaneous singing and playing gives you many more chances to mess something up on a brand new song demo. I did get lyrics ideas from challenges on the FAWM site (Superhero themes, Loteria and Story Cube) as well as songwriting games like Explore the Core*, Morph** and Auntie-Sin***. I also wrote four traditional folk instrumentals because it’s something I can do without any instrument at all.

Every year’s a bit different. I can’t call 2016’s limitations clearly good or bad. My demo recordings definitely suffered, and I won’t likely listen to them as much as my full production demos in the future. But at the same time, the songs I wrote for 2016 are much more likely to find their way into actual live performances. Much of the music I’ve made for past FAWMs isn’t something I’m able to recreate for a live audience. But this year’s mandolin songs? … no problem. In fact, I need to get out to the local open mic here in Adelaide, and see what people think.

You can check out Izaak’s music on Soundcloud and ReverbNation and of course on FAWM

*In Explore the Core each person writes a completely different song based on a the same set of lyrics and using a list of possible chords.

** In the Morph challenge Songwriter 1 writes and posts a song. Songwriter 2 listens to the song before them and changes 51% to create their own song (eg lyrics, time signatures, melody, harmony, chords, style, every other word – whatever your interpretation of 51% is). Songwriter 3 listens only to song 2 and the game continues. Later, everyone listen to the whole chain to see how it morphs along the way.

***Auntie-Sin is a Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis chain.  Someone writes a song and the next person in the chain writes and records the “Anti” or opposite of that song, the thirds person then writes a synthesis – a new song that combines the first two songs. The fourth person writea an ‘anti-song’ of the third song which is followed by a synthesis of the anti-song and the previous song and so on.

FAWM Humour Lists

Music/Film Mashup Titles

Here’s the best of a thread I started on FAWM. This is the work of many fawmers (those I could remember name checked at the end…)

Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey Tribute Band
System Of A Downton Abbey
Kill Bill Withers
Pacific Rimshot
Beastie Boyhood
Ghost Busta Rhymes
What About Bob Seger (And The Silver Bullet Band)?
Mocking Jay-Z (Part 1)
My Week With Marilyn Manson
Things To Do In John Denver When You’re Dead

Let The Right One Direction In
Dial Eminem For Murder
The Big Le Bow Wow Wowski
Scent Of A Womack
The Lana Del Ray That Time Forgot
The Glass Nicky Minajery
A Kraftwerk Orange
The Ozzy Osborne Identity
Three Men In A Bo Diddley
The Man Who Would BB King

Arianna Grande Budapest Hotel
How I Met Your Mother Love Bone
Dirty Daniel O’ Donnell
Romancing The Stone Temple Pilots
Tupac To The Future
The Man With The Goldfrapp Gun
Inglorious Busteds
Grandmaster Fast & The Furious Five
U2 Only Live Twice
Flash Gordon Giltrap

Mr And Mrs Mark E Smith
A Human League Of Their Own
Full Metallica Jacket
Robyn Thicke: Prince Of Thieves
Har Mar Superstar Wars 7: The Dragonforce Awakens
Average White Band Of Brothers
A Million Ways To Diana Ross In The Kanye West
Jackson Pollock 5
Deep Blue Cee-Lo Green

Free Willy Nelson
12 Years An Audioslave
American Sniper At The Gates Of Dawn
Saving Private Ryan Adams
Annie Hall And Oates
Snakes On A Jefferson Airplane
Bob Marley And Me
Burt Bacharachnophobia
Jurassic Van Dyke Parks (And Recreation)

The Seven Year Itchycoo Park
Supersize Meatloaf
The Beatle My Heart Skipped
Hannah And Her Twisted Sister
Beck To The Future
Nickelback Mountain
Win A Date With George Hamilton IV!
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Sex Pistols But Were Afraid To Ask
I Know What You Did Last Gordon Sumner

Into The Woody Guthrie
Pedro The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
Five Weezer Pieces
Tarzan And Jane’s Addiction
The Guns Of Dave Navarro
Smokey Robinson And The Miracles On 34th Street
Dave Grohllerball
Green Miley Cyrus
Bourne This Way
Elvis Costello Meets The Mummy

Driving Miss Daisy Chainsaw
The Avengers Sevenfold
Green Day Of The Dead
Blue Velvet Underground
Once Upon A Time In The Westlife
The Take That Of Pelham 123
Tropic Thunderclap Newman
Evil Dead Kennedys
Dastardly And Motley Crüe

