Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Charlie Hopper on songwriting in Nashville

"After class I would drive to the Bluebird, a little bar in Nashville where songwriting successes perform—midway into one of their verses you can usually feel the whole audience sort of slip into realizing they know this song from the radio, sort of like when your car shifts from first to second gear: if you're paying attention, you can feel it.

Especially when you're sitting there alone.

Nobody to talk to.

Many miles from the person you should be there with.

Who would enjoy the show, too." (#3)

and...

"You can always hear what's wrong with other people's songs, even as you're blind to your own song's shortcomings." (#8)

and...

"This particular Roundtable was a lovely affair with a catered dinner and free drinks, hosted by a well-regarded demo service. We gathered in the actual studio, where musicians perform. One by one Hopefuls arrived and mingled awkwardly—none of us had ever met. We were thrown together and had to muster our people skills.

Not all songwriters have people skills.

Still, networking is key to Nashville success. And this was prime networking. Future co-writers might be here tonight. We all made quick, biased, hunch-based, unfair judgments of each other, trying to answer the question, "Whom will I wish I'd buddied up with?" The classic Mingler's Challenge." (#9)

and...

"I have a mental malfunction in which the main way I approach enjoyment of any performance is through the fantasizing eyes of an introverted extrovert, as if I were the one up there performing, or the author of the piece being performed. Why, I could write a musical; I could write a play—I could write a book and read from it!

"Tonight when we get home I'll get started," I secretly plan to myself as I offer my applause."

....

"As I played these, or the songs I'd make up, I'd imagine a vast, appreciative crowd out to my right, just beyond the edge of the conjured stage the dining room had become.

Basically I am a pathological dreamer, with a vaguely pathetic desire to perform. Or have my stuff performed."

....

"[my wife] pales at the notion of having someone hand you a guitar with the expectation that you'll sing a song you wrote. "Is everybody paying attention to me? I'm going to sing to you! Something I wrote one day! I'm certain that it's good and you'll enjoy the experience of looking at me while I perform!" The idea makes her a little queasy.

But I was ready." (#10 is a gangbuster.)

I'll leave to you read the entire series. These are just a couple gems - there are many more. Absolutely fantastic series. Inspiring.

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