Shelly Peiken, author of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, sat down with Bonnie Wallace of Hollywood Parents Guide for the podcast Hometown to Hollywood. Shelly discussed the songwriting process, being an artist, todays music industry, advice to younger songwriters. Listen to the podcast below.
Todays music industry is not what it once was and Shelly Peiken was able to dive deeper into that change and the future for upcoming songwriters. Early in the interview she defined what being a serial songwriter meant:
Somebody that’s just passionate and faithful to just getting up and writing a song everyday and then saying, ‘ok where can we pitch this.’
When it comes to her songwriting she stressed how organic it needed to feel. She wrote a song, ‘Rotten to the Core,’ for Disney channels, Descendants. Bonnie’s daughter, Dove Cameron, starred in the film so there was a personal connection there. Shelly feels that she is a vessel and the connection that she has to her younger self which was the reason she began writing. Making money is always a plus, but it ultimately boils down for her to feel valuable and authentic.
When I wrote my book I thought, you know, it’s not me. It’s the industry and I’ve gotta change the way I’m navigating it and stay in touch with my joy.
What advice did she have for young songwriters? She urged them to be proactive. Find out how they can make a difference. There’s a problem within the industry as far as the streaming epidemic taking away from the compensation of artist and all those that come together to make the music. Young songwriters must be aware and act now to keep ensure the future of being a songwriter. Most importantly, they must continuously tap into their creativity and never be afraid to step outside their comfort zones.
Do everything. Experiment. Test the waters. Write with people who you’re not sure you’re gonna love working with. You might love. Just do everything.
This interview is full of gems that will inspire anyone of any age.
David J. Hogan, author of UFO FAQ, takes a look at a moment in UFO history from September 1964.
September daytime temperatures in Sacramento, California, average about 87 degrees, with nighttime lows of 58. Typical September rainfall there amounts to less than half an inch. In 1964, that splendid weather, plus the allure of the heavily wooded Cisco Grove campground inside nearby Tahoe National Forest, encouraged a local boy, 28-year-old Donald Shrum, and two friends to head out for a late-summer weekend of bow hunting.
Not long after becoming separated from his companions (a common-enough occurrence among hunters), Shrum witnessed a brightly illuminated 150-foot cylindrical UFO—and then spent the long night of September 4-5 treed by a pair of extraterrestrial humanoids. The 4- to 5-foot-tall creatures stared up at Shrum and shook the tree. Shrum hung on tight. When they tried to scale the trunk, Shrum retreated higher into the branches.
Perhaps anxious to get their hands on Shrum and then depart, the aliens brought out a burly, human-shaped robot—dully metallic, with a smooth, helmet-shaped head dominated by two orange glowing eyes and a hinged jaw. The thing had an intimidatingly expansive chest, broad shoulders, and large, articulated hands. Gusset joints at the robot’s shoulders, elbows, and knees allowed enough flexible mobility for some particularly vigorous shakes of the tree.
Hey, who’s hunting who here?
Shrum tightened his grip.
A second robot soon joined the first, and for the remainder of the night Shrum floated in and out of consciousness when vapor emitted from the robots’ mouths drifted up into the branches and knocked him senseless. Shrum was an experienced hunter who knew how to sleep in a tree without falling out, so despite the blackouts, he stayed put. During waking interludes, Shrum notched arrows and fired down at the robots, striking sparks but doing no apparent damage.
Shrum found a pocketful of coins, which he methodically threw at the visitors.
Then the young hunter remembered his matches. He began to peel off his clothes (even his cap), and set each article aflame, dropping them onto his tormentors. By the time he was done, Shrum wore nothing but his socks and underwear, and that 58 degrees began to feel a little chilly.
The vapor periodically came up into the branches, and Shrum continued to pass out and then revive. Finally, as dawn approached, Shrum awoke—hanging from the tree at an odd angle and held in place by his belt. But the belt was with my pants. Did the spacemen finally drag me out of the tree? And if they did, why put me back?
The Air Force has some ideas
In the tradition of many dramatic UFO/ET sightings reported since “flying saucers” became big news in 1947, Shrum’s account was his alone. Nobody but Donald witnessed the immense ship and its aggressive occupants. Disinclined to be laughed at, and fearful of losing his job at Aerojet Engineering, Shrum shared his story with his hunting companions but chose his other confidantes carefully.
