Talking about the Nashville high bar

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horacejesse
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Re: Talking about the Nashville high bar

Post by horacejesse » Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:40 pm

I have noticed that some of the stuff written by the teams with really big names, is actually rather sloppily written. My theory is that these people all have such huge reputations that whenever one of them comes up with a possible line, the others then find it hard to reject. I would really like to see how those songwriting sessions go. My co-writer and I are brutally honest when we write, and we will hack up the other guys precious phrases without a second thought about it. We will also go back at anytime and get rid of what was admitted yesterday or last week or last month.I do not see a quality in much of this big team writing that suggests to me a critical level high enough to produce the higest quality song. Some of the hits are, some of them are not. And these are not instances of personl preference being mistaken for higher quality. When hit songs make the same mistakes that Taxi members would be redressed by screeners for, I now have enough experience to see it and know it. The writing quality in some hit songs by big teams is average if not poor.I have not looked at it with the depth of your experiment. I am not trying to write like anyone else anyway. A team with big names does not always mean a great song. But unfortunately it usually does mean a hit song.

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Re: Talking about the Nashville high bar

Post by bigdrisk » Sun Nov 11, 2007 11:47 pm

Quote:I have noticed that some of the stuff written by the teams with really big names, is actually rather sloppily written. My theory is that these people all have such huge reputations that whenever one of them comes up with a possible line, the others then find it hard to reject. I would really like to see how those songwriting sessions go. My co-writer and I are brutally honest when we write, and we will hack up the other guys precious phrases without a second thought about it. We will also go back at anytime and get rid of what was admitted yesterday or last week or last month.I do not see a quality in much of this big team writing that suggests to me a critical level high enough to produce the higest quality song. Some of the hits are, some of them are not. And these are not instances of personl preference being mistaken for higher quality. When hit songs make the same mistakes that Taxi members would be redressed by screeners for, I now have enough experience to see it and know it. The writing quality in some hit songs by big teams is average if not poor.I have not looked at it with the depth of your experiment. I am not trying to write like anyone else anyway. A team with big names does not always mean a great song. But unfortunately it usually does mean a hit song.Speaking from the experience of living in Nashville and being a staff writer for EMI and then Warner/Chappell for a total of 13 years (I'm free-lance now), I must say that your insights here are pretty much correct. When writers actually get in a room together to write, if they are pretty much equals and know each other more by reputation than by actually working together, then the result is rarely a song that any of them would have been satisfied with on their own. Reputations breed a lot of "benefit-of-the-doubt" as nobody wants to play the difficult role of "Simon" on American Idol. BUT . . . collaborative efforts between writers who have worked together for a long time, have hung out together and know each other more on a personal level than simply by reputation, CAN ACTUALLY come up with a song that is better than any of them could have written on their own. In fact, they may come to rely on each other so much that they cease to write very much as individuals. Sure, they fight a little. But they know they're not fighting each other. They are fighting for the same end result - a great song.Of course, those kinds of relationships have to start somewhere, even if it's wading through those first awkward collaborative efforts that aren't as brutally honest as it will become later on.One way to keep the high-bar in a relatively new collaboration is for a relatively new talent to write with a seasoned talent - the first having passed muster at some level, but is just happy to be in the same writing room and humbly allows the senior writer to have the final say on most everything. This way the song gets written pretty much like the seasoned pro would have it to be written, but the song also reaps the added benefit of whatever fresh ideas can be gleaned from the new kid, which quite possibly could be an idea that his publisher recognized as having potential, but needed some help perfecting. That kind of chemistry can result a higher percentage of the time in a song that still meets the high-bar standard.Some of the worst collaborative efforts are often between a well-respected industry writer and an artist who fancies themselves a writer, but has never really had to hold their songs up to the critical ear of a publisher. The true professional is there to help the artist, but also sees it as a great opportunity to get a cut, so he finds himself dancing to the beat of compromise because, while he wishes the art could be most important, he also has bills to pay.

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Re: Talking about the Nashville high bar

Post by stansongman » Wed Nov 14, 2007 3:56 am

I'm in Nashville writing, also independently. I write with unsigned and signed writers. But, I'm pretty careful to develop my group of writers based on the final product more than anything. If the collaboration produces a stronger product than we could do individually, and there's some "magic" there, then I stick with it. If the "magic" isn't there, it doesn't much matter to me who the writer is, the product won't be as good, and I'm probably not having much fun. And, that's what it's about, in my opinion.As far as the Nashville Bar, the other thing we have to all realize is the number of songs being written on Music Row each day by writers who have direct access to A&R either through their publisher or their songplugger, etc. So, TAXI forwards go into that mix as well. Doesn't mean you can't get a cut, but it means you are competing with an incredible amount of material circulating through A&R. If you want to be heard got to best Craig Wiseman's or Hillary Lindsay or any of the other great writers here in town.On that note, someone mentioned production. Here's how I approach it - if the big writers are spending big bucks on radio-ready demos, and my song is in the same pile to be listened to, I need every advantage I can get to sound at least as good as what the big guys have. If my song is a toss-up with a big name writer, and my production is not as good, they will get the nod because their song will just sound better, and they have the other advantage of having a reputation. But, this is not any different than any other industry. It's a process requiring constant improvement, perserverance, and a belief in your abilities. The big Nashville writers of today all had their moments when they couldn't get arrested on Music Row, I hear the stories every day.

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Re: Talking about the Nashville high bar

Post by bigdrisk » Wed Nov 14, 2007 7:43 am

One added note about somewhat polished demos . . . when you take the effort to do this, you are also proving to the producer (who will eventually be the one listening to your song if it gets that far) that your song "works" in some basic style. When it's just a piano/guitar/vocal or something only slightly more "produced" then you are asking them to "hear" the production as well, not just the song itself. Earlier this Fall I had the privilege of meeting with Paul Compton (Senior VP of Murrah Music). He played me the demo of "Good Directions" which Billy Currington ended up recording. The demo might have sounded better than the CD cut! Anyway, it was obvious they just kopped the demo. And that's a satisfying compliment to the writer as well.

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Re: Talking about the Nashville high bar

Post by arkjack » Wed Nov 14, 2007 8:32 am

I'll agree on all points.... the colab teams are producing very strong material.... and when you don't live in town, its hard to get noticed. And as Horace says, there is material in my survey that leaves me scratching my head as to what else besides the politics got that song cut..... but many of the songs are just plain amazing as bigdirsk says when writers who have worked together a bit know what they have to produce. OTOH I heard a song last week that left me scratching my head.... besides who did it... I concluded that I didn't like the song, and it was breaking "rules" all over the place.... almost like the artist writer was rubbing it in our ('the unknowns') faces..... On the other hand, I believe there is such a thing as the one lucky break.... where you 'accidentally' write a tune that is just a super duper killer knock out platinum No.1 that propels your career like a shuttle rocket.... and you wind up with several artists or publishers in a bidding war to get that song from you..... So like I said..... I just sent off $20 of songs to some Nashville high-bar listings, and I have to go over to the beer store to buy the four lottery tickets..... unfortunately, the powerball is only worth 7 million this week.....ArkJack

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Re: Talking about the Nashville high bar

Post by squidlips » Tue Nov 20, 2007 5:44 am

Quote:Hi Geo. I've had a song with 9's and one 8 returned with the main comment being that the lyrical subject matter did not fit the personal situation of the recipient. That's interesting. Up next? Mindreading!! Holy cow. I'd have brought that up in a phone call to Taxi, myself.

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Re: Talking about the Nashville high bar

Post by nknjmes » Tue Nov 20, 2007 6:39 am

I've had the comment from a screener before that my use of lineman work in the lyrics didn't fit the artist since he probably had never worked as a lineman. It makes some sense I guess.

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Re: Talking about the Nashville high bar

Post by paults » Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:53 am

I somehow doubt Glen Campbell was ever one, either

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Re: Talking about the Nashville high bar

Post by Casey H » Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:26 am

Quote:I somehow doubt Glen Campbell was ever one, either Did you know he was once a member of the Beach Boys?

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Re: Talking about the Nashville high bar

Post by sgs4u » Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:42 am

Quote:Quote:I somehow doubt Glen Campbell was ever one, either Did you know he was once a member of the Beach Boys?Glen Campbell a member fo the BBs? Being a member and getting hired to do the session on guitar, aren't exactly the same. Was he actually a part of the band, or a hired mercenarey? Hey I just ran across this awesome country tune. I thought the lyric is just perfect, then I listened to the song, and I was a little disappointed, but it still is a great story song. Would taxi screeners forward this tune? It's not a cowboy party song, I'm betting that they would likely move it on up the ladder...Trace Adkin's doing this (Jim Collins/Sunny Russ) tune.http://video.aol.com/video/music-trace- ... 122875Then They DoIn the early rush of morning,Trying to get the kids to school:One's hanging on my shirt-tail,Another's locked up in her room.And I'm yelling up the stairs:"Stop worrying 'bout your hair, you look fine."Then they're fightin' in the backseat,And I'm playing referee.Now someone's gotta go,The moment that we leave.And everybody's late,I swear that I can't wait till they grow up.Then they do, and that's how it is.It's just quiet in the mornin',Can't believe how much you miss,All they do and all they did.You want all the dreams they dreamed of to come true:Then they do.Now the youngest is starting college,She'll be leavin' in the Fall.And Brianna's latest boyfriend,Called to ask if we could talk.And I got the impression,That he's about to pop the question any day.I look over at their pictures,Sittin' in their frames.I see them as babies:I guess that'll never change.You pray all their lives,That someday they will find happiness.Then they do, and that's how it is.It's just quiet in the mornin',Can't believe how much you miss,All they do and all they did.You want all the dreams they dreamed of to come true:Then they do.No more Monday PTA's,No carpools, or soccer games.Your work is done.Now you've got time that's all your own.You've been waitin' for so long,For those days to come.Then they do, and that's how it is.It's just quiet in the mornin',Can't believe how much you miss,All they do and all they did.You want all the dreams they dreamed of to come true:Then they do.Ah, then they do.

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