Music, Lyrics, and Life: A Field Guide for the Advancing Songwriter

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Product Overview

Format: Hardcover

ISBN: 9781493059874

Publisher: Backbeat Books

Music, Lyrics, and Life is the songwriting class you always wish you'd taken, taught by the professor you always wish you'd had. It's a deep dive into the heart of questions asked by songwriters of all levels, from how to begin journaling to when you know that a song is finished. With humor and empathy, acclaimed singer-songwriter Mike Errico unravels both the mystery of songwriting and the logistics of life as a songwriter. For years, this set of tools, prompts, and ideas has inspired students on campuses including Yale, Wesleyan, Berklee, Oberlin, and NYU's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. Alongside his own lessons, Errico interviews the writers, producers, and A&R executives behind today's biggest hits and investigates the larger questions of creativity through lively conversations with a wide range of innovative thinkers: astrophysicist Janna Levin explains the importance of repetition, both in choruses and in the exploration of the universe; renowned painter John Currin praises the constraints of form, whether it's within a right-angled canvas or a three-minute pop song; bestselling author George Saunders unpacks the hidden benefit of writing, and revising, authentically; and much more. The result is that Music, Lyrics, and Life ends up revealing as much about the art of songwriting as it does about who we are, and where we may be going. This is a book for songwriters, future content creators, music lovers, and anyone who wants to understand how popular art forms are able to touch us so deeply. Mike Errico has honed these lessons over years of writing, performing, teaching, and mentoring, and no matter where you are on your songwriting journey, Music, Lyrics, and Life will help you build a creative world that's both intrinsic to who you are, and undeniable to whoever is listening. ©2021, 280 pages

Chapter Page
    Introduction xvii
    1. Terms of Service 1
    2. Some Tools 13
    3. God? Y/N 17
    4. Your New Attendance Policy 23
    5. Behold! The Awesome Power of the Daily Journal 27
    6. Silence 47
    7. What the Brain Likes 53
    8. Mission Songs 59
    9. The Quadrants of Trust 73
    10. Blue 81
    11. Rhyme and Repetition 91
    12. Who Are Your Collaborators? 99
    Interlude: Five Gems from the A&R Department 125
    13. Facing Down the First Draft 127
    14. The First Draft 137
    15. Troubleshooting 145
    16. Writer's Block 169
    17. Related Tips from Unrelated Fields 179
    18. Beware the Ides of Myspace 187
    19. Walk the Walk 191
    Interlude: Five Gems from the Melodic Math Department 197
    20. Transformation Cost 201
    21. Facing Down the Second Draft 205
    22. Is It Done? 211
    23. No, Really: When Is It Done? 219
    24. Dealing with Critics 223
    25. Money 227
    26. The End of This Book Is the Beginning of Your Next Song 231
    Acknowledgments 235
    Appendix: Summer Reading List for Sometime Later in Life 237
    Bibliography 241
    Index 251