Meet Me In St Louis Armstrong
Amy Winehouse Rules
The Amazing Spider-Manfred Mann
Bedknobs & Broomstyx
Pretty In Pink Floyd
The Taking Of Pelham One Two Fun Boy Three
War Of The Guns N Roses
I’m Alright, Jack Johnson
Crowded House Of Wax
The Byrds

I Know What You Did Last Joe Strummer
Shallow Max Bygraves
Shakespeare In Love And Rockets?
Dark Side Of The Moonraker?
Dr Hoosiers
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Kid Joe
The Empire Strikes Back In Black
Ice Cold In Alex Turner
Star Trek The Wrath Of Kanye West
ZZ Top Gun

Contributions from Marvsmooth, Frenchcricket, Motorcitymusicman, Atitlan, Sailingmagpie Joe Strange and many more

FAWM Humour Lists

Funnest FAWM Feedback

FAWM is a perfect storm of witty articulate people who are totally burnt out, with makes for some great left field stream of conciousness comments when people are giving you feedback on your songwriting. Taken out of context they’re even better.

All these are genuine feedback comments on my songs from FAWM 15, from the last which I saw on someone else’s wall.

You have a great voice for romantic songs, and enough wit so that it is not sickening

Brother, you had me at GK Chesterton

This reminds me of Roddy in Flushed Away except it lacks a slug chorus

16-year-old you should be commended for his utter brazenness at some of the rhymes he chose. Current-day you should be commended for delivering them in a non-awkward fashion

I laughed all the way to the toilet!

My earballs quite enjoyed this

My first thought was, “If this were shorter it could be an e.e. cummings poem

Is it bad that I find this kind of funny? It’s the plaintive and varied repetition of “Oh God” that gets me. Maybe this transcends sorrow. Or maybe I’m just a horrible person

It’s almost painful, in a good way

LOL, you really do sound like you have nothing left! Question: did you almost laugh at 1:01 or was that just the life ebbing out of your body?

A work of blokeish romantic art!

I loved what you did with the last line. 
It’s like the ending to the Sixth Sense. Sort of

Makes me think of an artist who should be better known, Peter Himmelman. His album “Skin” spooked me so bad I gave it away, not because I disliked it, but because I liked it too much

Now that’s entertainment!

Oh….. yes melting into meltiness.. cheese on toast….. Fab fab fab

Like Larry Norman covering Roy Orbison

Something about the violent performance of an otherwise cheery tune was quite striking

It’s like George with the Maharishi of Narcissistic Meditation

A little wise-ass confrontation coming from the right place is always welcome

Murdered anyone lately?

There not really much else I can say, but I’m on my 2nd listen, and…. Pork! Individually wrapped Pepperoni’s!

“I got corned beef” – classic. The sausage monologue is cool

OMG, the “I’ll make you a sandwhich” verse. Matt, bless you

Must be the impending trombones and flutes and ethnic percussion. Also, you eat weird food

I think you may have earwormed me

Listening to this I see Sesame Streets puppets dancing to this before my inner eye

I enjoyed your voices and accents immensely. It did make me think of an alternate reality in which the lower South Island was settled by Damon Albarn

The question/answer bit reminds me of the “butter pie” part of McCartney’s Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey


Dude you know how like in school you would bust your ass to make a sh***y bicarb volcano, and then you bring it to class and some other kid has built a working nuclear reactor or some s**t? Listening to your music is a lot like that

You can hear the songs that inspired these comment here

FAWM Humour Lists

FAWM 2015: Best Liner Notes

Here’s a few of the funniest liner notes from my fellow FAWMers – just for fun!


  • I’ve had a few but then again too few to mention
  • Black coffee, affordable beer, Elliott Smith
  • The sweet harmony of the energy that flows through all living beings. Also, “Now That’s What I Call Music! Volume 37.”
  • Too many fawmers to mention, punctuation, my dad, and you, you eye-contact-avoidant son-of-a-gun
  • Leonard Hopskotch, Denzil Fromage, Dr Horsehammer and Frankie Glockensphere
  • Amateur musicians on YouTube. They pick up their guitar, look you in the eye, play their heart out for you, then casually lean forward and turn off the camera. They do all that for you? They don’t even know you! They rock!!

