Archive for the 'Songwriting' Category

27
Aug
14

8.27.2014 – Waiting to Be Born

It’s a curious thought – how many songs does a songwriter have inside him/her – waiting to come out – waiting to be born?

I’ve been fortunate – up to now; I’ve never suffered from “writer’s block”.  It does seem like such a terrifying debilitating disease, doesn’t it – the freezing of one’s creativity.  Horrible thought!

Of course, not having writer’s block doesn’t mean that everything you write will be wonderful – I can certainly attest to that, but just the simple fact of getting a song written and finished is, in itself, a massive accomplishment in my book.  The birth of a song is a rather miraculous deed in my mind.  How, out of thin air, can come/emerge this thing, this noise and organization of notes and harmony out of the ether, out of the void.  Pretty damn weird – this human need to express oneself in sound, melody, lyric … to formulate a piece known simply as a song … a communication of spirit, I suppose, an organized utterance – made for the ears!! … and for the soul.

For me – even at this rather mature stage of my career – I feel filled up, absolutely chock-full – even engorged to bursting point, with songs waiting to be given life.  My challenge has always been to finish the songs I’m on … rather than to let the next one spew forth.  A nice problem to have, you may say, but sometimes for me it causes a traffic-jam of songs waiting for their moment in the sun.  I can get lost in the barrage of ideas pushing to get out!  It requires diligence to stay focused on the songs at hand, and to hold back the deluge at the floodgates.

There is not a better feeling in the world than finishing, wrapping-up a song.  It’s like putting a frame on a picture or painting – suddenly the work is completed … DONE!!!  – Sewn up – locked down – ended – DONE!!!  Lovely feeling.  And only the author can really say when his or her work is done – that’s just the true law of creative work.  It’s a powerful motivating force to a songwriter to get out what he knows is fermenting, brewing inside him.  Will the next song be “the one”? an undeniable gem of excellence? the special tune for which the world has been waiting?  That’s largely what keeps us going … not knowing if the next “child” that is born of melody, rhythm and harmony is to be unique, built to last and inspire … to generate reverence and accolades.

It’s a wonderful task – the task of allowing your creative juices to flow.  But I do call it a task, because you have to constantly be working, striving, sympathetically building the architecture of a song.  Very, very, very rarely does a song appear that doesn’t require some measure of “mothering” or nurturing of sorts.

But again, how many songs do I have inside me – that I can get out before kicking the proverbial bucket?  It’s obviously un-measurable.  I’m satisfied to know and feel that there are a lot more songs inside me – straining, begging, for their liberation.

Cheers.

– Martin

“Without music life would be a mistake”

              – Friedrich Nietzche

11
Nov
12

11/11/12 – ASCAP We Create Music Blog

Original link: http://www.ascap.com/Playback/2012/11/wecreatemusic/martin-page-on-a-temper-of-peace-and-writing-eternal-music.aspx

Transcript Below:

 

Martin Page

I truly believe that music is medicine for the soul, and writing, performing and producing my new solo album, A Temper of Peace, afforded me that most-sought-after of emotions – a temperance of peace, that special occurrence when our lives, albeit for brief moments, feel in total and complete harmony with all that is with the world. Music and songwriting have always been that for me – healing balms, methods by which to engage in something pure and natural yet so mysteriously magical and indefinable.

With this project, I set myself a new challenge by playing all the instruments myself. Ever since hearing Paul McCartney’s first solo album (McCartney) as a young boy, on which he achieved this, I’ve harbored the desire to do the same. I wanted to be completely and intimately immersed in every part of the creative process of making an album, which, of course, started with the SONGS. Songs are the lifeblood of my expression, the foundation upon which everything else is built. The song is king!

