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Joan

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About Joan

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    A Muse's Muse

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  • Gender
    Female
  • Location
    Lovettsville, VA, USA

Previous Fields

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

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  1. Tapped Out

    MABBO, what you say about output makes a lot of sense. You learn to ride a bicycle better and can go for longer and longer rides by going on longer and longer rides. There are definitely things in songwriting you do better by doing it more, but there are things you get better at by learning how to dig deeper, how to translate and illuminate personal thoughts, feelings and experiences into something that reminds strangers of their own. My Nashville friends were good when they first pulled up in Nashville, and they definitely got better at putting their lines into structured formats. And their melodies and arrangements sound a lot more professional these days. Discipline is there that maybe wasn't there before. But for most of them, when they come back to do shows I still hear the same clunker phrases in their newer stuff I remember from their old stuff, the same excesses of telling where it seemed to me they should've been showing. There are other things besides increased output that teach you to write lyrics that are more memorable and that evoke cathartic feelings in the listener. If the songs you're doing now don't have that effect, writing more and more of those songs won't make it happen. I'd almost liken it to ramping up your guitar technique. A huge part of getting better is playing more often and for longer sittings. But another part of playing better is ditching and replacing some of the techniques that have been holding back your velocity, rhythm, volume, tone production and general musicality. Some people improve all those things by osmosis, but others need some kind of intervention from outside help, whether from a teacher or close observation of more advanced players or hanging around better players and picking up their tricks. People who write mediocre stuff can raise their quality all the way to the top, I've seen it happen. It seems to me it's more likely to happen once a person learns to recognize a qualitative difference between their own work and the work of the writers they most admire. The oyster needs that irritant to make that pearl. Too many people are hell-bent on getting discovered when they should be hell-bent on improving. You can't get better if you think you're already great. If that dissatisfaction and agitation aren't there, your next song won't be better than your last one. Co-writing inspires and influences you when your co-writer is strong where you're weak. It's vital to hear and make friends with writers whose work just blows you away and makes you feel like you have a lot of catching up to do. If you have a chance to co-write with one, as you were saying, to know how to keep your ego out of the way. I'd think that's a vital skill to develop, knowing when to give way to another's different idea and when to stand your ground. MABBO, do you have some co-writes you think turned out poorer because of compromises you made sort of unwillingly, because the co-write couldn't proceed until one of you gave in to the other's preference? I'm willing to believe that for every time that happened there were maybe ten or 20 times where it was the opposite. But aren't there some song products you just know would've been better if your preference had held sway?
  2. Customary curtesy

    There wasn't much post-scoring conversation after the 1+1 we ran in November. Could have been because it was a light month for entries, but I might've caused it to an extent; I specifically encouraged people to write only about what they liked (basically, what were your favorites and why) instead of offering free-for-all criticism the way these things normally go. Next time we have a 1+1, which I mean to do the month after the next Open Comp, I could open the discussion up to whatever comments anybody feels like making. I think if people feel pissed-off about not placing higher, if they're in any way required or expected to comment, those comments might not be encouraging and helpful. Maybe it should be considered okay not to comment, since sometimes a person's thoughts about the results will be sour, dark and rancid.
  3. November Lyrics Contest

