Posts Tagged ‘Robbie Robertson


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.




“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.)


11/21/2008 – Interview in Melodic Magazine

Original link to article: 

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 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.