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[Sticky] SSG - All Assignments Years 6 - 10

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Here we have the assignments for Years 6 through 9 at the SSG. Plus, I've taken the liberty of getting us up to date with everything (so far) from Year 10! Please note that some of the years are listed in reverse order. Also, for convenience sake (which translates to "I'm having the dickens of a time figuring out why this won't let me edit the way I want it to be edited!"), I'm listing the current assignments of Year 10 first:

SSG Year 10 - Week 1

It's back (AGAIN)


Welcome to Week 1. Of the tenth year of the Sunday Songwriters' Group.

We'll use our very first assignment from SSG Year 1 as our topic guideline for this week:


You have two options:

1. Make the Wild West the subject/theme of your song

2. Make your song about anything, but all the imagery must be Wild West related.

I'm going to post my original as an example, but please complete your song prior to critiquing mine.

When you post your work, please use the following subject line format

SSG10-Week1-your name

Thanks, good luck and good writing!

And if you're new to the SSG, welcome aboard! If you haven't read my article for beginners, click the link at the bottom and read it before you start. It will help. I guarantee it.

SSG Year 10 - Week 2

over breakfast this morning,( with David at Mom's diner) we came up with this assignment. We were talking about the qualities that make Bruce Springsteen songs so easy to identify with and came up with this:

this week you are only allowed to describe actions or objects in your song. you are like a reporter or a court room artist. you may not comment on the objects or actions beyond describing them. make sure your descriptions are objective and specific AND come from your point of view.

"the screen door slams. Mary's dress waves, like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays"

Good luck and good writing.

SSG Year 10 - Week 3

As David and I have discovered over the past two idiot's guide books, there are a lot of good public domain songs out there: After the Ball, In the Pines, St. James Infirmary, Hard Times Come Again No More, even Red River Valley and Shine On Harvest Moon. Even the ones you think would drive you crazy can be done well with your own arrangement. We came to the conclusion there must be a reason they've been around so long.

Your task this week, is to take a public domain song and make it your own. Do a complete re-write, ripping off the structure, rhyme scheme, etc. You can change the content to whatever you wish.

Don't tell us the original song when you post yours.

I'm off to post my lyrics for last week and finish critiquing. Good luck.

SSG Year 10 - Week 4

We all know how important the title or hook line is in a song. Well we aren't the only ones who have to think about it. Playwrights do too. This week's assignment relieves a bit of that struggle by giving you the hook in advance. Don't thank me, Thank Tennessee Williams. This week you are to write a song using the title of one of his plays as your title and hook.

I also want you to try to stick to the Springsteenishness that we had a couple of weeks ago. As much as you can, describe the scene in vivid detail. Maybe Springsteen isn't right when talking literature, go all Steinbecky instead if that helps.

Here's the wiki page with all of his plays:

Good luck and good writing

SSG Year 10 - Week 5

A couple of weeks back we did one of my favorite songwriters, this week lets imitate one of yours. I really want you to copy their style as much as you can, almost like a Mad Lib fill in the blank, swap the word exercise. Why? So you can see exactly how they peddle their craft, how they make their songs work, how they lure you in as a listener. The point isn't to write like someone else, it's to discover their style and maybe find out something about your own in the process.

If your favorite songwriter is an instrumentalist, sorry about that, go with your second favorite.

Good luck and good writing

SSG Year 10 - Week 6

Really cool songs from last week. I think we had some keepers that should show up in set lists soon.

This week, in the immortal words of Dewey Cox "Let's Duet"

Write a song with two perspectives, it doesn't have to be male and female, it doesn't have to be about love or cheatin' or what have you. Just write it so two different people sing it.

Try to keep in mind what we've been working on, robust imagery and good consistent story telling.

Good luck.

SSG Year 10 - Week 7

Penny Lane
59th Street Bridge song
Baker Street
Main Street
Positively 4th Street
Toulouse Street
Highway 61 Revisited
Route 66
Blue Jay Way
42nd Street
Portobello Road
Ventura Highway
52nd Street
Carnaby Street
Bleeker Street

Can you guess the topic this week? Use more imagery than you think you need, use that Thesaurus and Rhyming Dictionary, steal from your favorite artist but make it yours. Good luck.

If you really need help figuring this one out, send me a PM.

SSG Year 10 - Weeks 8 & 9

* with everyone out for Christmas, and now with New Years coming up, let's extend this one a week. If you've done one, do another. Good luck everyone.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, unless of course you are trying to find time to write a song. With that in mind this week, (with David's help) we present:


What you'll need:

A basic idea of what you want to sing about, to whom, and where. Yes all three.

And that's it.

Now simply replace the lines below with your lyrics and repeat for as many verses as you need. As an added bonus, if you act now you only need ONE chorus. Shipping and handling extra.


Line 1 - an object in your song scene in action (ie pencil snaps, picture frame shatters, curtain billows, etc.)
Line 2 - another object in the scene in action
Line 3 - use a metaphor to describe either above (assuming you used pencil for the second line, breaking the silence like the crack of thin ice)
Line 4 - identify something you see or hear
Line 5 - your connection to the line above (reminds me of what you've done to my heart. Hey come on, this is an example.)
Line 6 - repeat "Line 3"

Line 1 - repeat "Line 3"
Line 2 - active personal involvement with original scene
Line 3 - potential listener's response to Chorus Line 2
Line 4 - repeat "Line 3"

SSG Year 10 - Week 10

The number one item in my first article on songwriting is "Be on the lookout for things to write about everyday." This weeks assignment is to write a song describing the environment in which you are reading this post.

Good luck.

SSG Year 10 - Week 11

Axis of Awesome says you only need four chords

Have a look at the video and write your own song that can fit in.

SSG Year 10 - Week 12

And now for something completely different:

Do you have a snippet of song floating around that you haven't finished? I want everyone to record a riff, a chord progression, a finger picked section, or a melody line and post it somewhere we can all have a listen. Post the link here. The recording can suck. Your playing needn't be flawless, believe me we'll all feel better if you don't play perfectly. You can play it on guitar, uke, piano, accordion, comb and tissue paper, whatever helps you get the idea across.

Next week, after we have all the pieces assembled, we'll all pick one we like and write to it.

I'll start it off with this piece that never went anywhere. I recorded the original idea and sent it up to David, who modified it to fit a conventional song structure and played it infinitely better than I. I think it's in DADGAD. This song is relatively complete, or at least long, but if you have 30 seconds of something, that's fine too. Please don't feel the need to put together something complete. We just want musical ideas.

I don't remember why it's called Tsunami. Oh wait, yes I do, it was going to be a benefit song for the Tsunami victims, it wasn't going to be called that when it was finished.

Have a listen:

Good luck

SSG Year 10 - Week 13

This week, an assignment you can really sink your teeth into. Write a song, any style, full of imagery about your last dentist office visit.

I'm still working on last week. You should too if you have something halfway done.

SSG Year 10 - Week 14

This week, an assignment you can really sink your teeth into. Write a song, any style, full of imagery about your last dentist office visit.

I'm still working on last week. You should too if you have something halfway done.

SSG Year 10 - Week 15

This week we are going to work on internal rhyme in an ode to your favorite sports team, player or event.

What is internal rhyme? Uhh, it's where you rhyme internally, you know, inside the line instead of at the in this Taylor Swift song.

I'm alone, on my own, and that's all I know
I'll be strong, I'll be wrong, oh but life goes on
I'm just a girl, trying to find a place in
This world

Okay, okay, so I just googled internal rhyme to find an example. I haven't heard that song either. Since this is an exercise, let's go heavy on the internal rhyme for this song.

Good luck

SSG Year 10 - Week 16

This week we want a bunch of titles, or hook lines, nothing else. We are going to walk through song creation beginning to end in short little segments. Maybe this will get me out of my songwriting funk.

Good luck

SSG Year 10 - Week 17

This week, take two or three ideas of last weeks ideas, (if you'd like to use someone else's drop them a pm and ask), and write about who, where, what, when.

What happened immediately before?
What's about to happen?
Who is there?
Why is this happening?

Don't rhyme, don't judge yourself, just put in as many details as you can. If it helps to quantify the volume of detail you are shooting for, if you were writing a song you'd write 3-4 verses and a chorus, so put down at least twice that much detail volume word wise. Just details, no structure, nothing else but details.

On second thought, if you don't mind anyone using your ideas, just reply below and give the go ahead.

By the way, it isn't too late to join in now. Get a couple of ideas, or borrow a couple and start the detail ideas flowing.

Thanks and good writing.

SSG Year 10 - Week 18 & 19

Everyone did such great work up to last week. What happened to you all? Well I'm not giving up on you. For those of you who finished last weeks task, excellent work. For the majority who didn't, we are extending last weeks assignment through this week.

Come on now, the hard work is mostly done. Get those rhymes and synonyms and lets finish this thing. You'll be happy you did.

Here's last weeks assignment again:

Wow! What a great response this past couple of weeks has seen. There are some great ideas and detail out there.

This week, we are going to take another little step or two

First we want to use the handy dandy thesaurus and/or rhyming dictionary

Read over your stuff and put the central ideas and images in both the rhymer and thesaurus. Post the rhyming words, add any new ideas the thesaurus gives you. Start thinking about clever turns of phrase or couplets, but DON"T WRITE THE SONG. Anything else you come up with is fair game and post it. YOU ARE NOT IN ANYWAY OBLIGATED TO USE THE RHYMES OR WORDS FROM THE THESAURUS, just post them.

The idea this week is we are loading up our sonic palette of words and tone and coloring for the final song painting. We don't want to go beyond that though. We don't want to judge the value of the words yet as we haven't thought about storyline or structure. Be patient, two more weeks and I think we'll be done.

Good luck and good painting.

SSG Year 10 - Week 20

And here it is, let's put it all togther. Read over your past weeks stuff, but only read it over. Don't give it too much weight. The stuff in there is for reference, to spark something, it isn't what you are writing about. You are writing about the original thing that moved you. The rest is stuff for your imagination, to help you when you get stuck.

If you haven't played along so far, either catch up or use someone else's topics. Don't worry, your song will be competely different than anything they would write anyway.

Good luck and good writing.

SSG Year 10 - Week 21

Hello to all and welcome to the final assignment of Year 6 at the SSG!


It is my honor to announce that, beginning next Sunday (Year 7, Week 1 of the SSG), Vic Lewis will be taking over as the leader of the Sunday Songwriters' Group. As I'm sure he'll tell you himself, Vic's very excited about this and has put together a lot of ideas to for everyone to look forward to.

I'd like to tell you all thank you. Thank you for participating and making the SSG work. In the end it's about who contributes - whether it's songs or lyrics or music or critiques or ideas. That's what makes the SSG worth the effort. I thank you all, not to mention Ryan, Nick and Bob and everyone who's participated over the past six years for sharing your music and for making me a better songwriter with your suggestions and critiques.

So, for this week, you get a line:

It's time for me to go now

You can start with it, end with it, use it as a chorus - your choice. As always, have fun with it and I look forward to reading and hearing what you come up with.

Not to add to your work, but if you happen to have the time (and haven't already done so), please take a moment to discuss your thoughts as to how things went for Year 6 of the SSG in this thread:

It's been my pleasure to work with you all this past year, not to mention it being a lot of fun. Thanks for having me! And, not to worry, I'll still be hanging around, writing and critiquing whenever possible.


PS: Even though this is the last week of SSG Year 6, you still should all feel free to participate on any assignment here at the Sunday Songwriters Group. In case you've missed one, or simply want to catch up or you'd just like an idea or two to work on, here is a list of our previous SSG assignments for the past year:


Again, apologies that this is a little later than normal. Took a lot longer to set up than I'd planned.

Much of my focus this year was on trying to stress the "song" aspect of songwriting. And this next-to-last assignment of Year 6 of the Sunday Songwriters' Group is meant to hammer the point home. This week we're going to look at how a lot of bands handle songwriting, which is by having the musical members come up with the skeleton of a song and then having the singer come up with the lyrics and melody.

I've taken the liberty of providing you with a band. On my Soundclick page:

you will find four tracks labelled "SSG Week 51." Your task is to pick any of the four examples and come up with a song based around how the music makes you want to write. You don't have to use these as backing tracks (they are too short! :wink: ), simply think of this as a starting point, something to give you inspiration. Of course, if you really like a particular track and want to use it, let me know and I'll give you the chord progression.

Hope you have fun with this! I look forward to reading and hearing what you come up with.


Sorry this post is so late. Played in FODfest on Friday and then spent all of yesterday playing with some friends at a party in New Jersey that didn't close down until two in the morning. Then spent all day today driving back here. Should have posted this on Thursday! :wink:

Anyway. this week, in case you hadn't guessed, the assignment is to take one of the verses from Week 49 (one that you hadn't written or written the first line for in Week 48) and make a complete song. If you're going to go with one that already has music with it, get hold of the writer from last week and (a) get permission and (b) get a chord chart.

And don't sit out just because you've not taken part in the last two weeks! There are more than plenty of ideas to go around. You can even post some new opening lines and new first verses if you so desire.


Okay, this week, you want to take any five lines from those you didn't write (meaning someone else's lines) that you thought interesting or intriguing or just fun. Your job is to write a first verse of a song for each of those five lines. In other words, you should have five different first verses. You have a limit of eight lines for your verses. Minimum of three or four lines.

Also, if at all possible, try to use five different "first line authors." In other words, don't use all five of mine. Spread your creativity around.

But wait, there's more! For those of you who have recording equipment, there is an additional bonus assignment. I want you to also come up with a melody and chord progression for at least one of the verses that you've come up with.


Okay, we're winding down toward the end of another year of SSG. Traditionally, we've tended to end our years with a series of assignments geared toward building a song by parts. One week we'll suggest a title, then we'll come up with choruses, then verses, and so on.

We're going to kind of do the same thing here with SSG Year 6, but with a few slight twists. This week, I'd like everyone to come up with an opening line. Several opening lines, in fact. At least three, but five would be optimal.

And get yourself geared up for some more collaborative efforts. Get that recording gear dusted off.


Okay, let's see if I can explain this in one take:

One thing that I hope I've been getting across this year is the whole idea that we are here to write songs. Or to at least get something going that will become a song. And, as we're all aware, the key thing (no pun intended) that makes most songs songs is that they are musical. So we're going to spend a few of our last weeks kind of focusing on that.

As mentioned, songs are, well, sung. Melodies are important. There are any number of songs where this becomes incredibly obvious, because if you were to simply read the lyrics, you'd be a bit dumbfounded as to what was going on, because the songwriter included a bunch of "nonsense syllables" that were simply meant to be sung in order to take up space. Two prime examples would be Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl and Psycho Killer by Talking Heads. The chorus of Paul Simon's Mrs. Robinson would be another example.

So what I'd like to try this week is to come up with a song, topic and style are totally your own choice, but I'd like you to include some "nonsense syllables." The plan here is to get you working on the focus of melody and rhythm. Not every line of a song has to be crammed with lyrics. Just as in solos, space is important.


You'll have to forgive this being a little later than normal. I just got in from being in Nashville since Wednesday, so it goes without saying I'm a bit behind on things. From here I'm off to finish tomorrow's podcast and then to finish off tomorrow's newsletter as well.

Now, it would be easy to make this week's assignment "write a country-style song," but instead I'm going to use another event as inspiration.

Tomorrow, as it happens to turn out, I am having Guitar Noise Moderator Alan Green as a house guest for a few days. Surprisingly, this isn't the first time I've met Alan. He was in New York on a business trip some while back and we managed to arrange our schedules so we could get together during some of his free time during the stay. Great guy, lots of fun to meet and to talk to and to get to know better.

All of this is a (very) roundabout way of introducing this week's topic: Write about a first-time meeting. Narrator can be first or third person. Meeting can be between people (fictional or historic), between people and things (objects or even ideas, such as "John and his first cigarette") or between things (Western civilization meets East, grunge meets country). Your choice.


This week you get a choice! I know that some people are "music first" songwriters and some are "lyric first," so my thought was to give you a nudge in both directions. You can either:

(A) Make use of a suggestion from Ken:
One suggestion for a topic I thought might be enjoyed by the participants is to have them post a picture of their choosing (or of your choosing) and then write lyrics based on the picture.

We've done this sort of thing before. If memory serves me correctly, Nick introduced it in the very first year of the Sunday Songwriters' Group. If you go with this choice, please post (if possible) a link to the picture that inspired you.

(B) I'm basing this idea on my belief that most of you write songs with the aid of a guitar. So, in order to give you a new place to start, use an alternate tuning before you start noodling around with your music. Any alternate or open tuning is fair game provided you have not used it before in other of your original material. So Open G is out for you, Vic! You might try DADGAD or even something as elegantly simple as EADF#BE.

Of course, you can certainly do both options! Who am I to stand in the path of creativity?


Another SSG assignment courtesy of the fertile mind of Vic Lewis. This week were going to put the spotlight on a "minor character" or "cameo appearance." The object is to come up with a song lyric either told from the viewpoint of a relatively minor fictional character or a story about said character. "Fictional" means that you can take your character from books, television, movies or even another song.

To put it in Vic's own words:
You know I'm a big Stephen King fan - I read, nay, devour, everything he writes...

There's a story in the book, "Nightmares & Dreamscapes," called The Night Flier where SK takes a minor character from a previous story and gives him his own story... the character was Rick Dees, the journalist from "The Dead Zone" who Johnny throws off the porch. He's in the book (and film) for about five minutes.....

So I thought it might be an idea to take a minor character from a book or film and write a song around him/her.....?

This should be a lot of fun this week, if only to read where you're getting your inspirations from.


Okay, I'm not sure this is going to work, but let's give it a try anyway. It's kind of inspired by something we used to do when younger and bored, so please bear with me. It's all about giving yourself over to chance.

Here's "Part 1:"

I'd like you to get some coins - a relatively fair amount that you can put in a pocket or a tin can or hat or something of that nature. Pull one coin out of the pile and read the date, the year that this particular coin was minted. Think of some event that happened to you (or a world event if you prefer) during that year and write a song about it.

Oh, and then spend the coins in whatever way you see fit! :wink:

If you're not thrilled about this, or if you consistently pull out a coin that's older than you are, you can try this "pull a rabbit out of a hat" approach in any number of ways:

1) Randomly pick a name from your address book (or email list)

2) Close your eyes and select a piece of paper, book, or any object from your desk or even your laundry basket!

3) Open a book at random, stab your finger onto a page and use whatever word (or even a full sentence) as your starting place

4) Call or email a friend and ask him or her to give you the occupation of the last person he or she talked with

5) Select a CD at random (or use your iPod) and use the title of the fifth song that plays

As you can see, there are lots of ways that you can generate a "random selection" topic. And (because this is, after all, supposed to stimulate our thinking in regard to song lyrics), "Part 2" of this week's assignment is to come up with other ways of coming up with a topic at random and then sharing this with the group. There'll be a thread dedicated specifically to "Week 43, Part 2" for you to chime in on.


Romeo and Juliet, Bogie and Becall, Batman and Robin, Frankie and Johnnie, Pancho and Lefty, Magneto and Titanium Man

This week, in case you haven't gotten it already, your assignment is to write about a couple. Real life or fictional, your choice.

