What’s next on the bucket list when you’ve sold 16 million albums and garnered three Grammy nominations, two American Music Awards, and five BMI Pop Awards for songwriting, including BMI’s coveted "Songwriter of the Year" award? How about going back to the basement…?!
I work with a lot of songwriters on through SongTown USA that are trying to turn their hobby into a profession. The most common mistake I see in those aspiring songwriters is that their songs tend to wander around. They start strong with the first verse. It tends to stay on topic. By the time they get to the chorus, they are chasing a couple of rabbits down different trails. The second verse is where it usually falls apart. By the time they get to the bridge, there are rabbits running everywhere.
“It’s hard to recover from a bad year,” sings Terry Price in the opening track of my favorite release of 2013, Photo Ops’How To Say Goodbye. “Friends that were with us are no longer near / But hey, I’m glad to be alive.” As Price’s first release under the alias of Photo Ops, the shimmering guitar pop found within How To Say Goodbye is a deeply personal ode to death, loss, growing up and moving on.
My favorite acoustic-based album of 2013 would be Charlie Worsham’s Rubberband. Mississippi boy Charlie Worsham was a child prodigy. Before he went through puberty, he had already played banjo on the Grand Ole Opry stage with Earl Scruggs. His guitar skills are unmatched among modern country artists. He is one of the rare artists who actually plays lead guitar while singing. If you go to a Charlie Worsham show, it will be Charlie, not a hired gun playing the solos for each song.
I’m delighted to share our first songwriter spotlight! This month we are featuring Maureen “Mo” Blumenthal, whose song “For Crying Out Loud,” won best song of the month at the West Coast Songwriter’s Contra Costa chapter in December 2013.
There was one artist who probably channeled the true spirit of the city better than any other. Sixto Rodriguez, a little-known singer-songwriter who released just two albums, had an incredible way of voicing the myriad frustrations of lower-class Americans in the late 1960s. His story, immortalized in the Academy Award-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” is truly an amazing one. His two albums, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality, were completely ignored in America at the time of their release.