Blog Archives

Shelly Peiken Talks Politics

Shelly Peiken, author of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, has weighed in on tomorrow’s presidential election on her blog. She titles it ‘Eeny, Meeny, Miny-Moe.’ Check out the excerpt below:


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I don’t post about politics. I’d much rather stick to musical musings. But I keep writing about thissong and that session while chaotic un-presidented (not a typo) pre-election activities are in my face 24/7. I feel like I’m ignoring the elephant (and the donkey) in the room. So here goes…

I’ve always been a registered Independent. I pride myself on straddling the middle…reserving my options. (I also drive a convertible but rarely put the top down—shame on me—but when I do, I love it and I’m happy to have the choice.)

There’s a lot of unrest in this country. Voices haven’t been heard—voices that fear they still won’t be heard if we stay within the boundaries of established politicians, even if they are “qualified.” Nobody wants a dynasty.

Then again, to have someone who isn’t the most suitable change agent promise change, is also cause for dismay.

There’s no turning back now, however. We all knew about her privacy and his audacity when we voted in the primaries. We made our beds and here we are. I’ve unfollowed friends on Facebook to shield myself from the vitriol and sarcasm. I hope we learn from the toxicity and perhaps there’ll be a silver lining to all this madness in the future.


 

Read the full blog post here.


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Confessions of a Serial Songwriter is an amusing and poignant memoir about songwriter Shelly Peiken’s journey from young girl falling under the spell of magical songs to working professional songwriter writing hits of her own. It’s about growing up, the creative process – the highs and the lows, the conflicts that arise between motherhood and career success, the divas and schemers, but also the talented and remarkable people she’s found along the way. It’s filled with stories and step-by-step advice about the songwriting process, especially collaboration. And it’s about the challenge of staying relevant in a rapidly changing and youth-driven world

Marc Roberty Discusses Led Zeppelin with Spill Magazine

00125658Led 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.

47 Years Ago Today…

On August 19th 1971, Led Zeppelin played in Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This was Led Zeppelin’s 7th US Tour and would be best remembered for what Peter Grant did during the concert. Marc Roberty has covered everything about that tour date and more in his book, Led Zeppelin: Day by Day. Take a peek inside the book and learn what Peter Grant did in the excerpt below!


LedZepDBD_text_final.jpgLED ZEPPELIN
SEVENTH US TOUR


19 AUGUST 1971–17 SEPTEMBER 1971

19 August 1971, Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, British
Columbia, Canada (8:30 p.m.)

Setlist not known but would probably have consisted of the following: Immigrant Song / Heartbreaker / Since I’ve Been Loving You / Out On The Tiles Intro / Black Dog / Dazed And Confused / Stairway To Heaven / Celebration Day / That’s The Way / What Is And What Should Never Be / Moby Dick / Whole Lotta Love (including Boogie Chillun’, My Baby Left Me, Mess O’ Blues, You Shook Me) / Communication Breakdown / Organ Solo / Thank You

This show is best remembered as the one where Peter Grant smashed up a Canadian official’s noise measuring equipment thinking it was a bootlegger taping the show. The New Musical Express in England reported, “Led Zeppelin cause plenty of action in the
audience as well as on stage! Zeppelin is in the middle of an American tour. Last weekend in Vancouver the band played in a hockey arena which houses over 13,000 people but it wasn’t enough and nearly 3,000 didn’t get in. Inevitably the police clashed with the punters outside. During the show a group of government scientists were checking sound levels but their equipment was mistaken for bootlegging gear. Their equipment was summarily destroyed. The local police are looking for the band’s manager for questioning.”

00125658.jpg21 August 1971, the Forum, Inglewood, Los Angeles, California
(8:30 p.m.)

Setlist: Immigrant Song / Heartbreaker / Since I’ve Been Loving You / Out On The Tiles Intro / Black Dog / Dazed And Confused / Stairway To Heaven / That’s The Way / Going
To California / What Is And What Should Never Be / Whole Lotta Love (including Boogie Chillun’, I’m Moving On, That’s Alright Mama, Dr. Kitch, Mess O’ Blues, Got A Lot O’Livin’ To Do, Honey Bee, Sugar Mama Blues, Gee, Baby Ain’t I Good To You, Kind Hearted Woman Blues) / Weekend / Rock And Roll / Communication Breakdown / Organ Solo / Thank You

Once again, the band play amazingly for the Los Angeles crowd, which is rewarded with a lengthy version of “Whole Lotta Love” with many covers in the medley. The night ends with a beautiful “Thank You,” which sums up the band’s feeling toward the audience.