Have fun and I look forward to reading what you come up with.


PS: You should all feel free to participate on any assignment here at the Sunday Songwriters Group. In case you've missed one, or simply want to catch up or you'd just like an idea or two to work on, here is a list of our previous SSG assignments:


The signs are all around us. Or rather, signs are all around us. Maybe it was just driving to Chicago and then to Quebec City and finally back here that put this into my head, or maybe it's just that the earworm du jour (week, actually, but who has "earworm du semaine?") has been Signs by the Five Man Electrical Band. Who knows?

Your assignment this week is to use a sign as a starting place or focal point of your song lyric. Any sign will do - street signs, motoring instructions, friendly information on your mass transit of choice, even billboards and signs in shops. You need only one, but use multiple signs if you so desire.


Something I hear a lot as a teacher is the phrase "I used to," as in "I used to practice, but why bother?" or "I used to play guitar but..."

But the phrase "I used to..." doesn't have to carry sad connotations with it. "I used to be unhappy" "I used to love her but it's all over now" I used to weigh seven hundred pounds"

The main thing about the phrase, especially to us as songwriters, is that its very nature evokes two states of being - a "before" and a "now." And that's what I want you to explore this week - the now and then aspect of "I used to..."

Man, I hope this makes sense! I used to be better at explaining things... :wink:

Looking forward to reading what you come up with! And watch out for the "chain letter lyric" making its way around!

WEEKS 38 & 39

Next weekend, I'll be at the 2008 Riverside Jam, playing music with old and new friends until the cows come home, as they say. So we'll be working on a two-part assignment for this week and the next. You can do it all at once, but why not pace yourselves and work things out over the whole two weeks?

The idea is about vacations, or going on holidays. And, to make it more interesting, I'd like to incorporate an idea that I got from Vic just this morning:
Hi David,

I was reading an old Stephen King novel last night - Cujo - when it hit me just how many of SK's books - and short stories - have been set in his fictional town of Castle Rock. So I got to thinking - maybe for a future SSG assignment, we could write a song around a town created by a favourite writer? Maybe King's Castle Rock, or James Mitchener's Centennial, or R D Wingfield's Denton (as featured in the British TV series, "A Touch Of Frost" or even the universe in which The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres co-exist, linked by the appearance of the characters Uncle Joe Carson (played by Edgar Buchanan) and "Dog" (played by the dog actor Higgins) in all three series.

Just a thought, but it might throw out some interesting songs, and at the very least, highlight some previously unknown authors....

So, here's the plan:

For Week 38, you are a tourist, or someone taking a vacation or holiday, but instead of one of the usual vacation spots, you've gone on holiday to a fictional one. Maybe you've gone to Gilligan's Island, maybe you've landed in Narnia. Maybe you've somehow ended up in "The Village" and found yourself having a spot of tea with Number 6. Wherever. Chat up the locals and write a song telling us about your trip.

For Week 39, reverse the narrative. This time out, you're a local of some fictional location and you can either write about some strangers who've just come through town or simply chat about what life's like in general where you live. Bonus points if you write a Week 39 lyrical narrative using a location that some other SSG person wrote about in Week 38.

In the meantime, think some kind thoughts about middle aged bald guys driving from Massachusetts to Chicago and then back (via Quebec City of all things!). I look forward to reading what you've all done when I get back home to a computer!


A bit of an "interactive" week again, so you might want to get started early. I think I might call this one a "Scavenger Hunt..."

FIrst, you need to contact three Guitar Noise Forum members via the PM system. Ideally, you want these to be folks that participate as writers in the SSG (past or present), but anyone who participates in the GN Forum will do (although you're going to have to explain what's going on).

Second, you want each of the three contacts to give you either a word or a phrase. So, when you you're done with this step, you will have either three words, three phrases, or some combination of words or phrases.

Third, write a song using what you've collected. You saw that part coming a mile away, right?

Have fun! I look forward to seeing what you come up with. And be sure to credit your sources! :wink:


In the very recent past, not to mention this very week, some friends of mine have either moved or are moving. Totally picking up and relocated to a new town, new job, new house, new life. No pun intended, but there's a lot of baggage one carries around with the prospect of making a move. What do you leave behind, what do you take, will you ever find a restaurant that's as good as the one you're leaving.

Your assignment this week is to look at only one aspect of the many you can pick from and go with it.


This week we're visiting a form of communication that may be extinct in our lifetime - the old fashioned, hand-written letter. Your assignment is to write a song lyric in the form of a letter. It doesn't have to be from you to someone, the narrator (as well as the recipient) can be fictional. Writing postcards, greeting cards of any sort (birthday, happy anniversary, sympathy, etc.,), business memos or, for those of you who may have never written any kind of note before, emails can serve as well.

And I have to go on record by stating that sometimes the psychic abilities of the SSG forum astounds me...

The best of luck with this! I look forward to seeing what you all come up with. And don't forget that you can still make suggestions for other SSG writers in the "Week 34 - Part Two" thread in the Announcement section of our SSG page.


We've got a two-fold assignment this week, so let's get right to it:

Part 1

Our regular writing assignment is to examine our every day lives. We want a song that explores the day-to-day routine of things, either as an overview (think Synchronicity II by the Police or the Kinks' Well Respected Man) or looking at a specific part of ordinary life (and the best example running in my head right now is an old SSG assignment by Kathy Reichert called Monday Morning - even the title puts you right into a specific part of life). Have fun!

Part 2

Vic and Ken came up with great ideas last week by making suggestions for each other in regard to musical styles or an artist that the SSG writer might write a song for.

This week I'd like you to post any suggestion along the same lines in this thread:

So you might post that Straycat write a Tin Pan Alley style song or that Ken write a hymn. The idea is to give the writers ideas in order to help get them to step outside of their normal realm of songwriting comfort. Do feel free to make (many) multiple suggestions.

If you are a writer who doesn't get a suggestion, don't be shy about asking for input. I'm going to!

Writers, your job is to take these suggestions and to consider them seriously and see if they stir up any ideas. If you want to get started on a song, go for it. The finished song is still going to be a ways down the road, but it doesn't hurt to get a head start!


About three months ago, I asked you to write a song in the style of a fellow SSG writer and you all responded marvelously. This week, we're going to step "outside of ourselves" yet again, but in a different ('though hopefully not any less fun!) way.

It wasn't all that long ago (and is still the case in many places) where the songwriter was never the performer of a song. He or she would be hired out, either by an artist or by a company (recording, publishing or agent) to write a song for a particular artist.

So this week, consider yourselves hired! But (of course!) there's a catch! You've been hired, because of your incredible songwriting skills, to write a song for an artist whose musical style is about as far from yours as you can imagine. So Kathy, for instance, may be writing for the Clash, while Vic might be writing for Carrie Underwood. Chirs C. or Pbee could do a song
for Fall Out Boy and maybe Ken finds himself working for Dionne Warwick. Who knows?

The object here is to try to get way outside of your comfort zone, yet still come up with a song that works - both for you and your "employer." Choose your employer well, but have fun, too!


Continuing with the "it's all been done before" idea, this week's assignment is to come up with a song centered around a fictional character. Someone else's fictional character. You take a character from fiction, poetry, movies, folklore or mythology, or even someone else's song and center your song lyric around that character. Bonus points for writing in the first person (as that character).


Something that writers (of songs and of otherwise) tend to hear a lot is "it's been done before." It's especially true of song titles, not to mention titles in general. How many books, movies and television shows have copped their titles from songs?

This week, we're going to use this to our advantage. You can write about anything you'd like, but your title has to have been "done before." In other words, use the title of any movie, book, poem, television show or even another song as your own song title and see where it takes you.


Okay, we've had persons and places, so that leaves "things." Makes for a very broad range of possible topics, no?

So, to narrow things down a bit, try to have the "thing," the object you are focusing on, be part, a characteristic or even a possession of a person or a place. Your father's wallet, the cotton candy at Atlantic City, the chemicals in the Cuyahoga River (been done many times), the smile of your best friend, the silly ideas of a forum board moderator :wink:, that sort of thing.


I've been having trouble getting on the boards today, for some reason, so I better post while I have the chance!

This week we continue with nouns and move from "person" to "place." A number of my friends seem to be moving in the very near future and places, locations, the notion of "home" have all been subjects of many conversations. One friend is moving to a place called Middletown and doesn't that seem like a town in desperate need of a song about it?

So this week, write about a place. It can be a purely physical description or a story or a narrative of how a place makes you feel. There are certainly any number of precedents, from Penny Lane to Waterloo Sunset to Atlantic City to Texarkana. You can ever be a little more vague in your setting if you like, such as Dirty Old Town or The Bright Side of the Road. The main thing is to give your listener a sense that he or she has travelled to said place.


It's amazing how little things cause big amounts of annoyance. Not being able to "cut and paste," for instance. Or not having your computer up online for the better part of the day...

And here we are! You can blame this on my listening to a lot of Ray Davies music of late, but this week begins a three-part look at nouns. You remember nouns from your grammar school days, no? Person, place or thing? For Week 28, we'll work with "person." The object is to have a specific person be the subject of your song. You don't have to name the specific person, but I do want you to think of a specific individual (real or fictionalized) rather than a generalized sort. Think David Watts or The Continuing Saga of Bungalow Bill or even R.E.M's Man on the Moon.

Week 27

My apologies for being a little late with this one. I've been enjoying the company of Kathy and John Reichert, as well as some other friends for the past few days. Kathy played a show at the Monterey General Store this past Friday night, which featured quite a number of songs that saw their origins as SSG assignments.

In addition to her own SSG material, Kathy also played a song of Nick's (One By One) and two from John ("the Celt") Roche - Time for Makin' Love and Do You Remember. You might remember the latter song as being John's contribution for Week 20. Kathy and John performed it as a lovely duet and it went over very well with the audience.

Not to wish a hex of Kathy, but we were talking about travel in general and the phrase "lost luggage" came up. I instantly thought, "That would make a great assignment." So, here it is. This week we want a song that explores the idea of "lost luggage." You can be literal or metaphoric, light or ominous. Your choice.



Let's get back on track with our weekly assignments by taking a look at how music affects us. Taking a look through some of the recent threads on the Opinions and Polls page, not to mention listening to a lot of Van Morrison of late, it strikes me that a single song can be as powerful a trigger of memory or emotion as a scent.

And that's what we want to try to do this week - write a song about hearing a specific song (using the title or a line of lyric in your lyrics) or artist. It can be the focus of the narrative or simply play a part in your overall lyric.

WEEKs 23, 24 & 25

Before moving on, I'd just like to thank you all for your participation, which has made the past few weeks been nothing short of amazing in terms of both individual work and group effort. As John ("the Celt") mentioned on the comment page, this is surely the SSG at its finest and you all should take a bow for making it all work.

I'm going to be off to Italy (Karen has a writers' conference) later this week and, if I'm lucky, I won't see a computer for the better part of three weeks. Now while I trust Charlie (my cat) to handle the April 15 newsletter, I'm not so certain he's up to the SSG duties as well.

So I'd like to give you an assignment that can be ongoing while I'm away. It's based in part on something Vic mentioned in the Week 21 - that of going through old ideas to bring a song finally to life. Just to give this project a name, let's call it "Rummaging Through the Attic." You could also call it "Group Writing 101."

The idea here is three fold:

(1) This week (Week 23) I'd like you to either go through your old notebooks or ideas of song and to post something that you started or had an idea for and never finished. It can be a title that never got lyrics, some lyrics that never fit in with another song but were too good to throw out, a chorus that had no verses, a bridge that joined nothing together. For those of you who might not have a "scrapbook" of old ideas, feel free to post up general ideas, from fragments to whole storylines.

(2) Once someone has posted something, take a look at it and see whether or not you

(a) have suggestions that might help the original poster finish it his or herself

(b) might have some material of your own that might work in a collaborative effort. If so, ask the original poster if the two of you might become a songwriting team (at least for this one song) and together post up the progressive work on the piece.
It is certainly conceivable that even more than two people might work together to get something to a final stage.

(3) Since this is a Songwriting workshop, let's not forget the musical aspect of this. Perhaps instead of lyrics, you've got some music in need of a melody or some lyrics. Post the music and see if you can work with someone for that. Likewise, if you see some lyrics that float your boat, ask the poster (plural if it's a group effort) if you can help them out with the music end of things.

The idea here is to see if we can't take some of the ideas that seem to have suffered a setback and turn them into actual songs through the efforts of a team. If you'd like, think of it as a natural extension of our Week 20 assignment.

Naturally, all of this coordinating is going to take time, so we've got three weeks to work with. Feel free to take part in as many collaborations as possible. And be sure to post your progress so that others can chime in. Who knows? Between everyone, we may get three to five albums worth of solid material!

Good luck with this! I am truly looking forward to seeing some great songs when I get back from Italy.

Be seeing you on the boards.


PS: You should all feel free to participate on any assignment here at the Sunday Songwriters Group. In case you've missed one, or simply want to catch up or you'd just like an idea or two to work on, here is a list of our previous SSG assignments:


Becuase it's only fair to give equal time to opposing candidates, this week we give the Devil his due. You can either write using ol' Nick as a character in the narrative (Friend of the Devil, The Devil Went Down to Georgia), narrator of the song (Sympathy for the Devil) or just bandy about the idea of evil and temptation in the world.


Maybe it's because it's Easter Sunday, or maybe (and much more likely) it's because of a few recent conversations I've had with some friends, but God, or at least the concept of a divine being, has been stomping about in my brain of late. So let's discuss God, or religion (or the lack of either if you prefer), and its role in the lives of everyday people like you and me.

Don't worry about making this some sort of epic piece. As is often quoted, "God is in the details," so feel free to work on a small scale. No pun intended.


As mentioned the past few weeks...
I've got an idea for a future assignment that I think will be fun, but in order for it to work, you've got to be familiar with the styles of other writers here at the SSG. So do take some time to read (and hopefully critique) other member's offerings to the SSG. Even old assignments are good.

I have no idea how this will fly, but I think it could be a lot of fun. I was thinking a while back about the fact that most of us are used to the idea of the "singer / songwriter" - it's fairly entrenched in most of our lives. But it wasn't all that long ago that singers were rarely songwriters (and, yes, you can argue that that's not changed all that much! :wink: ) or that songwriters were much in the way of singers (and, yes... )

So what I thought was, how about if each of us posed as an "old time" songwriter this week? Your assignment is to write a song that you think would be perfect for the performing repertoire of another member of the SSG. A specific member. For instance, Vic can write a song for Paul ("pbee"), Trev ("Barnabus") can write a song for Jane ("pearlthekat"), Kathy can write a song for straycat, Lavadave can write one for the Celt...

I hope you get the idea. Obviously, you get to choose who you want to write for. Remember, the object is to try to write something that you think (a) would be a good song for the SSG member to perform because (b) it fits the style or genre or general fashion of that person's music or because (c) you just think it would be a great song for that person to sing.


I was talking this week with a friend who was interested in songwriting. He found the process, or rather the choices of processes, involved in writing to be a bit bewildering and overwhelming. "Where do I even start?" was a frequent theme in our conversation.

So, this week you're getting a specific place to start! Here's the opening line for your Week 19 song:

I was packing my bag when the phone rang...

After that, it's all yours! Let's see where you end up.


Maybe two years back, Bob had us write about promises. Let's delve into that topic a little deeper, if we may...

What is a promise? Sometimes it's actually an accepting of responsibility, such as "I promise to be good" or "I promise we'll get there on time." And sometimes, through circumstances, fate or whatever, promises or responsibilities are broken even though the promiser or person with the responsibility has done everything in his or her power to fufill the deed.

Of course, the person on the receiving end doesn't usually feel that way.

Okay, if you've lived through that long winded intro... :wink: This week I'd like you to explore a broken promise or a break down of responsibility from the viewpoint of the person who didn't make the promise. Could be the promotion that didn't come through. The bicycle you didn't get even though you got top marks in your class. The date that didn't show up...

I hope you get the drift. Have fun and I look forward to reading (and hearing) what you come up with.


This week's forecast is for songs about weather. Details right after the top news stories...

If you've been reading the newsletters, you'd know it always seems to be snowing or the middle of some kind of ice storm when I'm writing those things. It must have struck someone's nerve in the Southern Hemisphere, because I got a friendly note about the fact they are having one of the driest and hottest spells in ages in Western Australia. And my brother informs me that Chicago has seen more snow than since 1978 or so.

So let's talk about the weather. Many songs prominently feature weather in a literal sense (Rainy Night in Georgia, Was A Sunny Day, etc.,) while some are more in the weather-as-metaphor vane. Oops! I mean "vein" (I Can See Clearly Now, I Wish It Would Rain, etc.,)


A hearty thank you to Trevor ("BarnaBus RoX") for his post concerning the passing of Smoky Dawson, one of the bright lights of Australia's country music scene.

Reading the post, doing some more research on my own, and listening to some of Smoky's music put me in a cowboy frame of mind, so this week your task is to come up with a cowboy song. Big bonus points if the song subtly places the cowboy somewhere outside of the Western United States. After all, there are cowboys everywhere...


This Thursday, February 14, is Valentine's Day. And you can take that for an early warning if you need to... :wink:

But, if you haven't got the time (or funds) to wine and dine your better half / soul mate / prospective sleeping partner, you could wow him or her with a love song. This week's task is to write a love song and, as usual, there is a slight catch. You're not allowed to use the word "love" anywhere in the song.

Have fun! As always, I look forward to seeing what you come up with this week. And I'm also hoping that, despite a new sememster of group classes starting up on Thursday, I'll be able to start getting caught up with old assignments and critiques for past weeks as well.


Today is "Super Bowl Sunday" in America, which is when we think that the most important sports game in the universe is played. This is, of course, a laugh and a lie, but that's besides the point...

It could be agrued that what today truly represents is the acknowledgement that almost all of the huge technical developments in communication (telephone, radio, television and now computers) ultimately become tools and conduits of advertising. Kind of astonishing, really.

So this week, let's look at advertising. You can write a lyric about advertising in general, or just write a song about another topic and slyly and simply do a little "product placement" of your own - tossing in a name brand or a slogan. Who knows? Your lyric might hit some Account Executive's radar and you may find yourself asked if you'd like to sell the rights! :wink:


It's always tempting to go with "superstitions" as a topic whenever we get to this particular week. Go figure.

But thinking about some of the things mentioned in the various song lyrics and critiques of this past week's assignment (particularly from Vic), I'd like to explore superstitions on a broader range. Let's talk about free will versus fate. Do we make our own choices or is everything preordained, as in horoscopes. Use your own free will to take this topic wherever you'd like. Or, conversely, write the song you were meant to write this week. :wink:


I'm sure everyone knows the punch line for the old joke that starts "If I told you you had a heavenly body..."

This week we'll ditch the joke and concentrate on the "heavenly body" aspect. Any celestial form will do - stars, planets, asteroids, comets - simply use some cosmic matter as part of your lyric, preferably in a prominent role.


Okay, time to delve into your history books! This week I'd like you to write a song about a historical event. Could be relatively recent, could be a long, long, time ago, but it does have to be a documented historical event (so my discovery of fire, sadly undocumented by scholars, wouldn't work). For the sake of separating history from headlines, let's try to go with something at least twenty years past.

Having chosen your moment in history, I'd like you to also try to write from the point of view of someone involved in the event at the time. Here we can be a bit flexible - you can go for an actual person (such as Wilbur Wright, for instance, if we were writing about the first airplane flight) or a fictionalized account of someone who was there (a farmer looking up and seeing the Wright brothers' plane, for instance).

Remember that part of the beauty of this style of writing is that your narrator may not know of all the significance of what's going on. He or she is undoubtedly a biased reporter, but not a prescient one.


Pick a number, any number...

This week, I'd like to revisit an assignment that some of you might remember from previous years and that's to use a number as part of your theme. It can be small (One by U2, Two Hangmen by Mason Profitt, Three Marlenas by the Wallflowers) or it can be vast (40,000 Headmen by Traffic, 2,000 Light Years From Home by the Rolling Stones) and the topic, aside from the number, is totally up to you.


Not to mention, an early welcome to the Year 2008! And, bearing that in mind, let's get back to the second part of our "end of year" assignment, which is also kind of a beginning of year assignment...

This week, let's use the time-honored theme of "a new leaf" or a "clean sheet of paper" or a "fresh start" or any other metaphor for a fresh beginning you can think of. No points for bad puns like Carp Blanche (fish with white sauce that we were served last Monday night...)

You can write about a new year, a new job, a new relationship, whatever, but I'd like you to focus on the feelings of newness and anticipation.


"...we interrupt our current assignment to bring you this one..."

I want you to make someone a present for the holiday. We're going to give someone a song instead of a toy, but the idea is that your recipient will have just as much fun playing with the song as he or she would with the toy.

In the spirit of whatever holiday you choose to observe or choose not to observe this year, I'd like you to write a song for the kids. Not about, but for. Something that you think children would have a lot of fun singing. It doesn't have to be holiday oriented, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snow Man. It can be timeless in the classic style of Little Bunny Foo Foo or can appeal to both kids and adults as Puff the Magic Dragon.


First of a two-part, end-of-year assignment. I'd like you to look back at 2007 and focus on a single event. It could be a big news story or something personal or something that happened to what's-his-name-that-lives-two-streets-down-and-still-drives-that-old-rustbucket. And I'd like you to tell us about it in song.


At the close of SSG Year 5, we ran through some song title suggestions and one I liked a lot was Contradictions. Contradictions have been a staple of songwriting as far back as one might remember. Sometimes they can be direct (think Hello Goodbye from the Beatles) and comical (as in Oh Suzanna: " rained all night the day I left / the weather was so dry...) and sometimes very poignant ("...I was so much older than I'm younger than that now..."). Sometimes it can even be a little heavy handed ("maybe it's the best thing for you, but it's the worst thing for me" sort of line), so the trick will be to find a nice balance ("...I'm tired of being in love and being all alone...").

So this week, try to work a contradiction or two into your lyric or even in just your title. It can be something as simple as a phrase turned around, such as Hello Cruel World, as opposed to the stereotypical "Goodbye, cruel world," or Pleased to Meet Me. Again, as of late, topic is completely up to you.


It's the first of December as I write this (even though, technically, Sunday is December 2) and, for obvious reasons, the song A Long December seems to be playing around in my brain. We often use the proper names of months to evoke moods or feelings and that's what we want to focus on this week.

So write about anything you choose, but use any single month of the calendar year (doesn't have to be December - think November Rain) as part of your story or description.


So a guy walks into a bar...

That's the start of many a joke or story. You don't have to use the actual line, just come up with a song that could center around the man (or woman) who wanders into a bar or restaurant / drinking establishment of your choice. Since we're focusing on narration (in case you've forgotten! :wink: ), the idea is to have your narrator be one of the characters involved in the story or description. You can be said man or woman, his or her companion, a patron at the bar (think Lola by the Kinks) or the bartender, bouncer, wait person, or even the musical entertainment (a la Piano Man).


Every song has a narrator. But the narrator doesn't have to be the "I, me, mine" of the songwriter. Just as in writing fiction, the "point of view" or choice of narrator can lead a song into very interesting territory. The next few weeks we'll be examining and experimenting with both point of view and narrator choice.

For this week, I'd like you to write a song about anything. BUT you are to write strictly as observer. You are simply reporting facts of an incident that has occurred to someone else. No first person pronouns (unless you're writing a conversation that someone else has) and, as much as possible, no editorial bias from the narrator. Try to present your lyric as neutrally as possible. Let the description paint your picture. Think Richard Thompsons's 1952 Vincent Black Lightning or Hurricane by Dylan or Life In The Fastlane or Lyin' Eyes by the Eagles.


This week we're going to continue in our minimalist ways, only this time out our focus is on the chorus. The chorus is usually the core of our song (not to mention the part where you can get a lot of audience participation if you play it :wink: ), so we want this week's choruses to be prime examples of brevity and clarity.

You are welcome to write a song on any topic and any style / genre of your choosing, but what I'd like you to do is to have a chorus that is simply a single line repeated two, three or four times. Think along the lines of Sweet Home Alabama (twice), Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows (three times) or Dylan's Knocking on Heaven's Door or Lou Reed's Sweet Jane (both prize winners with four repetitions and no other words).


We'll start in nice and easy as Tina Turner might say. But she'll also undoubtedly add "we never do anything nice and easy..." :wink:

As songwriters, we often work in a format that requires us to choose words carefully. They need to fit rhythm patterns and still make a good song. For folks like myself, who tend to go on and on (and on and on and on and on) about things, sometimes the hardest part of writing is being our own editor.

So here's the easy part - this week, write a blues song.

Here's the harder part - I'd like you to write a blues song in the traditional (or what we've come to think of as traditional) twelve bar blues format, such as in the song Before You Accuse Me. This means you get three lines of lyric per verse, which is really two lines since the second line should be a repeat of the first (on one with very slight variations from the first line).

And here's the real challenging bit - I'd like you to limit yourself to three verses, or four verses tops. Ideally, you'll sing two verses, do an instrumental, sing another verse, another instrumental and then the final verse (and this is just an example, don't worry about playing an instrumental if you post your song - of course, it would be nice to hear!). Bonus points if your final verse is the same as the opening verse.

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Well I seem to have made it through a full year relatively's been nice to see some old faces drop in now and then, welcome quite a few new faces, and great to see anyone put pen to paper (or mouse to screen) and actually write a song. Thank you all for your contributions!

This week, I've been playing around trying to put some scary lead guitar to a Halloween jam - hopefully, I'll have it finished by Sunday night. So let's stick with Halloween and get all's about a ghost story this week? Or something in a supernatural vein? Or you could just write a song about Halloween from a kid's point of view?

This weekend I've had the house to myself - it's been a total nag-free zone. Just me, the dogs and the music....utter bliss. It's often said we take our wives/partners for granted - I know I do. I take it for granted than when I wake up in the AM the nagging will start, and it won't stop till I go to bed....sometimes not even then. So this week, put yourselves in my place - you're on your own. (Those of you who are happily married, you'll have to work at this!) No-one to nag - no honey-do list. What are you going to do with your weekend? Chill out, cabbage out and watch junk TV and eat junk food - like I did? or give her a nice surprise when she gets back and have all those outstanding jobs finished - like I haven't?

Either way - write about it. In a POSITIVE way!

You've got all week to come up with something - and I promise I won't nag. Honest.

Two-fold assignment this week......

1) Finish off the last multi part assignment....anything to add, like a final chorus, or a suggestion for another song, like a coda - get it out of your system. Put music to it, post MP3, release single, dominate world, etc etc etc.

2) Now that our sister forum - the Sunday Composers Group - has disappeared, I want us to think more about the music we're putting to our lyrics....sooooooo.......

Pick up your guitar. If you've got more than one, pick one of them. Tune it to EADGBE - standard tuning. Now....put your little finger on the third fret of the top E string - the thinnest one. Now put your ring finger on the third fret of the B string. So far, in tab notation, you've got this....000033.

With me so far? Of course you are....we're all guitarists here. Now what we're going to do is leave those fingers there and experiment with a few chords. Put your first finger on the second fret of the A string, and your second finger on the third fret of the bottom (thickest) E string - what you've got now (tab - 320033) is a G chord. Now we're going to experiment with some more chords - feel free to make up your own and put your fingers where you feel like, AS LONG AS YOU KEEP THAT PINKY AND RING FINGER IN PLACE!

Here's a few suggestions.....

320033 - G
x32033 - Cadd9
022033 - Em7
200233 - Dsus4 (you'll need your thumb for the bottom E string - if you can't manage that, play xx0233 or x00233)
x02233 - A7sus4
103233 - F6/9 (thumb again for the bottom E, if you can't manage it, try x03233 or xx3233

So - play around with those chords, see if you can put a nice progression together....then add lyrics!

Let's take stock of what we've got to work on - titles, first verses, two choruses hopefully - so what we need this week is a SECOND verse to go with what's already written....and a bridge. Next week we'll finish this whole thing off....and then maybe a couple of pointers as to the way we'll be (hopefully) heading next year.

OK, we've got a shed load of titles and a grass box full of first know what's coming next, right?....yup, it's our old friend the chorus. With a slight twist - what I'd like you to do is write TWO choruses. One that follows on nicely from the verse of your choice (someone else's verse - NOT your own!) and a second chorus, a variation of the first if you like, that'll point the way for someone else to add a second verse next week....that someone will have to bridge that gap between choruses next week.

Usual rules apply for these collaborative efforts - work on a song you haven't worked on before.

And thank you all for the hard work work you've put in to this so far.....hopefully, we'll get a good few finished/polished songs out of this. Maybe, as a side note, we might get to record some of them....and anyone who's contributed a line of lyrics is, of course, welcome to add suggestions for music.

We'll see about that as we go along.....

OK - we've got a LOAD of titles to choose from. In a Sticky thread, probably just underneath this one.....

What I'd like you to do this week is pick about three or four of someone else's titles and write a first verse for each.....the more the better. Hell, pick one of everyone's titles if you're feeling creative - and if you're not, force yourself!....and if you think one of your titles was particularly good, write a first verse for that as well. The more the merrier this week....let's give ourself plenty to work on next week when we get to choruses!

Well, it's getting close to the end of year 7 - and, as we usually finish each SSG year with a multi-part assignment, I'm not going to buck tradition and go against the grain. I am going to keep a week (or possibly two, depending on how this one goes!) clear for another assignment which will give you an idea where we're going next year.....hint, tease, wait and see!


All I want from you this week is a few titles - something to stimulate someone else's imagination....get them in the right spirit for writing.

I'll open a sticky thread - in a couple of days or so - to which I can move all the titles from the next few days - I'll keep it open till this particular assignment's finished.

Starting on a personal note this week, I'd like to say farewell to one of my favourite writers - Keith Waterhouse died this week, aged 80. Although he wasn't in the same bracket as Shakespeare or Dylan Thomas, he was a ceaseless campaigner against declining standards in the English Language. He was the founder of the AAAA - the Association for the Abolition of the Aberrant Apostrophe. In fact, I learned HOW to use apostrophes properly from his newspaper columns. Rest In Peace, Keith - your wonderful sense of humour will be sadly missed.

So.....this week's assignment is in honour of KW. I'd like you to write about someone who influenced your writing, or inspired you to write - whether it's your favourite author (now, or when you were a child) your favourite songwriter, your favourite poet or even your English (or German or Spanish.....I just remembered we don't all have English as a first Language!) teacher.

So, it's after 11.30 pm on a Saturday night, and I'm wondering what to do for this week's assignment - I've got a few prepared in reserve, but nothing jumps out and says "pick ME!" Then I notice I'm watching the clock.....

So this week, I'd like you to focus on clockwatching and the nature of it seems to drag when you're eagerly anticipating something, and how it seems to fly past when you're enjoying yourself or dreading something.

This week's assignment is brought to you by way of our old friend and GN member Dogbite....who's just got a music-related tattoo. For the full story, read here....


So what I'd like you to do this week is tell the story behind a tattoo. Or tattoos, you may know a sailor or two - hey, your private life is your business! Could be about someone you know, or a fictional tattoo - the choice is yours.

Last week's assignment was about mythical heroes & superheroes - this week, I reckon it'd be nice if we paid tribute to a real-life hero to millions of people who died this week. If you've ever listened to music (if you haven't, what the heck are you doing here?) Les Paul will have touched your life in some way....I'd be willing to bet real money that one of your musical heroes has played a Les Paul at one time or another. If you've ever recorded anything, remember Les was the guy who pioneered multi-tracking technology. A great musician, a great inventor, and a great all-round guy.

So let's hear it for Les, and let's see if you can come up with something fitting for the great man.

OK, let's try something a little off-beat this week - what I'd like you to do is imagine you're a mythical hero (Hercules or Achilles, for example) or super-hero (Superman, Spiderman etc) and write about the down-side of your career.

Well, last week we let the Devil (Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, whatever name you give him - or should that be her?) take centre stage....and, like a political debate, I think it's only fair to give the opposition party equal air time.....

So, let's hear it for the good guys this week - whether you call him (her) God, Jehovah, Buddha, Odin, whatever - here's your chance to put your point of view to YOUR deity of choice.....

As always, best of luck with your writing. As always, if you're new here and not sure where to start, well....if this assignment doesn't click with you, why not go back and maybe start with an earlier one that does strike a chord? All this year's previous assignments, and all last year's (Y6) assignments, are there for your easy perusal....pick one that DOES spark your neurons and ganglions into life.....
thinking about this song again . . . and this week's assignment . . . of being reunited with a friend.
Another interesting perspective on this assignment would be to write about finally meeting the devil . . .
after you have died . . . and reflecting on ol' times.

Thanks, Ken - as soon as I read that, I knew what this week's topic was going to be. There has to be balance in nature - black and white, good and evil, yin and like the man said, imagine you've just passed on - and you're face to face with the devil...what are you going to say to him?

OK, last week's assignment was brought to you courtesy of a happy event - and we'll stay in upbeat mode this week, if that's alright with you. This week's assignment comes to you via my Fender Telecaster - it's been in the pawn shop for a couple of months, and I finally got it out yesterday. So I'd like you to write about a happy reunion this week - a childhood sweetheart, perhaps, or an old friend. Keep it bright, upbeat and bubbly....we'll get into the blues next week!

A little background on this week's assignment, first. I was looking forward to a nice quiet Saturday night in - watch a little TV, have a few drinks, play a little guitar. Then - around 5.30, Saturday evening - the party started. One of the neighbours - about three doors down - hired a tent, which took up the whole of the back garden (about 25 yards long) and hired a DJ - and from then till now - it's 2 am Sunday morning, and the music has just stopped - we've been subjected to non stop, extremely loud "music." I put music in inverted commas because it's the sort of garbage you'd hear in a nightclub/disco - all bass and drums, nothing to sing along to or a guitar solo in sight.

Marilyn (my other half, for better or worse {mostly worse, but we won't go into that here!}) went round to complain - got told to eff off. So I went round, and got told the same by half a dozen drunken lads. So she phoned the police - and got told they can do nothing. They don't deal with domestic noise complaints any more, you have to ring the local council. Great - can't get hold of them till monday morning. Thanks a lot.

So - what I'd like from you this week is a song about noisy neighbours. Or just bad neighbours. This is your chance to vent your spleen - and I don't mind if you name names, ie I might just call this week's song (if I manage to get one out!) "Mrs Ellison's Party" and mention 98 Alder Street in the lyrics.....

You might like to start by looking at a thread in the news forum - Dan T posted this one.


If you can't get satisfaction, then why not name the guilty party (or parties) in a song?

OK, people - let's see some SERIOUS venting!

OK, this week's assignment was inspired by forum member Almann1969's thread in the News Forum - his band played their first wedding this week. Our Alan (Mr Green, that is) got a belly-laugh from me with this comment; (re) " the bride and groom - you need something suitable for their first dance, but NOT under any circumstances and pain of death "We've only just begun" by the Carpenters; that's sooooooooooo tacky and if we find out you went and played it regardless we'll send the boys round to break your legs." On the right track, Alan, but fingers instead of legs - you can play in a wheelchair, but not with broken fingers!

So your task this week write a song for the bride and groom to dance to. A replacement song, if you like, for "We've Only Just Begun".......less tacky, and less of the saccharine. Examples? Well, at my first wedding, the DJ played "I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher....and at my second wedding, the DJ played "I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher....didn't actually bring me much luck, but never mind, it's the thought that counts.

So get your head into "songwriter-for-hire-mode" - and write a love song that you'd like to hear the DJ, or band, play at YOUR wedding when you're dancing with your new bride or husband.

The last couple of weeks, we've been writing songs around popular culture - firstly about films, then last week about TV - this week, let's make it a loose trilogy and write about the radio. Songs you heard in your youth that inspired you on the radio? Songs that evoke a nostalgic feeling? Today's radio? It's up to you.....plenty of scope there, I think.

As always, good luck with your writing - and as always, if you're new to this particular section of Guitarnoise and you're not sure where to start, either: A - start here, throw yourself in at the deep end: or, B - start anywhere, with any old assignment that tickles your fancy. All the previous assignments from this year are in a separate thread; all last year's assignments (year 6, courtesy of Mr D. Hodge) are also in a separate thread. Don't be scared of getting your feet wet, dive in and write - there'll be plenty of good commonsense advice to bail you out should your writing founder on rocky shores.

Good example there of how NOT to stretch a metaphor.........!

OK, last week we did films - more specifically, one small section of the genre, ie. Film Noir. We may come back to this at a later date - but this week, I'd like you to cast your mind back to when you were young, and try and recall the programs your parents let you watch when you were kids. More specifically, about 6-11 years old.

I can still remember Stingray, Thunderbirds, The Time Tunnel, and a host of Western Series - Have Gun Will Travel (My favourite, I wish one of those million channels we subscribe to now would show repeats of that!) Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, The Time Tunnel, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, Dr Who, Top Of The Pops (another huge fave - either the Beatles or the Stones would ALWAYS be on!) etc etc etc....

So this week, you can have an either/or assignment.....

EITHER.....cast your mind back to your early days of watching TV, and write about a particular series...

OR....cast your mind back, etc, and write about the experience of watching TV when you were little - how did it shape your perceptions, your view of the world, etc?

Hopefully, you'll have found time this week to look at the links to the "film noir" genre I posted - if not, here they are again.

Film Noir and List Of Films Noir

So having read, learned and inwardly digested, here's your task for this week - pick one of those classic films and make it into a song. Any style, any genre - though I'd suggest the subject matter lends itself to dark and moody rather than light and frothy.

This week, I'd like us to take a look at a specific genre of music - the often-maligned, though highly influential, folk-music genre. And to be a little more restrictive, let's focus on death.

(Yeah, I'm in a cheerful mood this week. England got beat by the Netherlands at cricket. The Netherlands, for Gawd's sake! A bunch of part timers, including a bank clerk, a dustman and a repo man, with just one professional cricketer. Not to malign the Netherlands - if they'd beaten England at football, no-one would have been in the least surprised - the best team won on the night, but it just shouldn't have happened. The Aussies are probably in shock as well - beaten by the West Indies. They (the West Indies) have just been hammered by an English team without several star players over the last couple of months - but even that doesn't compare with being beaten by the Netherlands.)

Umm, sorry, got a little sidetracked there. Where was I? Oh yeah - folk music and death. Put the two together, and think along the lines of Led Zep's "Gallows Pole," Traffic's "John Barleycorn Must Die," Fairport Convention's "John Babbacombe Lee," Dylan's "Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll" or "George Jackson" etc etc.....and see what you can come up with.

(Note to Chris C - I realise you did this song last week, but feel free to do it again this week, only differently - and thanks for the idea!)

AND - I'd like you to do a little preparatory work, if you've got the time, for an assignment I've got in mind for next week. Along with our old friend CitiZenNoir, I'm something of a film buff - and we share a deep and lasting affection for one particular genre, the "film noir" genre. So what I'd like you to do is a little reading up - here's a good page on Wikipedia (Film Noir) to start with, and here's a list of classic films noirs.

I was struck by the coincidence that the week 31 assignment fell on the 31st of May - and I got to wondering, how many songs have been written about a particular date? There's a few spring to mind - "New Year's Day" by U2 (1st of January, obviously!)...."1st of May" by the Bee Gees.....12th of Never.....Papa Was a Rolling Stone (It was the 3rd of September, that day I'll always remember...) and of course, there are lots of songs about December 25th....without actually mentioning the date, though. (Although I think The Darkness did.....)

Not really that many, though, are there? Well, here's your chance to fill a gap - I'd like you to focus on a specific date this week. Birthday, wedding anniversary, a date that means something specific to YOU....tell me, and the rest of the world, about it.

And moving swiftly on - what I'd like you to do this week is report (in song of course!) one half of a telephone conversation. It can be sad, it can be happy - but all I want to hear is YOUR part of the conversation. Think of it this way - Verse, a couple of fill-in chords while the other person's talking, then your reply to their chat...etc..

"I read the news today, Oh boy," - hopefully you'll recognise those words as the opening lyrics to a famous song*. They're also the inspiration for this week's assignment - what I'd like you to do is go through a newspaper, pick out a few articles and link them together lyrically. Good news articles, bad news articles - it doesn't matter. You may want to pick one or the other, or possibly both in a "compare-and-contrast" manner.

*If you didn't recognise that line, it's from "A Day In The Life" by the Beatles - you need to swot up on the classics!_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

I did have something planned for this week already, BUT....I've just got off the phone after talking to a friend I haven't heard from in more than a year, and hopefully managed to arrange a reunion with....

So....your assignment this week is about meeting a long lost friend. Gives you plenty of scope, I think. How did you meet after all this time? Via facebook, or friends reunited? Did you find an old number in your phone? Was it planned or accidental, this meeting? How did it turn out? Or have you just arranged to meet? How do you think it's going to go?

Seems like everytime I've turned on the TV this week all I heard mentioned has been the panic over the outbreak of swine flu - hopefully it'll fizzle out like the SARS epidemic or the Bird Flu epidemic. But it did get me thinking - the end of the world is big business these days, nowhere more so than in the movie industry. Armageddon, Independence Day, Deep Impact, 28 Days Later....all huge films made in the last ten years or so. And then of course there was the British series, "Survivors," part of which was filmed in my home town last year.....

So this week, I'd like you to turn your songwriting skills to the end of the world.....and write a song about it. Of course, there'll be no-one here to listen to it, but still.....

Well - here we are, halfway through another year already. Do you know (I bet you didn't - I didn't till this week...!) that there's a town in England called Halfway? That kind of fired up my brain cell - halfway to where? I remember the old Billy Fury song, Halfway To Paradise - but if you're actually leaving the town of Halfway, you're halfway to anywhere - the possibilities are endless.

So this week, pick ONE possibility....halfway house, perhaps? halfway home? halfway there (wherever there is?!)'s up to you where you end up. As long as you start with "halfway" in the title......
WEEK 25.

OK, nearly home and dry - well at least vigorously towelling off. All you've got to do this week is come up with a bridge - preferably for a song you haven't contributed to yet - to go between the second chorus and the final chorus. An idea that might work on some of the (nearly-finished) songs could be a little pre-chorus, if you're feeling especially creative - maybe a line, possibly two, to connect the verses to the choruses? Not mandatory, but have a go if you're in the mood.

There have been some good collaborations here - I'm impressed at how seamlessly the songs are fitting together. I'd like to have contributed more to this particular assignment, but, as always, time and family matters have been the insect in the salve.

So - I'd love to know, how much have you got out of this particular foray into the world of collaboration? Have you had to adapt your writing style to fit into a particular lyric? Have you had to think "out of the box" and stretch yourself to come up with something different? And, most importantly, do you want more of these collaborative assignments? I'm thinking maybe a couple a year, but it's up to YOU - if you want more, say so. If you don't like them, say so. It's called democracy! Answers on a postcard, please - or stick 'em in the feedback thread, if you like.

OK, to recap what we've got so far....

We've got quite a few unfinished songs, consisting of (so far) a title, two different choruses, a second verse to go in between the choruses.

So for this week, I'd like you to come up with an opening verse for a song you haven't yet been involved with, that fits in with the general scheme of that song, AND a closing chorus - different lyrically from the first two choruses, but with the same general feel to it.

Feel free to tackle more than one song, if you like - the only proviso is, you musn't have contributed to that particular song before - unless it's one of your titles.

We'll put the finishing touches to this next week!

OK, things are getting a little crowded around the top of the SSG - so in the interests of brevity, I'm going to keep the current multi-part assignment all together in one thread, with all the "titles in one place" stickied at the top.

So - so far, we've got a whole bunch of titles, and a lot of good choruses.

What I'd like you to do this week is pick three choruses you like - NOT your own, though you can pick choruses that someone else has written around YOUR titles, if you like. And write a SECOND verse - the verse that comes between the two choruses - to each of them. The first verse? We're going to leave that till week we'll be heading off down a slightly different road, though still in the same assignment framework.

What I'm ultimately aiming for with this assignment is a series of songs where at least four, and possibly five, people have actually contributed to the actual writing of each song - and, if those people can ultimately contribute to the recording of any of those songs - or even a song they haven't had a hand in the lyrics of - that'd be even better!

Are you still with me? Anyone? Is that tumbleweed rolling UP the street?

Okay, following on from last week - there's a huge list of titles there to choose from. What I'd like you to do this week is to pick at least three titles, all from different people, and write choruses for each of them. There's one small catch - I'd like you to include the title in the first line of the chorus, and, if possible, I'd like you to write TWO different choruses for each song. Different, but with the same format - same line length, and using the title in the first line of each chorus. One chorus to come after the first verse (which doesn't exist yet, but nevermind...) and one to come after the second verse.

I've just finished tabbing out "Substitute" by The Who for the ESD - you might like to use that as a template.

First chorus...

Substitute, your lies for fact, I see right through your plastic mac,
I look all white but my dad was black, my fine-looking suit's really made out of sack.

Second chorus....

Substitute, me for him, substitute, my coke for gin,
Substitute, you for my mum, at least I'll get my washing done.

The song ends with the second chorus followed immediately by the first chorus....and that's the ultimate aim (or ending) of this particular exercise.

Any questions? The feedback thread's open.....

Well, in a few weeks we'll be half way through year seven of the Sunday Songwriter's Group - and it seems there's a tradition that, around half way through the year, we tackle a multi-part assignment - and I'm not one to fly in the face of tradition. I took a straw poll as to whether I should carry on this tradition - well, I asked three convenient straws, and none of them said no...

So your task this week is a simple one - come up with four or five titles that you think would spark someone's imagination and kick-start the songwriting synapses.

That's it - and I promise not to mention that the smile is still there from last week, made even wider by the fact that Man Utd got beat again today - and Liverpool old boy Danny Murphy scored against them to do his old mates a huge favour. And Chelsea got beat too - now if Liverpool can just beat Aston Villa tomorrow it really is wide open.

Oops, sorry, did I promise not to mention football? Drat..........

Well it's a bit past midnight, Saturday night and I've still got a huge grin all over my face that's been there since lunchtime. The reason? Liverpool beating Manchester United 4-1 on their own ground - I expected Liverpool to play well, especially after demolishing Real Madrid 4-0 midweek - but I didn't expect that scoreline, especially after going a goal down half way through the first half, and especially after the 3-0 hammering we got there last season in a game which was watched by our own Dan & Laura Lasley....Laz and Babydoclaz on these forums.

Anyway, enough gloating from me - the reason I mentioned the above score is because it gave me the idea for this week's assignment. So, if you please, could we have a song about a victory against the odds - or snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, if you like. Maybe the reverse - perhaps having the cup of victory snatched from your lips?

So, I'm sat looking at a blank computer screen, wondering which pre-prepared assignment to use - and none of them look all that appetising, stimulating, or intellectually challenging. I've had all week to come up with something new, but to be perfectly honest the asylum (I'm the only sane person in this house, honest! Doesn't say much for the other occupants, does it?) has taken all of my time this week and my remaining brain cell's gone into lockdown. Either that, or it's gone looking for the other brain cell - I KNOW I had two last week.

I was leading up to something there, and I'm damned if I know what it was - lost my train of thought, got distracted by a Marilyn. That happens a lot, and not usually in a good way. But.....

That does give me an idea - let's use the title as a starting point this week, and write a song around the title "Train Of Thought."

Apologies for the late posting of this week's topic, but I've been away from the computer....yesterday (Saturday) I had the very great pleasure of escorting two of our GN members, namely CitiZenNoir and Isabelle, around Liverpool in general and the Cavern Club and the Cavern Pub in particular and only just got back.

Bearing that in mind, I'm in a very Beatles kind of mood right now - so I'd like you, this week, to turn your hands towards writing a Beatles-related song. Maybe your title could be something like "Beatles Frame Of Mind" or "Beatles Kind Of Mood?" Or maybe you could use an address associated with the Fab Four - Matthew Street, Abbey Road, Menlove Avenue - as the title. Bonus & street cred points will be awarded for MP3's with a vaguely Beatles flavour.

Well, it's that time of year again, my friends (or should that be darlings, lovies and sweeties? Erm, no, I think not!) - got your speeches ready for the Oscars?

I've been looking at some past Oscar winners for best song......

Arthur's Theme
Born Free
Can You Feel The Love Tonight
For All We Know
I Just Called To Say I Love You
Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
Say You Say Me
Streets Of Philadelphia
You Take My Breath Away
Up Where We Belong
The Way We Were
Windmills Of Your Mind
You Light Up My Life

All pretty well-known songs, all big hits. Notice something? Yep, every single one of them's a slow ballad. Doomy ballads, dreary ballads, sad ballads, cheesy ballads (Special Awards here to Stevie Wonder [HOW COULD YOU STEVIE!] Lionel Ritchie and Debbie Boone)....but ballads all.

Uptempo songs? Well.....all I can think of are Fame, Flashdance, I've Had The Time Of My Life and The Theme From Shaft....or to put it another way, where's the real rockers?

So this week, I'd like you to find a film that won - or should have won* - the Oscar for best film, and write a new theme song for it in an uptempo style. Rock, rock'n'roll, country, even a jump blues'll do at a push.....just let's get away from the cheesy ballads, eh?

*How the hell did Forrest Gump win best picture in the same year Shawshank Redemption was released? OK, FG had a good soundtrack - but compared to SR, it was a piece of lightweight fluff. Candy floss to a T-Bone Steak. Grrrrrr....

OK, let's try something a little out-of-the-ordinary this week.....

What I'd like you to try and come up with is a duet.....and while we missed out on a Valentine's Day song (I always seem to miss out on Valentine's Day... ) let's make it a lover's duet. Could be along the lines of "I Got You Babe" (Sonny and Cher) or "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (Elton John & Kiki Dee) or "Islands In The Stream" (Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers1).....

At the very least this could produce some very entertaining MP3s!

Or, if you insist on thinking outside the box, you could always come up with a Paul McCartney/M*c**el J*ck**n style duet along the lines of "The Girl Is Mine"....or maybe your lover's the same gender? There's roughly a 10% probability of that, according to statistics.

Or maybe a lovers-falling-out-duet? Has that been done before? I can't think of one offhand - although I'm trying to remember the lyrics to Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood's early 70's duet, "Did You Ever".....(answers in the feedback thread, please!)

Walked through the main shopping street of my little town last week - I still can't get used to no more Woolworths. When I think of all the money I've spent there over the years....not least on records and CDs.....lots of memories.

So this week, I'd like you to write about how your town's changed since you were a kid, or recently....for better? For worse? Progress or decay? Growth or stagnation? If you live in a big city, you could of course write about your particular corner of that city. If you've recently moved, feel free to write about your old home town.

You may or may not know, but this week - February 3rd, to be precise - it's the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that took Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens. It's already been immortalised in song as "the day the music died" in Don McLean's "American Pie", but I reckon there's room for at least one more tribute song to Buddy Holly. Or Richie Valens, or The Big Bopper if you prefer. Or all three of them, like Eddie Cochran's song, "Three Stars."

If you're not a fan of any of the above, OK you can have a little latitude - write a tribute song to/about ANY musician killed in a plane crash. There are plenty to choose from; apart from the above I can think of (well, OK, I wiki'd it!) Glenn Miller, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Otis Redding (and several of the Bar-Kays) Jim Croce, Ronnie Van Zant, Steve & Cassie Gaines, Randy Rhoads, Ricky Nelson, SRV, John Denver, Aaliyah.....

Sheesh - is it a quarter of the way through the year already? Where've the last 12 weeks gone? Seems like two minutes ago I was checking the forum every two minutes to see if anyone was writing anything for week 1....

Great turn-out last week, I thought. Wasn't the easiest of assignments, but you all came through with flying (oops, sorry!) colours.

This week I'd like to try something that looks easy on the face of it, but may turn out quite restrictive...I'd like you to write a song that uses just ONE chord for the verses. You can have a free run on the choruses....but try and restrict yourself to just one chord, or variations on it, for the verses. It CAN be done.....

I think Lennon did achieve that goal with "Tomorrow Never Knows" - correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure there's just one chord in the whole song.

So - just one chord, if you please. Variations on that chord are acceptable - maybe even a blues shuffle (D - D6 - D7.) But do try and keep the verses as minimal as you can. To quote our old friend PearltheKat, "I like songs that are minimal. In fact my quest is to write a song that sounds like nothing, if that's possible. I don't think I'd ever have the problem of having too many lines, or too many verses. I want a few well chosen words to do a whole lot." Well - here's your chance! Here's everyone's chance!

Oops, a little late this week - blame it on A ) A new toy - bought a new bass yesterday, hardly put it down yet - and B ) A slightly excessive alcohol intake. No matter, it's still Sunday - coming up to 1:45 pm here, so.....

The word "hero" is bandied about a lot these days. Footballers, pop stars, etc - but this week I'd like us to pay tribute to a REAL hero. I'm talking about Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III - no matter how many pictures I see, or how much I read about it, I'm still enthralled by his courage, calm under pressure and his magnificent feat of bringing his crippled plane down safely.

So let's hear it for Captain "Sully".......

So - last week was a pretty week bad for me. I've had major computer problems, specifically with pop-ups - no sooner would I start posting a reply than I'd be redirected to Foxy Bingo or e-car (or e-van) insurance or some such rubbish. Worse, it wouldn't even open the pop-up in a new window - it'd just open in the one I was using, and close it. Thankfully, I have a daughter with more than the family average of one brain cell (I have two, and I think at least one of them's still working - care to work out how many the Mrs has got?) and she's managed to sort it out.....

So this week, having been influenced by those ****** pop-ups, I'd like you to write about one of those days - or weeks - or months - or years - or centuries....... where EVERYTHING has gone wrong.

Sorry I haven't been able to comment on everyone's songs this week - haven't even had the time to even THINK about writing myself, which is a shame - beat my previous record of submitting songs in consecutive weeks comfortably. Might have to catch up next week as well as fulfill this weeks assignment...hey, better late than never!

As always, should you be caught or captured, the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of your mission....this tape will self destruct in five seconds............HISS/SMOKE...........OK, you got me, I've been watching re-runs of the original series of "Mission Impossible" all week.....

This week I'd like us to write about those special bonds between comrades.....a brotherhood or sisterhood, if you like. Serious or light-hearted - your choice. Think "Brothers In Arms" or "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves"....or a "secret society" like Opus Dei, or the Freemasons. Or from the world of film - think Fight Club, or The First Wives Club, or The Brotherhood of the Rose, or The Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood or even the Men In Black....

Should be plenty of examples there to give you an idea.....

So........plenty of nice, fun, heartwarming sing-along songs last week. While everyone's still suffused with goodwill, turkey, bonhomie and Christmas spirit, this week let's have a go at "bitter and twisted." I can think of no finer example in the world of music than Dylan's "Positively 4th Street" - that's the put-down to end all put-downs.

So if anyone's upset you this year, here's your chance to vent your spleen. Any style of music will do....whatever fits the lyrics you come up with. Let them know - whoever THEY are - exactly what you think of them.

As always, look forward to reading/hearing what you come up with, and a happy New Year to all!... even though we all know the REAL New Year isn't till November when the week 1 assignment is posted.....

Well, it's that time of year again. Christmas. I loved it when I was a kid - these days, if it hadn't been for the daughter saying, "Dad, get up mine Xmas day - having a party, let your hair down!" I think I'd have cracked's not a bit like Xmas in the 70's, when Slade...Merry Xmas Everybody and Wizzard, AKA Roy Wood...I Wish It Could Be Xmas Every Day and Elton John....Step Into Christmas put the FUN into Xmas....

So here's your task this week - write a fun Xmas song. Have a good listen to the three songs above and try and write something in that vein. Make it rock'n'roll, make it singalong - cast your mind back a few (or more!) years to when you actually enjoyed Christmas....and let's all enjoy some Christmas fun! Let the snowflakes fall - let Santa put his Liverpool shirt on. (Hey, Santa's a red - you ever seen him wearing Everton colours?)

Oh, and if you need more inspiration - it's taken one of my favourite bands, Status Quo, over 40 years to release a Xmas single - but they've managed to come up with a good one at last!.... It's Christmas Time

So down that beer, pick up that guitar and let's have a Xmas rocker......

So - the creative juices are flowing. Your brain's working overtime trying to get those feelings into prose or verse. You've bitten through your tongue but don't even notice the pain or the blood gushing onto your new white t-shirt, you're so rapt in concentration....then all of a sudden....

"You've got a new message/You've got mail/ X has just signed in/" pops up.....and your train of thought's been broken, that vivid mental image has been totally wiped from your mind and that soundpainting's been totally blanked out....happened to you?

Tell me about it - better still, write a song about it.

(BTW, if you want to know the real story behind "Kubla Khan" and the Man from Porlock - the most irritating pop-up in history - I'd thoroughly recommend reading Douglas Adams' "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.")

(Yes, the same Douglas Adams who wrote "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.")

(Darn - forgotten what I was going to say next.....!)

Well, last week we did rock'n'roll - it's always been my favourite form of expression since I was a little kid. A little selfish of me, I know - some of you grew up listening to folk, country, blues, jazz, classical, soul, R&B, ragtime, etc, there's a huge divergence in musical tastes on this forum....

Me? Always had a big mouth, liked shooting it off, liked being the centre of attention - rock'n'roll's perfect for that!

Remember the scene in the Blues Brothers, where John Belushi asks Bob - the patron of The Country Bunker - "what kind of music d'you have here, Bob?" To which Bob replies, "we have BOTH kinds - Country AND Western!" I have to remind myself sometimes there's other kinds of music apart from rock'n'roll......

So here's your chance to redress the balance. Write a song about any genre of music except rock'n'roll - your favourite music, if you like, and what it means to you. Think "The Folk Singer" by Tommy Roe, or "Sweet Soul Music" by Arthur Conley, or "Soul Man" by Sam and Dave - just let the music speak for itself. OR - you could just write a song about music in general, and how it affects you. Think "Music," by John Miles. Extra points for musical references - songs, singers, records etc.

May the force be with you.........

Okay, this week we're going to start with a little pop quiz....

QUESTION: What do the following acts have in common? AC/DC, Boston, Foreigner, Ramones, Sha-Na-Na, Kid Rock, Showaddywaddy, Mott The Hoople, David Bowie and Kay Starr have in common?

ANSWER: As I'm sure you all know, they all had songs whose titles began with the words "Rock and Roll" or, in some cases, "Rock'n'Roll." Damnation, Band, Fantasy, High School, Is Here To Stay, Jesus, Lady, Queen, Suicide and Waltz were the respective endings for those particular singers/bands, although AC/DC seem to make a habit of it - Rock'n'Roll Ain't Noise Pollution, Rock'n'Roll Damnation, and Rock'n'Roll Train - from the new album - to name just three.

Your task this week is simple - write a song around the phrase "Rock'n'Roll." It doesn't have to be a rock'n'roll song - but the title must be "Rock'n'Roll (something-or-other.)" Any genre, any style, any can make it country (I'd rather be country than rock'n'roll) blues (The Blues had a baby and they called it rock'n'roll) can be about how you love/hate rock'n'roll.... I mean, how far away is "Rock'n'Roll Baby" - The Stylistics - from rock and roll?

Oh and double points (and the drink of your choice, should I ever pass your way!) for anyone who can help me flesh out the rock'n'roll far I've got,

Rock and roll....

Ain't Noise Pollution
High School
Is Here To Stay
Party Queen
Waltz (That's the Kay Starr song!)

"If I had a time machine, I'd go back and tell me to practise that bloody guitar!" - I wrote that as a jokey throw-away line about 18 months ago (after a little research, it was July 2007 in a post about Deep Purple after someone had written that if he'd had a time machine, he'd go back and watch lots of their gigs from the early 70's.)

"Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention..." from "My Way," immortalised by Sinatra. My mum's favourite song by her favourite artist....

If you DID have a time machine for a limited period - and you could go back and change ONE thing about YOUR life - what would you change? What's your biggest regret? Something you said, or perhaps something you didn't say? Something you did, or something you didn't do? Or would you take the easy way out and let history take its natural course? "No Regrets," like the Walker Brothers? What would Sam Beckett do?

Cue theme music from "Quantum Leap" - or "The Time Tunnel," if you're old enough to remember James Darren and Robert Colbert falling end over end through that swirling black and white vortex...

Discuss. Write song. Earn the respect of your peers......etc, etc.........

"Words.....I hate 'em!" (NFShakespeare, 2008)
"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away..." (BR&M Gibb, c1968)
"Word Up!" (Cameo,1986)
"Words? I know a few...." (Dr P M Roget, date unknown.)

Words - love 'em or hate 'em, words are a songwriters stock-in-trade. Some writers create sound-paintings with their lyrics; others use simple basic language to get their message across. Rap writers use words to create a rhythm - Dylan did the same thing back in the 60's with songs like "Subterranean Homesick Blues."

This week, let's have a go at using words....and let's have a choice of two subjects. There's always room to improvise....

1 - Write a song, using the word "word" or its plural, "words" in either the verse or the chorus. "Well I never was good, with romantic words, so the next few lines come really hard..." to quote Rod Stewart, from "Mandolin Wind." That kind of thing. Try and introduce some synonyms - words that mean the same as "word" if you can. Message, statement, phrase...use your imagination. If you're going to use cliches, try and use the word "cliches" or derivatives of it.


2 - Write a song about words you've recently used in conversation - grammatically correct ? Doesn't really matter - hey, if the Gibbs can get away with it....I once got a song out of the phrase, "been there, done that..." - so take a normal everyday phrase you've recently used and build your song around that. Think back to a phone call, or a text message, or a conversation on MSN - what would you say to that person face-to-face?

Is it that time already? I was enjoying Week One so much, it's a shame it has to end, but I suppose all things must, last week we took a look at a much-used chord sequence - the I - VIm - IV - V progression. This week, before we move on to more lyrical pastures, let's take a look at another "classic" chord progression. This time, the I - IV - V - IV progression. In the key of E, that'd be E-A-B-A; in A, A-D-E-D; in D, D-G-A-G, and so on. It's been used in a lot of songs over the years; La Bamba, Twist And Shout, Louie Louie and Wild Thing spring immediately to mind. Let's add a little twist, though - using that I - IV - V - IV progression, let's try and use it in a song that's NOT a flat-out rocker. Country, Folk, ballad, blues - that's up to you. Hopefully the way you play the chords will set a mood that'll suggest a subject - lyrically, you've got a free hand again. Any subject. Feel free, also, to play around with the chords - if you want to use A, D and E, that's fine. If you're feeling a little more adventurous, you may wish to use extended chords - 7ths, minors, min7ths, dim, sus - whatever. (Louie Louie, for instance used a Vm chord- not sure of the original key, but in A it'd be A - D - Em - D.) If you want to use different chords for the chorus/bridge sections, fine - but do try to make the verses I - IV - V - IV.

Well -it isn't even January yet, but, as a great man once said, "Another year over, a new one just begun...." - in this case, year 7 of the Sunday Songwriters Group. I wonder if Nick Torres and Ryan Spencer - even in their wildest dreams - could have imagined just how succesful this forum would be! As you know by now, David's passing on the baton to me, and our grateful thanks go to him for the excellent job he's done over the last twelve months. He introduced a couple of new features that I'd like to continue: Firstly, all the assignments, topics, themes, suggestions, call them what you will, will be kept in this thread. Any late-comers, feel free to jump in at any time on any topic that may take your fancy. Second, I'll also keep a sticky thread for Year 7 comments, in similar vein to the year 6 "comments - complaints - concerns" thread that David introduced last year, and from time to time, maybe ask for your thoughts on how things are going.....

So - let's kick things off nice and easy this year. What I'd like to do over the course of the next twelve months is get us thinking musically as well as lyrically, so let's start off with something in that vein. From time to time, I love to listen to some real golden oldies - my music collection dates back to the time I was born. 1957, the rock'roll era - Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis all had hits that year - and a young man called John Lennon met another young man named Paul MaCartney at a church fete in Liverpool.

Now a lot of records from that era featured a similar progression - a I - VIm - IV - V progression. In the key of G, that'd be G / Em / C and D. In the key of A it'd be A / F#m / D and E. In the key of C, C / Am / F and G. You get the idea?

So your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to write a song using these four chords, in any order, in the key of your choice, for the verses. You can stick with them for the chorus, or bridges - or you can change it around, I'll leave that up to you. Lyrically, you've got a free choice - any style, any genre, any subject. MP3's? Nice if you can find the time, but not mandatory. If you can, though, try and show where the chord changes are. Something like this.....

(G) When the night has come, (Em)and the land is dark,
And the (C)moon, is the (D)only light we'll see.

Taken, of course, from "Stand By Me," although I believe the original, by Ben E. King circa 1960, was in the key of A - so the chords would be A, F#m, D and E in that order. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of songs already which use these chords - a few more that spring to mind are Brown Eyed Girl, Unchained Melody (for the verses, anyway!), Paul Anka's "Diana," Neil Sedaka's "Oh Carol," Elton's Crocodile Rock, "His Latest Flame" by Elvis, etc etc etc.....

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264


I've enjoyed setting these topics for the last couple of years - seen a lot of good songs written, heard a lot of good MP3s. Unfortunately, I've (1) run a little short of ideas and (2) not written much myself the last couple of years. I can count on my fingers the number of good songs I've written while I've been setting the from next week, the start of Year 9, David's taking back over.

So - this week's topic....I'd like you to say goodbye without it being final, if you know what I mean. Auf Wiedersehen, Adios, Adieu, Aloha, До мы встречаем снова other words, this is NOT goodbye, this is "till we meet again."

I'll still be around to critique - and, hopefully, now David's going to be setting the assignments again, I might actually get to write on a regular basis again. I do know the last two years - while I've been setting the topics - have been both quantitatively and qualitatively the worst of my SSG career. Go figure!

Thank you all so much for your participation and your songs while I've been running things.....

All together now.....

"We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when....
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day!"

See y'all's been a pleasure to get to know you all through your songs. It feels like we're all friends here - and as far as I'm concerned, long may our friendships continue.

:D :D :D :D :D


This week, like millions of people around the world, I was thrilled to see the Chilean Miners finally brought to safety. So no prizes for guessing what this week's topic is....that's correct, the miners! Couple of ways you could go about this...straight reporting from the view of a dispassionate reporter, or from the point of view of a miner, or from the POV of a member of a miner's family....

If you're looking for inspiration, try finding Jimmy Dean's 1961 hit, "Big Bad John" or the Bee Gees' "New York Mining Disaster 1941" on youtube....two completely different takes on a similar subject.

So far on this assignment, we've been working backwards....we started with a bridge, then the this week, I'd like you to add two verses. For the sake of conformity, let's call 'em "first verse" and "second verse." To make it just a little trickier - although this is just a suggestion, and you don't have to stick to it....try to use a different rhyming scheme to the choruses already written for the song you pick, for example if the chorus has an ABAB rhyming scheme, try AABB for the verses.... remember I asked you to write a whole song around someone else's title, but just post the bridge - but NOT to throw the rest of the song away? It might be instructive to compare the finished collaborations to the original whole songs!

So - last week we all wrote a bridge. To someone else's title. This week, what I'd like you to do is write a chorus....actually, three choruses. First chorus, second chorus, and a final chorus AFTER the bridge that's already been written for you. Three choruses....make them fairly similar, or make them completely different....but label them chorus (1) chorus (2) and chorus (3.)

We'll get to the verses next week - for this week, just let your imagination wander and work on those choruses. The whole point of this exercise is writing a song backwards, so to speak....start with the end, and end with the start....let's see if it works...

Last week I asked you, as well as the writing topic of the week, to come up with some titles for the start of a multi-part topic - so I'd like you first of all to pay a visit to this thread - viewtopic.php?f=23&t=49372 - where all the putative titles are stashed.

Then - pick a title, write a song around it. Let's expand on that - I'd like you to write a whole song around that title in the following format....verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. Keep the whole song on your desktop or store it in the location of your choice....but this time, just for a change, let's just post the bridge and work backwards from there next week. We all clear on that? All I want from you this week is the title you've picked and the bridge....but don't throw away the rest of the song, keep it for now. It may come in handy!
It's been a completely crazy few weeks here at Casa Lewis - currently 5 adults and three children living in a house with three
bedrooms , one of which is a tiny box room measuring 9' by 8'6". Everyone is getting on everyone else's nerves - there seems to be no privacy whatsoever, and the current topics under discussion (or arguments, as they're usually called!) are probably getting on the neighbours' nerves. Ironic, really, after the songs I've written about noisy neighbours....

On top of that, Marilyn (my partner, also known as "the Mrs" and "the Dragon" ) has been in and out of hospital with pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease &
stage 2 respiratory failure - although she seems to be on the mend now and should be out of Hospital around Tuesday or so.

I was actually born in the same hospital she's been in and out of....there have been times during the last few days where I've
felt I never left the darned place!....which leads me neatly into part one of this weeks topic. I'd like you to write a song
about a hospital - the classic that springs to mind, an old song which in my humble opinion has never been bettered as far as
that particular subject matter goes, is of course "St James Infirmary Blues." So here's your chance to make a name for
yourself in that particular smallish niche.

Onwards to part you know, we usually finish the SSG with a multi-part collaborative assignment....this year, I'd
like us to get the titles in early, so's we don't have a week without a song being written. So your part two task is to come
up with at least three titles for someone else to start writing a verse around next week. I'd like each particular title to
suggest a particular something like "Everyman's Blues" would, of course, suggest a blues song....something like
"Honky-Tonk Dancin'" would suggest a country song...."Rockin' and Rollin'....." well, you get the picture. Mix 'em up, try not
to pick two titles for the same genre or general subject heading.

I've opened a separate sticky thread - "week 47 - titles" - just put them all in there. viewtopic.php?f=23&t=49372
WEEK 46.
This week I'm going to turn the topic over to Jeremy, AKA contagiousjerm....he sent me a PM with an idea which I think is pretty good. I'll print the message in full...
So I've been pretty busy lately, because my step-son (who's Thai) is at a new school now (where I work) and studying in English and has just way too much homework that he needs my help with. So, while it is sad that I can't devote my time to songwriting, he had an assignment this week that gave me a song writing idea.

I came in and he was watching the U2 video "Walk On". My first thought was "why isn't he doing my homework" and my second thought "Hey, he's starting to develop a decent taste in music". But no, it was his homework assignment. What I never realized, and you wouldn't know from the lyrics, is that the song alludes to Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese woman who has been peacefully pursuing politcal change and living most of her last 20 years under house arrest. My son was supposed to explain the allusion.

The assignment would be to choose someone or something, real or fictional, and write a song about it. See if people can guess who or what it is - not that it should necessarily be guessable - the U2 song we only know because of the liner notes.

Nothing to add to that...pick up your guitars, pen and paper and get writing! Might be more fun if it's a real person you write about - but then again, if it's a well-known fictional character....oh hell, just write a song!________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Here we are again - midnight on a Saturday night and nothing prepared. Things have been a little crazy here at Casa Lewis just lately, but seem to have settled down to some semblance of normality again. Not that I'm actually sure which way up is "normal"....anyway, Midnight's the suggested theme this week. There have been plenty of great records over the years featuring the word "Midnight" in the title - After Midnight, In The Midnight Hour, Midnight At The Oasis are a few that spring to mind.

So - start with the word "Midnight," see where it takes you.....

This week, let's try and write a song with an unusual structure. Couple of nights ago, I was with a few friends and the drink was flowing - and as usual, the bad jokes started pouring out. There was quite a long spell of limericks - you know the kind of thing?

There was a young fisher named Fisher,
Who went fishing for fish in a fissure,
Till a fish with a grin,
Pulled the fisherman in....
Now they're fishing the fissure for Fisher!

I got to thinking the day after - I wonder if you could write a song around that particular rhyming scheme? A - A - B - B - A - but a serious song, though, not a "humorous" ditty.....

So there's your starting point. Write a song with an unusual rhyming scheme. Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" might be another good starting point - possibly the most convoluted rhyming scheme of all time, with lots of internal rhymes but the last line of each verse not rhyming with anything else but the last line of every other verse!


This week, I'm going to pass the reins over to KR2, who I thought came up with an interesting idea....this is the text of a PM he sent me a couple of weeks ago.
Hey Vic,
Was practicing "All Along the Watchtower" and had the idea of adding another verse.

So, that's my idea . . . have someone pick a favorite song of theirs and add another verse or two.

Here's mine by the way:

(Skip to last verse to see mine)

All Along the Watchtower

"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."

"No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl

Deep within the castle's chamber, the king stacks coins of gold
While flames from weeping candles, bicker with the wicked cold
Hammer striking iron chisel, scores words on polished stone
“Wealth is what you giveth, not what you call your own.”

Now - I like the extra verse he's added, but I thought rather than just add a verse to a classic song, why not use said song as a starting point; try and keep the same style of writing and imagery and the same feel, and add another couple of verses, a chorus and maybe a bridge? Maybe get a whole new song, same subject, same feel, maybe slightly different chords or rhythm?

And if you do succeed - well, don't tell us what song you based your song on. Half the fun will be in the guessing!

Been a funny old week here - actually, I've had a funny FEW weeks, almost forgotten what normal used to be like - not that there was anything remotely resembling normal about my house.

Now I don't want to go into too many details about my home life - but the Mrs's daughter is staying here, she's just split up with her husband and brought her two kids with her till she can get a place of her own. Said daughter is a good cook - and she's taken it on herself to do most of the cooking - apart from one vitally important thing. She doesn't know what salt and pepper are for!

I'm no gourmet - but to me, you cook potatoes or pasta without salt, you might as well cook cardboard and serve that up. Tasteless and bland...pretty much like today's "pop" music, yeah? Mashed potatoes without salt, pepper, butter and milk - oh, no, no, no, no NO!

So thinking along these lines ......

This week I'd like you to think about seasoning. Maybe spicing up a relationship - maybe a paean to the cook to put some bloody salt in it? Maybe about the night you had your first Indian Curry - mine's a Madras!


This week, the thing that stuck in my mind most from the daily news feeds was the 65th anniversary of the first atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima. Six days later, the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki - three days later, Japan surrendered. Now that's what you call a life-changing incident.....

So this week, I'd like you to write about the atomic bomb that dropped on YOUR life. What changed it for the better, or worse? Write about the incident that changed YOUR life.....

Pop Quiz time again..... what do the following Bands/Artists - The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Status Quo, Gordon Lightfoot, The Temptations, CCR, The Eurythmics, Supertramp, Carole King, Anna Peebles and Peter Gabriel - have in common? The answer, as I'm sure you guessed already, is.....Rain. Songs about rain, to be more precise. Rain, She's A Rainbow, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, Rain, Early Morning Rain, I Wish It Would Rain, Who'll Stop The Rain, Here Comes The Rain Again, It's Raining Again, It Might As Well Rain Until September, I Can't Stand The Rain, and Red Rain.

So your task this week is a simple one - write a song about the rain. Hah, didn't see that coming, did you! Think of this as your chance to join the immortals mentioned above. As always, good luck with your writing - and, as always, if you're new here and don't know where to start, I suggest you read the FAQ first, then feel free to start anywhere. Better late than never! All the topics since the start of Y6 are in a couple of sticky threads near the top of this forum.


I'm currently watching "Catch Me If You Can" as I'm writing this; I don't know if you've seen this particular film, but it's based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jnr. He became notorious in the 1960s for successfully passing US$2.5 million worth of meticulously forged checks across 26 countries over the course of five years, starting when he was only 17 years old. In the process, he claimed to have assumed no fewer than eight separate identities, successfully impersonated an airline pilot, a doctor, a prison inspector, and a lawyer. He escaped from police custody twice (once from a taxiing airliner and once from a US federal penitentiary), all before he was 21 years old. He's now a successful security consultant and lectures to FBI field agents!

