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SEPTEMBER 2018: WRITING FOR COUNTRY/AMERICANA GENRES
This month we will be spotlighting content focused on the songwriting craft and business of writing for Country and Americana genres! Hear from industry professionals and songwriters on their advice for this topic.
 

STRUCTURE AND STORYTELLING OF THE COUNTRY GENRE



QUICK TIPS FOR WRITING COUNTRY
In this feature, country songwriter Brent Baxter shares his "Map to Writing Competitive Lyrics" and tips for cow-writing and handling feedback. 

BLOG: SIMPLE, BUT NOT SIMPLISTIC
Brent Baxter breaks down simple lyrics with meaning in this new blog post

BLOG: YOUR M.A.P. TO WRITING COMPETITIVE SONG LYRICS
Brent Baxter walks through three characteristics of competitive lyrics

THROWBACK VIDEO: CRAIG WISEMAN & TIM NICHOLS GIVE CO-WRITING ADVICE TO BEGINNERS
Award-winning pro writers Craig Wiseman and Tim Nichols, who co-wrote Tim McGraw's hit song "Live Like You Were Dying," as well as numerous other hits, give advice for songwriters new to co-writing.

BEST PRACTICES FOR WRITING COMMERCIAL COUNTRY FEATURING DAVE TURNBULL
We had a chance to sit down with the great Dave Turnbull about his songwriting methods. Dave has had mega hits like “Boys of Fall” and “Outskirts of Heaven” and we wanted to get his take on how his hits have come to existence. 


EXERCISES: CREATING RESOURCES TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS

  1.    Write about someone else. Go to a coffee shop, a mall or even a crowded restaurant and take notes about the people you see around you. Pick a specific subject and write down everything you can tell about them immediately (not in a creepy way, but in an observant, detailed way). Create a character in your mind for them. Use your details to form your descriptive lyrical content that will make the song stronger. Americana has a way of attaching itself to details and the blues like no other genre. Use that to your advantage.  Example: “She had blond hair and a sad-looking stare.”

    2.    Pick a word. Open a dictionary and put your finger down. Whatever word it lands on, no matter what, write about that. Make yourself write an entire song without stopping. It can be silly or nonsense, but it will exercise your mind and give you a better grip on rhyming. Sometimes this will help with writer’s block because it offers a new perspective without trying to overdo it with meaningful lyrics. Taking a break from the seriousness that is sometimes linked to Americana will keep your writing unique and fresh.

 

 

STRUCTURE AND STORYTELLING OF THE AMERICANA GENRE



ELEMENTS OF THE AMERICANA GENRE WITH ELIZABETH ELKINS
In this video, Elizabeth Elkins shares her perspective on Americana music and how it is the genre that "borrows from everyone else." She shares her experience touring as a punk-rock artist and what is was like transitioning from that genre to Country and Americana storytelling. You'll learn about the difference and similarities between Country and Americana, advice for writers starting out and more. Elizabeth is a pro-writer and member of Americana duo, Granville Automatic.


EXERCISES: CREATING RESOURCES TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS

  1.    Be your favorite Americana artist for the day. Look up the top Americana bands of recent years. You will probably find The Lumineers who are famous for the mega hit “Ho Hey” or The Avett Brothers who are constantly churning out festival sing-alongs. Maybe you are a Jason Isbell fan and love the Drive-By Truckers. Get in their mindset. Do some digging on what they do everyday. Look them up on social media. What kind of places are they visiting? How often do they put out music and do you notice a specific theme amongst their albums? As childish as it seems, pretend you are them. Pretend you are about to visit a cabin in the hills of Kentucky for a 2 week writing retreat with your band. Write about the nature and fellowship you would experience while on this writing escape. Americana is so similar to country in the way it uses detail to give us imagery as we listen. The love of nature, being outdoors and fellowship with friends and loved ones is something both of these genres share. 

  2.    Vocabulary. Get yourself a thesaurus and go to town. Not every lyric has to rhyme, especially in Americana, so use that to your advantage! Write the most simplistic version of the song you are thinking of and then circle all the overused words like ‘very,’ ‘good.’ or ‘yeah.’ Replace those words with other synonyms that are more intriguing. I can tell you about a thousand songs with the same pattern of words a different way, but I can go into detail about the ones that were unique and stuck with me. The ones that stuck are the ones with the best vocabulary because it’s not about using the biggest words; it’s about using a simple line of words in a different way than what you’ve already heard. The joy of Americana is staying outside the lines a lot more than in structured, commercial country. 

 

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