22 August 1971, the Forum, Inglewood, Los Angeles, California
(8:30 p.m.)

Setlist: Walk Don’t Run / Immigrant Song / Heartbreaker / Since I’ve Been Loving You / Out On The Tiles Intro / Black Dog / Dazed And Confused / Stairway To Heaven / Celebration
Day / That’s The Way / What Is And What Should Never Be / Moby Dick / Whole Lotta Love (including Boogie Chillun’, My Baby Left Me, Mess O’ Blues, You Shook Me) / Communication Breakdown / Organ Solo / Thank You

Just when you think the previous night’s performance could not be bettered, Led Zeppelin put in another killer performance, opening up with a surprise cover of the Venture’s “Walk Don’t Run” hit single before pulverizing the crowd with “Immigrant Song.” Plant is not taking any chances with his voice, though, as he went all out at the previous show and has to warn the audience that “tonight my voice is really fucked, so I don’t think we’re gonna do much harmonizing. But we’re gonna try—so, vibe on!” It was true that at some points his voice sounded a little worn, particularly on “Stairway To Heaven,” but to be honest this was in no way going to ruin what was otherwise an impeccable and dynamic concert.

Fun facts in Twin Peaks FAQ

Authors of Twin Peaks FAQ, David Bushman and Arthur Smith, have written a jam packed book full of facts for both veterans and new comers of the show Twin Peaks. With Twin Peaks return to television slowly approaching, now is the perfect time to catch up on all things Twin Peaks related with Twin Peaks FAQ. Courtesy of io9 Gizmodo, below are some facts that diehards of the show may not have been aware of, such as…


Twinpeaks_cover1) The Twin Peaks actually have names

According to a Lynch-drawn map, they are White Tail Mountain and Blue Pine Mountain—though the actual peaks glimpsed in the show comprise Mount Si in North Bend, Washington, where many of the exteriors were filmed.

2) Twin Peaks, Washington was almost Twin Peaks, North Dakota

Lynch and his Twin Peaks co-creator, Mark Frost, first intended their mystery to unfold amid the isolation of the Great Plains, but abandoned that idea after realizing evergreen forests would offer a more mysterious visual backdrop than barren prairies.

3) David Patrick Kelly (Jerry Horne) played Luther in The Warriors

How have I never noticed this before?

4) The part of Josie Packard was originally conceived for a different foreign actress

And one who’d worked with David Lynch and Kyle MacLachlan before: Isabella Rossellini. Joan Chen ended up playing the femme fatale role instead. (Page 83)

5) David Lynch never liked Windom Earle

Agent Cooper’s former partner arrives in town late in Season Two, and he was modeled by Arthur Conan Doyle fan Mark Frost after Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis, Professor Moriarty. But Lynch “reportedly found the character unsubtle and uninteresting,” and rewrote a lot of the finale to replace Earle with Bob in the final clash with Cooper.

6) This is David Lynch’s favorite song

It’s “Song to the Siren,” by Tim Buckley. It’s mentioned by the authors because when Lynch was unable to secure the song’s use in Blue Velvet, he collaborated with composer Angelo Badalamenti on a different tune that’s sung by Julee Cruise in that movie. A few years later, Badalamenti penned Twin Peaks’ now-iconic themes, while Cruise popped up as the ethereal bar chanteuse at the Roadhouse.


Read all 11 facts over at io9 or by clicking HERE

A look inside The Complete Singer-Songwriter

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, author of The Complete Singer-Songwriter, offers some tips on how to keep your ideas flowing. Courtesy of SonicBids Blog we have a inside look at some of these tips. Read below for more!


00145576Every songwriter needs a nudge sometimes to keep writing. There’s no better way to learn and grow creatively than by simply finishing songs, but that can be easier said than done. What do you do when inspiration is not sweeping you off your feet, and the song ideas that you come up with seem dull and hackneyed?

One approach used by many songwriting groups is to play different kinds of creative games that involve writing a song according to specific parameters and setting a deadline. Yes, this is a form of songwriting homework, but the process of writing to spec like this can be playful and fun. It’s a relief sometimes to be given direction rather than always having to find your own way, and it will lead you to very different songs than you would typically write. Here are a few types of games that can help keep the ideas and songs coming.

1. Wordplay

The simplest songwriting game is to start with a word or phrase and write a song that incorporates it – the word or phrase doesn’t have to be the title or even a central element; it just needs to appear somewhere in the lyrics. This is the game notably played by Jason Mraz and the email songwriting group led by Austin musician Bob Schneider. As Mraz told me, his hit duet “Lucky” with Colbie Caillat, for instance, started from the phrase “me talking to you” (the opening lines are “Can you hear me? I’m talking to you”). Everyone in the group takes a turn giving the prompt – which might be as simple as brown or as odd as the nonsense word gumanema.