Well, check that. He did say something about his adventure to his mother-in-law, who was on the phone to nearby McClelland Air Force Base in a hot minute. Soon after, when two USAF investigators paid Shrum a visit, the young hunter stuck to his account. The Air Force men listened, and instead of making threats—which seems to happen more often in movies than in real life—they made a heroic attempt to convince Shrum that he hadn’t seen aliens and robots at all. No, one investigator explained, You ran into a Boy Scout troop doing a prank.
Shrum ran that through his mind for a long moment. Why would he have spent all night in a tree, lighting his clothes on fire, for a bunch of Boy Scouts?
Doubt must have been painted on Shrum’s face, because the Air Force men quickly tried another tack: It could have been Japanese tourists. We get a lot of them around here. Japanese tourists. They’re pretty curious, you know.
Well, sure, that could be it. The Japanese tourists discovered Shrum up the tree and gathered ’round for some picture-taking. Japanese tourists. In the woods. All night.
Because Shrum suggested no eagerness to spread his story around, the Air Force investigators stopped offering explanations, and wrote Shrum off as harmless. But they did take with them the two arrowheads that Shrum had bounced off the robots’ metallic hides.
The Air Force never returned the arrowheads.
Make mine Marvel
Neither Donald Shrum nor his friends ever tried to profit from his harrowing experience. There is no solid reason to doubt Shrum’s truthfulness. Still, there is this:
The March 1963 issue of Marvel’s Tales of Suspense comic book (#39) introduced a superhero named Iron Man. As conceived by writer-editor Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Don Heck, Iron Man wore a bulky, helmeted iron suit, dull gray in color with gusseted joints and large metallic hands. This so-called “Mark 1” suit—very like the ones described by Shrum—continued through Tales of Suspense #47, cover-dated November 1963 and on sale in late summer, just one year before Shrum’s ordeal.
Submitted here are the cover of ToS #39, and an anonymous artist’s rendering (with Spanish-language notations) of the robots described by Shrum. Could Marvel’s bit of pop culture ephemera have been deep within Shrum’s mind when he embarked on his hunting trip?
If anyone knows for sure, they’re not talking.
Led Zeppelin – who hasn’t heard of them, one of the legendary giants of the Hard Rock genre? Many stories, myths and legends have been told of the band’s history. Probably one of the most featured bands and most written about bands ever!
Music journalist and award-nominated author Marc Roberty sat down with Mark Dean of Spill Magazine to discuss his latest book, Led Zeppelin: Day by Day , along with his writing career.
What would make this book different from other Led Zeppelin books? Roberty discussed the balance he found in creating a book that not only reached fans that had never read a Led Zeppelin book, but for the hard core fans as well. There was a lot of information released in previous books which would seem difficult to create new content, but he was able to add new information that had not been released in addition to correcting incorrect information.
The interview went on to discuss Roberty’s journey in writing this book and others.
My forte is more in the research,and finding stuff that people possibly have not known before. That is really what I enjoy doing. I have done a lot of research of music, films. I try and find old footage or old studio material that to all intents and purposes has disappeared. I try and track things down. That is probably my forte: really to try and get to the bottom of things. Follow the story through to its ending. Sometimes the search carries on. That I do find enjoyable.
Led Zeppelin: Day by Day includes details of all the concerts why band performed with known set lists in addition to reviews of significant hows throughout their career. Recording sessions for each album and session work by individual members are listed chronologically. There are also quotes from recording engineers and staff to give further insight into what it was like to be in the studio with the group.
Mark Roberty has written for the Guitarist, Rolling Stone, Financial Times, and others. In addition to his latest work about Led Zeppelin he has written several books about Eric Clapton along with co-authored the autobiography of Bobby Whitlock.
Learn more by reading the full interview here.
Chuck Gunderson, recently sat down with Publishers Weekly to discuss his limited-edition two-volume set, Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How the Beatles Rocked America: The Historic Tours 1964-1966. The timing could not be more perfect with the release of Ron Howard’s, Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years. Listen to the podcast by clicking the link below.
Chuck Gunderson is the country’s leading expert on the Beatles’ three North American tours. Over nearly three decades, he has amassed what is arguably the most comprehensive collection of American tour-related memorabilia and artifacts in the world.