Martin Page: <i>A Temper of Peace</i>

With this record, I was able to indulge myself and tap into multiple and varied influences – from R&B, traditional folk and reggae to dance and rock. I’ve always loved albums that stride over many genres, styles and moods, and I think Temper does that. I grew up during the ’60s – in an environment of Lennon & McCartney and Motown. My most impressionable years were fueled by those great, auspicious Beatles songs and the soul of the Detroit sound. When I later developed into a pro bass player, the funk era of the ’70s (with bands such as Sly & The Family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire, Rufus, The Brothers Johnson and Parliament) made a big impression on me. Groove, rhythm and “feel” entered the equation. I was also entranced at this time by the neo-progressive/folk music of such bands as early Genesis and Jethro Tull, and the raw street reggae of Toots and the Maytals and Bob Marley. So, over the decades, I became a sponge for all this wonderful diversity in popular music and culture, and as a result, I think my three solo albums exhibit a freedom and diversity in song style and production – which is especially apparent in A Temper of Peace.

I try to write songs that are “eternal,” that remain modern, transcend styles and fashion and connect with the core of what’s human in all of us. I believe that the reason why many songs from the past sound more contemporary than those of today is because they were written from an “eternal” perspective. Joy, despair, hope, suffering…these are emotions that contain the elements of nature, of our human condition/history, and which give songs a potential for extended/long life. I also seek positivity in my songs – even if I’m writing about sad or difficult themes, as I believe that music is to inspire and uplift and encourage people. When I was a child, I remember that whenever my parents argued or we were in some turmoil over something, when a record was put on the turntable, the atmosphere of the room changed – the music calmed the situation and lifted everyone’s spirits; it was like magic to me, and that realization had a profound effect on me.

We talk a great deal about the technical, mathematical and logical aspects of songwriting, but the spiritual and psychological dimensions are equally important to me. Songs like “Soulprint,” “The Washing of the Heart” and “You Can Let Go” (on the Temper album) were written from “journeys into the interior” – my own interior. My goal is to search for emotional comprehensibility in my work – the place where brain meets heart.

The rather daunting task I set for myself of playing, engineering, performing, producing, mixing (and making tons of tea!), etc. on this album, although agonizing and frustrating at times, proved ultimately to be emancipating and liberating, and even fun! It became the truly “solo” album I’ve always wanted to make. Having said that, ultimately, for me, it remains all about the song. Simply put, songwriting makes me happy, it drives me, it’s something I HAVE to do. It feeds my soul and heals me, which I tried to embed into the songs on A Temper of Peace.

I believe that beauty is our positive response to life, and I try to reflect that in my music.

********

A Temper of Peace is available at CD Baby and iTunes.

Visit Martin Page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/martinpagemusic

MARTIN PAGE first gained recognition as a songwriter with Top 40 hits for Kim Carnes and Earth, Wind & Fire, among others. Page co-wrote “We Built This City,” a #1 hit for Starship in 1985, and the #1 hit “These Dreams,” recorded by Heart. Page co-wrote the Top Ten Go West hit “King of Wishful Thinking,” featured in the movie Pretty Woman, and “Faithful,” another hit for Go West. With Robbie Robertson, Page penned the critically acclaimed “Fallen Angel,” featured on Robbie’s first solo album. Page has also written for, produced or worked with such artists as The Commodores, Barbra Streisand, Tom Jones, Paul Young, Brian Ferry, Phil Collins, Josh Groban and Robbie Williams, among many others.

The title track from Page’s debut solo LP In the House of Stone and Light became a substantial pop and adult contemporary hit – breaking the record as the longest charting single in Billboard’s A/C Chart history, and garnering Billboard’s “1995 Top Adult Contemporary Single Of The Year” Award, and ASCAP Pop Awards in both 1995 and 1996. In 2008, Page released his second solo album, In the Temple of the Muse, the first release from Page’s independent label, IroningBoard Records. The album quickly reached #1 on CD Baby’s Top Albums Pop/Rock chart, and remained in the Top 5 for a year.

Songs from Martin’s indie albums have been cut by Josh Groban and Dame Elaine Paige (“Mi Morena”), Robbie Williams (“The Long Walk Home”, co-produced by Martin), Starship (“Everything You Do”) and The Osmonds (“I Can’t Get There Without You,” the UK single for their 50th anniversary album). “We Built This City” was recently featured in Rock of Ages, sung by Russell Brand.