    Congratulations Peko, LyriCAL and Kuya! Top-flight lyrics all. Another one I liked very much was When Men Get Together. Crowded fields are exciting! It's wonderful to see comps doing well on the Muse since we cut the cord from Jodi.
  4. Hi, this contest could use a few more entries! We've got four so far and I can run with just those, but at least three or four more would be wonderful. We'll be open for entries through November 27, so I hope a few of you are working something up. Thanks!
  5. The 1+1 is back, with a few change-ups in the scoring rules. The changes in scoring are intended to encourage Musers who have held off on entering this competition. This is also the intent for the new guidelines for post-mortem discussions of the results. The changes are not written in stone. I'll give them a couple of cycles to take off or not, and see how people take to them. This is intended to be a "kinder, gentler comp" where there are basically winners but no losers. Results for entries that don't post in the top third won't be published. However, anyone who wants to know how their song ranked can still get that information privately. For any newcomers, 1+1 means the entry is limited to one instrument and one voice. No doubling, harmonies, extra instruments, etc. Think open mic and you'll get the picture. I will be hosting this month so PM me with any questions please. The timeline is as follows: • Entries will be accepted now through Midnight Mountain Standard Time (MST) Monday, November 27. • Voting (scorecards) will take place Tuesday, November 28th through Midnight (MST) Sunday, December 3. • Don’t start voting until I officially post the scoring instructions on March 28. I'll post the results shortly after the December 2 voting deadline.
 If you plan to enter, please review the revised rules, pinned in this forum. When posting your song, please include: •song title •writer credits (If it’s a collab with another Muser please make that clear by including their M/M id) •audio link The longstanding rules for the 1+1 all apply, with the following revisions: 3. Once the competition opens for scoring, send the Moderator running the competition your choices for the top entries. The Moderator will announce how many songs you are to pick as your favorites; this number will depend on how many entries there are. The number will approximate one-third the number of total entries. All your picks will receive equal weight in the competition. 4. The Moderator running the competition will post only the top-third high-scoring entries, in order of the number of total votes received. If your entry is not among those listed and you'd like to know how your song ranked, pm the Moderator running the competition and that information will be provided to you. 5. Post-results discussion: This competition is envisioned as basically a feedback-free zone. Post-results discussions can and do take on lives of their own, and that is not likely to change. However, this discussion will be encouraged to focus on what you liked best about the songs that received your votes. You can also write about what you liked best about the songs that came closest to receiving your votes. Entrants who want constructive criticism for their entries are encouraged to post them for critique in the Songs Feedback section of MuseSongwriters.
  6. Congratulations to the three winners of the November 1+1 Competition: I Ain’t No Angel, Ironknee (8 votes) Before Love Comes, Murphster (8 votes) Forever Loved, Triffid (7 votes) Every song entered this month made some voter’s list of favorites. If you’d like to know where your entry placed among the eight, PM me and I’ll tell you. The next highest-placing song after Triffid’s received 4 votes, the next after that received 3, and the final three entries had 2 votes each. A big Thank You to this month’s non-contestant judges: Peko, Andy LeF, BarneyBoy, and Greybeard. Well done, all. I'd like to encourage everyone who posts not he thread now to focus on what you liked best about the entries that got your votes, as well as what you liked best about entries you'd have voted for if you could've. If the discussion takes a different turn instead and people want to give critiques instead, I won't try to drag it back to what I had in mind. ********************************* Between now and midnight (Pacific Time) December 2, each contestant needs to send me your three favorite picks: the songs that impressed or inspired or moved you the most in this competition. The order of your three picks doesn’t matter. For scoring purposes, they’ll all be weighted the same. On December 3, I’ll post the names of the three songs that received the highest number of votes. As always, noncontestant voters would be more than welcome. Good luck, everyone! *********************************************** Welcome to the November Song Contest – a 1+1 Format contest. For long-time Musers, please make note of recent changes noted below in the contest rules. For any newcomers, 1+1 means the entry is limited to one instrument and one voice. No doubling, harmonies, extra instruments, etc. Think open mic and you'll get the picture. I will be hosting this month so PM me with any questions please. And please note that Musers are not required to post their entries in the Songs Feedback section of MuseSongwriters for the 1+1 comp. The timeline is as follows: • Entries will be accepted now through Midnight Pacific Time Monday, November 27. • Voting (scorecards) will take place Tuesday, November 28th through Midnight (MST) Sunday, December 3. • Don’t start voting until I officially post the scoring instructions on March 28. I'll post the results shortly after the December 3 voting deadline.
 If you plan to enter, please review the revised rules, pinned in this forum. When posting your song, please include: •song title •writer credits (If it’s a collab with another Muser please make that clear by including their M/M id) •audio link The longstanding rules for the 1+1 all apply, with the following revisions: 3. Once the competition opens for scoring, send the Moderator running the competition your choices for the top entries. The Moderator will announce how many songs you are to pick as your favorites; this number will depend on how many entries there are. The number will approximate one-third the number of total entries. All your picks will receive equal weight in the competition. 4. The Moderator running the competition will post only the top-third high-scoring entries, in order of the number of total votes received. If your entry is not among those listed and you'd like to know how your song ranked, pm the Moderator running the competition and that information will be provided to you. 5. Post-results discussion: This competition is envisioned as basically a feedback-free zone. Post-results discussions can and do take on lives of their own, and that is not likely to change. However, this discussion will be encouraged to focus on what you liked best about the songs that received your votes. You can also write about what you liked best about the songs that came closest to receiving your votes. Entrants who want constructive criticism for their entries are encouraged to post them for critique in the Songs Feedback section of MuseSongwriters. Please include the lyrics on your post. You may include a small introduction about your song but any other text may be removed by the moderator. Videos are permitted. (Voters will be encouraged to refrain from watching any video until after they've scored the song.) All Musers are welcome to submit songs as contestants or score the songs as non-contestants. Any questions or problems should be sent to me via private message (PM).
  7. I’m hosting a 1+1 song competition this month, and will begin accepting entries Monday Nov 13. We’re a little late getting started, but this comp should wrap before the Season of Joy has us by the throat. The rules for entry (one vocal, one instrument) will be the same as always, but the scoring system will be streamlined and the time frame for scoring the entries will be shorter than usual. Please stay tuned.
  8. October Lyrics Contest

    Okay, maybe two lies.
  9. October Lyrics Contest

    Congratulations Donna, Iggy and LyriCal on your beautiful song lyrics! Donna, as soon as I read yours I knew the contest was over. Everything in it supported the overall theme, the prosody was impeccable, and your images were moving and memorable. Wonderful piece of writing. Donna and LyriCal, thanks so much for the shoutouts; that meant a lot to me. I had a couple of side bets going as to whether anyone would be rating mine a 5, and whether the likes would balance out the hates for a decent score. Besides the subject matter, there are other reasons someone might just think it was a piss-poor effort. I like writing polemics and love singing them, but I hardly ever put them out on the Muse. I know how I react to polemics myself, whenever I strongly disagree with what they’re saying. I don’t mean to, but I might be looking for excuses to mark them low. Sometimes along the lines of “The assertions being made here are based on nothing but lies and blather, which totally sinks the lyric for me.” That sentiment cuts both ways of course, and I completely respect that people get to do the same thing to mine! And there's at least one lie in the lyric. For one thing, I’ve never actually heard that Mr. Trump plays chess, much less that he cheats at it. Alistair, I know how ungainly a spreadsheet can get with this many entries, how you might have to scroll sideways to keep track of everything. Thanks for going to the trouble.
  10. What horrible news. I like to think he got a lot out of his Muse connections, and it's no surprise that Neal was a caring friend. Mark would say what he meant and didn't seem too bothered with how it landed. Which can make human relationships pretty thorny, but sometimes it's just the thing for a song.
  11. See? There ya go. Jim we might be talking past one another a little bit, making some of the same points as if the other hadn't already said or acknowledged that 1) singability can be a lot more important in a lyric than lyric content, and that 2) in some song forms (though as you say, not folk), the words just wash over the listener and don't sink in so it just doesn't matter as much. Also, as I've said, "bites the dust" isn't a cliche as I hear it. And as I already wrote upthread, "I love you" isn't trite. A phrase can be very, very familiar without being trite. A cliche is a figure of speech, plus being over-familiar. Not just a saying, but a figure of speech. Here's that link again: figure of speech. A cliche is basically an overused literary device: a simile, metaphor, hyperbole, etc. What can save a phrase from being a cliche is taking it out of its familiar context. "Belle of the ball" is not a figure of speech. And as familiar as it's become (which again, doesn't make something trite, as "I love you" and "I hate you" and "Take care!" and "Glad to meet you" and "You're welcome" demonstrate), you sound like you're taking it out of its over-familiar context by bringing the hot girl into the club. That freshens it up, gives it new life, and it might work well. Some of the incredibly corny wordplay of the 1980s and 1990s tried to do that with cliches in country songs. They didn't just use cliches, they twisted them into something else, which is what made them memorable, for those who like that sort of thing: "Better Love Next Time," "She Can't Say I Didn't Cry," and "This is Our Last Resort" and "I Guess You Had to Be There" come to mind as examples. Use it but change it into something else, or give it a double meaning. But don't just use it bare; do something different with it. Or don't, it you're pretty sure nobody's listening anyway. Even if I were writing in a different genre, if something was stale and boring to me, I wouldn't be laying it on a listener. I would never intentionally put something as mock worthy as a cliche in a piece of work with my name on it.
  12. Just my two cents probably qualifies as a cliche, which was possibly intentional. You can do fresher than that when the occasion demands it, no doubt. The Dylan phrase doesn't sound like a cliche to me. Except for Papa Was a Rolling Stone, I don't remember hearing it used in a lyric. Maybe I missed out on other references that make you consider it overly familiar. We shouldn't have to worry too much about coining a future cliche. "Bites the dust" is a cliche? Did it seem trite to you in Pancho and Lefty? Or did Van Zandt twist it around enough and pull it into literal relevance effectively enough to keep it fresh? And "drop it like it's hot" is a figure of speech for sure, but I only ever heard it in that one work as best I can remember. None of those phrases ever struck me as stale or lazy, to be honest. There is a subjective element to this, right? Whether a phrase seems trite to you is what makes it a cliche to you. If you're using a phrase you yourself think will seem stale and trite to your listeners, do you really think it's not better to try for something fresher and more memorable? Or are your songs mostly not about the lyric so the words are just meant to wash over he listener and it won't matter? The songs I listen to and write are definitely lyric-driven, which of course not all songs are. If a phrase bores the crap out of me, I don't want it in my song. But I'm a very slow writer, and if I had to turn over my material much faster, I might have different feelings about the words I use.
  13. A cliche isn't just a familiar phrase, it's an overly familiar figure of speech, usually a simile or some other type of metaphor, and nearly always non-literal. When you say someone was "eating like a pig," which is a cliche, you don't literally mean they were moving food around on the ground with their snout. You just mean they were eating greedily: too much, or too fast, or both. "I have to go now" is a familiar phrase, but there's nothing trite about it. Same with "Look out!" or "It's good to meet you." They're not cliches, no matter how often you hear them, because they're not figures of speech and because they're often the exact right thing to say in the moment. A cliche is never the exact right thing to say in the moment. It's the thing you might say in the moment when you're on the spot and can't think of anything better. It's not the thing you'd have your novel's hero saying in the moment, because your hero can always think of something better. "Wanna have my baby" is weak or strong in a lyric depending on where you take it, but it's not a cliche. Any time you go looking for well-received songs that have a cliche or two, even in their hook, you'll find them. Those songs would have been better yet without them; those songs don't prove that cliches are good phrases to use. If anything, they suggest lyrics matter less than melody, arrangement, performance and singability for a song's overall success.
  14. Eclipse 2017

