ISA's 'Classic Stage Musical'
Each month, we recommend eight London or Broadway Musicals which in our opinion offer outstanding songwriting content. To book tickets, go to londontheatre.co.uk or broadwayleague.com/
I was always concerned with writing to my age at a particular moment. That was the way I would keep faith with the audience that supported me as I went along...I'm a synthesist. I'm always making music. And I make a lot of different kinds of music all the time. Some of it gets finished and some of it doesn't...The best music is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with
I love telling stories, and I love hearing a good story being told. Songwriting is fascinating in that it incorporates two things that I love to do: create a story and write the music to it. Then I get to sing it and play the piano on top of that. My job allows me to do four things that I absolutely love. It doesn't get much better than that
The great thing about John and I in the old days was that we didn't have tapes - but that was great because it focused us. We used to say to each other, 'if we can't remember it tomorrow, it's no good.'
How memorable is a song that you wrote last night and you can't remember this morning? It's not good.
I'm still looking to write a great song.... You always are. You know, you never think, "Well, that's enough ... that's good enough".
You could write a song about some kind of emotional problem you are having, but it would not be a good
song, in my eyes, until it went through a period of sensitivity to a moment of clarity. Without that
moment of clarity to contribute to the song, it's just complaining
It started out ó my mom and dad took a little vacation to Mexico and they left $250 for food. But instead of food we went and bought some instruments. We got a bass, guitar and a set of drums. ... I was 19. Dennis was 15. Carl was 17. Mike was 18. Al was 19. And so we wrote a song called "Surfin'" in my living room. We were all playing and singing and Mike and I wrote a song called "Surfin'" and that's how it all started....The idea of taking a song, envisioning the overall sound in my head and then bringing the arrangement to life in the studioÖwell, that gives me satisfaction like nothing elseÖMy state of being has been elevated, because Iíve been exercising, writing songsÖNo masterpiece ever came overnight. A personís masterpiece is something that you nurture along.Ē
"Do You Want To Know A Secret". The idea came from this thing my mother used to sing to me when I was one or two years old, when she was still living with me. It was from a Disney movie: "Do you want to know a secret? Promise not to tell/You are standing by a wishing well." So, with that in my head, I wrote the song and just gave it to George to sing. I thought it would be a good vehicle for him, because it had only three notes and he wasn't the best singer in the world.
"I Wanna Be Your Man " was a kind of lick Paul had - 'I wanna be your lover, baby. I wanna be your man.' I think we finished it off for the Stones. They wanted a song and we went to see what kind of stuff they did. Mick and Keith heard we had an unfinished song. We sort of played it roughly to them and they said, 'Yeah, OK, that's our style.' But it was only really a lick, so Paul and I went off in the corner of the room and finished the song off while they were all still sitting there talking. We came back, and that's how Mick and Keith got inspired to write... because, 'Jesus, look at that. They just went in the corner and wrote it and came back!' You know, right in front of their eyes we did it. So we gave it to them. It was a throw-away. The only two versions of the song were Ringo and the Rolling Stones. It shows how much importance we put on them. We weren't going to give them anything great, right? I believe it was the Stones' first record.
"Norwegian Wood" is my song completely. It was about an affair I was having. I was very careful and paranoid because I didn't want my wife, Cyn, to know that there really was something going on outside of the household. I'd always had some kind of affairs going on, so I was trying to be sophisticated in writing about an affair... but in such a smoke-screen way that you couldn't tell. But I can't remember any specific woman it had to do with.
I got a job as a waiter at The Source in Los Angeles, a famous restaurant, unbeknownst to me at the time, where a scene from "Annie Hall" was shot. It was a block away from my house. It was also a major hangout for music people and I met all these famous songwriters and recording artists there. I was their waiter. I was so frustrated because I'd see everybody's name on the credit cards and I couldn't believe who they were, and I didn't want to wait on them, I wanted a songwriting career like them. I used to tell the songwriters and artists at the restaurant that I was a songwriter but it was hard for anybody to take me seriously when I was wearing a black apron and taking their orders. I'd go in the kitchen and start to cry and say "How am I ever going to get out of this restaurant and make it as a songwriter?" And the manager of the restaurant once said "Oh, you're going to be here for a lifetime." But I ate, slept and breathed music and was very driven and determined and my manager didn't believe me when I gave my notice. He thought I was kidding. I still kept my job after I wrote songs for Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight. But that same year after I co-wrote my three Barry Manilow songs, I said "Hasta la vista, baby!" and never looked back.
