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BeatleCuse 2017 poster

Behind the Song

BeatleCuse 2017 poster

Re-creating the Beatles’ “Within You Without You”

In the summer of 2016, musician and producer Paul Davie contacted me and my duo partner Wendy Sassafras Ramsay about performing in his annual BeatleCuse concert—a major event involving 70 musicians from the Syracuse area and beyond. Plans for 2017 included appearances by Joey Molland of Badfinger and Hilton Valentine of the Animals, and a complete performance of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely...

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Behind the song: “White Oak Wood” by Jonathan Byrd

North Carolina songwriter Jonathan Byrd writes songs that manage to sound both old and new—rooted in traditional folk and country yet all his own. He's also a masterful storyteller in song and in prose, as is evident in his description of writing "White Oak Wood," originally released on his 2011 album Cackalack.  Cackalack by Jonathan Byrd...

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Behind the song: “Tiny Song”

Songs begin with the tiniest things—a cool chord change, a snippet of melody, a striking image, a curious phrase overheard in a café, the churning rhythm of the dishwasher. Just one detail that somehow glows in the dark with energy and intrigue and possibility. In the case of "Tiny Song," that small detail was simply the phrase...

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Behind the song: “Reedy River” by Jennifer Kimball

In the spring, singer-songwriter Jennifer Kimball will release her first new solo album in ten years, titled Avocet. Kimball first made her mark in the '90s in the folk-pop duo the Story, with Jonatha Brooke, and has an ear for soaring melodies and adventurous harmonies. On Avocet, she found an ideal collaborator/producer in multi-instrumentalist Alec Spiegelman from Cuddle...

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Sycamore tree bark

Behind the song: “Sycamore Tree”

My song "Sycamore Tree," from the album Stop, Drop, and Roll, began with a beat played on the dining room table and grew into a complex story song—and ultimately one of my most requested songs at concerts. I'm often asked about the back story of "Sycamore Tree" so am happy that it was just featured on the podcast Tell Me About Your Song,...

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Natalia Zukerman photo by Shervin Lainez

Behind the song: “Jane Avril” by Natalia Zukerman

Songwriting games (like these ones) can be a great way to stir ideas. Here's the Brooklyn-based musician and painter Natalia Zukerman shares the story of how a prompt from fellow songwriter Willy Porter led her to the song "Jane Avril," from the album Come Thief, Come Fire. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yww4OXndFQY The story I received a songwriting challenge from my friend Willy...

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Behind the song: “The Music Never Stopped” by the Grateful Dead

In a 2008 interview for Acoustic Guitar magazine, Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead shared with me the story of writing "The Music Never Stopped" with his childhood pal John Perry Barlow. The Dead recorded the song on Blues for Allah (1975), and it remained a staple of the band's live repertoire. Inspired in part by my conversation with...

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Copyright 2019 Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers