Archives of Songwriters

Joni Mitchell

September 24, 2015:

Ah, Joni! So great for so long, and then…? The facts are well-known: six great albums, a hiatus, a change of style, then thirteen modest albums. Appearing at first like a typical folkie-waif, Mitchell soon revealed herself as an extraordinarily multi-dimensional talent and musical authority. A fine voice, remarkable guitar work with innovative tunings, effective […]

Paul Simon

September 15, 2015:

Paul Simon has said in an interview that he only feels the need to write songs occasionally, and that when he does he uses most of the material he composes. I’m really not sure what to make of this statement. I accept it; there’s no reason he’d lie. But there’s such a vast distance between […]

Leonard Cohen

I was first introduced to the music of Leonard Cohen by a lady. This was entirely appropriate; I never realised until I read Sylvie Simmons’ biography I’m your man, how much Cohen oriented his writing, and indeed, seems to have oriented much of his life, towards women. From his deep voice he sounds very masculine, […]

Henri Duparc

The ‘greatest’ song-writer? How can anyone say any individual is the ‘greatest’ composer of any genre? Part of the definition of true greatness is that while one is listening to a work one becomes temporarily convinced that the composer is the greatest of all; the ability to sweep one up in their consciousness is part […]

David Ackles

The first thing I noticed about David Ackles was the total absence of anything cool or hip. He sings like an honest man speaks, and this probably accounts for why he was not successful. There was no taint of romantic escapism, nor any guile or guise or persona to him.

Bob Dylan

The first song by Bob Dylan I heard was Only a pawn in the game. I couldn’t believe that people wrote such songs, and bought all his albums since.

Bryan McLean and Arthur Lee (Love)

I have no idea – or even much interest in – the relationship these two had. All I know is that they had over-lapping skills sets and produced some of the most original songs ever. I had their first album, titled simply Love, and several songs stood out as very un-formulaic, most especially Softly to […]

Brian Wilson

George Martin once said that “If rock music produced a genius it would have to be Brian Wilson.” No doubt he intended to include Wilson’s legendary production skills, his arranging prowess, his vocal abilities and his commercial sense within this description, but in the end we return to the songs.

Burt Bacharach

By my count Burt Bacharach had about 35 hits. They were of a uniformly high standard, and a few are as good as song gets. Not for nothing did he receive honorary doctorates and the Gershwin Prize.

The Beatles

One of the most intriguing things about the Beatles, something I’ve never seen mentioned, is that despite their vast popularity, seldom did they have the best song or record of any given year. 1962’s Love me do barely rates a mention, and 1963’s She loves you and I wanna hold your hand, while great records […]