Building a song

Steve Earle has lived through the sort of horrors that have launched a million country songs: addiction, affliction, heartbreak, even prison. He wears them in his voice, but what’s most appealing about him is the wide-eyed, unmistakable fearlessness with which he goes about his life these days”     NPR Tiny Desk Concerts

Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin sing “Tell Moses” and chart the steps in its creation. How they bound Moses, Martin Luther King and Ferguson, Missouri together in words and music, in answer to the question: “What’s to be done?”:

There’s gold in this video too, where Steve talks about his personal songwriting process, and how it has changed over the years:

Here’s Steve again, in his NPR Tiny Desk Concert :

If you’re writing a song in English, you’ll find this radio programme about Steve Earle‘s ‘Songwriting Bootcamp’ in the Catskill Mountains inspiring and useful. I’d go, if I lived a bit nearer the Catskills!

© Sing Better English, 2016


11 thoughts on “Building a song”

  1. Thank you for this marvelous post. How wonderful to think about creativity for a few minutes, and about the endless process of discovery and exploration! It was a welcome distraction — and a balm for my soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. By the way, Heather. Did you read the two, ugly Patrick P somebody or other comments on your blog? Something about traitors. I have a feeling you may have missed them, because I think you would have scooped and bagged and dumped them in a rubbish bin.


      1. I did indeed read Patrick’s comments! They went to my moderation queue and I debated for a few minutes what to do with them. My first instinct was to simply delete them and go on with my day. But then I realized that would make me a hypocrite. If I’m calling for more discourse and greater understanding, I’d better be ready to listen to what people have to say — even if that means entertaining vague accusations of treason and thinly veiled threats. So I posted both of his comments exactly as he sent them as a testament to the very type of vitriol I’m concerned about. I still haven’t decided whether to write him privately and ask him to expand on his views. Part of me is genuinely curious about what is going on in people’s lives that is making them so angry and hateful; but another part of me thinks it’s wiser to just focus on my own work and trying to do good, and move on. I’ll probably opt for the latter (because a girl only has so much time).

        All of that said, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your sharp eye, and for watching my back. 🙂

        PS: Although you know very well I am a friend of the British, please don’t take offense that I probably wouldn’t have been on the British side during the Revolutionary War, as Patrick asserts. As you know I’m an incurable Francophile, so I suspect I would have been up in Canada among the voyageurs and the fur-traders. Ha ha.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Heather – probably the wisest choice. Hoist by his own petard. I clicked through on his avatar thing and it goes to an odd Facebook page. You’re wise not to engage in conversation. It would go on and on and on. Left there on your post, it’s a more powerful statement. I just wanted to be sure you’d seen it.

        I wouldn’t have been on the side of the English either (unless I’d been sucked into the propaganda of the time, I suppose). My family’s Welsh, and lots of the Welsh were fighting enthusiastically against the English in the Revolutionary War.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I love your characterization of the Welsh fighting “enthusiastically” against the English during the Revolutionary War. Now, *there’s* a description one does not often see in the history books!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve Earle is a wonderful songwriter. I’ve heard a bunch of his songs on recordings and never thought to seek him out on the web. Duh… I ought to have known better. Those short videos give us a taste of his flexibility.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi keebslac – yes, he’s one of those songwriters that we’ve all heard, without paying too much attention to the name attached to the songs. He’s not a real razzmatazz, in your face self-publicist!


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