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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. I'm trying to figure out how I can get 1000 clicks. Have to create my own factual site. That crossed my mind, too.
  6. "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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Fact checking is not so open to interpretation. Quite a few of the facts in dispute about a candidate’s previous positions are a matter of public record. Fact checking is often as easy as finding a candidate’s voting record, or finding footage capturing a speech or interview or essay written by that candidate. So the claim “I never said that” can be countered with footage of the candidate saying that, and it’s then up to the candidate to explain any gap between “what I said” and “what I meant,” which if the gap is too wide, needs the candidate to either drop back to "I changed my mind since then because..." or persuade us that “I was lying then but I’m telling the truth now."
  11. I draw the line by whether it seems cliche to me. If one of my lines bothers me, there's a reason why it bothers me, and it's best to hold out for something better. If I were to put it in anyway, I would be writing down to the listener ("I don't care for it myself, but it's good enough for them"). Simple is good. Using as many one-syllable words as possible is great. A phrase isn't trite for being made up of short simple words. But if I recognize it as a stale image or figure of speech that won't support my theme, elicit a feeling, or engage any of the listener's senses, I think it doesn't belong in my lyric. If there was someone like me in the audience, resonating on my wavelength, I'd want that listener to like all the words, not zone out because of trite, overused images and sayings. A lot of cliches are similes: Pretty as a picture is trite. Pretty as a prayer book is Paul Simon. One of my best songwriter friends, whom I deeply admired, had the line "Home sweet home, how could I ever roam" in the chorus of one of her songs. As a performer she was able to put the song over in concert sets because of the conviction behind it and her skill in fitting melody to words, and how great she was at getting the audience on her side. But when she got her Nashville shot, her producer wouldn't let the song onto her album. My friend had grown up in Appalachia, didn't get far in college, didn't read much, and though she did some inventive and original things with her lyrics, I think she often had trouble telling her good lines from her bad ones. Years after we fell out of touch and I heard several of her songs with fresh ears, it occurred to me that she'd been a very bright spark writing from an extremely impoverished vocabulary. I remember how she would talk about resenting it when one of her mentors tried to get her to up her game lyrically. It's hard to do by sheer will if you were never exposed to good poetry and you're not a reader, and if you yourself don't hear the problem in a problem line. If a line that you wrote is fresh to you, it's hard for anyone else to convince you it's stale. And she was always wary of letting anyone else influence her words, since she believed her songs came to her as gifts from beyond herself. Suggestions felt to her like assaults on her artistic integrity, so nothing her producer or anyone else said had much effect; I would not have critiqued her lyrics, and she wouldn't have critiqued mine. Any time I heard her sing, the sum total seemed to conquer any stray clunker lines. But once she aged out of her waif persona, she pretty much wilted as a performer. Other friends with stronger lyrics are still performing well into old age.
  12. Sorry, neither. I'm just doing my best to put myself in the position of some of the people I disagree with, to try and understand what they are thinking and where they're coming from.
  13. I think the most significant “want” among the white urban poor is that industry jobs would come back. Manufacturing, oil refining, construction, logging, mining — jobs that had kept their towns going until the company pulled up stakes, jobs the previous generations of their families had worked, up an income level from working in retail or food service, lost to foreign manufacture or to robotics. They want access to decent-paying employment without having to relocate, and without having to compete with immigrants or anyone else who might be willing to work for less. They believe if the government lowers taxes on corporations, outsourcing will reverse itself. And that if the government is more energetic about keeping undocumented immigrants out, more of the jobs that are left will be available to American workers. There's more to it than money, but lack of means to earn a good living seems to be driving a lot of the rural poor to drugs, depression, petty crime and suicide. And not wanting government help doesn't necessarily equate to refusing government help. If someone is eligible for disability, unemployment compensation, food stamps or welfare, chances are they'll be on it. But there's a burning shame from being in extreme need, and a resentment in needing to apply for the help.
  14. David Wong has said he uses a pseudonym to provide a buffer between his online professional life and his personal life. He's also a novelist, and I think he's the creator of and main writer for cracked.com. I think the novels were written under his real name, and that the central character's name (of at least one) is David Wong. Most Republicans besides the white rural poor had other candidates they would have preferred, but the other candidates' numbers were fragmented, partly because there were so many other candidates. Seventeen in all? Most Republicans are voting their party's nominee now out of party loyalty, and out of fear and loathing of what Hillary Clinton represents to them. Republicans agree with Trump more than with Clinton on taxes, immigration, guns, smaller government, the Supreme Court. But most Republicans started out against Trump himself. As Republican candidates dropped out one by one, support could have coalesced around one of the remaining non-Trump candidates, but that didn't happen. The remaining support gradually coalesced around Trump: the candidate consistently in the lead, who consistently polled better against Clinton than any of the other candidates did. The white rural poor are considered his base because that's the one group that was for him from the beginning of his campaign. Of course there are other people besides the white rural poor who were also for Trump from the beginning, but not other demographic groups. There were some white supremacist groups for Trump from the beginning too, but they don't represent huge numbers, and there's some overlap between them and the white rural poor.