All of which is a preamble to this week's topic; either write about Frank (look him up on wikipedia) or write about someone else (yourself, perhaps?) who's had a huge life or career change.


This week, let's go for a more musical assignment - let's try putting lyrics to music. We've done this before - we've done G, Em, C and D - we've done a I - IV- V progression (A, D, E; G, C, D....) this time let's try something slightly different. Let's try a verse with the progression G, A, C and D - you can do this either strummed on acoustic, or palm-muted on electric. Start with major chords, but if you want to throw something different into the mix, try minors/7ths/m7ths etc.

Then, for the chorus - anything you like. Any chord progression at all, any genre. Try and make it flow naturally from the verse....

This week, let's try something a little different. For starters, I'd like you to read this fairly short article by A J Charron, who's contributed quite a few good articles to Guitarnoise, but, sadly, hasn't been around for quite a while.

I'm not sure, but I think our old friend Ken McCann (CitiZenNoir) has written songs this way, too - I think he suggested something along these lines to me once. (Oh, and can I just wander off-topic for a moment, and ask you to say a prayer for Ken, or at least keep him in your thoughts - Ken's mother, sadly, passed away very recently.)

Back to the assignment......

So, get hold of a newspaper or magazine. Cut some sentences out. Put them in a bag, like AJ said, and pull them out. But - let's be a little less restrictive. Play around with the order, if you can't make any sense with them....and feel free to mess around with line lengths, word order, etc. I think I might actually have a go at this one myself.

Another thing you could do is pick up a book, turn to a random page, and take the first sentence. Turn to another page, take the first sentence from that. Type 'em out in wordpad, or your word processing application of choice, it'll make it so much easier to cut-and-paste sentences into some kind of order.

It would also be instructive to see the source material - ie, if you do, say, twenty sentences (four line verse, four line chorus, four line verse, repeat chorus, four line bridge, four line verse, repeat chorus....) write the sentences down in the order you got them.

Do your best - and as always, good luck with your writing.

The mobile phone. It started off as a means of keeping in touch with someone....these days, the phone's not just a phone. Some of them have a bigger memory than my computer, and they're a lot quicker too. They can store music, pictures, messages, some of them are basically small computers. People use them to cheat at quiz nights - google the question, and they've got the answer in seconds.

Well....I do actually posess a mobile phone, or cellphone if you're not cost me £20 from Woolworths about 5 years ago, and about twice a year I top it up with about £5 credit...which is enough to phone home and say "put the kettle on, I'll be back in 10 minutes!" for a few months......

Seems to me though, that some people are totally reliant on those phones these days. Remember the film "Filofax?" Your whole life's stored in that phone....

So....what would you do if you lost it? Lost all your contacts, lost all your music, lost all your photos? Let's see if you can come up with a song about (A) the biggest boon to society since sliced bread, or (B) if you're in the same frame of mind as me, the biggest pain in the backside since haemorrhoids were invented.....

This week, I'm getting a little tired of seeing one magpie perched on my back fence - you all know the old rhyme, right? "One for sorrow, two for joy......" etc. So this week, I'd like you to write about an omen, portent or sign. Any genre, any style - that's up to you.

Let's get morbid this week. It's a beautiful day outside, blue sky, sunshine...but you know me, I like to be a, contrary every now and then. So this week, let's try and write about sickness....whether physical, ie the plague, or sickness of the soul - love sick, etc.

Changed the header for this week - I prefer "topic" to "assignment," asssignment sounds like something that HAD to be done at school - and it's a long time since I left school, "Billy Don't Be A Hero" by paper lace was #1 that week. Bleeech....

This week, a lot of people in England have finished school forever (including my 16-y-o niece) and, even though they know the country's deep in the (CENSORED) at the moment, they're all optimistic about their futures, as far as I can tell. So, if you're a school leaver, tell us about your hopes for the future - in song form. If you've left school, tell us where it all went wrong (sorry for being pessimistic!) or how it all went right - or how you got it all back on track.

Well, we're only a few days away from the start of the World Cup. That's the Football World Cup. That's Association Football, as opposed to any other watered-down form of the game.

So - what I'd like you to do this week is write a song about Football. Write an anthem for your country for the World Cup - something you'd like to hear the fans chant on the terraces. Over the years, there have been some AWFUL songs released by various countries - and the English "official" anthems have been pretty poor. "World In Motion" wasn't a bad song - apart from the John Barnes rap - and "Three Lions" was a great song (even though it started with the line "Thirty years of hurt..." and it's now 44 years....)

If your country hasn't made it to the finals, try and take part anyway - maybe write a song along the lines of, "I wish I was in South Africa?"

From now - well from next Saturday, when England play the USA - till July the 11th I'll be focussed on the World Cup. Lot of games to watch, and I'm hoping that just for once our team will play to their full potential. And practise those bloody penalties!!!!!

This week I'd like you to write a song about fame. Either write about someone famous (preferably a musician) or create a fictional character, like for instance Johnny in the Bad Company song "Shooting Star." Perhaps you could write from the viewpoint of, say a paparazzo?

This week, there's only been one topic of conversation around these parts - the weather. It's been absolutely beautiful the last few days - temperature hit 80F today, we've had grandkids round and the paddling pool up in the back yard. Sooooo.....what I'd like from you this week is a song about the summer. Be creative - use the weather as imagery to set the scene. Maybe go listen to some Beach Boys, or "Summer The First Time" by Bobby Goldsboro, or "Summer Breeze" by the Isley Bros.

I hope the weather's just as nice wherever you are - may the sun shine down on YOUR part of the world!

(Posted by D. Hodge....)


Don't be alarmed. Vic's off attending a wedding this weekend and asked if I'd stop in and give you your assignment. Although it's not Sunday where I am, it is where Vic is, so I'm figuring we're good to go.

And since Vic's attending a wedding, well, you guessed it! Weddings are the topic for Week 29 of the SSG. Say there's a wedding in your family - write a song about the preparations, the planning, and how it all goes wrong. Maybe, in a flight of fantasy, how everything goes right on the day? Doesn't have to be about your wedding day (a good thing for those of us who aren't) or you can write about how it's all imagined by any of the attendees. It might even be about how everything went smoothly on the day and then went pear-shaped the day after. Or how what started out as more than a bit of a disaster turned into a life you couldn't bear to live without.

There's no end of inspiration out there, from Chapel of Love to (Nobody by the Replacements. Maybe you will outshine Paul Stookey's The Wedding Song (There is Love) with a new standard-to-be!

This week, let's turn our attention back to thinking outside our normal writing focus. That, after all, was the original aim of the SSG - to focus our collective attentions on writing at least once a week, and to write about subjects we wouldn't normally cover.

This week, I'd like you to imagine you're the black sheep of the family - or at least, the odd one out. Maybe you're the only meat-eater in a family of vegetarians - or vice-versa - or the only smoker in a family of non-smokers - or the heavy metal fan in a family of country & western lovers. A Christian in a family of Atheists - a Conservative voter in a working class family - lots of possibilities in this one.

Let's wrap the current assignment up this week - by now we should have a fair few unfinished songs consisting of a first verse and a chorus. What I'd like from you all this week is to pick a "song" you haven't worked on yet, and write a second verse for it and, if you're so inclined, a bridge to go after the second chorus....

So what you should have at the end of this week is a song comprising of:

Verse one (written by person A)

Chorus (written by person B, who also contributed the title)

Verse two (written by person C)

repeated chorus from person B

Bridge (written by person C)

repeated chorus from person B

Welcome to the wonderful world of collaborative songwriting! Normal service will be resumed next week....

After our "blues break" last week, let's get back to the multi-part assignment from week 24. Simple enough this week - add a first verse to someone else's chorus. So what we should have at the end of this week is a bunch of nearly-finished songs - verse, chorus, blank verse, chorus. Feel free to choose more than one song - do two or three, if you like, but choose them from different authors.

OK, I know we've just started a multi-part assignment - but we're going to put it on hold till next week. Of course I'm going to give you a reason for the sudden change in direction - I never do anything arbitrarily, unless I feel like it!

So - GN moderator and all-round nice guy Dan Lasley (known on these boards as Laz) has just joined a blues band - and they've played a few gigs, and hope to have more lined up. Problem is, none of the guys in this band are songwriters, and they want some ORIGINAL blues songs.....see topic here.....


So I thought maybe this week, we could help out one of our friends and try and come up with an original blues song? I'd love it if we could get our collective heads together and come up with something Dan's band would actually be proud to play.

Right - almost half way through the year, so time for one of those multi-part assignments.

What I'd like you to do this week is come up with three titles, each of them being the title of a book, film, TV series or even a play if you're so inclined. THEN - write a chorus for each of them. Simple enough so far, eh?

Time for another guest assignment, I think....our old friend GrungeSunset came up with a good idea this week, so without further ado I'll turn the page over to her....
It's Grungesunset here delivering your assignment this week and testing your patriotism. This assignment was inspired by the video below:

This week, write a song about your country. You'll have free reign on what about your country, just try to avoid politics as much as you can. It could be on the culture, history, people, stereotypes of your country, what it's like to live there or anything else that comes to mind.

BONUS CHALLENGE Extreme bragging rights will go to anyone who includes lyrics from their country's national anthem in their song.

Your countries need you! Get writing!

Nothing further to add, except the usual - good luck, and if you're new here and don't know where to start, I suggest reading the FAQ and then starting with any old assignment you like. The last couple of year's assignments are in a sticky near the top of this forum.

Thank you, GS!

Well, it's about half-an-hour till the clocks go forward and British Summertime is here - yeah, right! We get three days of sunshine in July when everyone's walking about without shirts or in short tops and bearing a curious resemblance to a boiled lobster - and that's summer, is it? Last time the sun appeared over the UK, there was a record number of panic calls to the emergency services - "are we being invaded? What's that big yellow thing in the sky, is it a UFO? etc...."

So let's keep it topical this week - and write something about clocks. Ever noticed how time seems to go so, so slowly when you're watching the clock, waiting for something? Maybe you could write about that....or possibly you're ruled by the clock at work? Try and use the word "clock(s)" in the title if you can.....

OK, this week I've been messing about a lot with different tunings - just trying to mess about with different songs I learned in open tunings, some for slide, some for chords. And it got me thinking.....

So what I'd like you to do this week is write a song in the following format....

First of all, think Standard Tuning - EADGBE. What I'd like you to do is wite a six-line verse, where the first word of the first line begins with E, the next line with A, then D, then G B and E..... for example,

Every (something-or-other)
And then....
Doing what.....

NOTE - you don't have to fit the music to these lyrics - you might use just two chords, say, G and D....or any chords of your choosing.

Then a three-line chorus, where the first word of each line begins with the letters E A and B? (That's just an example - feel free to use ANY three chord trick, major or minor, whatever!) Or maybe the other way round - B, A and E?

Follow the E-A-D-G-B-E scheme for the next verse - then repeat your chorus scheme - then a four line bridge - maybe a change of scenery here? For instance, lines beginning with the letters...G, F, C, D or A B C D -

So you could end up with a song looking like this (first letter of every line).....



(repeat the whole scheme so far for second verse and chorus, then.....)


(maybe repeat that scheme, with different lyrics?)

Then back to the chorus - whether you change it is up to you.

I'm thinking this might be an interesting change from writing about a different subject every week - all you have to do is keep to the letter scheme!

As always, good luck with your writing - and as always, if you're new here and don't know where to start, I suggest you read the FAQ and then start ANYWHERE - all the Y6, Y7 and Y8 assignments are in a couple of sticky threads at the top of this forum.

And, as always, any queries/quibbles/questions - that's what the Feedback thread's there for!

I had one of those revelatory moments a little earlier.....there was a Status Quo concert on TV, so I just HAD to plug the Tele in and play along - rhythm guitar, of course. I found it almost ridiculously easy to find the key for each song - not quite so easy to find the right tempo. Hey, this is FAST 12 bar blues.....and I CAN DO IT!

But it got me thinking - playing rhythm is definitely my strong point, I'm still pretty weak on lead. Writing songs about love going wrong is another strong point - not so good at writing happy songs. Using fairly plain language to tell a story is a strong point - using imagery a la Straycat is way out of my reach.

So what I'd like you to do this week is try to and focus on improving those weak points. If you write plain, simple pop songs, try and be a little more ambitious - if you write imagery-drenched ballads, try for a little minimalism. In short, try and change your normal writing style.....

Song content? Hmm, pick any subject you like, any genre you like - just write something a little different.

I'm expecting David and Katreich to come up with a heavy rock song - Twisted Fingers, now's he's back, to write something NOT country - Straycat to write something minimal - Celt to write something that's NOT a blues song.....and hopefully I'll just get to write SOMETHING.......and hopefully everyone else'll write something in a completely different genre to the way they usually write.....

As always, do your best, and good luck with your writing - and, as always, if you're new here and don't know where to start, I suggest reading the FAQ, then starting absolutely anywhere you feel like. All the last couple (Y6 & Y7) of years assignments are in a sticky thread near the top of this are all the Y8 assignments, in a separate thread.

Strong points, weak points.....OK?
WEEK 19.

Thanks to Nell for stepping in last week - she's had extra biccies all week. Yours truly is feeling a lot better - the flu and the after-effects seem to have finally disappeared.

Sooooo - it's Oscar week once again. This time last year, we did an assignment along the lines of "write a new theme tune to an Oscar-winning movie." So this year, and this week, let's do something similar - but with a twist, of course. There's always a twist.....

Although (and I'm not 100% sure on this, but never mind - let's plod on regardless!) I don't think a James Bond film has ever won an Oscar for best film, there have been some good theme songs - and some bad ones! So what I'd like you to do this week is start with the TITLE of a Bond film (triple points for anyone who can get a good song out of "Quantum Of Solace" or "Octopussy!") and either write a whole new song with the title as a starting point, OR - if you're feeling VERY creative - write a new theme song for a Bond film. Some titles (Thunderball, Goldfinger) don't give you a lot of leeway - others (The World Is Not Enough, Diamonds Are Forever) might lead you in a completely different direction.
WEEK 18.

Hi, people, 'tis Nell here....I'm the one in the black and white strip....

The master's not feeling too well at the moment, full of the flu and got a chesty cough you wouldn't believe - and about an hour ago, he said to me "well, it's time (cough) for the (cough, cough) SSG assignment and I haven't (cough, cough, splutter splutter) got anything prepared - how 'bout it, Nell, if Mr Hodge's cat can write a newsletter, d'you think you can come up with an SSG assignment?"

Hah - humans! Weaklings, all of 'em - but I do love the Vic, even though I could whup his backside in a fair fight.... so I said I'll do this assignment for him. Just a one-off, you understand - OK? dogs get a lot of bad publicity. Give a dog a bad's a dog's eat what I'd like you to do this week is write a song about man's best friend. In a positive way, all right? Maybe along the lines of "Old Shep" (hi, great-great-great-grandpaw!) or "Love Me, Love My Dog" - but definitely not "Hound Dog," 'cause I've caught a few rabbits and I AM a good friend - just don't get on the wrong side of me, or else!

Oh and just to show I'm not prejudiced in the slightest - hi, Charley, and all the best, mate! OK, my fave song might be "Black Dog," but I also like "Cat People" by David Bow-wow-wow-ie.......

The master'll be back next week, till then, all the best from me....


Let's try something a little different this week......

Babysitting recently, I was struck by the poor quality of Children's programmes - one in particular, Wonderpets, I find difficult to describe. Aimed at pre-school children, and featuring a duck which pwonounces its words all wong - and can't say the letter "R!" Pepa Pig was another one - I noticed the 3-y-o we were looking after wasn't singing along or anything like that, but copying the piggy snorts....very educational. Makes me long for the good old days of Sesame Street, which all my kids were brought up with - and funnily enough, they all have very good communication skills, and they're all good at maths.

So - your task this week....write a song for the 3 or 4 year old in your life. Keep it simple, because you're pitching it to a little kid - but make it educational, if possible!

Righty-ho, away we go again....last week's assignment was inspired by a sporting rivalry. This week I'd like you to write a song that could be adopted by the sports team of your choice as an "anthem" - think along the lines of Queen's "We Are The Champions," which was actually released just before Liverpool FC were the Football League Champions - or Tina Turner's "Simply The Best" - I remember one dull Sunday afternoon in the late 80's (or was it the early 90's?) being enlivened by the women's Cricket World Cup final being shown, and the English ladies celebrating by playing "Simply The Best" on a ghetto blaster whilst spraying champagne all over the place. Silly mares, you're supposed to DRINK it! I also remember my 11-year-old daughter playing in goal for her school team at a competition in St Helens - they lost the first game, then won the next eight games, including the final - against the only team that beat them - to take the trophy. I drove four of the girls home, and when I put the car radio on, STB was playing - what perfect timing, eh?

So to recap - a song that can be used by a sports team as an anthem. You probably won't get close to the greatest anthem of all time - by which I mean "You'll Never Walk Alone," as sung by Gerry & The Pacemakers in 1963, and by the Kop every time Liverpool play at home.....but do your best, eh?________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Well, it's Sunday morning, 00:30 AM, and I'm stil on a high after Liverpool beating Everton earlier today. Everton are our (and by our, I mean Liverpool fans) bitterest rivals - and our closest friends as well. I watched the game today with my daughter, Kayleigh - a LIverpool fan - and my step-grandson, Lee - an Everton fan, and we're still all speaking to each other!

So - what I'd like you to write about this week is a contest between bitter rivals. Could be about sports teams....could be about two men who are rivals for the same woman's love. Or two women who are get the idea? Rivalry's the theme.....

OK, time for another "guest assignment" - so far we've had Celt, whose suggestion it was in the first place, and who's been around here quite a while, then Jamestoffee, one of our newer members but someone who's already made quite an impact; our next guest is Straycat, who I reckon has written more songs here around the assignments than anyone else. Quite an achievement when you think she's still in her early 20's and English isn't even her first language! (And from the way she's been putting the hard work in at University, it's probably her fifth language by now....!) Which leads us neatly into this week's assignment....when I asked Straycat for a couple of ideas, she gave me a long list, from which this one stood out....

" Incorporate a bridge or a chorus (could be elaborate, a phrase or just a word long) in another language than English. For an example, I would suggest Leonard Cohen's version of "The Partisan."

To which I'd add, think "Michelle" by the Beatles, or an old favourite of mine, "A Song For Europe" by Roxy Music, which has a long coda sort of half-sung, half-spoken in French. Blondie had two hit singles with a French section thrown in - "Denis," their first hit single, and "Sunday Girl" a year or so later.

Bonus points for anyone who writes a foreign language song with an English bridge. (Except for you, Straycat....unless the song's in Swedish or Welsh!!!!) Oh, and please add a rough translation for those of us who aren't so linguistically inclined or gifted.________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Time seems to be flying these days - a quarter of the way through the (SSG) year already. I just checked through last year's assignments, and mentioned the same thing in passing. So this week let's try and write a song around fractions or percentages....halves, quarters, 99.99% etc etc.

Any genre, any style you like.

Well, the snow's all gone - still cold here, but at least we can walk up to the shop and back in 5 minutes instead of picking our way oh-so-carefully and taking 20 minutes! It's not the end of winter yet - still a few cold, wet, windy days to come - but since the snow's gone it FEELS almost like spring. So there's your cue for this week - feels like Spring / Summer / Autumn / Winter - no matter what season it is outside. Maybe death and rebirth, or reincarnation? The end of something and the beginning of something?

That's a fairly broad choice of subject you've got this week.... make the most of it, it'll probably be a lot more restrictive next week!

Well here in the UK there's only been one topic of conversation this week - the weather. Six inches of snow, and the country's paralysed....schools are closed, airports closed, no buses, no trains......

So what I'd like you to do this week is write about the weather.....but only as a peripheral part of the song. Use it as imagery, to set the scene....but don't make it the main theme of the song. The best example I can think of is Rod Stewart's "Mandolin Wind" from the early 70's - a great love song with striking weather imagery to set the scene.

OK, continuing our policy of asking a regular SSG contributor to set an assignment - last time round, Celt set the topic. John's been around here about as long as I have, so I thought I'd ask one of the newer members this time around. Jamestoffee hasn't been around so long, but he's already written quite a few good songs, AND made a lot of valuable suggestions for other people's songs. He gave me three possible topics, and I've picked this, over to you, JT.

Jamestoffee wrote:
Questions are one way to frame a song. This week, write a song with a question (any question) as the title.

Thanks James.....


Well, now that Xmas is out of the way and we're all penniless, though well fed and watered, let's look forward to the New Year - so, the final assignment of this calendar year is to "Ring out the old, ring in the new..." as George Harrison once said. Say goodbye to 2009, and say hello to 2010. The first decade of this new millennium seems to have shot past, doesn't it!

Staying with the Christmas theme this week....what I'd like you to do is write a Christmas song. Hah, you weren't expecting THAT, were you! BUT.....there's a twist. I'd like you to write a song about Christmas that could be played any time of year... a song about the real meaning, the real spirit of Christmas, if you like. Y'know, peace, love, goodwill to all men (and women, obviously!).....

This week, let's approach Christmas peripherally. I always loved "A Christmas Carol" as a kid - so, thinking about Marley's (NO, NOT BOB!) Ghosts (past, present, and future) I'd like you to write about YOUR ghosts....your past, present and future.

OK, this week I'd like you to start with a title - and that title's got to be a year. Think "1999" - Prince, or "1984" - Bowie, or "74/75" - The Connells, or "Summer Of 69" - Bryan Adams. Make it a year that means something to YOU....make it personal. It could be the year you got married/divorced - it could be the best or worst year of your life. As long as you get a song out of it....

This week's been a particularly bad week for TV - nothing new on at all, every station seems to be showing re-runs of programmes that weren't even all that interesting in the first place. So what I'd like you to do this week is cast your mind back to the golden age of TV, whenever it might have been for YOU - and contrast it with the state of TV Mr Springsteen might have said, "357 channels and bugger all on...." well that's how it seems to me, anyway.

Try and mention your favourite programmes from your youth - and contrast them to what's on now.

I realise we've had a similar assignment in the last few months - but the lack of quality TV programmes is something that continues to bug me. And as everything on TV seems to be a repeat anyway - or as they put it in the programme guides, "Another chance to see...." I can't see the harm in repeating an SSG assignment....but with a slightly different slant.

So - a couple of weeks ago, in the feedback thread, John "Celt" Roche mentioned the idea of having guests set assignments. A couple of PMs later, and guess who's our first guest-assignment-setter? Give yourself a pat on the back and an extra chocolate if you guessed Celt.....

So without further ado, I'll hand over to the lad hisself....

Celt wrote:
Hi Celt here,

Vic has asked me to come up with an assignment for Week 4 of Year 8 as a
"Guest Assignment". Thank You Vic and I hope I came up with something
worthy of SSG.

While working on this task I found myself thinking about where have we been so
far in Year 8.Birth,Death and ii-V-i chord progression. Hmmm?

Well if we think of the chord progression as a road map to where the song is heading
and Life as the journey between Birth and Death I believe we have a connection.


So this week I would like you to write about Travel, The Journey,Sojourn,Pilgrimage,
a favorite hike or just your daily commute.

If you want an added challenge try to create a song in three verses working chronologically
from starting point, through actual travel time to destination. Chorus and/or bridge optional.


This week's assignment is brought to you from an idea of Noteboat's - I asked him for help on the more musically inclined assignments, and as usual, he's come up with something interesting. He actually sent me a couple of suggestions - I'll just stick with what I understand, because his musical knowledge is so far over my head I'd need the Hubble Telescope parked on Saturn just to get it in some kind of focus!

So what I'd like you to do this week is write something around a ii-V-i progression.

In the key of C, that'd translate to D - F - C.
In the key of D, it'd be E - G - D.
In the key of E, it'd be F# - A - E.......and so on. apologies, and thanks to Jamestoffee for pointing out that the "ii" chord should, of course, be a MINOR the above should read:

In the key of C, that'd translate to Dm - F - C.
In the key of D, it'd be Em - G - D.
In the key of E, it'd be F#m - A - E.
In the key of F, it'd be Gm - Bb - F.
In the key of G, it'd be Am - C - G.
In the key of A, it'd be Bm - D - A.
In the key of B, it'd be C#m - E - B.

2nd EDIT.....further apologies, and thanks to Celt and Jamestoffee (again!) for pointing out that the "V" chord in the key of C should be G, not it should read:

In the key of C, that'd translate to Dm - G - C.
In the key of D, it'd be Em - A - D.
In the key of E, it'd be F#m - B - E.
In the key of F, it'd be Gm - C - F.
In the key of G, it'd be Am - D - G.
In the key of A, it'd be Bm - E - A.
In the key of B, it'd be C#m - F#m - B.

Feel free to use any of the above mistakes OR correct progressions (if I've stumbled on one yet!) as you see fit! Just goes to show that even the best of us can make mistakes - and as I'm a long way away from that particular classification yet, I'm just surprised I haven't made more mistakes! Or is there something you're not telling me?

You can use this progression for verses or choruses, or wherever you see fit - personally, I'm thinking A - D - G - for the chorus, and the rest of the song in the key of G, probably using the tried and trusted G - Em - C - D progression. But feel free to experiment - and remember, there are no rules here, just guidelines. Just try and write a song, is all I'm asking....

OK, last week's topic was about birth - so this week, in the interest of balance, let's write a song about death. A person, an idea, innocence....plenty of scope there to keep you busy for a few days. I hope!

Hello all, and welcome to YEAR EIGHT of the Sunday Songwriters Group.

From a personal point of view, I've learned one HECK of a lot about writing during the 5+ years I've been a member of this group - I joined about halfway through year three. During that time, I've written some good songs (IMO, of course!) the occasional VERY good song (hey, you don't have to take my word for it - just trawl back through the old posts!) and a whole pile of very average songs that, with the help of some useful comments and suggestions, have been turned into fairly decent songs.

That's the way it works round here - post your lyrics, no matter how cliched/naff/cheesy you think they are, and the good people here will instantly offer suggestions as to how you can improve them. We'll highlight the good bits, and point out what can be improved. We're all in the same boat here - struggling songwriters, trying to improve at something we love doing. It's a friendly forum, so don't be afraid of joining best, you'll end up with a good song - at worst, you'll learn something new. I know I do, every week!

Sooooooo....first assignment for this year. Well - the new year's all about throwing out the old, bringing in the new....death and re-birth, if you like. So what were you born to do? Born To Run? Born To Boogie? Born To Be Wild?

Suggestion - start with the title ..... Born to, Born On, Born With, Born Under, get the idea?

As always, good luck with your writing - and, as always, if you're new here and don't know where to start, feel free to start with any old assignment if this one doesn't strike a chord...all last year's (Y7) subjects and all the previous (Y6) year's topics
are in couple of separate threads near the top of this forum. Better late than never, as they say!

I'm looking forward to reading - and hearing, hopefully! - lots of new songs this year!

:D :D :D


"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2855


Thanks so much for your creativity and consistency in setting the assignments as well as critiques and encouragement over the last two years.



Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5342

Thanks for everything Vic - you even got me writing again at the start of your tenure and I really enjoyed it.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at:

Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4472
Topic starter  

Hello to all

Before going any further, I'd like to direct you to the following thread:

and encourage you to leave Vic a message of thanks (or an offer of a drink if you happen to live in his neighborhood!) for the outstanding job he's done running the Sunday Songwriters' Group these past two years. Having to follow Bob in Year 6 seems like a cakewalk compared to taking over things after Vic. There must be something about being British and running this place. Come to think of it, Nick was born in Britain... :wink:

If you were around during my tenure of Year 6, you know that I try very hard to encourage people to work on both the music and lyric aspects of songwriting, often trying to have both as parts of assignments. And I'd like to start Year 9 off in that manner:


We're going to set out fairly easily - I'd like you to come up with a blues song on any topic of your choice for Week 1. But, I'd like to suggest you try using the following format, as exemplified in this arrangement of Motherless Children, sung by our own Nick Torres:

This arrangement was based on Rosanne Cash's cover of this song. It's still blues, believe it or not, but a sixteen bar variation, which as you can hear is quite different from the typical twelve bar blues we've all come to know and love. In a minor key, it would go something like this:
MEASURE: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Chord: Am Dm7 Am Am Am Dm7 E7 E7

MEASURE: 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Chord: Am Am Dm7 F Am E7 Am Am

If you're listening carefully, you might hear that I threw in a G chord on the fourth beat of Measure 12 in order to make a more interesting move from F to Am.

Obviously you can write and play in any key, using the appropriate chords for your I (Am in this example), IV (Dm7) and V (E7). You could also go with straight majors. You should try to come up with your own melody, but certainly feel free to use this one if you'd like. A lot of blues songs seem to have the same melody when you listen to them!

Another possibility, if you'd prefer to go with more of a major sound more like Eric Clapton's version, would be to use this set of chords as your template:
MEASURE: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Chord: A D A D A D A D

MEASURE: 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Chord: A E D F A D A D

I like starting out with blues songs because they truly make you focus on lyrics in that you've really only got two lines per verse. In this case, it's more like one and a half:

Motherless children have a hard time when the mother is gone
Motherless children have a hard time when the mother is gone
Motherless children have a hard time there's all that weeping and all that crying
Motherless children have a hard time when the mother is gone

The purpose here is, as I mentioned, to truly work at getting the best lines that you can using as few words as possible. When you think about it, any song has to get its message across in an incredibly short amount of time. Focusing on having even less to work with will often bring out your best.

Okay, I think that covers just about everything.

No, I did forget two things: First, all our SSG assignments for the last three years have been merged into a single thread that you can find here:

If you ever should find yourself totally at loggerheads with a current assignment, or simply looking for even more inspiration, you're sure to find something to tickle your creative fancy in our archive.

Second, please feel free to leave any feedback, comments, suggestions, complaints and whatnot at this thread:

And dang it if there isn't something else! If you'd like to get alerts to the latest SSG assignments through Facebook (provided that I have figured out how to do this properly!) just go to our new Guitar Noise Sunday Songwriters' Group Facebook page:

And "like" us. And I'm sorry if that sounds as undoubtedly pathetic as it probably does! :wink:

I'm very much looking forward to a wonderful Year 9 here at the SSG and I can't wait to read and listen to what you come up with.


Week 2

Hello to all and thank you for some wonderful songs to listen to this past week!

This week's topic is change. Whether we like it or not, life is about changes and about how we react to them. It's no surprise, then, to find many songs concerned with this topic, whether they're beating you about the head with it (Bowie's Changes) or dealing with the subtle effects that one single change can have on a person, not to mention the people around him.

Your assignment is to write a song (in any style) about changes - either a single specific one (or a set of them) or about changes in general.

For those of you looking to add the challenge of a music component to this assignment (and my apologies for this being so obvious), try to incorporate a change of key into your song. You can simply transpose the last verse, as many writers do, or work on changing keys in different parts of the song, like in John Lennon's Happy Christmas or (Nothing But) Flowers by Talking Heads (they do the same thing in their song Heaven as well), where the chorus is in a different key than the verse.

Week 3

This week we're looking for Elvis. You can write a song in any style about any topic, but Elvis Presley has to make an appearance somewhere. The song itself could be about Elvis, like Alannah Myles' Black Velvet or Calling Elvis by Mark Knopfler or about his influence, like Richard Thompson's From Galway to Graceland. Or, the King could simply make a cameo appearance, as in Don Henley's If Dirt Were Dollars.

Week 4

Writers' worlds are marvelous places because nothing ever happens without a reason. Every word, every conversation and every event is all scripted out. The art lies in making it all seem perfectly natural.

But in reality, reasons can be obscure and truly random events can occur. So to inject a little of life's randomness into your writing this week, I invite you to make use of this wonderful "random word generator," which you can find here:

Simply select a number of random words you'd like (try to use at least three and I'd recommend not using more than five - at least for starters!), click on the number and you'll get some randomly chosen words. For example, I just clicked on "4" and got:

Metal detector

The idea is to write a song using all the random words given to you. The words themselves might suggest a topic, but you're free to pick any topic of your own choosing. If you truly don't like your selection, just hit the number again to get a new one.

Week 5

This week we're looking at country music. But not "country music" as you're probably thinking. Instead, think "country" - music. Every country has its own share of musical history and heritage and your task is to use the stylings and traditions of the music from a particular country as your inspiration. You can incorporate your choice of musical tradition into your lyrics or simply use a particular style of music as your template. Think of the Indian influences in Within You Without You by the Beatles (or on our own James Toffee's Bollywood Blues) or the Middle Eastern feel of XTC's Garden of Earthly Delights or of the numerous songs that have taken inspiration from African, Spanish, Italian, Irish and Mexican music.

Lyrical content doesn't have to be restricted to your choice of musical style, by the way. But I do encourage you to try something new For instance, if you've already tried your hand at a polka in a previous SSG assignment, give another musical form a go.

Week 6

This week we're eavesdropping. Your song assignment is to make the lyric a conversation. It can be between two people with an independent narrator, or the narrator can be one of the speakers (think "She Said She Said" by the Beatles) or it can even be a monologue (as in Jim Croce's "Operator") but it's all conversation. No narrative description in terms of setting the scene allowed! All clues of the who, what, when, where, why, and how (should they be necessary) should come from the conversation itself.

Week 7

Travel, so the saying goes, broadens the mind. And while we're tossing clichés about, there's always that goes something like "it's not the destination that's important - it's the journey."

So this week, we're going to focus on the "getting there" part of any trip. Not the packing, not the arriving, but the wonderful time in between. It can be autobiographical, it can be totally imaginary, and it can be that wonderful combination of both that most things in life tend to fall into.

Come to think of it, there are certainly more than a few songs about songwriters (musicians, performers, what have you) traveling. I guess we're going to add to that category of songs this week.

Week 8

Watching skiers go by my window most of the day, and having the solstice coming up on Tuesday, it's easy to forget that in quite a lot of the world, the weather is absolutely nothing like this.

So in celebration of the change of seasons south of the equator, or simply to get yourself into a better frame of mind, your task this week is to write a joyful summer song.

Week 9

I hope that everyone has had, or is still having, a wonderful Christmas.

And my apologies for dropping off the face of the virtual Earth this week. My computer crashed (very) early Monday morning and I've been spending the week doing the proverbial dashing and dancing about to get it repaired, which (of course) turned into the dashing about to get it replaced.

But one good thing about spending a lot of time between tech people and sales people and lines and pricing and comparing is that I ended up with the Clash's "Lost in the Supermarket" firmly lodged into my ears for the last six days. And that got me to thinking that exploring the subject of shopping, or consuming (as in consumer goods) if you prefer, would be a nice assignment for the upcoming week. It's a fairly topical topic no matter the season!

The downside is that it's certainly an easy topic to take the much-used routes. It's amazing how much bad press shopping gets when you think about it. So the challenge of this week's assignment is to try to come up with a fresh look at shopping, or at least come up with a new way of presenting the typical "shopping in songs" viewpoints.

Week 10

Hello and a belated "Happy New Year" to all! Hope that 2011 is starting out nicely for everyone.

New Year's, of course, brings with it the idea of rebirth and resolution and change. It's not that we can't do any of these things anytime, but it is certainly a convenient time to make a big deal about it. Who talks about starting a diet on March 4?

And resolutions, of course, only go as far as one's resolve. Some people make a successful go of things and others not so much.

This week, let's focus on someone who's on that proverbial fence. Here's a line that you can either use as:

(a) the opening line of the song
(b) the tag line of all the verses
(c) the opening or closing line of the chorus (should you have the chorus)
(d) any combination of the above

Oh, yes, the line in question:

I swear this time I've really changed

Your song can be in any style or genre.

Week 11

This week we're revisiting a topic that has been enjoyed a few times over the past nine years, and that's the subject of music. Your assignment is to write a song about a song. You can go generic, like "An Old Fashioned Love Song," or "Killing Me Softly with His Song." If you'd prefer, you can cite a specific song, artist or band, and they can be real or fictional, like "Sultans of Swing" or Willy and the Poorboys from "Down on the Corner."

Whether you choose to have the song / artist / band be the main focus or just a cameo appearance is totally up to you.

Week 12

For this week's assignment, we're keeping very close to home and not going any further than our own back yard. Or the door of your apartment or even your bedroom if you prefer. We're looking for a totally domestic scene. Think "In My Room" by the Beach Boys or Graham Nash's "Our House." Or the totally different "Our House" by Madness.

You are, of course, not restricted to keeping your observations indoors. If you've got windows, or can go out in the yard and talk with neighbors, you can get more of a John Prine "Hello In There"" or "Angel From Montgomery" vibe going. If you've got a great view, not to mention a healthy imagination (or binoculars), you might come up with a "Waterloo Sunset" (by Ray Davies) sort of scenario.

Week 13

So, it's Week 13, which means we've gone a quarter-way into SSG's Year 9 already. How is that even possible?

This week you've a choice - you can either write about luck (good, bad or otherwise) or write about a specific number or numbers. Or you can write about lucky numbers. But (and there's always a "but," no?) you do have to use a number as part of your song's title. We've done this before (although not for at least three years) and folks seem to come up with different things every time.

Week 14

Doing some research this week led me into some interesting little byways. One involved a discussion of the Paul Simon song, "Cecilia" from the Simon and Garfunkel album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Not to bore you with all the details (and some were quite boring), let me just say that one posted noted that Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians, so the song could certainly be interpreted as an appeal to the muse, if you will. Not an uninteresting take on the topic.

So that led me to thinking about all the patron saints , a list of which you can find here:

Not being Catholic, I had no idea that there were so many. More to the point, I'd not realized how many categories of people had a patron saint to call upon. There's Saint Matthew for accountants, Saint Albert the Great for medical technicians, Saint Martha for waitresses and waiters (and I should have been calling upon her day and night in my early twenties!), not to mention the aptly named Saint Rose for florists.