Biographical Notes

  • I use my guitar as an aerial and summon the evil spirits with it
  • Former xylophonist with Tex Ovary And The Animators who set Paris alight in the late 90s (and received appropriate jail time for doing so)
  • 1959 first cry, 1973 first kiss, 1978 first gig, 1990 first acting, 1992 first magic, 1993 first tour, 2000 first album, 2009 last marriage, 2010 first FAWM, 2011 last divorce, 2012 first novel, 2013 last man standing, 2014 last year (so far)
  • Alllooo! My name is @Errol! I’m lactose intolerant. I have a webcomic too
  • I am a happy person honest, but put a guitar in my hands and it seems to open up a musical portal to misery

Call To Arms

  • Fire up the tea machine
  • It’s 2015. Let’s pretend we know what we’re doing

Song Notes (aka “Parade of Caveats”)

  • Apologies for the ridiculous title; it happened and I couldn’t make it unhappen
  • I have a crush on A7
  • Urgh. I am SO done with being serious. You have been warned
  • My thought pattern went something like Devil’s Highway > Dante’s Inferno > 7 deadly sins > ….cheesecake
  • You never held it at the right angle
See Also – 

Best Titles In FAWM 2015

FAWM Lists

Best Titles In FAWM 2015

Naming a song is an art in itself. Here’s my favourite attention grabbing, funny or profound titles from this year’s February Album Writing Month

(Don’t Want To Be (Your)) Marginalia – keithbarrette
Adventure Next, Coffee First – dashboardchicken
Aurora Boring Alice – pugetive
Bacon Monkey – stevenwesleyguiles
Burning Down The Outhouse – pfoo
Clutter, or, A Spirited Defence of the Curatorial Disposition
 – hamiltonpoolhall
Did You Google It? – jodv
Donald Duck And His 4k Ton Death Machine – defaultdave
Drinking About You – melissaschiller
Fermata Over a Whole Rest as a Pun – nuclearbubblewrap
Friday Night Shirt – jamesstaubes
I Don’t Remember Asking You A Goddamn Thing – jodv
I Gotta Make This Belly Disappear – spunky4455
I Should’ve Hoarded You (For the Leaner Times) – danieljacob
I Thought I Got All The Bad Parts Out – beautyspot
I’m Really More Of A Cat Person – adnama17
I’m Sorry That I Killed You In A Dream – vomvorton
I’m The Only Girl Left In Salt Lake City – adforperu
If Poop Could Crap – robynmackenzie
If This Is The Solution, I’d Like To Have My Problem Back – Ampersandman
If You Paid Attention I’d At Least Be Getting Paid Something
- wen
Jesus F**k It’s Like 8 In The Frickle-Fracking Morning
 – wen
Keep Dancing and Ignore the Aliens – pfoo
Lovely Lily Ladies Ululating On The Landing – toms
Maximally Random 4/2 – willoww
Micro Management Man – zecoop and seemanski
Monster Truck Animal – rodeoboats
Mr. Resistible – stephenwordsmith
Narcoleptic Booty Caper – bigmart
Nipples – mattgriffo
Old Black Pickle Balls Revisited – ieatpants
Positive Tweets – katoninetails
Put Some Pants on Your Jesus
- yellowgrassband
Put the Dishwasher On – jaegerin
Running From The Too Much Air – slimeminister
Seriously, Cat, You Couldn’t Leave That Alone For One Second?
- robynmackenzie
She Came From Away – robinh
Someone Please Send Me A Hurdy-Gurdy – jamesrdevries
Space Boob Yoga Music – santadharma
Spiteful Bloodyminded (That’ll Show ‘Em) – bittersweetdb
Sporting My Travelling Moustache – lightninglucas
Sweet Flower You Don’t Open Easily – brokentooth
The Fault in Our Death Stars – nuclearbubblewrap
The Furious Engines of Heaven – sapient
There Is No Title, But I Guess That’s Probably Going To Be The Title – wen
There’s A Peanut In My Food – drivelmonk
This Is The End, or A Clock That Goes To Eleven Is A Sh***y Clock, But Sometimes That’s What You Get – wen
This Song Is Going Where The Sun Don’t Shine – roelvanveldt
Too Far Gone To Go Anywhere – matthew62
Viking Spelunking Fiasco – headfirstonly
We Love Our Monsters – Susyblue
We Shouldn’t Care About The Colour of His Hair or The Length of His Skin – tinam
Whatdoyoumeanyoudontwanttohavesexwithme – chrishope
When the Sun Finally Warms My Face I’ll Be Free – stevenwesleyguiles
Wow, Look At That Creepy Guy With A Hook Over There. Let’s Split Up Or Go To The Basement Or Undress – zecoop
Yelling Drunk At A Rug On The Wall – deerleader
You And Your Beliefs – popmythology
You Got Butter in Your Car – drivelmonk
You Have Nice Eye Muscles – expendablefriend


