• The Song as a Means to Greater Social Justice. What is a song? How the song, as a unity
of opposing rational word and irrational melody, works better than most other art forms at getting inside us. Great for high school students and adjustable.
• Pope, Orwell, Eliot, and Solzhenitsyn: Four requisite readings for the aspiring
songwriter today. An introductory look at how Essay On Criticism, Politics And The English Language, Tradition And The Individual Talent, and an excerpt from The Gulag Archipelago all inform what we do as songwriters.
• The Road. A practical discussion on 21st Century touring. The hows and how nots
to touring. Why touring is crucial, not just for reaching audiences, but for mining inspiration.
• Conversation With Death. Named after the classic Southern Appalachian dirge, this workshop could include all manner of songs focusing on death: murder ballads, last words, overcoming grief, essential ideas, hymnsâ€¦and neither does the mood have to be singular: many murder ballads in folk tradition are light and ironically filled with humour.
• Occupy (insert location here)! The folk singer and the folk song tradition are inherently subversive. The folk song is the soundtrack to social change. We are here, first and foremost, as agents of justice and human improvement. Here is the workshop opportunity to unapologetically take pride in this sadly unfashionable idea.
• Moral Purpose Without Isms. Amid such polarized times, todayâ€™s songwriter of conscience must transcend ideology. We are not just here to mobilize the liberal class! We are essentially here to unite people, and spread empathy. Isms alienate and over simplify: the songwriter needs to be vigilante now more than ever.
• If I Had A Rocket Launcher. The pros and cons of protest, polemic, and prayer in songs, as well as the onstage banter between songs. Successful and unsuccessful examples will be offered and discussed from earlyfolk tradition to contemporary rap, ’90s grunge, ’60s revivalism, and British punk.
• Sing What You Want To Know, Not What You Know. Let’s dispel this tired old wisdom
that songwriters only are capable of writing â€˜what they know and have lived. If we truly believed that, every songwriter would have only 5 songs to sing. Let’s take a look at appropriation of voice in song.
• The Pop Song Is Dead. Ironically titled, the idea of this talk/performance is that today, the folk song has a greater relevance to where we’re at than does the distraction typically afforded by the pop song. ‘Pop’ comes from suspiciously from above; ‘folk’ comes from below. Issues of class, power, and the distribution of wealth will be central in such a workshop.
• The Songwriters’ 3 Laws Of The Universe. Successful songwriters, whether they admit it or not, set rules for themselves. Neither an architect nor a songwriter construct a building or a song without a plan.
• Regrets, I’ve Had A Few. Sharing my embarrassing mistakes onstage and offstage along the ‘Camino of Song’ may save others some time and confidence.