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About Joan

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    A Muse's Muse
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    Lovettsville, VA, USA

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  • Lyricist, Composer or Both?
  • Musical Influences?
    dave carter, stan rogers, patty griffin, guy clark, leonard cohen, joni mitchell, david massengill

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  1. A fine, vicious rant, this would be enthusiastically received in either of my two favorite coffeehouses. I'm glad you posted this. I've got a Trump song too, but am still getting the guts up to post it. I think songs in this vein aren't about trying to change people's minds. They're more about comforting the afflicted, and also inspiring other people to write. And about blowing off steam. Well done!
  2. Here's the story I took the timeline from. The site is DNAinfo, a digital news service not associated with either wing of the bird. Founded by the guy who founded TDAmeritrade. I don't use political advocacy sites to quote facts, especially when I'm talking to someone on the other side of the fence: too much energy wasted on defending the source. You might call it a left-wing site anyway, because it contains data someone to the left of yourself used in a post. But I notice you're not disputing the dates or the events I quoted. You were trying to make a connection between strict gun control and worsening gun violence. I'm trying to show that since even before Rahm Emmanuel took office in 2011, gun control in Chicago has gotten looser and looser, at the same time as gun violence in Chicago has gotten worse and worse. Not that I'd claim a causal connection or anything. As long as national gun control remains lax, with loopholes, black market trade, background check failures and low, low bars to firearms access, there's not much any US city can do to keep firearms out.
  3. Barney, your information is way out of date. The Chicago police say they would love to go back to the pre-2010 days when buying and carrying a gun were a lot harder than they are these days. I found this time line which might put it in perspective: • June 2010: Chicago's ban on handguns was ended by the Supreme Court in the McDonald v. Chicago case • December 2012: Illinois' concealed carry ban — the last of its kind in the United States — ended in a court decision, though the state still restricts where people can carry concealed guns • July 2013: The Firearm Concealed Carry Act went into effect, providing regulations for concealed carry • September 2013: Chicago ends its gun registry • January 2014: A judge rejected Chicago's ban on gun shops
  4. Vara, you can learn a lot from spending time on Kickstarter. And you're right about needing money to ask for money, some of the pitches look like some serious time and money went into putting them together. The home page helps you navigate to crafts, inventions, music, art, business ventures, etc. Just click on the “music” box and take a look at some of them. Each one has a funding goal, with a running tally of how long they’ve been up and how close they are to the goal. I asked about trans-friendly open mics not as a place for your band to play once it’s together, though that works too, but as a place you could meet other trans musicians. Any truly friendly open mic is a trans-friendly open mic, but the atmosphere sometimes depends on the region. I've been to open mics in Portland, Oregon where trans musicians did just great. Is there an LGBT club where you live, and could you start an open mic there? You’d need a sound system if you don’t already have one. Once you have bandmates, maybe the three or four of you could cobble one together from equipment you already own. But that does lead me to ask, do you live in a town, or close to a town, where a trans band can gig? I could be wrong about this, but I think you need a hometown club scene where your band can gel and get the buzz going from. I don’t think you can go straight from rehearsing in a living room to touring LGBT clubs out of your home region. But if you’re all experienced performers, you could go right from living room rehearsals to a local club. Another thing to think about now: If your band comes up as a trans group in front of a more general audience than LGBT-specific, that will shape the songs you write. That will shape whether your band will be trying for a general audience or a cult audience. You know how there are gay comedians who play just for gays, and then there are gay comedians who play for everyone. Not that you can’t do both, but I think it helps to decide early on which way you want to go. It impacts who your imagined listener is while you’re writing a song. Will it be more “This is what I want to tell you about us” or will it be more “I know what you've been through because so have I.” Again, not that you can’t do both, but where you play, and in front of whom, will very much impact how you write. Those are two very different directions to put your energy into, and it really helps to decide early on. And if your group is musically enticing in a way that has broad general appeal, your message might shift over time. For a trans band, that would be earth-shattering and barrier-shattering. I know there are exceptions to this, but it’s pretty much true that nobody goes to Kickstarter to look for something to send money to. Just like producers don’t randomly click around SoundCloud or SoundClick looking for an act to take on. The first people to see you on KickStarter will be the people who know you, and who got the link to your KickStarter site from your FaceBook post. Then if a few of them get really enthusiastic about it, they not only make a contribution but they share that link on their own FB page, and then things might start to happen that take a site viral. Then somebody writes an article about you, “the Internet sensation,” and some of the people who read the article go looking you up on YouTube. Yeah, easier to get struck by lightning twice. To become an Internet sensation, and get funding from strangers, you need to already be polished, working, and have your shit together to be ready to benefit from all the exposure. And as you say, once you’re at that point, you don’t really need Kickstarter. For most musicians who want to record, like the two I gave money to, their funding needs are moderate and can be met by their circle of family and friends by way of Kickstarter.
