From acclaimed musician Bob Snider comes this two-part look inside songwriting. With the same casual precision that sets his songs apart, Snider gives us a glimpse of the songwriter’s inner workingscreative process, techniques and some of the hiding places of good ideas.
In a loosely organized, highly engaging style, Snider shimmies through matters of song structure, rhyme, diction, revision, repetition, audience response, titles and more. Taking readers from the first germination of an idea, through to test-driving a song on stage or sidewalk, he provides valuable tips for writing words to be sung. Combining his favourite tricks of the trade, nods to influential songwriters, and joking around common pitfalls in rhyme and rhythm, Snider shows how intuitive and how challenging songwriting can be. Along the way, readers get a glimpse of the life and work of one of Canada’s folk music legends.
“This essay was originally written as a lecture to be delivered to an English class at Acadia University in Wolfville, in conjunction with the Deep Roots Folk Festival,” says Snider. “I had lots of time, over two months, to work on it, and the luxury of being able to think about it most of the time. By day I was working in my four-acre field all summer, allowing me to make notes as I thought of things, even take writing breaks as desired, and generally let my mind wander around the subject, as it was prone to do. I didn’t notice until after I’d written it that the field metaphor turns up at the beginning of the lecture.”
The second half of the book provides the lyrics for, and the stories behind, ten songs, including audience favourites like “Tonight,” “Darn Folksinger” and “Sittin’ in the Kitchen.” The beginnings come in the form of witticisms, unlikely pairings, propositions and slow ruminations. Some of these songs take their cue from overheard conversations, others from chance encounters and wrong numbers. Snider recounts verses that seemed to write themselves, others that were honed over weeks and months, and one he remembers having to coax out a syllable at a time.
Delighting in his own foibles and the odd streak of luck, Snider reveals the draft stages of some of his finest lyrics, and the patience and trickery involved in teasing memorable songs out of those first couple of chords. With each song we are introduced to the friends and strangers who have sparked his creativity, and a personal philosophy built on a love of entertaining and an avid pursuit of happy accidents.
This book is a smyth-sewn paperback bound in card stock with a letterpress-printed jacket. The text was typeset by Andrew Steeves in Eric Gill’s Joanna and Gill types, and printed offset on laid paper.