It’s possible to play this game solo and choose words for yourself, maybe by randomly picking words from a book or introducing another element of chance, but it’s more interesting to do with a partner or group – input from others forces you out of your usual patterns of thinking.

Once I was booked for a songwriter showcase and given the task of writing/performing a song with the phrase “the shortest straw.” At first I was flummoxed – I couldn’t imagine what to do with those words. But before I even had a chance to think more about it, I found myself imagining a character who feels perennially shortchanged in life, and ad-libbing lyrics over an E minor groove. Even though “the shortest straw” is just a minor detail in the resulting song (titled “Prayer”), this assignment gave me the impetus and the deadline to finish what turned out to be a keeper.

When playing this game, I recommend using words for physical/tangible things, and it’s a bonus if they have multiple uses or meanings. For instance, in my songwriting group we’ve used key and ticket (resulting, for me, in the songs “I’ve Got It Here Somewhere” and “Closer”).

You can also use words that define a theme or concept but don’t have to appear in the song itself – the game could be to write about envy, winter, or working in a cubicle. Avoid cliché themes (the road, breakups, Saturday night), and pick something that points the lyrics in an unexpected direction.

2. Storytelling style

Another area to explore in songwriting games is the way the story is told. There are so many possibilities beyond the usual contemporary style of describing your own experiences in first person. Here are a few prompts you might use in a songwriting game:

  • Write entirely in second person – not singing to you (as in “I want you”) but placing you at the center of the action, as in the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (“Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly…”).

  • Write in third person (he/she), even if the story is autobiographical. Writing about your own experience in third person may help you feel free to tweak the details, like a fiction writer, in order to make a better story.
  • Write in first person but make the story specifically and obviously not about you. Tell the story of someone from a different era, or living in a different kind of place, or older/younger than you are. Writing from the perspective of someone of the opposite sex is tricky but worth trying.
  • Write in the voice of an unlikeable, unreliable, or otherwise flawed character. Two masters of this are Richard Thompson and Elvis Costello, who have brought us inside the heads of some downright scary narrators. Remember that it’s essential to empathize somehow with your character, however awful he or she may be, so that the listener can connect emotionally with the story.


Read the rest of the tips here!

Elliott Landy talks with Clash Music

Elliott Landy, author of The Band Photographs 1968-1969, was interviewed by Simon Harper of Clashmusic.com. They spoke about the photographs he took of The Band, his memories of their time together, and about some exclusive photos that will only be seen at an exhibition in London in Proud Camden from June 6th to July 24th. Read an excerpt of the interview below!


00146104Have you previously exhibited these photographs in London?
No I haven’t, actually. I made maybe two shows in London in the past, and maybe one or two were scattered throughout these shows, but no, in general it’s really, for most of them, the first time that they have been shown as fine art prints.

Apparently there will be some unseen photographs in this exhibition?
Yes. What I did for this is that I went through 12,000 negatives with my assistant – actually, she went through 12,000 and I went through about 1200 that she picked out – and then I just chose a whole lot of pictures that are just really nice and that had never seen the light of day before. I just picked out what I thought were the best photographs.

This exhibition and the popularity of your book is really a testament to the international and enduring appeal of The Band. I don’t suppose that when you were taking these pictures that you thought they would have this life of their own…
That’s true.

But did it feel special at all? Were you aware of what potential these guys had?
No I wasn’t, and that was part of the reason that I was able to photograph them as intimately as you describe and as the pictures show: because there was no ulterior motive or ulterior thought. It was only what was happening at that moment and how can I get the best picture of it. And nothing in my mind was impure – by ‘impure’ I mean having a second reason for doing something rather than the thing itself that you’re doing. The second reason for doing something would be because they’re gonna be worth money in the future, they’re gonna be famous in the future, and so on, so none of that was part of my mental space.

When you first started working with them, they were pretty much unknown to you, right?
They were unknown to everybody. I mean, they didn’t exist as an independent band. Well, actually they did; they were The Crackers, but nobody knew them, they had no album out, and I guess if you went to certain bars you may have seen them, but they really were unknown as a public entity.

