I’ve seen a couple of stories the past week from artists talking about their songwriting process. I love reading and hearing about how artists wrote a particular song.
First, there’s this Guardian piece with Nick Lowe talking about the writing of “Cruel to Be Kind.” Great little piece, but Nick may regret sharing this memory:
Ian Gomm, from the Brinsley days, had taught me the triumphal chord at the top of the song, where I sing “B-a-a-ab-y, you gotta be cruel to be kind”, so he has a co-writing credit.
Friend of the Hall Gomm posted this article on his Facebook page and recalled adding more to the song than that single chord.
A richer article written by the song’s author itself, Peter Holsapple of The dB’s, appeared on our Rock Town Hall Facebook page, courtesy of the excellent Steve Hoffman Music Forums. It’s actually a 2008 New York Times article about the song “Love Is for Lovers,” the single from the band’s third album, Like This. Maybe we even covered this back in 2008, but hey, “It’s COVID-19, Jake.” It’s interesting to read Holsapple’s aspirations for the song and the confluence of circumstances that he felt went into its failure to even sniff the charts.
These are both good tales, but what’s your favorite songwriter tale about the writing of a song?
On a related note, I wish there was a Boomer edition of the podcast (and now Netflix series) Song Exploder. which is all about the writing of a song. My problem is that so many of the artists are youngsters way outside my tastes that I really have to focus to appreciate what these people put together. Although I’m exhausted by paying attention to some milquetoast artist like Bon Iver telling me about the creation of his boring song, I usually do appreciate the process. To give you an idea of how much I hunger for a version of this podcast with artists whose music I dig, the Netflix series episode with REM and “Losing My Religion” was a relative godsend for me. Some of you may know how I feel about REM and that song.