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#173534 - 02/04/04 10:15 PM Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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outofthecountry Offline
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Composers and singers, if you could give lyrists advice on how to improve the "sound" of the words we have on paper (regardless of what the words say) what advice would you like to pass on?

#173535 - 02/05/04 01:40 AM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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TrumanCoyote Offline
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Easy. I would tell you to start begging, buying and borrowing as many classic records as you can get your hands on. Start with the standards from the 30's and 40's. Movie music. Then go through the rock and roll age. Concentrate on the great writers. Listen to the way the lyricists use SOUND (BTW, this is characteristic that is sorely lacking in contemporary pop music, except for rap). Listen and learn. Listen and learn. You may not LIKE the music, but that is totally beside the point. Learn from the masters, then apply what you learn to the kind of music you DO like.

All great music has one thing in common: people like it.

Have fun.

#173536 - 02/05/04 01:49 AM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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janinerivers Offline
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Thanks Coyote, that was a well recieved slap on the asss.

#173537 - 02/06/04 05:10 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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player4 Offline
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HHhhmmmmmmm, I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Dave

#173538 - 02/18/04 12:01 AM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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Dave Morgan Offline
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Two thoughts;

1) I'm a writer who has asked this question of several vocalists I've worked with. The best of them just say it's their job to deliver what they're given but they appreciate lines that flow and don't get in their own way story-wise or phonetically. I'm currently insisting that my vocalist consider himself a collaborator during the writing process. I run my drafts by for his consideration of content and singability. It's working great, and allowing me to test some ideas before wasting studio time and expense. Might not work for everybody but...

2)Current thinking is that lyrics should be "conversational" as opposed to "poetic." I think we've lost something in applying this filter too tightly. There's a big difference between being obscure and being lyrical(a close relative to poetic) in the best sense of the word. Listen to Bruce Springsteen's "My City of Ruins" on 'The Rising" if you need a current example of what I'm talking about. It sings beautifully, has simple but profound imagery and doesn't sound like anything you would hear in normal conversation. But man, does it work!

#173539 - 03/24/04 07:34 AM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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"Tampa Stan" Good (D) Offline
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"Fewer is Better"...heh.

Early Beatles Hits were composed with as FEW Words per line as-possible...(Just run "YESTERDAY" thru your Mind, f'rinstance).

Good "Condensing" coupled with Decent Rhyming..add a Pleasant Melody.. & Voila!
"Memorable Song!" {Maybe sprinkle in a Few "OOO-OOO's" too, while yer at it..heh!}

'Tain't Missile Science/Got a Proven Track Record.

Big Hugs,
Stan

#173540 - 03/24/04 01:01 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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guildslinger Offline
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I would add:

Say the words out loud.

I get the feeling that a lot of lyricists, especially here on these boards, crank out lyrics at a keyboard and never ever say the words out loud, to see how they "feel" and sound. Paying too much attention to the end rhyme as opposed to the whole package results in some tongue-twisters. Some lines are just too danged hard to deliver, and saying them out loud - even once - will make it obvious where the lines need to be "touched up."

And I also think there's a place for more words, not fewer, in certain circumstances.

#173541 - 03/24/04 02:43 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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Randall Baker Offline
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One thing I perceive as a problem with some would-be lyricists is that they see themselves ONLY as lyricists. They write their words down, following the "formulas" they've read about, making their rhymes just so...but seemingly have paid no attention to the melodic nature of what they're writing. They're not musicians, or composers, so it's someone elses job to worry about those things, I guess.

That said, I do consider myself primarily a lyricist. Lyrics are my strong suit and I'm a horrible musician, so to call myself a composer tends to create unrealistic expectations about my instrumental abilities. The fact is, I can and do compose to some extent and I think any lyricist should. If you don't at least have a good feel for melodies, I can't imagine ever obtaining any real success with songwriting.

When I write a lyric, I sing it. Most often, by singing it, I come up with a very specific melody for those lyrics. Voila...I just composed a song without ever touching an instrument. Your lyric + your melody = your song. I guess my whole point is, if you want to improve the "sound" of the words on paper, you need to actually get more involved in the sound of the words off paper.

Randy



------------------
http://www.songramp.com/homepage.ez?Who=RandyB

#173542 - 03/24/04 06:48 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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I have a friend new to songwriting. I tell him to sing the lines he's writing at tempo to fit the measure. That's the only way to see if what he's writing is 'singable'.

Up 'till now he's been hardheaded about it. I'll tell him he has too many words in a line and he'll fight me over it insisting that every word is important. Once the music is complete he finds that he can't sing the song without awkward changes in cadence or rythm that don't fit the music.

If you want something to be spoken, write a poem. A song is meant to be sung.

If you can't sing it, how do you expect anyone else to?

#173543 - 05/11/04 11:02 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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i thought that i was a pretty good writer until i bought a recorder and started making demos. it is amazing how everything looks like it flows on paper but when you turn on the click track and try to get in time you have to start changing half of the song. Now when I'm writing, after i finish a verse, i break out the metronome and sing with it. Then when i go to the recorder with the song, i know that what speed to set the click and that the song will flow with it. steve

#173544 - 05/12/04 02:07 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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First, if the lyrics board of this forum is an indication of real world lyricists, I'll say this. About 80% are writing way too much. They are over-writing. It may be 90%. Far too many lines. It took me writing about 200 songs before I _really_ got a grip on this. You bet, I write songs with lots of lines. I do. But the majority, vast majority, should be shorter rather than longer.

End rhymes with notes that a singer can hold, it's always struggle for me to make this happen and keep things fresh but it's very important. (Where the note NEEDS to be held.)

Another thing is that I don't think many people understand is how hard it is to get a song polished to sing. If I were to write a lyric with no melody in mind (and I sometimes do this), the finished song will be VASTLY different, word by word, phrase by phrase, versus the original. Your work has only begun when you write a lyric just on paper.

Songwriting is hard!

#173545 - 09/27/04 06:43 AM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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Sharpe Lurker Offline
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QUOTE:
Songwriting is hard!
/END QUOTE

You speak the truth my friend!

If it were easy everyone would be doing it and be good at it...

------------------
"digging deep in the verbal sludge of society, for the gems of interest"


"digging deep in the verbal sludge of society, for the gems of interest"
#173546 - 09/27/04 11:44 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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TheBaz Offline
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Quote
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Composers and singers, if you could give lyrists advice on how to improve the "sound" of the words we have on paper (regardless of what the words say) what advice would you like to pass on? </font>



I joined JPF after this thread was begun, and would not have seen it at all, if not for the esteemed writer above. However, maybe the following thoughts will be helpful for some.

I am a singer, songwriter, composer and musician, as well as a poet, essayist and "other", so I'm looking at this question from multiple angles.

First, the old writing adage -- "SHOW, DON'T TELL" -- goes a long way in songwriting. Create images that people can see and feel, not just words that tell them what happened. SOME people get away with "telling", but the song will probably not be a hit or last very long.

Here's an example of "telling" (i.e., BAD):

Some friends are always there,
You can cry or you can laugh.
But sometimes it seems your time
Together never lasts.


It has four lines, with rhyme scheme A,B,C,B (lines two and four are approximate rhymes -- something you'll need to learn and use! -- and lines one and three rhyme with nothing, which is common).

It says what it says, but the listener probably won't FEEL anything, because we just TOLD them about what happens or what we think.

Now, check out the same idea, but "showing" (i.e., GOOD):

We laughed out loud til we cried,
But the tears were sweet.
Midnight melted into morning,
A moment faded to memory.

(c) 2002 Jesse Butterworth, Regie Hamm, Joy Williams


Here, a story was told. The listener can imagine those nights, sitting up with friends and actually laughing yourself to tears. That feeling of it being dark, and the night of closeness seeming to last forever in the dark silence, but then the sun comes up, and there's that unspoken knowledge that "we're never going to recreate this feeling again" as you leave and go your separate ways. Maybe the parting hug is a little longer or harder than usual. You get the picture. THE PICTURE.

STUDY lyrics of songs that work. How did the writers create pictures with their words. Put them in a journal with your thoughts about them. Writing music, especially for someone new to it, is a lot of hard work until you just start to think that way.

Moving on...

Try to stay away from things that are cliche -- overused to the point of being unoriginal anymore. You WANT to use figures of speech -- things people are familiar with -- just not in the way it usually gets used.

Example: "the middle of nowhere".

This is a common phrase. If you use it in a common way, no one is going to want to hear it:

I feel so all alone
In the middle of nowhere
Like nobody loves me
Like nobody cares.


Four lines, same rhyme scheme as the one above. But it's crappy writing. It's all been said before. So, as much as the writer might feel something behind it, no one else will.

Now let's use "the middle of nowhere" in another way:

Run just as fast as I can
To the middle of nowhere,
To the middle of my frustrated fears.

(c) 2002 Pink, D. Austin


OK, that's how Pink used it in "Like a Pill". Now it takes on a whole new feel. Running to the middle of "nowhere" and comparing that with "frustrated fears" as a place someone is running (but getting nowhere) is original and gets our attention.

On we go again...