11
May
10

5/11/10 – Inspiration

 

I’m often asked, “How do you write a successful popular song?”  It’s a good question, and after all these years plying my trade in this vocation, I still find it an impossible question to answer.  For me, there is no trusted formula.  Every song that somehow appears to me is born of its own unique set of circumstances and inspiration.  In fact, when I have tried to impose a formula on the conception of a song, nine times out of ten, I have failed miserably!  And when I have tried earnestly to force the issue, the muse has stubbornly refused to obey my wishes.  Songs have always come to me primarily of their own volition – as if they themselves chose the time, place, manner and form in which to be brought into existence.  The alchemy of song construction is truly a mysterious art form and, to a great extent, remains unexplainable to me.  I have heard songwriters say that they feel as though they were conduits for a song to pass through, as though they were the mere instrument of a greater, unconscious force.  On many occasions, I, too, have felt as little more than a midwife to the song’s composition.  If all this sounds rather “other worldly” and spiritual – well, for me it is.  How else to explain how melodies, harmonies and chord sequences can be plucked from thin air and placed within the human brain?

Of course, while armed with a basic knowledge of the rudiments of music and an unquenchable desire to accomplish the task at hand, a songwriter also needs the tools of his or her trade – be it voice, manuscript paper, guitar, piano, tape/digital recorder, etc. – to allow inspiration to bear fruit.  And for the successful songwriter, there still remains the cardinal rule:  TURN UP FOR THE GIG – and, by that I mean go to work each day and write!

Then, with a bit of luck, there’s every chance that fate will bestow upon the fortunate tunesmith the most treasurable of things – a song!  In my case, some songs are born quietly and peacefully, while others come screaming and kicking into the world.  For example, “These Dreams” (recorded by Heart) took me about 20 minutes to write, while “Fallen Angel” (recorded by Robbie Robertson) took me over a year to complete.  The cool thing is I still feel that I’m learning something new with every new song I sit down to write.  It’s like traveling on a journey down a different path every time.  Sometimes the path leads to somewhere wonderful and rewarding, while other times, it leads to a dead end, frustration and no result; but I think it’s the gamble of the unknown that I find so exhilarating and addictive – and, as the saying goes, a song is never finished, it is only abandoned.

Cheers,

-Martin

 

“We – are we not formed as notes of music are, for one another, though dissimilar?”

 – Percy Bysshe Shelley

MARTIN, at the taping of his recent guest appearance on the German reality TV show “FlatStar”, talking to the contestants about his songwriting experience.  (The show also aired on the internet, where this segment from the 2nd Episode can be viewed in 4 parts.)

21
Nov
08

11/21/2008 – Interview in Melodic Magazine

Original link to article: http://www.melodic.net/?page=interview&id=235 

Transcript below:

After 13 years, Martin Page´s long-awaited follow-up album to the smash hit “IN THE HOUSE OF STONE AND LIGHT”, is a soulful work, spiritually charged with Page´s trademark layers of melodic atmosphere and emotive vocal performances.
Martin is one of the best songwriters around and a true gentleman, his new album “IN THE TEMPLE OF THE MUSE” is what melodic.net calls first class melodic pop / rock.
Let me present, Martin Page!
Hello Martin, how are you doing in Obama land, do people over there believe in a bright future?
Martin: There is most definitely a feeling of optimism in the country; a sense of dignity and respect seems to permeate the air at this time. Let us hope it continues.Your long awaited new album “In The Temple of the Muse” is fantastic, but why did it take 13 years for you to release another record?
Martin: I am a strong believer that until you have something of consequence to say – keep quiet. I feel no pressure or demand to release solo material just for the sake of it, which I think is a disease of the music industry in general. The songs on “In The Temple of The Muse” came to me over a long period of time, and I was lucky enough to have the time to give them the necessary attention and respect they demanded – to be sympathetic to the songs in order to develop them properly into a project I totally believed in.I can hear Sting and Peter Gabriel influences in your albums, are they musical heroes for you?
Martin: Both Peter Gabriel and Sting grew up, as I did, in England during a musical era that affected us all – the 60’s and 70’s. I believe we have many of the same influences – namely, the Beatles, Motown Soul, World Music and Folk. So, it’s not a stretch to hear similarities in our music, our style and our approach.