Gunderson has taken the tour that changed the concert industry and created an amazing two-volume set. The Fab Four: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Greg Harrison, and Ringo Starr, began their journey in the United States in February 1964 after landing their first #1 hit, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ on the Billboard Hot 100. After their successful and impressive performance on the Ed Sullivan Show with an estimated 73 million viewers, their careers catapulted to another level and the ‘British Invasion’ and ‘Beatlemania’ began.
Volume 1 of Some Fun Tonight! covers the beginning of their journey in 1964. There were 32 shows, 26 venues, 24 cities, and that was just in 33 days. The group garnered over $1 million, equivalent to $7.5 million in todays industry, which was unheard of at that time. Volume 2 continues their journey throughout 1965 and 1966 ending with their show at Candlestick Park.
There’s a chapter for each tour stop along with chapters for the supporting acts. The images included feature some unpublished, but there is plenty of memorabilia from each city including: tickets, programs, handbills, posters, newspaper ads, contracts, and documents. Gunderson was sure not to shortchange any fans by expanding the book to two volumes instead of one to pack in all the information he had collected over the years.
Some Fun Tonight! captures the heart of the tour with over 800 images over the course of 600 plus pages at the retail value of $160. Gunderson leaves nothing out within this 13 pound box set with accompanying slipcase. Fans young and old will surely be entertained for years to come.
Bob Carlin, author of Banjo An Illustrated History, was on WLRN Radio where he spoke with Michael Stock. He spoke about how the book came to be, his fascination with the banjo, and lots more! Click on the link below to hear the entire interview and let us know what you think!
The banjo is emblematic of American country music, and it is at the core of other important musical movements, including jazz and ragtime. The instrument has been adopted by many cultures and has been ingrained into many musical traditions, from Mento music in the Caribbean and dance music in Ireland. Virtuosos such as Béla Fleck have played Bach, African music, and Christmas tunes on the five-string banjo, and the instrument has had a resurgence in pop music with such acts a Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers.
In Banjo: An Illustrated History (June 2016, Backbeat Books, $35), author, broadcaster, and acclaimed banjoist Bob Carlin offers the first comprehensive, illustrated history of the banjo in its many forms. He traces the story of the instrument from its roots in West Africa to its birth in the Americas, through its coming of age in the Industrial Revolution and beyond.
Banjo: An Illustrated History profiles the most important players and spotlights key luthiers and manufacturers and features 100 “milestone instruments” with in-depth coverage, including model details and beautiful photos. It offers historical context surrounding the banjo through the ages, from its place in Victorian parlors and speakeasies through its role in the folk boom of the 1950s and 1960s to its place in the hands of songwriter John Hartford and comedian Steve Martin.
Folk, jazz, bluegrass, country, and rock – the banjo has played an important part in all of these genres. Lavishly illustrated, and thoughtfully written Banjo: An Illustrated History is a must-have for lovers of fretted instruments, aficionados of roots music, and music history buffs.
Author of Led Zeppelin Day by Day, Marc Roberty, asked the big question on every Led Zeppelin fans mind…”Will Led Zeppelin ever reunite?” Visit our performing arts community, backwing.com to get the low down on whether they will ever get back together. Read a preview of the article below!
Will the founding fathers of modern rock ever give their fans the farewell tour now almost four decades overdue? A Led Zep historian considers the prospect.
The mighty Led Zeppelin existed for twelve years between 1968 and 1980. The sudden death of drummer John Bonham effectively signalled the end of the band in their eyes. How could they possibly have carried on without their powerhouse drummer and dear friend?
Of course, this did not stop fans from hoping the band would reform with a new drummer. There has been the odd get–together for charitable appearances, such as Live Aid in 1985 and Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary in 1988. Although these shows were met with mass delirium from eager fans, in reality, both inevitably fell short on the performance side. (Then again, to be fair, this is not the band’s fault: multi-act events with short three- or four-song sets are never hugely successful from a creative perspective.)
