Everything is beautiful, in its own way . . .
I’m just finishing the first necessary cup of coffee before heading downstairs to day 3 of the Austin Songwriters Organization 2012 Annual Symposium. Like many of the participants I rounded out my Friday night by staying up till 2 playing in a song circle. Earlier in the evening I played in the songwriter’s showcase and not only did folks not walk out, many of them smiled and even clapped. Better than money in my book.
One of the great things about the showcase is the number and variety of songs you hear. Lots are good were received very well by what can be a pretty tough group of critics – that is – competing songwriters. Some were awful, but I noticed two things. Nobody was critical, because everybody there has written and performed a song they regretted, and none of the songs failed to have something good. Even the most poorly conceived song with the weakest melody would have a line or two that just sparkled and made you think that there was great song inside the writer if she/he could just dig it out.
Another thing, Although the focus of the business part of the symposium is on commercial success, most of the songs played at the showcase, including those at the early concert by the faculty, were not immediately obvious commercial songs, or were songs that made a lot of money thirty years ago but wouldn’t be fashionable today. There were some great commercial hits by songwriters like Gary Burr who wrote hits twenty years ago and write hits today, but the quality of songs that could not get played on the radio today proves that commercial success and great writing are not the same thing. One last thing. It seemed to me that Sonny Throckmorton had just as much fun playing a song that was never released as he did singing some of his greatest hits. The same thing was true of Joe Ely and local luminaries like Will Sexton and Marvin Dykhuis. If it’s fun to play and great to hear isn’t it a great song?
Next blog will be a race through all the songwriting wisdom from my notes of the last three symposiums.