FAWM 15 (pt.4) Experiments – Failed And Otherwise

For the past few years I’ve been toying with getting additive structures into pop songs. You can hear that in different ways in DifferentFresh MeatTear This Temple Down and Vengeance Is MineI Want You To Try Telling Me Who Lied When We Said I Still Want You (Version 1) was an attempt to add a word at a time to a phrase and it was a failure to be honest. In fact I wrote Polishing A Turd about this very song! I Want You To Try Telling Me Who Lied When We Said “I Want You” (Version 2) took the same lyrics but laid them out in a different way and though the track is also lame I did get an insight with how I harmonised the key phrase (I Want You) so it stands out each time.

I tried to write a track based on Sophie Lynette‘s beguiling Koto instrumental Immigrant Season, but had to admit defeat because the original wasn’t recorded to a click and wasn’t in concert pitch which made editing impossible. I recited my old ‘poem’ The Glass Is Half Empty over the top just to get closure as the ‘unfinishedness’ was preventing me moving on. That added another layer of failure as I realised those lyrics were never going to go anywhere either.

Steven Wesley Guiles has a FAWM tradition of writing a Valentine’s Day song for his wife and I’ve tried to follow his example. I wrote The Prettiest Girl (NSFW) almost as an act of rebellion against that and Christine Sistine is based on a 30 year old poem. Both pleasant FAILS really. I blame the ukelele.

Pretty much on the final day of FAWM I tried my first skirmish. This is when someone posts a title at a prearranged time and everyone taking part has 1 hour to write and record a song. I, Too, Need Love was taking from the autobiography of Leonard Nimoy. It’s a fine if derivative Beatles/Harrison style track.

I was attracted to Zecoop‘s instrumental by the hilarious title Wow, Look At That Creepy Guy With A Hook Over There. Let’s Split Up Or Go To The Basement Or Undress I figured I could do some comedy dialogue over it. The hard part was not second guessing or making a meal of it. I put a cardboard box over the mic to get the effect of ‘mom’ being outside the door. Wouldn’t you know – I’ve had lots of positive feedback about this track. SUCCESS definitely.

In conclusion: no song is a true failure – the very act of finishing makes you a better songwriter for next time, but I learned another trick for additive lyrics, have a potential collaborator on Koto for next years FAWM, relearned that writing ultra fast can shake good ideas out and got a great (if weird) spoken word piece out there.

FAWM produced lots of good work and great experiences of collaboration this year. I’d highly recommend it.

FAWM 15 (pt.1) post here
FAWM 15 (pt.2) post here
FAWM 15 (pt.3) post here


FAWM 15 (pt.3) More Co-Writes

As well as all the cool song I collaborated on with Liz Frencham I co-wrote a bunch of stuff with others. Here’s the more normal stuff

If You Screw Up – I sent a very slender lyrical premise to the mysterious Hamilton Poolhall (Texas) and he came back with this incredible bittersweet ballad. I tidied up a few lines and it was done. I said on the fawm site “Hamilton was looking in my fridge and found a small tupperware container of leftover lyrics and he cooked up this magnificent feast – fit for a king! I wish I could play guitar like this, and so do you”.

Daniel Jacob Horine (California) did pretty much the same thing with Whose Side Are You On Jesus? Though he got a whole chorus and part of a bridge from me rather than just lyrics but like Hamilton he took it in a whole new direction and created a cool fully realised demo.

Hug Me, Drug Me  with Ben Purscell (Pennsylvania) and A Little Spillage with Stephen Wordsmith (New Zealand via France) were both lyrics that I found late in FAWM and feverishly set them to music. Both were being written as I recorded them. Everything on HMDM is first take, which accounts for the fact that there a D major chord in the first chorus which never appears again. And I only decided to sing in a cockney accent halfway through recording A Little Spillage. Very rough, but fun to do and may have a life post-fawm.

