Read on for inspiring words from a songwriter friend of mine, enter to win a CD, and help me spread the word about an amazing local Detroit band, the Corktown Popes. I guarantee their music will feed your muse.
Here's my interview with Terry. His responses were surprising, inspiring, and enlightening.
1. What inspired you to rekindle your music career, and what helped you to persevere?
I finally felt I had something worth saying. If you feel passionately about something, you can usually go through what you need to in order to end up on the other side of the obstacle(s) you are presented with.
2. How does songwriting differ from other types of writing (poetry, fiction)?
If you hope to have a chance at radio airplay, you have the limitation of brevity placed upon you. You have exactly 3 minutes (plus or minus) to say exactly what you want to say. You have to allow space for sound (instrumentation) and you have to establish a chorus which presents itself repeatedly between verses.
The chorus has to be interesting enough to withstand repeated listenings. I like the verses to make statements which support the chorus, or ask questions that the chorus answers. Sometimes even asking questions that the chorus seems to make ambiguous.
3. I'd love to have you dissect one of your songs to show me exactly what you mean - we'll have to continue this thread when we have more time. What comes first - melody or lyrics?
I have no strict rules when it comes to the start of writing a song. Whatever comes first - chord progressions, lyrical phrase, or melody. I follow the one, as Daniel Lanois says, "...that raises its hand." I build around whichever device says something worth listening to.
My job as a songwriter seems to me is to build a strong and attractive "skeleton." One that the musicians I surround myself with can place their own bit of "flesh and muscle" on.
A composer would chart everything out. I don't have that much formal knowledge yet. Some bands will all gather at the same time and work on ideas as they come to them. We may do some of that with the next recording.
4. How do you feed your creativity?
Work. Constantly. Read about your art form. Watch movies about your art form. Practice your art form. Be consumed by your art form. Blow your art form up. Start again.
5. This is an intense side of you that I don't usually see! But I know that if I were interviewing you in person rather than through writing, you would have ended that answer with your boisterous laugh. What influences or inspires your songs?
My songs always begin with this --
They all begin as a feeling that I feel I MUST express.
Cheers, Terry! Thanks for giving us a backstage glimpse into your music world.
To learn more about the Corktown Popes, go to their website and Facebook page.
Terry and the Corktown Popes have generously offered to give away 3 CDs, and one extra lucky winner will also get a t-shirt. Yes, you could be just like this lucky tween:
Terry is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle from his performance at the recent Arts Beats & Eats festival. (Ouch.) He's happy the chest pain was not a heart attack, but he'll be hurting for awhile. Please wish him a speedy recovery!
Thanks for listening-