I've seen a LOT (the words "vast majority" come to mind) of songwriters concentrate on end rhymes and miss the "flow devices" throughout the lines themselves. At the very least, you should know on which words your accents fall (maybe underline them), and then be able to "say the lines rhythmically" (if you can't sing or don't have a melody in mind) with the accents WORKING. By "WORKING", I don't mean "possible". I mean FLOWING. One of my biggest pet peeves is words that wind up falling on accents that aren't natural when spoken (unless you are VERY skilled and it is a device, for a specific purpose, in the song -- a la Alanis M.). For instance, let's take the word "serious". It has a natural "foot". When spoken, it follows a pattern of LOUD-soft-soft. If you try to force that word into a rhythm as soft-soft-LOUD, you get someone singing "se-ri-OUS" instead of "SE-ri-ous", and it's bad news in general.

Like I said above, good writers HAVE TO learn to use approximate rhyme:

Here are "TRUE RHYMES": true, blue, you, do

Those can get old quickly, because they've all been used a thousand times before.

Here are "APPROXIMATE RHYMES": truth, shoes, move, loose

Those will get you a lot further. Usually, your rhyming will include plenty of "true rhymes" with a good dose of "approximate rhymes" for balance and to keep it from being stale.

Also, there's a lot more to the poetry of songwriting than rhyming. You know all that stuff you ignored in high school poetry? Foot, meter, poetic devices? Go get the book, or buy one! End rhyme -- exact (Beware!) or approximate (ahhh...) -- does NOT a singable song make!

Learn to use "internal rhyme" -- alliteration, assonance, consonance -- all that stuff they taught you in English class that you figured you'd never need.

Alliteration is the repetition of initial sounds in words that are close together (speaking of our revived friend "Cat"...):

And the cats in the cradle,
And the silver spoon,
Little Boy Blue
And the Man in the Moon.


Lots of alliteration going on here: "cats in the cradle" (two 'c' sounds repeated on the beat -- say it, FEEL it).

On with: "silver spoon", "Boy Blue", "Man in the Moon". These devices MADE this song a lasting hit.

Assonance is the repetition of middle sounds, usually vowel sounds:

Coo, coo, ca-choo, Mrs. Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray
(Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

(c) 1967 Simon & Garfunkel


Another song that's lasted forever. "Coo, coo, ca-choo" uses alliteration with the "oo" sound in that line. Same with "Wo, wo, wo". Also, "Heaven holds a place for those who pray", there's a repetition of long "o" and long "a" with "holds ... place" followed by "those ... pray". Makes a big difference to the song and how "fun" or memorable it is to sing. The short version is that people's mouths like to do these things. It's like reading Dr. Seuss. If people like the way it feels to say or sing, they'll remember it. If they remember it, the song has a better chance of being passed on, bought, requested, and being a hit.

Consonance is the repetition of end sounds. I'm sure you can figure it out from the examples I gave above. My point is that not all the poetry is in the end rhyme. It takes work to WRITE, then REWRITE a song until it "flows".

There's my mini-tutorial. Hope some of those thoughts help someone write better!

Baz/Erik
www.eriktyler.com

------------------
"The only way to get anywhere is to cross a few lines."

[This message has been edited by TheBaz (edited 09-27-2004).]


"The only way to get anywhere is to cross a few lines."
#173547 - 09/28/04 04:34 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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Kathy Bampfield Offline
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Hey whoever you are that was a nice lesson....smile...keep going....Kathy

#173548 - 09/28/04 05:26 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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Sharpe Lurker Offline
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Hello again,

I wish to thank everyone for sharing their ideas on this thread.

A special thanks to "TheBaz" for the special insight and intricate commentary that explains much to "newbies" or "noobs" like myself.

Yes songwriting can be exciting and interesting for those who want to apply the passion great songwriting requires.

One of the strong points I don't think were expounded upon was this:

A lot of great songs with staying power or that turn into "standards" have a great opening line such as...

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away...

Great opening line, lets the listener know what the song will be about from the beginning.

Don't go changing, to try and please me...

Another strong opening line or statement that sums up what the song will be about.

Not all great songs have a strong opening line but a lot do for what it is worth...
Some things never go out of style.

For lyrics to be worthy of standard status a good test would be to set the lyrics against various background music.

Good standards will cross boundaries with ease... sound good as a country song then sound just as good as popular music... like the song "I swear" first released by John Michael Montgomery.

------------------
"digging deep in the verbal sludge of society, for the gems of interest"


"digging deep in the verbal sludge of society, for the gems of interest"
#173549 - 12/25/04 11:37 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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BigAppleLyricist Offline
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Some simple rules for great lyrics.
1.Don't post a song until you have written it at least 60 times.
2. Learn how to spell and use punctuation, so you LOOK like a pro, and sound like a pro.
3. Use only those words that sound NATURAL and use lines that are LYRICAL - with the ups and downs that make it easy to sing.
4. Don't write a song until you have a catchy title.
5. Begin with a great chorus.
6. Don't use the same words more than once in a verse - but you can be repetitive in a chorus.
7. Use a laundry list or a 3 minute movie to give us PICTURES.
8. Don't write songs that are too philosophical or preachy!