Not many songwriters can put up a list of such great hit songs like you, just to name a few for our readers:
King of wishful thinking – Go West, We built this city, It´s not enough & Good heart – Starship, These dreams – Heart, Magnetic – Earth Wind and Fire, Ghost in your heart – Bad English, Deal for life – John Waite etc.
Is your wall filled with platinum records?

Martin: Yes, I’m fortunate enough to have a few on my wall, and it certainly helps to view them now and again when I need to be reminded to strive harder for that special, unique song that communicates to a wide audience.

I have a tape with your first solo album “In The House of Stone and Light” on the a-side when it came out and Mark Williamson (from Manchester, England) “Time slipping by” (1994) on the b-side of the tape which I thought was a perfect combination. I listened a lot to both albums back then.
Have you heard that album?

Martin: I’m afraid I haven’t heard Mark Williamson’s album – but I must thank you for investing in my first solo album – you have good ears!!!

What do you think of the music climate of today where artists like Rihanna, Britney Spears and Coldplay rule the charts?
Martin: The digital revolution has greatly influenced the musical climate of today – both for good and bad. There is definitely a lack of interest today in the album-oriented artists, because single-song MP3’s are so readily available, and I think that is sad, as ultimately art suffers. On the good side, the digital revolution has taken the power out of the hands of the major “corporate” record companies and presented it to the individual, independent artist, and that is a very positive thing. The danger today is that we accept and become anesthetized by cheaper, quicker, unimaginative, soulless music that doesn’t rise to the standards of the past.

I have always wondered what your main instrument is, the piano?
Martin: My main instrument is bass guitar. I started my career as a bassist in funk and soul bands back in England in the late 70’s. When the revelation hit me that songs were more important than instrument prowess, I taught myself keyboards and guitar so that I could write songs and produce my own demos. I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, and I enjoy to dabble on as many instruments as I can get my hands on.

You have written quite a few songs with Bernie Taupin ( who´s known for his work with Elton John), have you ever met Sir.Elton John?
Martin: Yes, I have met Sir Elton John on numerous occasions. I was very privileged to work with him when I produced his vocals for Bernie Taupin’s solo album, “Tribe”. I’ve always been a huge fan of his, and he proved to be the consummate professional to work with.

You have written hits for popular Soundtracks like “Pretty woman” and “Days of thunder”, do you still get any offers on writing songs for soundtrack scores?
Martin: I do still receive offers to work on movie soundtracks. I find it a joy and a challenge to match music with visuals. I have always felt that somehow my music lends itself – and is emotionally suited – to visuals. I would ultimately like to do more work for movies in the future; it remains an ambition of mine.

Who is the most gifted artist you have written a song for/ or worked with? (I guess this one is difficult to answer but you can name more than one if you want)
Martin: This is a very difficult question for me to answer, as I have been extremely fortunate over the years to have worked and collaborated with a host of extremely talented writers and artists. But, I will mention a few who inspired me and expanded my musical horizons. Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire; Robbie Robertson of The Band; Peter Cox and Richard Drummie of Go West; Jack Hues of Wang Chung; Hal David; Paul Young, and of course, Bernie Taupin. I learned from all of these artists and their very different talents left a lasting impression on me.

Which 5 albums would you bring along to a deserted island?
Martin: Well, providing that the deserted island has electricity and a system on which to play these albums, these would be my top 5: Abbey Road – The Beatles; Selling England by The Pound – Genesis; Talking Book – Stevie Wonder; Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John; A Hard Days Night – The Beatles.

One last question, I think lots of your fans are wondering if you will make a 3rd solo album. Any plans?
Martin: I am actually, at this moment, finishing songs for my 3rd solo album. I have recently been in a prolific creative period. This new album that I am presently working on feels like a natural extension of my previous two solo works. I’m extremely excited about the new songs and the direction they’re taking. I hope to release it sometime next year.