Christ Will Come Again was a co-write with Steven Wesley Guiles (California). The initial chorus was mine then we went back and forth, Steven throwing in ideas and being a sounding board. After the demo was posted other FAWMers (Petra Cook, Michael Karns, Izaak Alexander, Jon Nelson) came forward to add vocals and other instruments.

Coming Soon: FAWM Experiments – Failed And Otherwise

FAWM 15 (pt.1) post here
FAWM 15 (pt.2) post here


FAWM 2015 Songs (pt.2) Co-Writes

If for no other reason I love taking part in FAWM because every year I get to discover unsung but brilliant writers and musicians. Last year I came across UK singer/songwriter Expendable Friend, Texan guitarist Hamilton Poolhall and Australian upright bassist/singer Liz Frencham. Liz’s FAWM songs were among my favourite music of 2014 and she’ll be making a guest appearance on my new EP but this FAWM I got to write with her! And I think we came up with some fantastic stuff.

Our collaboration started with Don’t Get Too CloseI gave Liz the lyrics to Hard To Love with carte blanche to go in any direction she wanted. The chorus had never worked and she got around that by writing a completely new chorus! On reflection the core problem with the old chorus was it was too close to the song that inspired it. I was never able to get out from under it’s shadow which should have clued me into amputating that part but it’s always hard to ditch the part that started the whole song. Anyway I took Liz’s brilliantly slinky bass and vocals added minimal guitar and done.

Where Did The Time Go? was Liz’s song. She asked me to come up with a bridge for her incredible multi-time signature jazz sprint, so I just tried ‘bridge technique 101’ which is contrast with the rest of the song – slow vs fast, one meter vs time changes, harmonic movement vs rhythmic movement. Liz moved the bridge to a better key and tweaked how we got in and out.

Oh God, Oh God was weird. Liz posted a cry for help on Facebook lamenting her lack of inspiration. In true FAWM style Steven Black sang her facebook post acapella. Lying in bed with an injured back I harmonised Steven’s melody. Liz then took it back and added bass and a descant. A fun ride.

Liz also had two tracks she asked me to add guitar to.

The brief for Cold Mind was ‘Jeff Buckley meets Radiohead’ so I played around with acoustic in open D and threw a bunch of electric guitars at it.

Liz wrote the melody for Little Lion as she was about to board a plane, singing the melody into her phone. The song is more straight ahead jazz and just need some extended reharmonisation of the chords from me.

Check out all of Liz’s FAWM 2015 songs here and her website here

More FAWM Co-Writes Coming Soon

Fawm 15 (pt.1) post here


FAWM 2015 Songs (pt. 1)

For FAWM 2015 I managed to write 20 songs and recorded guitar for two more tracks by others. All the songs were recorded during February, so they’re rough, and as most of the tracks are hosted on the site the links won’t work beyond Dec 2015. Which is as it should be – there will be better versions of the good tracks (check here) hopefully by then and the bad tracks will be forgotten (as they should be).

Solo Songs

I kicked off FAWM with the Firstfruits challenge (write a song dedicated to God). Bedtime Prayer was an idea I’d had for a long time for a child’s sung prayer that could be adapted to fit in the names of family and friends.

Shadow came from a page of lyrics that didn’t fit with the rest of the song it was part of (working title is Boxes/More Than I Can Carry) I bulked out the lyrics with odd lines from my odd line folder. I premiered this at the First Tuesday Songwriting Group and got some very helpful feedback.

Polishing A Turd came from the realisation that I was doing exactly that by trying to demo I Want You… Version 1 (here). I literally turned over the lyric page and wrote this song on the back. Three Chords and The Truth. Really like this one.

Ghosts came from a rejected lyric from the Neverborn project. I could never make the right point in this song. Many years later I realised I didn’t have to make a point. Just let the imagery speak for itself and let the listener draw their own conclusions. Musically I wrote a riff that was too much like Come Together. I kept the rhythm and changed it from the pentatonic to the blues scale. Then I changed it again to the harmonic minor. The combination of gothic sounding scale and swinging rhythm really inspired me.

Clockwork Underground started from a load of lyrical ideas. When I typed them up I realised I had a whole song’s worth and I’d had forgotten what some of them meant (I totally missed the play on words of “Render to Caeser the day – Carpe Diem” and “Swallowing camels whole while straining natural selection…”. Took a lot of work to get the words to flow and don’t think I’ve nailed the choruses yet.

More FAWM Songs Coming Soon – Co-Writes And Experimental Tracks