  5. I've contributed to two music projects by way of Kickstarter. One was a friend, the other was a friend of a friend. Both of them had videos on their Kickstarter sites, playing a song they wanted to record in the style they wanted to record in. Running over the video was text that went into what they were trying to do with the projects. One had written an album's worth of songs about family history, both her own and in general, trying to bring out the universals and connect with listeners' interest in their own family stories. The other was a young woman whose father had disappeared on a "Bike Across Oregon" bike ride, wandering away from his tent and was never seen again. He had a medical history of a brain tumor that had possibly come back. Her song collection was about grief, loss, recovery and love, all themed about this thing that had happened in her family. Their projects seem to have been funded by friends, family, friends of friends, and some fans. But in each case, their songwriting and performing skills were already first rate. The songs for the projects had already been written and performed many times. To get people who don't know you to contribute is a hard one, and to get people to contribute who don't already know and like your sound, I don't think that happens often. You might already be closer to your goals than your post would suggest. If not, it seems it would be good for you to concentrate first on growing your skills in songwriting, on your instrument, and your vocals. If you're new to performing in front of audiences, also showmanship. Maybe your band mates could collaborate on the songwriting. If your vocals and guitar are already there but the writing is shaky, maybe you could start out as a cover band and gradually branch out into using original material. Okay, I listened to the songs you posted, and you must already have a very clear idea of how you want to sound and what you want to communicate, that right now you're figuring out the best ways to communicate those ideas and feelings. As you wrote, "Get good now, get original later." Do both, then record, when your fans are really bugging you to. It's not too soon to try to put a band together. Are there trans-friendly open mics where you live?
  6. I'm in, preferably as a lyricist, but interested in the kind of collaboration where both of us would be involved in both the music and the lyric. I had a couple of terrific experiences working that way with Ron. If there are too many lyricists, I'd be available to switch to doing music instead. And I really like Paul Canuck's idea of people posting lyrics or tunes, and others signing on to work with what others had started.
  7. It's a challenging discussion to have, partly because we all know that a strong song can easily survive a weak line. There's a huge bank of successful lyrics out there, and it's never hard to find one doing the thing someone says shouldn't be done. When I was in college taking a fiction writing class, and the professor would use some "don't do this," someone would come back to say, "But look right here where [for example] Hemingway did that." The teacher would always fall back on something like, "That is not an example of what is good about Hemingway's writing." He didn't have all the answers either, but I think every guideline he gave us was valuable to learn about, if not to comply with 100 percent of the time. As Z.mulls wrote, it's also what you do with a phrase. It's not just about what the words say, but how the words sound. It's partly about whether the words convey exactly what you want them to, and partly about whether they work with or against the meter you've established and whether the vowels and consonants in those syllables work with the emotion and sound you're going for. But when we're talking about whether a figure of speech is hackneyed and trite and all played out, it's pretty much all about what those words mean. Whether that phrase is an asset or a hindrance in what you're trying to communicate, whether it's better to call the song done, or to hold out for something more effective there. Speaking of cliches and straining for rhymes, if we were talking about not resorting to YodaSpeak (inversions), I could show you examples of William Butler Yeats using them. The rest of the truth is that eventually T.S. Eliot convinced him to stop.
  8. Who ever said that Baby is a cliche, anyway? It's familiar, but it's a term of warm affection between lovers. That's almost like saying "I love you" is a cliche. We see it a lot, but it's always good to hear when someone seems to mean it. I remember reading an article that said there are certain words that come up more than their share in songs that succeed. Baby was one of them, girl was another. As in, a lyric would be statistically more likely to hit its mark if you found a way to put those words into it. There were also words that had the opposite effect, that seemed to drag a lyric down. Children was one of them, and I swear I'm not making this up. I'll post a link if I'm able to find the article again. These days I'm hearing the phrase baby girl more and more often in love songs and drama dialog. Hmm, I wonder why. This isn't the article I remember, but it seems to be using research from the same study.
