Mr. Dill wrote “Long Black Veil” with Marijohn Wilkin, a that song has been recorded by Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Cash, Jerry Garcia and a slew of others. His “Detroit City,” written with Mel Tillis, became a standard when recorded by Bobby Bare. Largely on the strength of those songs, Mr. Dill was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975.
He was one of the first established songwriters Karsten and I had a chance to meet and hear perform in an intimate setting when we first moved to town five and a half years ago. It was a pretty powerful Nashville experience to hear him play “Long Black Veil” while we were sitting not 20 feet away in a living room with maybe two dozen other songwriters.
Our condolences to his family and friends.
The Nashville Feed has a great entry today about the “science” of cutting a killer demo, but the write-up goes on to demonstrate that it’s really anything but science. Several anecdotes from hit songwriters and producers nail the dilemma: music professionals often claim to prefer a work tape, because they say they want to hear their own interpretations, but a good many of the so-called “golden ears” on Music Row don’t seem to be as objective as they might claim. From what we’ve observed (and I’m not just talking about our own pitching, but what we’ve been witness to in various pitch sessions), a slightly less commercial song wrapped up in a well-polished demo has a better chance of being noticed than a slightly more commercial song recorded at home with just a guitar and some less-than-stellar vocals.
Perhaps the best of both worlds might be to make a home recording, but use a great singer. That’s an approach we’ve thought about taking, but in the end, we always feel our songs are better represented by studio demos anyway.
Anyway, the entry goes on to include a bulleted list of “how to make your demos real contenders,” and based on Karsten’s and my experience, there’s some good wisdom there. For example:
Trust Your Musicians: “In Nashville the session musicians are the best in the world at getting demos done,” said Hambridge. “Songwriters are not usually producers, but good musicians spend so much time in the studio playing on all kinds of songs that they often know exactly what you’re going for. Listen to their ideas.”
That’s one thing I haven’t written about often enough here: how impressive the talent is in Nashville. The first time we took a demo into the studio, we were completely knocked out by how quickly the musicians picked up the melody and laid it down for the recording. The guys were milling around, chatting with each other while the scratch demo was playing on the studio speakers, apparently not paying any attention. Yet when they all sat down to play it through, they had it sounding nearly radio-ready on the first take.
Part of that, of course, is song structure. We intentionally write pop songs, and pop songs by definition have straightforward chord progressions, so it’s not like we typically give studio musicians much of a challenge. But the quality of musicianship is so high that they even replicate the turnarounds and licks without appearing to try.
There are more tips, and some good anecdotes at the Nashville Feed. Click on over there to read the rest.
And as a bonus, here’s some video from the “By Surprise” demo session we did back in ‘05:
I started to use the term “tragic” in the subject of this post, but then realized it seemed redundant to describe a child’s death that way.
One of contemporary Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman’s six children was killed this afternoon when she was struck by a car said to be driven by her teenage brother in the driveway of the family’s Williamson County home.
This is just an awful story. I truly feel for the Chapman family.
My family was having dinner one night when I was a kid when we heard some loud and strange noises outside. Yelling, maybe? And then sirens nearby. We all left the table to go out and see what might be happening. Two doors down, the neighbor dad had been working on a car in the driveway and it was up on a jack. The youngest girl, maybe 4 years old, was playing near the car, and the youngest boy, maybe 6 or 7 — close to my age at the time — had climbed in through the open driver’s door and shifted the car into gear, nearly injuring his father, and crushing his sister to death. My mom held me back from viewing the scene once she took in what was going on, so I was spared having to see her body being taken away, but it all remains vivid and gruesome in my memory.
I recall also that the family moved away shortly thereafter. I’m sure there were myriad reasons, but it has always struck me that it would be impossible to imagine what changes in a family when a young child dies.
All of that to say: while I don’t pray, I will definitely be thinking of the Chapman family, and I will be hoping they come through this intact.
I bet there are a lot of posts out there that offer suggestions for how to spend your chilly February 14th, and ordinarily mine would be “stay snuggled up in bed” but since my mom is going to be in town, I needed something a little better suited to mixed company. So here’s my suggestion:
Matraca Berg - Suzy Bogguss - Raul Malo - Gretchen Peters
with Orchestra Nashville - Paul Gambill, conductor
in Leiper’s Fork
We’re actually going to the Friday night show, and I’m sure it’ll be amazing. Gretchen, as I’ve mentioned once or twice before, lives in our neighborhood and is a fantastic songwriter. Matraca Berg is, well, only one of my songwriting heros, and Suzy Bogguss and Raul Malo are wonderful singers and songwriters whom I respect and admire very much.
And what’s even more wonderful is this: the publicist for the show has offered a 15% discount for folks using the promo code ‘honeybowtie’. Seems he saw my link posted a few weeks ago and wanted to reassure me that it would indeed be “something good to do.”
I told my mom, and she’s excited. Karsten and I can’t wait.
And I hope to see you there, too!
I keep forgetting to mention that the guy who’s painting the tippy-top of the front porch (which I’m thrilled Karsten isn’t going to do himself) is the son of the guy who wrote (co-wrote?) “Lucille.”
Now, come on. How Nashvegas is that?
Went out to Noshville for lunch with coworkers J & K and my Boss. Much talk of the celebrities they’ve spotted there in previous visits; my hopes were up for at least a minor sighting. But no. I must be the celebrity anti-magnet or something.
In Chicago, I saw Studs Terkel in the Treasure Island grocery store, and I used to see Dennis Rodman at various nightclubs on a near-weekly basis.
In San Jose and the Bay Area in general, I never spotted anyone famous.
In all my visits to L.A. during the time I lived in San Jose (I used to go there as often as every few weeks), I never spotted anyone famous.
In Portland, I never saw anyone famous. (Karsten did: he was out with laurex at some trendy bar and she spotted Courtney Taylor from the Dandy Warhols at the next table.) </lj>
In my year and a half in Nashville, I’ve seen John Hiatt picking up his luggage at the airport, Johnny Knoxville at Baja Fresh, and John Rich at On The Rocks. But that’s all.
What about the rest of you? What famous people have you randomly spotted out of context, just sipping coffee somewhere or buying dog food?