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Writing

Behind the song: “The Story” by Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile's breakthrough song "The Story," the title track of her 2007 album, sounds intensely personal, even cathartic. Carlile must be singing from raw experience, right? Actually, no. Her bandmate Phil Hanseroth wrote "The Story" before they even started playing together. Since her debut, all of the music appearing under the name Brandi Carlile has...

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Jason Mraz Acoustic Guitar magazine

Behind the song: “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat

"Lucky," the sweet, swaying duet written by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat with Tim Fagan, was originally released on Jason Mraz's 2008 album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.  During an interview for Acoustic Guitar magazine (published in the October 2010 issue), Mraz told me that "Lucky"—like six of the tracks on the We Sing album—originated...

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Behind the Song: “When the Master Calls the Roll” by Rosanne Cash

"When the Master Calls the Roll," a brilliant story song from Rosanne Cash's triple-Grammy-winning album The River and the Thread, has a back story that must be a rarity in the annals of songwriting: an artist co-wrote it with her husband and ex-husband. In the case of this song, Cash's collaborators were producer/guitarist John Leventhal...

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Behind the song: “Sunny Came Home” by Shawn Colvin

“Sunny Came Home,” Shawn Colvin’s bright-sounding but lyrically dark song that scored Grammies in 1998 for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year, has a highly unlikely origin story. In 2017, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary release of the album A Few Small Repairs, Colvin shared the recollections below about...

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Chris Thile on being a “serious, curious” musician

I think serious, curious musicians owe it to themselves and to the music-loving public to avail themselves of all the tools. You run into a lot of people who are consciously leaving vast swaths of their potential musicianship undeveloped in the name of staying pure. Those kinds of decisions don’t achieve the desired result, because...

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David Rawlings on writing songs from tradition

[Poor David's Almanack] came out of 20 years of thinking about folk music and the roots of things, and seeing that so much beauty comes out of the fluidity of writing from things that move you. Sometimes I listen to songs that I love and I think, 'Wow, it’s like we’re all standing on the...

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Songwriting lesson: how to write a bridge

Think of the timeless ballad “Something,” from the Beatles’ Abbey Road, in which George Harrison muses on his lover’s allure over a wistful chord progression in the key of C. He sings a verse and loops back for another by way of the song’s signature guitar line, but the second time he lands not on a...

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Copyright 2019 Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers