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"Bags"...


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What "bag" are you in (to use a 60s term)? Do you, or can you write in a "bag"?

 

Okay, what the hell is Tedster talking about?

 

Well, when I was about 18, I was in a metal band. They were like "Write songs, but they've gotta be metal".

 

When I was a little older, I was in a band that did mostly southern style rock. They said, "Write songs, but they've gotta sound like Charlie Allman Skynrd".

 

I played with a Christian Rock band for awhile when I was in my mid 20s. "Write songs, but they've gotta be inspirational". (This is not to start a religious debate here, just an illustration).

 

Styx kicked Dennis DeYoung out because they wanted to do rock and roll and DeYoung was writing sappy love songs.

 

I just saw a promo for the "Foreigner" story where they were talking "We never should have recorded 'I Wanna Know What Love Is'".

 

Can you mold your creativity at will? For me, if I get an idea, there will be some use to it. I hate people who get into "bags"...categorizing themselves and limiting their output because it doesn't fit into a particular niche. My favorite bands weren't in a "bag". What bag were the Beatles in? Another one of my favorite songwriters, Todd Rundgren, refuses to have anything to do with "bags". True, it's hurt his career, in that if he'd stuck with a formula, he probably could have been pretty popular, like N'Sync. Well maybe not like N'Sync...but that was a little jab at the bag thing again. "We can't do that song, it's not a 'boy band' song".

 

If you ask me, "bags" are like the musical C-clamps put on songwriters' gonads to make them turn out uniform, broadly commercially acceptable material.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Well, personally I have a really hard time "tailoring" my work. I just write whatever comes out. That said, there's a lot of stuff that would probably never come out. :D Since I have very definite tastes it's no shock that most of what I write reflects my tastes. That could be called a "bag" - but it sounds like you're referring to it in the sense of deliberately limiting yourself for the sake of commercialism or whatever. Yeah, that would suck. There may be some songs I write that wouldn't be right for my band, I suppose, but I'd still write them, and if they were good maybe give them to somebody else who could do them justice.

 

--Lee

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I just write and write, and not worry about it. 99% will never be heard by another human. What's leftover is cultivated into "does this make any sense to play live?", and then if I have enough I make a band of it.

 

My problem is that I never seem to write anything that is blatantly squarely in one "genre".

Guitar Lessons in Augusta Georgia: www.chipmcdonald.com

Eccentric blog: https://chipmcdonaldblog.blogspot.com/

 

/ "big ass windbag" - Bruce Swedien

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Originally posted by Chip McDonald:

.

My problem is that I never seem to write anything that is blatantly squarely in one "genre".

Well, that's exactly my point, Chip...why should that be a problem? But, for some people, it is. They're so limited by "Well, I've gotta write a jazz tune" or "country tune" or "death metal tune" or whatever, they can't just think in terms of writing a "tune", and they are thereby putting limits on their creativity. Could be for the sake of commercialism, or it could be for the sake of "cool"...y'know, a Goth dude gets a great idea for a country song but is too stupidly proud to write it down...it wouldn't be "cool" to have his name attached to a country song. Or vice versa.

 

Just think, that guy could have a band and call it "Goth Brooks"...

 

Oh yeah, and Lee's got the right idea...if you come up with something that you couldn't do justice to, find someone who could.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Blag on bags:

 

While I appreciate the point that limiting yourself to one specific genre or "bag" can stifle your overall creativity, there is a flip side to that coin. Intentionally setting out to write for a specific genere can force you to think in directions you may never come across otherwise. I tend to think of it like practicing literary scales. While it may not be fun to limit ourselves it can sharpen our chops and make us better writers. :thu::thu::thu::P:P

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I`m in a bag, but it`s because I want to be. No, that`s not right. The lyrics all come from the same place, the music that goes with the lyrics can be classified as anything. Kcbass

 "Let It Be!"

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Well I write in a North Chicago Polka style with tinges of Madagascar folk music thrown in..... :)

 

Everything I do (seriously) comes out with a bit of a twang, it can rock like Zepplin and still have that goin on. I write for me though, and hope for the best. :)

Down like a dollar comin up against a yen, doin pretty good for the shape I'm in
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I've been thinking about this post and wonder how much control we have over our "bag"

 

My definition of "bag" would be something like the

conglamoration of musical roots and influences that sparked my love for music and the craft of writing. Realistically, can I just lay that bag aside and take on a new one? It almost seems like trying to be another completely different person.

 

After days of thought, that's about all I've been able to come up with. It seems the idea of just what our individual bag is is quite complicated.

 

>>Everything I do (seriously) comes out with a bit of a twang,<<

 

GS kinda hits the nail on the head for me. No matter what you may try to be, that which you are is gonna have it's influence.

 

And that's way more than I need to be trying to understand before morning coffee.

 

Let the new day begin. ;)

William F. Turner

Songwriter

turnersongs

 

Sometimes the truth is rude...

tough shit... get used to it.

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Okay, our first CD:

 

End of the Day -This is a love song. The solo is a musical cannon form between organ, strings, brass and choir. Me and my partner switch off on lead vocal.

 

Unusual Evening -This one is a syncopated pop ditty with a sorta McVee/Buckingham piano/guitar texture going on. Screaming guitar lead solo and me on lead vocal.

 

The One You Love -This one is a lick song in a Pat Benetarish style. Has an odd meter, in fact, my partner wrote the words and melody ages ago and nobody could put music to it until me. Very rock feel, lead vocal borrows some country licks and feel and features a portion where all the music drops out except drums, percussion and a slew of voices singing the chorus.

 

Chain Letters of Love -This one is very scampering 'Rockpile' feeling song. Me on lead vocal and as close as I can get to an Albert Leeish lead.

 

That Won't Bring You Back To Me -This is a piano/strings slow ballad with Brian Mayish lead intro and outro sang by my partner.

 

Doctor at 9:00 This one is folk I guess; acoustic guitars, mandolin and bass guitar, sung by me. The cannibol song I described in the songwriting thread.

 

Easier Said Than Done (Hey Anifa, ours is copyright 1998, when's yours? :) ) -This one is jazzish with loads of maj7 chords etc and very driving bass guitar. Acoustic guitar solo, sang by my partner.

 

Once In Every Lifetime -I wanted to write a traveling minstral song, something that could be played and sang by guys walking around from town to town so it's all acoustics, mando double lead and recorder solo. Vocal by me.

 

Living for the Moment -A rocker, piano/organ, lead and rhythm guitars, drums and bass sang by my partner. Bunches of answer BG vox.

 

Anything Can Happen -Okay, I wrote this one pretending I was a Beatle in the early mid 60s. Brit invasion sounding except the lead solo is more modern (Boogie screaming). Dual lead vocals.

 

Mr Bob -This one just has 2 acoustic guitars and mandolin. Selena sings it and a whole choir of Selena's do answer vocals. It's a very sparse, intimate, felt song with deep lyrics (I can say that cause I didn't write them).

 

She Said -A sort of pop/new wavish song. One of the ones where I woke up and the whole thing came pouring out of my head. Cool beat changes and my best guitar solo to date IMO.

 

So what's our bag?

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Seems like the best songwriters, or rather songwriters that I really like, kinda transcend the genre that critics, music labels and industry pundits try to put on them. I mean Elvis Costello, The Beatles are classified as rock but are they really? Seems like they kinda hit a lot of genres. I always though Allison could be redone as a Bebop number or cocktail/acid jazz. Call me a little off the beaten path :D

 

I've heard some very nice arrangements of Beatle songs on a CD called Beatle Jazz. With the right vocalist they could have clearly been released as such or as is with no vocal at all. I really don't think they would have lost any of there timeliness.

 

I guess the point is that wherever songs come from they should come out as is whatever genre they are.

 

So tell me folks what comes first. The music or the vocal? Doesn't it bug you hear a real classic redone as muzak? Inquiring minds and budding songwriters want to know!

 

RobT

RobT

 

Famous Musical Quotes: "I would rather play Chiquita Banana and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve" - Xavier Cugat

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Hee hee...

I don't have any problems with any "bag" I pick up. Basically, I just try to do whatever the genre (or collaborators) require for the song. I've played with all kinds of acts: pop, punk, r&b, acoustic, metal, hardcore, funk, hip-hop, etc. There are certain signature elements to each style, so I just figure out what the writer needs, and then I do my part. I don't try to stick a square peg into a round hole.... unless, of course, that's what they want. I find it's easiest for me to do this when I play bass.

 

However, when I write my own stuff on guitar, I just do what I like, which is usually a mish-mosh of groovy hardcore/metal/swingin'goodness. I guess I'm into a sort of modern-day Benny Goodman with a guitar and a lot of gain... I don't particularly worry about fitting into a genre particularly, although I am aware that I discard ideas that might lead me into a direction that would be inconsistent with the style I have been cultivating for myself. I just concentrate on the project at hand until it's done.

 

Since I'm not particularly technically gifted, my musical myopia can lead me into some interesting areas -- for example, I had a really old-school, speedy, bluesy chromatic Sabbath riff and I couldn't figure out what to do with it... So I looked at the root note of the riff (D) and found an open-stringed drone that fit with it. The drone sounded nice over the riff for an intro, but I wanted to make the verse part a more urgent-sounding in order to drive the vocals, so I started thinking about songs with that feel. I thought of "Psycho Killer" by The Talking Heads... You know that little guitar lick at the end of the song that sounds kind of dissonant? I always thought that was a cool part... but I couldn't figure it out, and I didn't have a copy of the song, either. So I did an impression of the dissonant lick in a sort of mutated upstroke Ska groove. Somehow it fit right on top of that Sabbath riff. Nobody would ever know that I was copping that lick, because, in retrospect, the lick I play is NOTHING like the one I was trying to imitate. The song wound up sounding completely different from other hardcore tunes, and yet it's similar enough to much of the genre that it fits in.... I think this might be called "accidentally" creating a new bag.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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I haven't written enough to be "bagged". But I was in a band that had three good writers. One of the things that came out was that the arrangement often determined the "bag" (not always, but often). Subtle changes to the medley or riff changed the whole style. We sometimes "re-bagged" a song by altering a part here or there (we had our limitations, but we did a vary the styles a bit). What happened sometimes was that when the author played the song for the band, we all picked up on it and added parts of our own. And the song no longer had the feel that the author intended. If it worked, we went with it. If it didn't work, the author "back bagged" us, and we started again.

 

I think many artists over the years restricted themselves to a limited style set. Some albums I have from the 60's contained so many different styles. As long as the quality is there, you can do many styles on an album.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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I think as a writer it's not all that difficult to write in different 'bags'.

 

What I DO think is difficult is to be a recording artist and stray from your original 'bag'. Think about it. How many performers make a career out of their 'bag'? Most of them eh? Solo singers can sometimes pull it off so you'll get the occasional 'Kid Rock sings the Songs of Irving Berlin' but the vast majority stay within their genre (fancy word for 'bag').

 

bob

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Gee Tedster,

 

A "BAG?" My bag is SO full of different tunes that I have written over time that if indeed I ever tried to perform them all in one setting, people would swear that I was Schizophrenic. :freak: I try to keep a mutual feeling going which is where the "bag" comes in. Someone mentioned "Foreigner" earlier and I remember buying the album that had "Waiting for a Girl Like You" on it. I liked most of the songs on the album, but it drove me crazy trying to listen to it all the way through. If I was in a subtle romantic kind of mood, which fit the tone of "Waiting for a Girl Like You," the LAST thing I wanted to hear was "Jukebox Hero" and visa versa. The album ended up getting tossed to the wayside because there was too much versatility to allow a mood to be fluent. That's the "BAG" thing..... Another great flop, Kenny Rogers, "I Don't Need You;" great love song, but "You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me Lucille" was a mood killer presented on the same cut if you were feeling romantic. Again, both were good songs in the right setting but I never played the album because there were too many other artists that held the tone throughout the entire album; nowadays CD's.

You can take the man away from his music, but you can't take the music out of the man.

 

Books by Craig Anderton through Amazon

 

Sweetwater: Bruce Swedien\'s "Make Mine Music"

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Hi! (de-lurking off the port bow)

 

I would sum up the Tedster's bag issue as follows:

 

If you are trying to sell songs

They had better be in a bag

The bag had beter be the right color

Be prepared to re-bag at publisher's whim

BUT if you are writing for your own evil purposes

Don't worry about the bag

Everyone will put you in a bag anyway

(as in eewwwww, FOLK music)

 

In the end, it's a question of whether your bag is half empty or half full.

 

-Mark Armand

Rubber Lizard Studio
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My problem isn't that I can't write something of a specific genre - I can, very easily - it's that if I write something that satisfies me, it almost always can't be readily categorized. It's like "sort of blues", "sort of pop", "sort of fusion", etc.

 

I suppose if I actually concentrated on writing "pop songs", I'd eventually start getting some that were "satisfying". Which is why I wonder if I should try "aiming" for a change, instead of just flowing stuff out, which apparently I can do endlessly until the end of time. The problem is, I need an excuse to focus on one style like that - a singer, or some other specific reason.

 

Oh well.

Guitar Lessons in Augusta Georgia: www.chipmcdonald.com

Eccentric blog: https://chipmcdonaldblog.blogspot.com/

 

/ "big ass windbag" - Bruce Swedien

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  • 4 weeks later...
Originally posted by d:

Bringing another loose thread back from the dead, I thought that John'N'Yoko ended all that "baggism".

Actually, funny you should mention that, because John and Yoko's idea is alive and well in a form that John couldn't have begun to appreciate; namely, the internet. We are wearing "bags" right now as we converse, we're judging each other solely on the merits of our discourse. It doesn't matter if we're male or female, black or white, skinny or fat, ugly or beautiful, rich or poor. We're equal on the web. That's what Lennon was getting at, I believe. I think he'd be quite happy, actually. Of course, you have jerks abusing it, pedophiles prowling teen chatrooms and whatnot, but, mostly, it's pretty cool.
"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Many of the artists that we would hear on the radio are in a situation that their record label has `right of first refusal`. The artist can actually be sent back into the studio if the label feels that their work is too far removed from previous efforts. Michelle Shocked and Aimee Mann are both famous cases. So, just because we

hear songs in a certain genre, doesn`t mean the

writer doesn`t have songs that are totally different. They just have to put them out in a different situation.

On some of my songs I like to rock hard, but

if I`m completely objective about it, I know I can`t howl like David Lee Roth or growl like James Hetfield. I can do just fine on most of them but there are a few that would bebefit from that kind of voice. Well, it ain`t gonna happen from me, even if I take up tobacco.

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Originally posted by skip:

On some of my songs I like to rock hard, but

if I`m completely objective about it, I know I can`t howl like David Lee Roth or growl like James Hetfield. I can do just fine on most of them but there are a few that would bebefit from that kind of voice. Well, it ain`t gonna happen from me, even if I take up tobacco.

