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Dan Bern photo by Judd Irish Bradley

Inside the Song

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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Inside 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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Graydon James and Laura Spink of the Young Novelists

Behind the song: “Hear Your Voice” by the Young Novelists

Graydon James, songwriter for the Toronto-based folk-rock band the Young Novelists, shares the story behind the song "Hear Your Voice," from the album Made Us Strangers. made us strangers by the young novelists The story I rarely look too closely at my songwriting and I know why—I'm largely displeased with it. Sometimes there's this wonderful idea...

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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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Behind the song: Almost There

Oddly enough, the title track of the Almost There album was originally sparked by a song it sounds nothing like: "You Really Got Me," by the Kinks.  I love figuring out fresh, unusual arrangements of classic songs, and I'd done that with "You Really Got Me"—instead of the speedy, sliding power chords that Dave Davies played...

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Josh Dekaney on rub board

Behind the song: Closer

This track from Almost There is the latest song born out of my love of funk/soul grooves, especially created on acoustic instruments. Many of my songs come from discovering a cool rhythm on the guitar, but I've also written a number of songs just playing percussion and singing. "Sycamore Tree" (on the Stop, Drop, and Roll CD), written while banging a rhythm...

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