    My guy and I are headed down Saturday for four days in Walland, Tennessee, where an old high school friend has a farm in the totality path. We’ll see the total eclipse for, I think, a minute and eight seconds. Through eclipse glasses scored from a gift shop at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space museum. I had only just reconnected with my friend Susan a couple of weeks earlier, and had no idea she was in the path. Our place in Virginia will have something like 98 percent coverage, and that was going to be awesome enough. One upside of crossing the country every year by car is figuring out what friend I might take a detour to visit on the way. My parents moved away from the city where I’d gone to high school before I’d been in college for a year. So after Freshman year, I no longer had a home base to keep returning to and keep renewing those old friendships. And Susan’s not on FaceBook. If you have the chance to reconnect with someone from your deep past, I can only say this was profoundly moving and a billion times more than worth it. We were up late into the night talking about stuff, after four decades of very little contact.
  15. Song Politics

    An actual moral right can prevail over a legal moral right, in the public eye if not in the courtroom. These song choices by campaigns can seem like attempts to create an association in the voter’s mind between the qualities of the artist and the qualities of the candidate: iconoclasm, defiance, hard-nosed nationalism, youthful vigor, whatever's going on in the song. This can elevate the candidate, but can also debase the artist’s brand when song use constitutes a perceived endorsement. It doesn’t matter whether the artist has retained the legal right to make the candidate stop using the song. The artist still has the right to complain publicly and embarrass the candidate into agreeing to stop. To so complain is sometimes necessary for the artist to protect his good name and make sure his fans know he has not personally granted permission or made an endorsement of the candidate. This also helps the opposing candidate, which is often part of the artist’s intent in making the public complaint.
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