By 1994, Robert Plant had distanced himself from the whole “rock singer” tag. After being approached to perform an MTV Unplugged show, he felt uncomfortable flying the Led Zeppelin flag under his own name. A meeting took place between Robert and Jimmy Page where they talked about doing the show together. Much to his surprise, the Led Zeppelin baggage Robert had been carrying around for years had completely dissipated. The men found common ground and decided to do Unplugged together and see if anything came of it (much to the vexation of a miffed John Paul Jones, who was not invited—or even told—of the event!). They did not go out as Led Zeppelin, but rather as Page & Plant. Also, the MTV show was retitled Unledded due to the electric nature of some numbers. A live record and video from the show, which consisted of rearranged Led Zeppelin classics, were hugely successful. A new studio album and a few tours later, it was all over. When all the bad memories of Led Zeppelin playing huge arenas returned, Plant had enough. He told Page he was leaving, as he much preferred playing small clubs and reconnecting with his audience.
Read the article in its entirety HERE
Thomas Edward Harkins, one of the authors of Pearl Jam FAQ, was interviewed by Nick Digilio on WGN Radio. They spoke about Pearl Jam’s return to Wrigley Field, and all that you can find inside Pearl Jam FAQ. Click on the link below to hear the interview in full!
With record sales of nearly 32 million in the United States and an estimated 60 million worldwide and with no end in sight, Pearl Jam can stake its claim to being the most successful, enduring, and influential band to emerge from the Seattle (or pretty much anywhere else) in the 1990s.
In Pearl Jam FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Seattle’s Most Enduring Band (May 2016, Backbeat Books, $19.99), authors Thomas Edward Harkins and Bernard M. Corbett explore the entire arc of the band’s career, from their pre-Pearl Jam days to the present. Each of 30 chapters explores a different aspect of Pearl Jam’s fascinating history.
Pearl Jam FAQ looks the band members’ successes, failures, and tragedies prior to joining forces, as well as their early days as Mookie Blaylock and the unusual manner in which they came up with the name finally stuck. Then, Harkins and Corbett go inside the studio and analyze each of their albums in turn and hit the road with them as they set out to conquer Seattle, the West Coast of the United States, and then the entire world.
Beyond the music, Pearl Jam FAQ takes a long look at the way Pearl Jam adapted to an ever-changing media landscape where MTV, not radio, is the major power broker. The book also addresses their battles with Ticketmaster and explores about the roots of their socio-political activism.
With a view of the band from every angle and in every context – on CD, on vinyl, on the radio, on television, on film, in videos, onstage, backstage, on the road, in the air, and at home – through the eyes of Pearl Jam enthusiasts, Pearl Jam FAQ presents a must-have text for band devotees to devour.
Author of Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How the Beatles Rocked America: The Historic Tours 1964-1966, Chuck Gunderson, spoke with Dave Hodgson host of The Daily on Talk Radio Europe. They spoke about some of the Beatles biggest moments, what you can find inside the book, and lots more! Listen to the whole interview by clicking on the link below!
Never has there been a book on the Beatles quite like Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How the Beatles Rock America: The Historic Tours of 1964-1966. Covering the group’s three North American tours (1964-1966) in astonishing detail, author Chuck Gunderson’s comprehensive two-volume boxed set gives readers a city-by-city synopsis of the Beatles’ activities as they traveled the United States and Canada for their groundbreaking series of concerts. So authoritative is Gunderson’s work that Ron Howard is using it as source material for his upcoming Beatles documentary, whose working title is The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, due out in theaters and on Hulu in the fall.
Produced in a slick, glossy, full-color format, and housed in an attractive slipcase, these truly essential books for any Beatles library retail for $160. This fall, Backbeat Books will provide Beatles fans will a less expensive, but no less impressive, alternative: a two-volume soft-cover edition with each volume retailing for $40.
From San Francisco’s Cow Palace show on August 19, 1964, through their last-ever live performance at that same city’s Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966, Some Fun Tonight! covers the music and the madness that characterized the Beatles’ North American tours. Supported by hundreds of photographs and images of rare memorabilia, it is the definitive reference for what is arguably the most important period in the Beatles’ long and winding career.
Never before have the Beatles’ North American concerts been covered in such depth. Some Fun Tonight! includes the behind-the-scenes negotiations, the mayhem at the airports and hotels, the cheeky quotes delivered at the press conferences, the opening acts, the concerts, and the stories behind the shows through the eyes of the Beatles, their entourage, the promoters, the emcees and the fans.
If you witnessed the mania firsthand, you’ll relive the excitement in the pages of these books. If you were born too late to be a part of those halcyon days, you’ll learn what it was like to be swept up and carried away by the phenomena of the greatest musical act of all time.
Author of the book You Don’t Own Me: The Life and Times of Lesley Gore, Trevor Tolliver, was interviewed on Icon Fetch. Icon Fetch provides listeners with weekly music interviews, album reviews, and lots more. Trevor spoke with host Tony Peters about the book, how he gathered all his information, and his friendship with Lesley Gore. Listen to the entire interview below to learn more!
The year was 1963. Tail fins were in, sock hops were hot, and a fairytale white knight was president.
That summer, 16-year-old singer Lesley Gore released her debut single, “It’s My Party,” propelling her to Number One on the charts. For the next several years, the crowned Princess of Pop dominated the radio with a string of hits including “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “She’s A Fool,” “Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows,” and the rousing anthem for independence, “You Don’t Own Me,” making her the most successful and influential solo female artist of the 1960s. But beneath the bubblegum façade was a girl squirming against social and professional pressures to simply be herself and to forge a future where she could write and perform music beyond the trappings of teenage angst and love triangles.
Assembled over five years of research and interviews, You Don’t Own Me: The Life and Times of Lesley Gore by Trevor Tolliver (September 2015, Backbeat Books, $27.99) is the first and long-overdue biography of Lesley Gore, one of pop music’s pioneering Mothers. Tolliver chronicles Gore’s meteoric rise to fame, her devastating fall from popularity and struggle for relevance in the 1970s, and her reemergence as a powerful songwriter, political activist, and camp icon.
You Don’t Own Me includes behind-the-scenes stories about the making of her hit records, debunks or clarifies popular myths about her career, and places her remarkable life and times within a historical context to reveal how her music was both impacted by, and contributed to, each decade of her astounding fifty-year career.
Confessions of a Serial Songwriter
by Shelly Peiken
From the songwriter behind such hits as “What a Girl Wants” and “Bitch” comes a memoir that offers an insider’s perspective on the music business and the craft of songwriting.
Shelly Peiken, well known for writing culturally resonant, female-empowerment anthems such as Christina Aguilera’s No. 1 hit “What a Girl Wants” and Meredith Brooks’s smash hit, “Bitch,” looks back on her career and inside the business of songwriting in her memoir, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter.
A humorous and poignant pop culture memoir about Peiken’s journey, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter takes readers into the rarefied world of the music business. From a young girl falling under the spell of magical songs to a working professional writing hits of her own, Peiken describes how she built a career, from fledgling songwriter, pounding the streets of New York City to Grammy nominations, international hits, and the first Number One song of the millennium.
David Wild, contributing editor for Rolling Stone, calls Confessions of a Serial Songwriter “a great book [that offers] an insightful, honest, often funny, emotional look inside the good, the bad, the ugly, and ultimately the transcendent aspects of trying to lead a creative life inside a competitive career.”
In addition to the fascinating biographical trajectory, Peiken presents invaluable information for the aspiring songwriter, including tips about the creative process and how to adapt to the constantly changing currents. “Now more than ever, people who want to enter this topsy-turvy world of professional songwriting need to know how to handle the inevitable ups and downs that accompany what, for me, has a been an incredibly gratifying journey,” said Peiken.
In Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, Peiken writes about personal growth, how to recognize your muse and navigate the creative process as well as the struggles that arise between motherhood and career success. While she’s not afraid to delve into the divas, celebrity egos and schemers, it is the talented and remarkable people she’s found along the way that predominate the text. And, finally, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter raises the obvious though universal challenge of getting older and staying relevant in a rapidly changing and youth-driven world.
6.0″ x 9.0″
B/W photographs throughout
Hal Leonard Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
SHELLY PEINKEN is a Grammy-nominated songwriter. She has been a prolific, behind-the-scenes force in the music business for more than two decades. Her songs have sold in excess of 50 million records. She is beast known for penning culturally resonant anthems, including Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants, Meredith Brooks’s “Bitch,” and songs recorded by Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Natalie Cole, the Pretenders, Keith Urban, Cher, the Backstreet Boys, and many others. She lives in Los Angeles.