[This message has been edited by BigAppleLyricist (edited 12-25-2004).]


I want to be commercial
#173550 - 12/26/04 01:05 AM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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Doug Barnett Offline
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Doug Barnett  Offline
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Check out the book ********* by Jimmy Webb.
Not just a good read, but almost a technical manual on how to craft a song from top to bottom the way he does.
You dont have to follow his path completely and there are lots of tricks to use when things dont work on paper or in playing the way they did when you thought of it.

Doug


[This message has been edited by niffgurpo (edited 12-25-2004).]

#173551 - 12/26/04 03:25 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside  
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TrumanCoyote Offline
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TrumanCoyote  Offline
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Quote
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by BigAppleLyricist:
Some simple rules for great lyrics.
</font>


I agree completely with each of these rules except for #'s 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8.

Seriously, I think these are pretty good suggestions and general guidelines, especially for those learning the craft. But rules??? No way.

#1168537 - 08/27/20 10:59 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside [Re: outofthecountry]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content

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I think tools have now advanced to the point that a lyricist with no music ability can still create tracks to write to or show off your lyric.


Brian Austin Whitney
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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

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#1168538 - 08/27/20 11:26 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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John W. Selleck Online content
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John W. Selleck  Online Content
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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
I think tools have now advanced to the point that a lyricist with no music ability can still create tracks to write to or show off your lyric.


I agree, to a point, there is still a big learning curve to understand DAWs and how they work. I am learning, and slowly getting better but I am an old "Dawg" and it's tougher to learn new tricks. There are still lots of musicians out there who could work with lyricists and make great songs. Convincing them to do that is a different matter. I am currently co-writing with 5 musicians, and slowly picking up more. I don't mind sharing %'s because I know it will make the songs better.


Have a goodun,

John W. Selleck BMI Songwriter
A day without learning is a day lost forever.

www.soundclick.com/johnsings
www.soundclick.com/johnwselleck
www.soundclick.com/johnselleck
https://www.soundclick.com/artist/default.cfm?bandID=1468958 For Selleck/Kay co-writes
#1169013 - 09/11/20 06:40 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside [Re: outofthecountry]  
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Perry Neal Crawford Offline
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Perry Neal Crawford  Offline
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Can I get a diploma for reading this thread?

#1169021 - 09/11/20 08:53 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside [Re: Perry Neal Crawford]  
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John W. Selleck Online content
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John W. Selleck  Online Content
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Originally Posted by Perry Neal Crawford
Can I get a diploma for reading this thread?

No, but there is some very good advice here!


Have a goodun,

John W. Selleck BMI Songwriter
A day without learning is a day lost forever.

www.soundclick.com/johnsings
www.soundclick.com/johnwselleck
www.soundclick.com/johnselleck
https://www.soundclick.com/artist/default.cfm?bandID=1468958 For Selleck/Kay co-writes
#1169155 - 09/14/20 04:25 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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beechnut79 Offline
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All I really do is lyrics. Have managed to get 18 demoed to music so far, would have done a lot more if the cost wasn't so prohibitive.

#1169214 - 09/15/20 05:05 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside [Re: outofthecountry]  
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John W. Selleck Online content
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John W. Selleck  Online Content
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Hi Perry,
You might give this guy a try. It worked out well for me:
http://www.jpfolks.com/forum/ubbthr...uality-music-production.html#Post1169056


Have a goodun,

John W. Selleck BMI Songwriter
A day without learning is a day lost forever.

www.soundclick.com/johnsings
www.soundclick.com/johnwselleck
www.soundclick.com/johnselleck
https://www.soundclick.com/artist/default.cfm?bandID=1468958 For Selleck/Kay co-writes
#1169397 - 09/20/20 04:51 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside [Re: John W. Selleck]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 19,151
Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content

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Indianapolis, IN USA
John,

Not sure what you were linking to but that page doesn't exist.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@gmail.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/justplainfolks

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

"It's easier to be the bigger man when you actually are..."

[Linked Image]
#1169401 - 09/20/20 08:45 PM Re: Giving lyrists a slap of the backside [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,381
John W. Selleck Online content
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John W. Selleck  Online Content
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NJ
Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
John,

Not sure what you were linking to but that page doesn't exist.

Brian

Hi Brian,
It worked when I posted it, I copied and pasted it from here:

http://www.jpfolks.com/forum/ubbthr...uality-music-production.html#Post1169056


Have a goodun,

John W. Selleck BMI Songwriter
A day without learning is a day lost forever.

www.soundclick.com/johnsings
www.soundclick.com/johnwselleck
www.soundclick.com/johnselleck
https://www.soundclick.com/artist/default.cfm?bandID=1468958 For Selleck/Kay co-writes

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