How did it come about that you first shot them? You were accosted by their manager, Albert Grossman, I believe?
He had sourced some pictures I had taken of [his other client] Janis Joplin that were really, really nice photographs, and then when The Band – they didn’t have that name yet – were looking for a photographer, he came up to me one night in Club Generation, which is the space that later became Electric Ladyland, and he tapped me on the shoulder and waved for me to come to the back of the room with him into like a broom closet. I didn’t know if he was going to throw me out or what was going on, but he said to me, ‘Are you free next week to take a picture up in Canada?’ I said, ‘Yeah. Who’s it for?’ He said, ‘Well, they don’t really have a name yet, but if you’re interested you can go and meet some of them – they’d like to see your pictures.’ So, I went up to the studio in New York City where they were recording, and that was it. (Laughs)


Read the entire interview HERE!

Inside look at Confessions of a Serial Songwriter

Shelly Peiken, author of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, was a guest contributor on Huffington Post Arts & Culture. She gave us all a look inside her newly released book with an excerpt titled “Suddenly”. Take a look down below and get your copy today!


COASS-Final_CVR_152159SOMETIMES I HEAR Simon and Garfunkel singing, “Slow down you move too fast.” They’re in a little bubble following me around as I scurry about my day. They’re in my underwear drawer as I hurry to get dressed. They’re in my coffee cup as I grab it to go. Those two heavenly voices; they sing extra loud when I’m multitasking. And I usually am.

See, I get caught up with work. I don’t turn things down. I take a meeting and listen to lip service from the A&R exec who says he thinks my song is perfect, but I know he will ultimately use the one from a writer of whom he gets a piece. I get angry with myself when someone’s album is finished and I didn’t try hard enough to get a song on it. I go to a writing camp to try to raise my batting average, even though there’s a decent chance the artist we are rallying around may be dropped. I often have a choice to make: write yet another song or go to lunch with the girls. I usually write another song.

Recently, things changed. I had had a tiny bump on my breast for years. It was barely noticeable and I had been assured it was nothing and would never turn into something. I’d been so busy, that I barely noticed it was getting bigger. So I went to my doctor. The second he touched it he said, “I don’t like this”…and that’s when things suddenly started to seem surreal. I thought about how my life might slip away from me in the next few months. I’d have to put everything on hold at least until I could find out just how much life I had left. He didn’t waste any time. He made some appointments for later on in the day. It was a Friday. He didn’t want to “have to wait out the weekend” to see what “we were up against.” I liked how he said “we” even though it was actually just me!


Click here to read more!

More Than Just A YouTube Success

Nick Messitte a contributor to Forbes, took a closer look at the guys behind Pensado’s Place and caught up with their expanding platform. Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick are also two of the authors behind The Pensadao Papers: The Rise of Visionary Online Television Sensation, Pensado’s Place. Read an excerpt of the article below!


00120020.jpgSince the last time we covered Herb and Dave, their platform has become much more than a lens; in orchestrating partnerships with brands, distribution platforms, and publishing companies, they’ve become a full fledged media company, procuring not only the wherewithal to penetrate a growing marketplace (we’ll touch on that later) but also the physical space to accomplish, as Herb put it to me, “pretty much anything a media company can do—of any size.”

Indeed, the Pensado Media Center, built in conjunction with Westlake Pro, offers the duo an in-house means of shooting high-definition productions, of securing bandwidth for streaming/broadcasting content across various platforms, as well as the ability to hold seminars and master classes, all while housing an art gallery and a library to boot—a place “where people in audio can come up, learn, read, put their feet up and so forth,” as Herb told me.

Now, this is just what’s happening in the Los Angeles area. Elsewhere, with the help of recognizable pro-audio brands like Audio-Technica, Avid, and iZotope, the duo have been able to pull off some eye-opening stunts, such as donating duffle-bags stuffed with quality studio gear to audience members in packed conventions (something I saw them do last year at Washington, DC’s Howard Theater).

And, with the help of Hal Leonard—alongside the production company Groove3—they’ve launched their own curricula: Pensado’s Strive, an umbrella of audio-related information which aims to be “a world-class library of educational materials,” offered both “in a subscription-based model” online, and in “traditional print and digital-print, which is something unique in the space of online audio/visual sites.” This is how it was explained to me by Hal Leonard’s Group Publisher, John Cerullo.

Here we pause for a moment, for if you’ve ever played an instrument in a school-based setting, the name Hal Leonard probably strikes a chord: their “Essential Elements” series is de rigueur in most music-education spheres, as is their “Guitar Method.”

It’s worth noting, however, that Hal Leonard isn’t just a publisher of one series of recognizable method books. They are also a dominant marketing/distribution hub supplying content throughout the entire music-education industry, one that is able to act as a one-stop shop for multiple institutions; they are in the enviable position of single-sourcing ostensibly competing brands to multiple outlets across multiple platforms (for instance, they handle Forbes’ own Bobby Owsinski’s seminal textbooks on engineering).