I think a true songwriter should have to almost analyse himself constantly, analyse the song he has just written and see if it has been constructed out of his head or out of his heart. A truly great song is one that has been sung from the depths of the heart and one that really comes from the soul, but there aren't too many writers like that nowadays. It seems as though the whole industry is geared to writing a hit song, which is different to writing a true song. To write a hit song, all you have to do is to steal a melody from another hit, which is what most groups are doing now. If you are interested in becoming involved in the music business, you must decide if you wish to become a pop star or an artiste. You will have to decide which. To become an artiste means taking a path of rigorous self-analysis, and exploring oneself in order for the music to come from the deepest parts of your own being. It's not an easy path to take. Frankly, it's easier to become a pop star.
I was 35 years old now and had never asked for anything before in my life, but I was desperate so I asked my parents if they could pay my rent for six months. So July 7th 1989 was my last day at HBO. The people there told me that if my dreams didn't come true, my job would be waiting for me. I left HBO scared and walked down Sixth Avenue in Manhattan and cried all the way home. But you know what? It turned out that those were the best six months of my life. I was strictly doing music. At the end of the six months, I got a foreign royalties check for Nanci Griffith's performance of "From A Distance" abroad. That check freed me or an additional six months. And it was in those second six months that out of the blue I got a call from Bette Midler's musical director. He told me that the New York Times music editor, Stephen Holden, suggested "From A Distance" for Bette Midler, and would I please send it on because they were making an album. I sent them my demo and about six months after that Bette Midlerís recording of "From a Distance" was a big hit.
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ISA's 'Songwriter Hall Of Fame'
The International Songwriters Association's "Hall Of Fame" has been chosen by the members of the ISA since 1981, and by visitors to this site since 1998. You too can vote for your favourite songwriter of all time by going to the "Hall Of Fame" link at the top of any page
I wrote ďGirlfriendĒ when I was drunk. The chorus was written in two minutes. It took nothing. And what's
really cool about ďI Can Do BetterĒ is we wrote it, and then I just ran into the booth, and I sang. I laid
down the verse, and ... we just used my demo [take]. It was totally different - so much fun!
Songwriting is an exorcism. I get all my stuff out there. If I didnít have this medium to get my experiences across, I would be lost
I consider myself to be an inept pianist, a bad singer, and a merely competent songwriter. What I do, in my opinion, is by no means extraordinary
My best songs were written very quickly. Just about as much time as it takes to write it down is about as long as it takes to write it...In writing songs I've learned as much from Cezanne as I have from Woody
"A Day In The Life ". Just as it sounds: I was reading the paper one day and I noticed two stories. One
was the drinks heir who killed himself in a car - one of the Guinness family. Tara Brown. That was the
main headline story. He died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story about 4000 holes in
Blackburn, Lancashire. In the streets, that is. They were going to fill them all. Paul's contribution was the
beautiful little lick in the song "I'd love to turn you on". I had the bulk of the song and the words, but he
contributed this little lick floating around in his head that he couldn't use for anything. I thought it was a damn good piece of work.
I started being a songwriter pretending I could do it, and it turned
out I could. To be a musician, especially a singer/songwriter - well, you don't do
that if you have a thriving social life. You do it because there's an element of
alienation in your life. I wish I could say, 'Oh, that would be great to write a song
about.' But what I'm doing is assembling and minimally directing what is sort of
unconsciously coming out. It's not something I can direct or control. I just end up
being the first person to hear these songs.
They asked us to do the score for a film titled "Les Bicyclettes De Belsize" - a beautiful, arty film, no dialogue, about a boy on a bike, who falls in love with this girl on a poster. So Les and I do four or five songs, and the day comes to present them to the moguls, and they say, "Great. Wonderful songs, boys - but where's the title song?" So I said, "With all due respect, you just can't write a song called 'Les Bicyclettes De Belsize'. It's not possible". And they said, "We must have a title song. We're in the studio tomorrow. Please!" So Les and I walk back up Charing Cross Road, quite depressed, go into Francis, Day & Hunter, find an office with a piano, get two strong cups of tea - our drugs! - and that afternoon, we wrote it. And ironically, it was the only song in the movie that meant anything. The others were lovely songs but none of them sold, while "Bicyclettes" is now a standard. So that was a lucky break. We were forced to write it.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
I've always enjoyed writing, that was how I managed to lie my way into Oxford University with some of the worst exam results on record; I just wrote a very good essay, won a place at Magdalen College, and left after a term because there was nothing theatrical going on there and I was bored out of my mind. I went part-time to the Royal College of Music, but even my father told
me it was a waste of time and that they'd educate my music out of me, so I didn't stay there long either. I don't wish to be told how to write a fugue in four parts in the style of Palestrina. Somehow, I don't see that forming queues at a Broadway box office.
Clever rhyming is easy, anybody can do itÖOscar Hammerstein II taught me that a song should be like a little one-act play, with an exposition, a development and a conclusion; at the end of the song the character should have moved to a different positionÖCole Porter wrote a valid but entirely different kind of song, in which you take a particular idea and play with it and develop it in terms of cleverness, wit, intellectual or romantic intensityÖThe fact is popular art dates. It grows quaint. How many people feel strongly about Gilbert and Sullivan today compared to those who felt strongly in 1890.
Be honest with yourself in self-criticism of your ideas. You must believe that what you are doing is different and good, and that it will evoke memories or active thinking in the mind of your listener. But above all - keep writing and practising your craft.
To read these and other interviews, click on any pic above
International Songwriters Association ē The ISA
The Original Songwriting Centre ē Founded 1967
Click HERE To Vote For The 2015 International Songwriters Association Songwriter Hall Of Fame
Carrie Underwood Tops UK Country Lists
Every day, the ISA International Songwriters Association assembles a new listing of the
most popular songs, based on retail sales, radio airplay, streaming, and radio requests,
plus the recommendations from the ISA Staff, and ISA Members from all over the world.
"What Do You Mean?" recorded by Justin Bieber
"Writing's On The Wall" recorded by Sam Smith
"The Hills" recorded by The Weeknd
"Hands Of Love" recorded by Miley Cyrus
"What Do You Mean" recorded by Justin Bieber
"How Deep Is Your Love" recorded by Calvin Harris & Disciples
"Hands Of Love" recorded by Miley Cyrus
"Cheerleader" recorded by Omi
"Annual Ring" recorded by Zhang Bichen
"Uanset" recorded by Rasmus Seebach
"Summer 2015" recorded by L. E. J.
"Astronaut" recorded by Sido
"Dheere Dheere" recorded by Yo Yo Honey Singh
"Writing's On The Wall" recorded by Sam Smith
"Lato Destro Del Cuore" recorded by Laura Pausini
"S. O. S." recorded by Sekai No Owari
"Ginza" recorded by J Balvin
"Writing's On The Wall" recorded by Sam Smith
"Magnets" recorded by Disclosure
"Ei Som Deg" recorded by Marcus & Martinus & Innertier
"Reggae Blues" recorded by Harry Song
"N„o FaÁo Quest„o" recorded by D. A. M. A.
"Don't Be So Shy" recorded by Imany
"We Dance Again" recorded by Black Coffee
"Por Fin Te Encontrť" recorded by Cali Y El Dandee
"For A Better Day" recorded by Avicii
"Sugar" recorded by Robin Schulz
"Strip It Down" recorded by Luke Bryan
"Before He Cheats" recorded by Carrie Underwood
"I Told You So" recorded by Kelly Davitt
The Premier Songwriting Contest - The Eurovision
From Lys Assia (Switzerland 1956), via Abba in 1974, to MŚns ZelmerlŲw, who won for Sweden in 2015, we examine the winners (and also the losers) in what has become the most famous song contest in the world - Le Grand-Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Europťenne. OK, The Eurovision!