12
Aug
08

8/12/2008 – A Tiger in the Studio

So there I was, in my home studio, guitar in hand, trying to coax another song into existence, when I noticed the familiar sight of my cats in various poses of repose and meditation surrounding me.  This is how it often was:  me jamming and rambling away, searching for a meaningful chord sequence, while my cats looked on in quiet indifference, or when the melody wasn’t quite to their liking, in distain and disgust.  They can be savage critics.

It got me wondering about how the cat, throughout history, has been closely associated with writers of music, literature and poetry.  The ancient Egyptians revered the cat, and associated it with music – utilizing the graceful head and figure of the beloved creature in the decoration of the sistrum – one of mankind’s first known instruments.  Back in the Dark Ages, sorcerers, alchemists and philosophers all loved their cats.  The 18th Century Italian composer, Sacchini, assured his friends that he could only compose when surrounded by cats.  He said that their presence inspired his gracious and seductive music.  Literary folk have long been associated with the feline.  French writers, particularly throughout the 19th Century, had harems of long-haired beauties.  These authors of distinction included Charles Baudelaire, Victor Hugo, Pierre Loti and Emile Zola.  Lord Byron had five cats, and Charles Dickens is said to have had a kitten named Williamina, who – to gain attention – would regularly put out her master’s candle while he was writing.

Let me share with you some “tails” of my own cats, for I am convinced that they harbor musical talent and appreciation.  For example:  one of my cats – Karma – adores to stroll back and forth across the keys of my acoustic piano (as I hear many cats are prone to do), constructing the most inventive melodies, complicated scales and profound cluster chords … putting my own creativity to shame.  Whenever he calls to me, I have noticed that the note he communicates in is always B Flat.  I once sat with him at the piano while he “sang” to me, and I constructed a chord sequence in the key of B Flat around his caterwauls.  So, it could be said that Karma and I have officially collaborated.

Another of my cats, Mr. Bear, enjoys a good dance session while listening to songs playing on my kitchen iPod.  I take his two front paws in my hands and he stands erect on his hind legs, swaying in bliss to the groove with me.  His particular favorite to boogie to is “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder – which is very appropriate, seeing that he’s a black cat.

Whenever I sing high falsetto vocals, Dharma (another of my cats), overwhelmed by intense emotion and extreme anxiety, joins me in an apparent attempt at Gregorian chant harmonies … or perhaps she just thinks that I’m suffering and in pain.  In retrospect, the latter explanation is probably nearer the mark!

And I am reminded of my parents’ cat, who – whenever my song “Animal Instinct” (recorded by The Commodores) was played in the household – would go absolutely ballistic, racing around the house with a crazed look in his eyes.  My mother swore that he only ever displayed these insane and disturbed antics when my song was played …..   Well, there’s just no accounting for taste.

At this point, I would like to quote a passage by author and cat-lover Carl Van Vechten, who says, “As an inspiration to an author, I do not think the cat can be over estimated.  He suggests so much grace, power, beauty, motion, mysticism.  The perfect symmetry of his body urges one to achieve an equally perfect form.  His color and his line alone would serve to give any imaginative creator material for several pages of nervous description; on any subject, mind you, not necessarily on the cat himself.  As for his intelligence, his occult power, they are so remarkable that I sometimes feel convinced that true cat-lover authors are indebted even more deeply than they believe to ‘cats of ebony, cats of flame’ for their books.  The sharp, but concealed claws, the contracting pupil of the eye, which allows only the necessary amount of light to enter, the independence, should be the best of models for any critic; the graceful movements of the animal who waves a glorious banner as he walks silently should stir the soul of any poet.  The cat symbolizes, indeed, all that a good writer tries to put into his work.  I do not wonder that some writers love cats; I am only surprised that all writers do not love cats.”

Well said, sir!

During the many hours when I believed myself to be writing songs totally alone, I was in fact in the company of kindred spirits – my cats, who, in their serene and silent observance, have somehow been the most purrfect of collaborators.  I’m proud to be a felinophile.

“Who can believe there is no soul behind those luminous eyes!”

  • Theophile Gautier

Thanks for dropping by.

-Martin

P.S. Please read Peter Singer’s important book, “Animal Liberation”; I cannot recommend it highly enough.