  9. Yes. Two people might well disagree on whether any given figure of speech makes your lyric more interesting, or is pretty much tapped out and boring. If you find your own lyric boring and listless, then and only then will you feel moved to revise it. Maybe for some there's a difference between what a writer likes in a lyric and what the writer thinks the audience will like, but I have to think we don't write to bore ourselves. Your "Cold as Ice" Foreigner reference reminded me of the songwriter Eric Taylor. If he's known at all outside Texas, he's probably known more as a writer's writer. One of my favorite lines of his was "she's as cold as a hometown jail." When I first heard that it put me in mind of being in this small town where everyone's known you since you were a baby, so they know your history and they get why you might go off the rails sometimes, and that you're pretty much harmless, and why you're not always in total control of what you do. And the bastards toss you in jail anyway. He had another song where the speaker's girlfriend seems to be going off him. He wrote, "Used to burn like Atlanta, used to burn like the lonesome in a young girl's eyes." Some writers really like to push similes to more evocative places than other writers do, and maybe for some listeners that isn't evocative at all. To some people's ears, a writer like Eric Taylor might distract and annoy them by calling attention to his writerly ways, but I would listen to a song of his so many more times than I'd listen to a song by Foreigner. Whom other people admire just as much, and for reasons I accept as just as valid. Those guys know how to work a hook, even if I think the hook is pretty weak.
  10. I'm trying to figure out how I can get 1000 clicks. Have to create my own factual site. That crossed my mind, too.
  11. "What the Mainstream Media Isn't Telling You" and "What the Mainstream Media Doesn't Want You to Know" are highly favored headline teasers used by fake news sites, their own content creators describing themselves as "the new yellow journalists." It's proven click bait for generating ad revenue at approximately 14 dollars per 1,000 clicks. Any time you're instructed to "share if you agree" with something on Facebook, it's never really about spreading a viewpoint. It's always about generating more clicks and more dollars for the site that holds the content.
  12. I might be in the minority on this one, and now I wish I'd picked a different example. If it were you, me and Jennifer Nettles voting, I'd be outnumbered for sure. And you'd be the one with the Grammy winner in your corner. People will disagree on whether any specific figure of speech is a colorful idiom or an annoying cliche. There are some websites out there (like this one) that list sayings that are commonly considered to be cliche. Reading down the list, I spotted quite a few phrases that didn't seem at all stale to me. There were also some I’d never even seen or heard before. “Box of fluffy ducks”? Maybe it was used in some movie that I never saw. Or maybe it's a Britishism. It’s a challenge to stay current on which sayings are commonly considered passe, and harder yet if English isn't your native language, so an objective source like a web list might be helpful. One valid use of a cliche is to twist it around or turn it upside down by changing one little thing about it. "Better Love Next Time" and "She Can't Say I Didn't Cry" were commercial country hits obtained by changing a worn-out phrase into something else. Looking over a list on a cliche website like the one I linked to might spark some wordplay ideas that could yield a nice hook line.
  13. Cheesecake doesn't remind me of a cliche so much as it brings to mind a hugely popular song that you just need to stop hearing for awhile. It doesn't need to be retired, but just eased off the radio til you've had a chance to forget some of the lyrics. Once you haven't been Hallelujaed in some years, then somebody can come out with another rendition, maybe featuring some of the more obscure verses or in some other way making it seem fresh again. Sure, jalapeños, that actually sounds amazing. Every night is way too often for even the best cheesecake, but it'll always have a place in the rotation. But I don't think a cliche has any place in first-rate writing. I think once a phrase goes stale, there's no bringing it back except in an ironic twisty way. An otherwise-great song can succeed despite a clunker phrase or two, but the song would have been better without. I'm a big fan of that Jennifer Nettles song " ," but I think its phrase "with my heart on my sleeve" should never have made it past the first draft. Funny how the worst cliches nearly always seem to be rhyme lines.
  14. What makes you say the couple that founded Snopes has been busted as frauds? The worst they've ever been accused of is political bias, and both sides of the political spectrum have accused them of that. Whatever their bias is supposed to be, nobody has busted their track record of debunking fake news and dubious quotations. Any time a conservative friend posts a BS quote on Facebook and someone posts a a link to Snopes debunking it, the poster takes down the whole thread immediately. That happened just this morning with a story in my feed. The Mikkelsons might lean left personally (she's a Canadian citizen and he's a registered Independent who used to be Republican), but their track record is solid. FOX News researchers use Snopes before committing resources to a story, just as CNN researchers do. Even people who disagree with a Snopes finding here or there, like maybe about Iran or Benghazi, continue to use the site when they're researching e-mail scams or fishy-sounding stories.