Want To Become A Master Of Songwriting?
On this site, we have a special twelve-part series of articles, which will take you less than an hour to complete, but which will turn you into a Master Of Songwriting. Or something very like that anyway! Just click the pic to begin the series today.
Do You Need Some Free Advice?
They say that nothing is free - but this is! if you are a songwriter with a problem, you do not have to be a member to ask us a question about songwriting. Just click the pic above and tell us what your songwriting or music industry problem is. We will reply. Honest!
Songs Required This Week
Almost every day, we are contacted by singers, bands, managers, record labels and music publishers, seeking new unpublished songs for recording purposes. Just click any of the pictures above and have a quick look at this week's song requirements and opportunities.
Looking For A Hit Songwriter?
Singers, bands, and managers seeking hit songs, contact us daily. If you are looking for top-quality unpublished songs, then an International Songwriters Association songwriter will be more than happy to oblige. And at no cost to you. Just click the picture above!
John Lennon Song Contest
The John Lennon Songwriting Contest is open to songwriters and lyric writers, and is one of the most successful songwriting contests of all, attracting songwriters and songwriting teams from all over he world. For more information, just click any one of the pictures above.
Marijohn Wilkin Interview
When Marijohn Wilkin received her first copy of International Songwriters Association's "Songwriter Magazine" in 1981, one might have been forgiven for thinking that she was at the peak of her career. After all, she had a song recorded by the Beatles! Not so - as she was to prove in the years after that. Marijohn Wilkin, doyenne of female songwriters, tells us her story.
Allan Rich Interview
Exclusive interview with the man who has a slew of Gold and Platinum record awards
from classic songs which have sold a staggering 65 million records. And today, he continues to churn out tunes recorded by popular artists, including the Cast Of Glee!
Terry Noon Interview
"The only thing I had was an E-type Jaguar, my pride and joy. I absolutely doted on that car, and I sold it, to start Noon Music. It was the hardest thing but it was the only way I could raise money". Legendary UK publisher and all-round nice guy, Terry Noon talks.
Gene Pitney Interview
"Today's Teardrops by Roy Orbison was a big hit, but not my biggest
songwriting hit. That was Hello Mary Lou which I gave to Rick Nelson, and I've spent a lifetime analysing why it was as big as it was". The legend Gene Pitney talked to us about his separate songwriting career.
Hal Shaper Interview
"In the early days, I had no instinct towards fame or fortune, I just liked being a songwriter. I always used to wake up thinking, 'I can't imagine why everyone in the world doesn't write songs for a living!" Hal Shaper tells how an ambition to be a songwriter led to a career in publishing.
Barry Mason Interview
"I wrote a song called Girl Of Mine for Elvis and there were two versions made of that. One with just the rhythm section, for the fans, without The Jordanaires or violins - and that's the version I've got". One of the greatest of British songwriters of all time, legend Barry Mason, tells all.
Lionel Bart Interview
"I wrote songs for Cliff for the film. The Living Doll song itself - one morning, I was looking at the Sunday Mirror, I think, and I saw this ad for a doll that did everything. And I thought, "That'll do". Lionel Bart modestly makes the writing of an all-time classic sound so very easy!
Sonny Curtis Interview
"Leo Sayer, a songwriter himself, was in his hotel room, watching television, and on came More Than I Can Say in this K-Tel commercial and he said - 'Wow, I always wanted to do that song'. And he did!" Sonny Curtis, writer of countless classic songs, tells all to the ISA.
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This site is published by the International Songwriters Association Ltd, and will introduce you to the world of songwriting. It will explain music business terms and help you understand the business concepts that you should be familiar with, thus enabling you to ask more intelligent questions when you meet with your accountant/CPA or solicitor/lawyer. However, although this website includes information about legal issues and legal developments as well as accounting issues and accounting developments, it is not meant to be a replacement for professional advice. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal/accounting developments. Every effort has been made to make this site as complete and as accurate as possible, but no warranty or fitness is implied. The information provided is on an "as is" basis and the author(s) and the publisher shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damages arising from the information contained on this site. No steps should be taken without seeking competent legal and/or accounting advice.