So, on those instances, you take off your "vocalist performer" hat, and put on your "producer/orchestra director :D " hat, and do what Frank Zappa would have done, find the right vocalist for that song and use them... :D
"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Hey Tedster

Ya know, I`ve thought about that. The scenario that always makes me cringe is, `what if it`s a hit?` here`s what:

a. everybody identifies YOUR song with another singer

b. if you want to perform the song (which you may really like) you may have to tow the singer along

c. the singer-not you-gets all the offers

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Well, what you describe is the "Ted Nugent/Derek St. James" feud. Nugent was the Star. One doesn't fuck with Nugent. He hired St. James to sing his tunes. Derek was a relatively great singer...so you had Nugent, the star, being upstaged by a sideman. Nugent then arranges it so he sings the "hits"...or something..eventually, the quarrels led to Nugent's canning of St. James. But, they've mended their fences now.

 

If you're the mastermind behind the music...that's the important thing in my book. But, ultimately it's your call. I wouldn't let my "performer" ego get in the way of my "creative genius" ego. But, what works for some may not work for others.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Originally posted by skip:

... The scenario that always makes me cringe is, `what if it`s a hit?` here`s what:

a. everybody identifies YOUR song with another singer

b. if you want to perform the song (which you may really like) you may have to tow the singer along

c. the singer-not you-gets all the offers

Yeah, but what if, say, Robbie Robertson (or,oh,Willie Dixon) had worried about that...?

I agree with T---(to paraphrase)the end result is what's important.

Hey, maybe that's my bag---justifying the means (...if not the margins) !

...& here's my new slogan, "Pop has got a brand new bag"(dadadadadadada-da)!

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  • 3 weeks later...
Originally posted by skip:

Hey Tedster

Ya know, I`ve thought about that. The scenario that always makes me cringe is, `what if it`s a hit?` here`s what:

a. everybody identifies YOUR song with another singer

b. if you want to perform the song (which you may really like) you may have to tow the singer along

c. the singer-not you-gets all the offers

I agree with Tedster on this one, so what if???

 

If YOUR song is a HIT by any other name, YOUR name is going to go up in the credits as the writer.

 

If you want to perform the song live and you do not feel competent in doing so; the TOW the singer. Otherwise, be happy with your delivery of vocals or scrap the song from your play roster.

 

Who gets all the offers? The singer may be the artist that gets signed, but for him to be able to use YOUR song materials, then it means the YOU get signed as a writer also. Providing that you have all your copyrights in order.

You can take the man away from his music, but you can't take the music out of the man.

 

Books by Craig Anderton through Amazon

 

Sweetwater: Bruce Swedien\'s "Make Mine Music"

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Two words...

 

Burt Bacharach.

 

I know most of us are in rock mode...but think of all of the classic pop/easy listening tunes that Bacharach/Hal David wrote...and Burt himself had a very weak voice. But, his tunes had that characteristic, almost instantly recognizable quality about them. You'd hear Dionne Warwick, and go "Bacharach".

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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you folks are probably right, but for now I`m approaching it the other way around. First I want to get a good recording of some of this stuff. Later I may look around for a growler/howler type, but I`m still trying to figure out how to pay for recording my own performance, let alone hiring someone else. I do have an early recording of one song with another singer that sounds really good, except for the cheesy synth drums. In fact it would be great on a demo if it weren`t for that problem.
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Originally posted by anifa:

[quote

 

If YOUR song is a HIT by any other name, YOUR name is going to go up in the credits as the writer.

If you mean that your name gets put in those small parentheses under the title, instead of the big print the "star" gets, you're right!

 

But it's no guarantee of continued success. Quick! Without running to your CD collection, or going to other websites, off the top of your heads, give me the name of the person who wrote

"Unchained Melody"! And toss in a couple of other songs he/she wrote!

 

Don't forget about "Tin Pan Alley", where songwriters worked in near assembly-line proccesses and STILL remain anonymous despite untold hit songs being written!

 

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Yeah, I mean I can`t say whether someone like Bacharach really wanted to be a performer but ended up doing great things for other people, or whether he was content with his lot. I know that it would make me nuts if I KNEW I could be a performing artist, but all anyone wanted is my songs, done by someone else. It`s not a bad thing but it`s not what I would want, either. Too much like getting to WATCH a wild night with a supermodel...
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