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Peter Mulvey

Complete Singer-Songwriter

Peter Mulvey

Behind the song: “What Else Was It?” by Peter Mulvey

Folk-rock troubadour Peter Mulvey shares the story behind his song "What Else Was It?" from the album Silver Ladder.  The story We all think of our "selves" as a concrete thing. It's an inescapable part of being human, this constant sense that "I am me." And of course, philosophically, and even common sense-wise, this just doesn't...

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John Fogerty Acoustic Guitar interview

Behind the song: “Train of Fools” by John Fogerty

John Fogerty shared the story behind his song “Train of Fools,” and a moment of songwriting glory, in a 2014 Acoustic Guitar interview with me at his home in Los Angeles. He had just released the album Wrote a Song for Everyone, on which he revisited older songs with an array of pop, rock, and country...

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Heather Aubrey Lloyd

Behind the song: “Even Now” by Heather Aubrey Lloyd

Heather Aubrey Lloyd, of the band ilyAIMY, shares the story behind her song "Even Now," from A Message in the Mess (Vol. 1). The Story At a master class for guitar/songwriting high school students a couple weeks ago, I told them how eventually you run out of interesting things to write about yourself and your broken heart. Eventually,...

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Blues/rock chord changes lesson Back in the U.S.S.R.

Blues/rock chord changes

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter (Backbeat Books). Click the cover for more info. Go ahead: grab an open-position E chord on your guitar and give it a few good, hard strums. Do the same on a D chord and then an A. Get a steady rhythm going and keep circling around, E–D–A. Stand and sling your...

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Kingsmen Louie Louie cover

How to unlock I-IV-V progressions

The chord trinity known as I–IV–V is one of the most useful theoretical concepts for any musician. The I–IV–V is a skeleton key for countless songs in folk, country, rock, blues, and beyond, revealing the basic similarities of, say, “Louie Louie,” “Ring of Fire,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Helpless,” “Three Little Birds,” “I Still Haven’t Found...

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Simple chord substitutions

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter Let’s say you’re working on a song idea and playing some chords—you start on G, switch to C and back to G, go to D, and resolve to G. That chord progression sounds perfectly good but seems a little too familiar. You feel like you could be playing a thousand...

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Chord progressions in minor keys

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter Minor keys are often said to be brooding and sad, but not all minor key songs are as bleak as, say, “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.” They can also be soothing (George Gershwin’s “Summertime”), funky (the Commodores’ “Brick House”), or upbeat and rocking (Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing”). Chord progressions...

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Manzer guitar closeup

Share the story behind your song

Songwriters: I'm seeking submissions for Behind the Song, a new feature on the Complete Singer-Songwriter website where artists talk about the creation of one of their songs. And I’d love to hear from you. I’m especially interested in featuring songs/stories that illuminate an important aspect of the creative process and offer lessons other songwriters can apply to their...

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Understanding song form

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter (Backbeat Books). Click the cover for more info. Beneath all the nuances of melodies and lyrics, most songs are built from the same basic parts—some kind of sequence of verse, chorus, bridge, and so on. For writing a song, learning to play someone else’s song, or communicating with other musicians,...

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Chord progressions in major keys

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter Chord progressions are the engine of songwriting. The melodic or lyrical hook may be what lodges in people’s heads, and an insistent beat may dominate the mix, but the chord progression is what makes everything move. By itself, a chord is just a static thing—a few notes stacked together—but a group...

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Copyright 2019 Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers