Plenty of folks don't use Twitter. If you are one of those folks, you didn't see some brief songwriting thoughts I wrote over there earlier this week. I feel like sharing those here.
I have been learning Fountains Of Wayne songs on piano recently, mostly due to my love and admiration for fellow bass player Adam Schlesinger and his work... That said, for any songwriter, the catalog of songs written by Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger is basically a "how-to" on the craft... Here are some things that I am taking note of as I work my way through learning the songs from across all of the Fountains Of Wayne albums.
The songs are simple. The country song in the catalog has only 3 major key chords (keeping in mind the axiom about how many chords country songs need to be)... You won't find a great deal of suspended or diminished chords, not a lot of add9 or 13 chords... the occasional 7 chord yes, but it's mostly major and minor triads... Personally, I like messing around with more complicated chords when I write songs, and of course, there isn't anything wrong with that... but these songs are a good reminder that you can keep it very very very simple and succeed.
When there is a bridge, it is exemplary. I would love to just take the Fountains Of Wayne bridge-writing skill and append it to my brain.
The leading chords into a chorus, back into a verse, and anywhere they need a turnaround... their choices with these are impeccable.
The tactic of changing the key for the last verse and chorus of a song... they don't go to that all that often, but when they do, it works perfectly.
Professional songwriting "experts" will tell you to not make specific references to locations or people in your songs. Fountains Of Wayne does this as many times as they like. Places throughout New York and New Jersey are named clearly in their songs. As a Midwesterner, I never had the experience growing up of driving over the Tappan Zee bridge, down I-95, on the LIE, riding the Acela, or being led into Penn Station. That doesn't matter. I don't enjoy the songs any less. The songs would not be better if those specific life experiences were homogenized or made generic. Write what you know. Write for YOU first. They do this over and over again. "Hackensack" is a brilliant song, and someone not having visited it does not change that.
The lyrics have clearly been chosen with care. There are interesting and non-obvious rhymes and near rhymes. For the most part they are all sorts of conversational.
If you write songs, definitely re-visit these albums.
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