To celebrate Pride in Toronto this week, we brought in five LGBTQ-themed songs to play and talk about. The songs spanned from 1983 to 2017, and included a diverse range of songwriters and topics. Musical book writer Stephen Witkin joined us for the show. Special thank you’s to Hema for handling our social media, and @SharonRose2012 for tweeting in!
We talked about:
Bruce and Stephen’s own coming-out stories
Heavy-handed vs. light and fun approach with the “message” in LGBTQ-themed songs
Acceptance of LGBTQ songwriters and songs in popular culture
Universal vs. LGBTQ-specific messages in the songs
We featured these songs (click on the titles to download the lyrics):
Popular guest co-host and guest on Song Talk Radio, Patrick Ballantyne dropped by the studio to share two of his well-crafted songs. “Where Things Used to Be” is great example of the skillful combination of melody, structure, and lyrics to evoke a strong feeling of longing in the listener. Listen to the bridge in particular and the completely surprising chord on the word “dreams”. Patrick’s song “Plans” starts with a great line, “In California there are dates in the trees…” and connects to “dates on my calendar”. The message of a man who sees that he must change is both poignant and honest. As we discussed the tunes, we talked about:
Having a manager
How tasty an E flat chord can be in the key of G
The use of “pause” in songwriting
Co-writing and collaboration
Ticket sales and merchandise (how to make money in music)
Born in England, raised in The Netherlands, Paul Vos shared two of his songs with us at Song Talk Radio.
The first was “Lost Along the Way” a song about finding love when you least expect it. Listen for the awesome 80’s background vocals on the chorus! The second tune, “Heaven in My Hands” had us all dancing to its funky beat and tasty guitar licks. It also sparked a lively discussion on the merits and possible pitfalls of repetition in a song. Over the course of the program we also talked about:
writing songs with only a bass line or a beat
How some lyrics sound like something else when they’re heard (like “re-find it”)
How long should a pre-chorus be?
How a song can benefit from a bridge, a breakdown, or an instrumental interlude
Whether a singer’s vocal style should change dramatically during a song
Singer/Songwriter Jordan Paul stopped by with a couple of brilliant songs. His sound has been described as “if Queen, Mimicking Birds, Radiohead, and Led Zeppelin all had a beautiful love-child.” A clever songwriter at only 24–his writing and musicality is well beyond his years and his voice is otherworldly. Paul’s new single ‘Rain’ is coming out on limited-edition 7” vinyl from Leesta Vall Records, featuring Andrew Scott of legendary Canadian band Sloan on drums.
What can you say about the exceptionally talented poet, novelist, and prolific singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen.that hasn’t already been said? Well, the Song Talk Radio action team didn’t worry about that. Bruce, Neel, and Phil simply dove into their memories and had a close look at three of his many, many songs. Bruce brought the poetic Bird on a Wire (1969), Neel shared the dark and foreboding Everybody Knows (1980’s), and Phil had us pay attention to one of Cohen’s last recordings, the prescient Leaving the Table (2016).
The Song Talk Team had the distinct pleasure of spending an hour with the very talented and original singer/songwriter Dan Edmonds. His fresh takes on music and how it’s made were both illuminating and engaging. He played two of his intriguing recordings – “Love Can Be a Tunnel” and “To Be That Needle”. We talked about:
improvising lyrics in the recording studio
letting the listener make their own meaning from the words
Talented teen singer-songwriter Jules joined us again, after her first appearance over a year ago. In the midst of writing songs for her sophomore release, Jules talked with the Song Talk Radio Action Team about:
FACTOR grants for Canadians, and why you should hire a grant writer
Bruce, Neel and Phil were all happy to have Patrick Ballantyne back in the Song Talk Radio studio for the third time. He always brings great songs (listen to “Make Believe” and “Sky” for proof) and lots of experience to share about the songwriting process for our listeners. When writing a song, he starts with the music – almost always on the guitar. For contrast, he has started writing on the piano where he has less competency and is forced to “keep it simple.” After writing solo for many years, he recently joined a group of collaborators and enjoyed the process.