Click HERE to finish reading!

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Shelly Peiken talks technological changes

Author of the book Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, Shelly Peiken, spoke with Argonaut Online about her book, the changes that the writing process seems to have taken, and more! Read an excerpt of the interview below and let us know your thoughts on the interview in the comments section below.


COASS-Final_CVR_152159“Hit songwriter” sounds oxymoronic, considering the process by which commercial pop songs are frequently constructed. But Shelly Peiken belongs to that echelon of “career songwriters” who’ve made a living crafting songs for other artists.

“I was actively getting up every day and writing and pitching to artists,” she recalls, estimating that she would write or co-write 30 songs a year. The sassy writer’s best-known cuts are “Bitch” (Meredith Brooks), “Who You Are” (Jessie J), “Almost Doesn’t Count” (Brandy), “What a Girl Wants” and “Come on Over” (Christina Aguilera).

A short list of other artists for whom she’s composed includes Aaliyah, Natasha Bedingfield, Joe Cocker, Natalie Cole, Miley Cyrus, Celine Dion, Selena Gomez, Gladys Knight, Lisa Loeb, Reba McEntire, the Pretenders, Britney Spears, Keith Urban, and the cast of “Glee.”

Now, 25 years into her career, Peiken has become choosier in her projects. As she spells out in her witty, compulsively readable book “Confessions of a Serial Songwriter,” she still joyfully sings along at the top of her lungs to songs she hears on her car radio.

But something fundamental has shifted in the way mainstream pop music is created, largely as a consequence of technological changes that continue to rewire the industry.

The thrill of connecting with a song that perfectly encapsulates the listener’s own circumstances — that three-minute rush that addicted Peiken to songs and songwriting in the first place — is rooted in very human experience.

She writes poignantly about how the Beatles and singer-songwriters such as Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon “were all able to reach a place inside of me with their self-examination, honesty, incongruities, longings and whimsical pleasures.”

But when songs are treated as templates with interchangeable parts, rather than as vehicles for meaningful personal expression, their capacity to connect deeply with listeners is undercut, which in turn shortens their shelf life.

That lack of relationship between co-writers — the trust-building collaboration Peiken dubs “SongSex” — affects the quality of music and disenfranchises songwriters from the process of song creation, she argues.


To read the full interview click HERE.

 

Lin-Manuel Miranda Tells Us Some of His Favorite Books!

Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton”, was asked by by The New York Times about his favorite books, and we at Applause Books are honored that he included  Everything Was Possible, by Ted Chapin. Read the article below to learn more!


The star and creator of the musical “Hamilton” says “Things Fall Apart” was his favorite book to teach at Hunter College High School: “The kids walk out of the classroom as different people.”

What books are currently on your night stand?

“The Wayfinders,” by Wade Davis; “Between Riverside and Crazy,” by Stephen Adly Guirgis; and “Unabrow,” by Una LaMarche.

What’s the last great book you read?

The last great book I read was catching up on “Saga,” the graphic novel series. An incredible world in which to get lost.

Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?

Too many to list, really, not that I won’t try: Junot Díaz, Liz Gilbert, Patrick Rothfuss, Wesley Morris, Michael Chabon, Martín Espada, Sarah Kay. . . . I mean, I better quit while I’m ahead.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?

I’m a biography buff. My favorite book growing up was “Chuck Amuck,” by Chuck Jones. I think I bought it as a kid because of the included flip-book: flip the pages, and Wile E. Coyote chases the Road Runner down the margins of the page. But it’s also one of the most beautiful books about the creative process I’ve ever read. Grabbing Chernow’s Hamilton bio rather famously changed my life, but I’ve also gotten lost in the works of Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert Caro. Agassi’s astounding autobiography and David Foster Wallace’s Federer essay turned me into an avid tennis fan. Once I’ve spent some time in someone else’s life, it’s hard to shake.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

I’m most in awe of novelists, who move sets, lights, scenery, and act out all the parts in your mind for you. My kind of writing requires collaboration with others to truly ignite. But I think of Dickens, or Cervantes, or Márquez, or Morrison, and I can describe to you the worlds they paint and inhabit. To engender empathy and create a world using only words is the closest thing we have to magic.

Everything Was PossibleWhat are the best books ever written about the theater? Do you have a personal favorite?

“Act One,” by Moss Hart. “Everything Was Possible,” by Ted Chapin. The “Rent” book. Patti LuPone’s autobiography — bring popcorn for that last one. Also, the Maya Angelou autobio that chronicles her touring with “Porgy & Bess” — I haven’t read it since high school, but her evocation of that experience has stayed with me.


Read the rest of the article HERE.