20
Nov
07

11/20/2007 – Signposts

I was just recalling how music, in particular certain albums, has influenced me during pivotal times in my life.  Whether as a schoolboy – full of rebellion and attitude; or as a teenager frequenting the local dance halls looking for girls; or as a budding bassist/songwriter learning every lick from every 45-record I could get my hands on; or as a mature man experiencing life’s ever-changing triumphs and disappointments, certain albums and songs have come along to mark milestones, as it were, in my life.  When I hear these recordings again today, I am instantly transported back to the time and place when those familiar melodies first seduced me – complete with all the emotions and feelings that I felt way back then.  How many times has a song become consolation for a sad moment or a celebration for an occasion of joy?  Music, like no other art form, has the power to embed itself into the fabric of our life story.  For instance …

I remember, as a teenager, traveling with my parents to America for the first time.  As a result of my father’s career in aviation engineering, we moved constantly between military air bases, and I often felt lonely being separated from my friends back in England.  I would spend my time secluded in my room, listening over and over again to the pastoral magnificence of Genesis’ progressive rock masterpiece, “Selling England By The Pound”.  This album, with its visions and atmospheres of ancient Albion, ignited my imagination and became my passport home to the green fields of Southern England.  It became my confidante and good friend during lonely days and nights.

At a crucial crossroads for me in 1973, I remember hearing Elton John’s seminal double album, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.  Every song on this epic work was a mini-movie unto itself.  I was entranced by Bernie Taupin’s cinematic and literate lyrics.  Not one track on this inspired work was filler material (a very rare phenomenon these days!).  Not sure at the time whether I should pursue a career as a professional soccer player, a graphic design artist or as a – God forbid – musician, hearing this album made my mind up for me.  So, I purchased my first serious guitar and set off for the Yellow Brick Road myself, hoping to become the romantic troubadour I secretly, deep down, longed to be.

Of course, any music by the Beatles holds fond memories for me, as I grew up in their heyday, with their songs.  In particular, whenever I hear, “A Hard Days Night,” I’m whisked back to my school days and my first crush on a girl in my class:  I recall trying to impress her by singing the song to her during a fateful lunch break (I hasten to report, she was infinitely more interested in the cookies and milk that she was devouring than she was in my passionate performance!).

Each one of us has our own personal musical soundtrack, so I thought it would be fun to share mine with you.  Here are twenty albums that have hugely influenced and touched me:

 

1. A HARD DAYS NIGHT – The Beatles 11. THE PRETENDER – Jackson Browne
2. ABBEY ROAD – The Beatles 12. WHAT’S GOING ON – Marvin Gaye
3. FOX TROT – Genesis 13. JOHNNY THE FOX – Thin Lizzy
4. SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND – Genesis 14. MUSIC OF MY MIND – Stevie Wonder
5. GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD – Elton John 15. CATCH A FIRE – Bob Marley & The Wailers
6. SECURITY – Peter Gabriel 16. THUNDER THUMBS & LIGHTENING LICKS – The Brothers Johnson
7. I AM – Earth, Wind & Fire 17. THE GOLDEN AGE OF WIRELESS – Tom Dolby
ZIGGY STARDUST – David Bowie 18. SO – Peter Gabriel
9. COURT AND SPARK – Joni Mitchell 19. THE COLOUR OF SPRING – Talk Talk
10. THE MOTHERSHIP CONNECTION – Parliament 20. A WALK ACROSS THE ROOFTOPS – The Blue Nile

 

In today’s rush of noise, speed and commotion, it’s somehow reassuring to re-visit the music of more innocent times, when a simple tune and mood stirred our deepest feelings, reached into our hearts and became our trusted companion; these remain emotional signposts for each of us throughout our journey.

 

“Come, said the muse

Sing me a song no poet has chanted,

Sing me the Universal.”

 

  • Walt Whitman

Thanks for stopping by.

– Martin

P.S.  I was recently made aware by a friend, of the desperate plight of the Yellowstone Buffalo.  Please visit www.buffalofieldcampign.org to learn more and help.