Anyway, I came away from this reading both enchanted and inspired. Your assignment this week is to pick an occupation or situation and to find (or create) a patron saint to address your song to. It can be formal, like Joan Osborne's "Saint Theresa," or it can be more informal, as in the aforementioned "Cecilia." We the listeners don't even have to make the connection. Okay, we'll all know it's a saint because of the assignment but your listeners outside the SSG don't have to know!

Week 15

No matter where you happen to live in this world, the weather's been a bit wonky lately, to say the least. Naturally (pardon the pun), we're going to tap into that for this week's assignment.

What I'd like you to do is to write a song title that uses one or two words you might hear in a weather forecast. Think of things like "Rain," "Stormy," "Blue Skies," "Sunny" - that sort of idea. Once you've a title you like, write an accompanying song that doesn't really have anything to do with the weather at all, much like the songs of those aforementioned titles.

As always, I'm looking forward to reading and hearing what you come up with. And I hope you're keeping warm and dry (or cool and dry if you prefer) wherever you are.

Week 16

Since the SSG is less than ten years old, saying something like "it ain't your Grandpa's SSG" to market its newness would be incredibly silly, no?

Ah, but suppose, through the magic of imagination, it was your Grandpa's (or Grandma's) SSG? What sort of song would he or she write?

But that's not enough of an assignment, really. So let's go with this:

Write a song that one of your grandparents would have written when he or she was half the age that you are now. So, for instance, since I'm going to be turning 54, I would write the sort of song one of my Grandfathers would have written when he was 27. A quick bunch of calculations tells me that would have been in 1935 for my mother's dad and 1927 for my dad's dad.

A quick "however" to this - if your calculations put your grandparent of choice at an age younger than sixteen, add ten years.

Obviously you want to write something that your grandparents would find interesting to write about, but remember to use their sensibilities. Both my grandparents, at the given timeframes, would have been right in the middle of some interesting world events, but I know that they were also starting new families. As much as I'd love to put either grandfather at the head of a picket line or a bread line or even in the line of battle, they were both working and very happy with their jobs.

I'm really hoping this make sense. As much as you can, try to make us see life as your grandparents might have. At least as much as you can know that they might have.

Week 17

My apologies that this is being posted later than normal. But I think it's still Sunday pretty much everywhere, so I'll take the chance that this being a little late isn't going to ruin anyone's day. If it does, well, that could make an interesting assignment!

This is being posted later than usual because our power, and hence all computer access, was down for close to twelve hours yesterday. These things happen, especially around here in rural western Massachusetts, so it's a normal part of life. But while I was getting a fire going and dealing with all sorts of things yesterday I naturally got to thinking how many songs deal with power outages. I could come up with one - Arcade Fire's "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" and so naturally that's been going around in my head for pretty much the last day or so.

So let's come up with more songs about what happens when the power goes out. When phrased like that you can already see that you can put all sorts of metaphors together. At least, until your mental batteries wind down.

Week 18

A picture may paint a thousand words, but it's really rare for a song to have that many. The focus this week is to write a song with as few different words as possible. Think Harry Nillsson's "Coconut" as an example or "No Cars Go" by the Arcade Fire.

Week 19

Without thinking too much about it, choose a color. It could be your favorite, it could be one you just happen to be seeing right now or anything. That color is your song title. Or part of your song title if you need a bit more to work with. Think Coldplay's "Yellow" or Dan Seals "My Old Yellow Car" if you will.

Week 20

We had a huge ice storm ealier in the week and, once again, the power has been on and off. And even when the power is on the Internet connection has also been very intermittent. I'm just hoping to cut and paste this assignment and post it should a window of opportunity arise!

So the assignment is late. Or later than usual, I should say, And, there are several trees down in the yard, including a huge one at the front door. Please understand that none of this is complaining - there are far worse disasters going on at the present and our thoughts and hearts go out to the people of Japan right now just as they are still with the people of Christchurch, New Zealand.

But it is to give you an idea of where your assignment is coming from. You've got two choices - either you can write a song about trees ir anything where a tree plays a major role (think Trees by Rush or Radiohead's Fake Plastic Trees) or you can write a song about being late in some way shape or form (as in Carole King's It's Too Late or Late for Your Life by Mary Chapin Carpenter).

Or you could, I suppose, write a song that incorporates both ideas!

Week 21

My brother Tom sent me a note this week to let me know that White Castle (an American Hamburger / Famiy Restaurant chain) turned 90 years old a little over a week ago. And before some of you start worrying that I'd like you to write about "sliders," let's talk instead about how important a part food plays in our lives. Not just for nourishment but also for the social aspects of a meal.

So I'd like you to write a song with your choice any of the following guidelines (and no, don't go picking "one from column A, two from column B" and will anyone even know what I'm blathering on about?):

1) Set the scene of your song in a restaurant

2) Use a food-related term in a non-food-related way (something could be a "recipe for disaster," for example)

3) Write about a specific food, as in "Cheeseburger in Paradise."

Week 22

There's a bit of advice that's given to would-be songwriters (not to mention musicians, actors, and just about any artistic type) that we've heard it so much it's become a cliché - "Don't quit your day job!" For songwriters, it's great advice because there are a lot of cool songs that sprang out of the day jobs, whether you're driving a cab (Harry Chapin's "Taxi") or simply working anonymously in an office (Martha and the Muffins' "Echo Beach") or if you're Van Morrison you can write the exquisite "Cleaning Windows."

Your task this week is a little harder as you're going to be writing about work, but (you knew this was coming right?) you can't write about any job that you've actually had. Has to be a job that you've never done. And since it's tax season and my youngest brother, Tom, is an accountant, maybe we'll throw in some bonus points for songs about accountants! Maybe not...

Week 23

After last week's assignment on work, there's a little work involved in setting up this week's assignment. Nothing you can't handle, though!

Take a sheet of paper and list out at least ten things you're planning (or simply hoping) to do this upcoming week. Then ask the first person you see (don't use a mirror!) to pick a number from one to ten. Match that number to the item of your list and that task is going to serve as the basis for your topic.

You don't have to be literal. If, for example, the item picked is "mowing the lawn," your song can be about mowing the lawn, or lawns in general or you can use the lawn as a starting point of a sketch of the entire neighborhood (a "Pleasant Valley Sunday" sort of thing).

And I'm thinking that if you put "write my SSG song" on the list and en d up getting that number picked, you have the option to move to the next lower number (or higher if you've chosen that task as #1 on your list).

Week 24

Music is magical. Perhaps even more so, as an authority on magic such as Albus Dumbledore has been quoted as saying, "Ah, music! A magic beyond all we do here!"

This week's assignment is to write something with a bit of magic involved. You don't have do necessarily invoke wizards and witches and mystical creatures, although you certainly can (as in "Lady Eleanor" by Lindesfarne or the Eagles' "Witchy Woman" or Donovan's "Season of the Witch"). You can simply think of the magic of every day, like in the Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe in Magic?"

I look forward to reading and hearing what you conjure up!

Week 25

Had a lot of fun earlier this week listening to Schoolboys in Disgrace, a wonderful album by the Kinks that I've not heard in ages but still find myself constantly singing in my head. Doing so got me to thinking (and with all apologies to Steely Dan) that this week I'd like you to go back to your old school. You can write about life in grammar school, high school or college or even kindergarten, or just write about teachers (either specific ones or just teachers in general) and / or education (again as specific or general as you see fit).

Week 26

In case you missed it, some folks celebrated "Earth Day" this week. And in honor of the Earth, this week we're going to focus on the "earth" part of the earth - that is, the ground ("Higher Ground"), sand ("Love Letters in the Sand"), rocks ("Like a Rock"), dust ("Dust in the Wind"), even plain old dirt ("Dirty Laundry") - anything that isn't plant or water. Well, I guess you could include mud, but that's only if you can't find some inspiration in the earth itself. While I've used song titles as examples here, you don't have to do that. Merely incorporating earth in some fashion as a major theme in your lyric will be fine.

Week 27

Of course there was an ulterior motive for asking you not to include water in your songs about "earth" last week. In case you hadn't guessed, water is this week's topic. You can go with water in general, like "The Water is Wide," or get more specific as in "The Lakes of Pontchartrain." Anything involving water is fair game so you could even write something along the lines of Jim Croce's "Working at the Car Wash Blues."

Week 28

In addition to "earth" and "water" it's kind of hard to imagine living without "air." Or songs, for that matter. How can one sing or give a melody an ear-catching phrase if one can't breathe?

So this week you want to focus on this especially important element of our lives - and again, you've lots of leeway to work with. You can draw inspiration (pun deliberately intended) from songs like Thunderclap Newman's "Something in the Air" or Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" or even in Pink Floyd's "Breathe."

Week 29

This week we conclude our exploration of the four basic elements by playing with fire! There are certainly lots of "Fire" songs from which you can draw inspiration. If you'd like a bit more of a challenge, try mixing a few elements together, like "Smoke on the Water" or "Fire on the Bayou" or "Wind on the Water." Bonus points, of course, if you can get all four elements mentioned, even in passing.

Week 30

It's safe to say that at some point in our lives we've all been inspired by something we heard someone say. True, sometimes we may have been inspired by hearing something we didn't like and proved it otherwise, like the famous advice John Lennon got from his aunt, who said something to the effect of one can't make a living playing the guitar!

This week, you've got a couple of choices, but they all revolve around using someone else's words to get you started. You can either go with the classic "they say," whoever "they may be," as in the following examples:

"They say everything must be replaced they say the distance is not near" - Bob Dylan, "I Shall Be Released"

"It aint me, it's the people who say the men are leading the women astray" - Norman Span, "Man Smart (Woman Smarter)"

"Some people say there's a woman to blame" - Jimmy Buffett, Margaritaville


You can use a direct quote from some one in particular, whether it's a real person or a fictional character.

Week 31

SSG, meet "Johnny." Johnny is a fairly normal person, leading a fairly normal life. But there is one thing that he (or she) can do better than almost anyone on the planet and it's this one thing that makes life worth living, even the normal part. What is it? That's for you to tell us in this week's assignment!

By the bye, you can go with another name other than "Johnny" to make life easier when it comes to writing. He (or she) won't mind!

Week 32

Here at home we have two hummingbird feeders, each one positioned at one of the two computer desks so that there's almost always a reason to not be looking at the computer. They're fun to watch and quite a few of them come by during the course of the day. It's getting on to the part of the season where they'll be spending more time on real flowers but a few will still come by.

It's also hard for me to see a hummingbird without thinking of the Seals and Croft's song by the same name. Of course, that leads me to think that there are lots of songs about birds, whether specific ones ("Hummingbird," "Snowbird" Fly Like an Eagle" "When Doves Cry" and "Rockiin' Robin" to name a few) or generic ("Three Little Birds" or "White Bird").

So your task this week is to write a song that features a bird, or birds, as the main character or image. Any style is fine. Any bird is fine! Let your imagination fly away with you!

As always, I look forward to reading and hearing what you come up with.


Week 33
Lightning Strikes!

As some of you may have heard, David's mountain top house was struck by lightning last week during a pretty nasty storm. I'm assured all, including Charlie and the guitars are okay. However most of David's electronics are on the fritz, including his router/wireless/connection to the outside world. Everybody say it with me "OH, THE HUMANITY" Someone is coming to look at the wiring and internet access on Monday, but in the interim, David called me and asked me to write this week's SSG assignment.

Everybody ready?

You may have seen something like this on Facebook. I thought it would make an excellent SSG assignment. It involves random selections from three internet sites: Wikipedia, Quotations, and Flickr.

It's a simple three step process and it goes like this:

1. Get your band name by clicking here and writing down the title: (if you get a chemical formula or something equally bizarre, please click again)

2. Get your album/hit song title, three or four words from any quote on this random page: Random Quotes

3. Get your album art, middle picture from here: Last 7 Days

If you have to do a couple of refreshes on any of the pages above to find something suitable, knock yourself out. This isn't facebook you know.

I got these when I clicked:

Band Name: First Folio
Song Title: Don't know where to go
And I took the center picture from Flickr's last seven days

I opened the picture in MS paint and added text to the downloaded picture. Then I uploaded it to flicker again, but you can upload it anywhere you like. If you have trouble doing this, just ask and we'll help.

Now the SSG task is to write a song about your creation. Here is what I want you to think about:

1. Think about the name of your new band and the picture you chose. What kind of music do you play? It doesn't have to be directly associated, for example Led Zeppelin didn't write German Polka music about balloons. Is it a trio, quartet, do you have a horn section? Just think about it and make a choice. Remember, you are going to be writing a song for this band to play.

2. Use the words of the song title as your first or last chorus line.

3. Let the picture set the mood.

Thinking about the band name "First Folio" I imagined my band as a three piece, small cocktail drumset, bass player that doubles on cello, me on guitar and singing. Probably folk or celtic influenced stuff.

The first or maybe last line of my chorus is "don't know where to go"

And the picture gives me this thought of returning home and a warmth. Perhaps I'll write about how even when I don't know where to go, I know where I belong or where I can return. I don't know. We'll see.

I look forward to everyone's pictures and songs.

Good luck.

Week 34

Hello all,

I'm back, but don't let that stop you.

I want to welcome all the new people that posted last week and say hi to you old timers. There was a lot of good work posted. Make sure you check out Ben and Melody's posts which I didn't notice were on the bottom of the assignment post. I made them their own topics. Everyone be sure you make a new post when you post your assignment.

What's upcoming? I'm going to attempt to get us all up and writing using some of the stuff I've learned from doing songwriting seminars in the past year and I'll explain what I'm trying to do when appropriate. See my other post and please comment.

This week's assignment, (which Chris has half completed):

Pick a hit song, any genre, from the past five years. One you know the melody to preferably. Now re-write the lyrics completely, sticking tightly to the original melody and structure. You should be able to sing your song easily over the original. No extra syllables or lines please. Pay attention to where the hook is, or where the title falls in the song. Yours should be there too. Does the original artist use internal rhymes? You should too. Stick to the original rhyme scheme. All you want to change are the words, nothing else. Pay particular attention to the line leading into the chorus. If the line leading to the chorus is a question, make yours a question too. When you are done, you should be able to sing your lyrics to the original song like they were written for it, because of course they are.

Go ahead and post your lyrics along with a link to youtube of the original song if you can. If you need inspiration for a topic, go back to last week's assignment again.

Good luck and good writing.

Week 35

Well you may not have noticed, but the past two weeks were designed to help you get out of a rut or past writer's block. (Ha, although it hasn't helped me this week.) This week is the last one in the "inspiration out of desperation" series for now. Next week something new.

Rhyming dictionaries...people love 'em or hate 'em. Me? I love 'em. Why do people look down on them? Because in the wrong hands they give a very amateurish final result full of forced rhyme. The problem is that writers use them at the end of the process to fix problems with their lyrical structure. But we are going to fix that this week by using these tools at the earliest part of the process. We're going to use the rhyming dictionary and thesaurus as tools for inspiration.

We'll need three things for this weeks assignment:

First, a rhyming dictionary. You can use a hard copy if you wish, but I use an online tool called Rhymesaurus. Write Express has Rhymer, also very good and there are probably a dozen more out there. Take your pick. Make sure you get one that can do them by syllable, end rhyme, last syllable rhyme, etc. Either of the above is $10 roughly for the full version. If anyone has any other suggestions, go ahead and put them in the feedback thread.

Second you'll need a thesaurus. Might I suggest NOT an International Thesaurus, please. They are a different animal we'll be using later.

Finally, you need something to write about. If you already have an idea for a song, feel free to use that, if not, let's go back to the random quote generator, refresh a few times and find something you can write about. The topic isn't the really important thing here, although why not find something decent.

This week has five steps. Here is what we are going to do:

1. Figure out your idea, get the main word or concept
2. Get yourself as many synonyms and/or antonyms from the thesaurus as you can.
3. Put those words in to the rhyming dictionary of your choice and write down/cut paste/screenshot the results.
4. Take a look at the rhyming words you've come up with. Do any strike you as useful? Do they give you ideas? Write the ideas down. Take the ideas and put them in the thesaurus and see what that comes up with. Write that down too.
5. Put it together in the format of your choice.

I think you'll find, like I do, that having this upchuck of rhyming words at the beginning gives you freedom, rather than lock you in to a forced rhyme. Suddenly you have rhymes galore that your mind can explore (internal rhyme unintended) that allows you to say whatever you want without the forced rhyme.

Good luck.

Week 36

By request...

Now that we have three weeks of what to do if you are stuck under our belts, let's try writing on something off the beaten track. Write a song about, or that mentions prominently, your favorite frozen dessert. Ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, gin slushies, whatever you like. Think tutti frutti, Ice cream man, your love is better than ice cream, I love Rocky Road.

Don't forget to use your thesauraus, rhyming dictionary, quotations, pictures and random band names if you need to.

Good luck my sweets.

Week 37

On the road again....I'll be so damn glad to be off the road again

So I just got back from driving my boy to camp. Nice trip. I can tell you road trip doesn't mean what it used to. Today was full of construction, traffic jams, people driving under the speed limit in the fast lane, drivers trying to give you a hood ornament enema, and gas is four bucks a gallon.

So road songs are often wistful and melancholy, this week let's try our best to write an angry road song, a road rage song if you will. Try this for an idea generator:

1. Thesaurusize anything you can about road, etc.
2. Stick your results into, write down any ideas that come up.
3. use the rhyming dictionary for more ideas before you start to write

Good luck

Week 38 I'm in Orlando at a user's group conference. Left at 6:00am this morning, just got back to my room and on laptop now. As soon as I post this I'm finishing this beer, calling for a wake up call and collapsing into bed.

So almost a day late, and always a dollar short here we go.

Using all the tools in the SSG songwriter's toolkit, write a song about saying goodbye Although the first thing that comes to mind may be a sad song of longing and regret, it doesn't have to be. You could be saying goodbye to a bad relationship, a lemon of a car, a serial killer on death row etc. Be creative.

The point of this one is to get in touch with a strong emotion, positive or negative. Choose your words carefully.

Good luck.

Week 39

Oh what a great idea James had in the feedback thread. Let me quote:

"This was an interesting experiment I was reading about from Rebecca McClananahan's book "Word Painting".

Definition: Constellation of Images -supplies the metaphor in everything the writer writes

She states that Stanley Kunitz referred to writer's having a "Constellation of Images" in them. For Kunitz, his constellation formed around his father. For McClananahan it was the death of an infant sister the year McClananahan was born.

The experiment: Look over your past lyrics for words or ideas that keep resurfacing. McClananahan states, "Paying attention to reurring motifs in our work can help us discover the sources of our originality....and extend isolated metaphores" (McClananahan page 100)."

Well yes, whatever that last bit meant I'm sure I agree.

James even conveniently provides us with a tool to show us these recurring motifs.

You can create your own by cut and pasting existing lyrics into the website and clicking create. Here is one of mine to look at:

This is made up of three songs, Without Words, Lost Summer Days and It's not a love song. I cut and pasted them in and removed any second or third reference to the chorus, so it only gets counted one time. It's interesting. Look, Hear, Never, Eyes, Words and a few show up I'd rather not have. I have a sensory theme going I think.

So your assignment is to pick as many of your own songs as you want and paste them in. Take a look at the biggest words. This week write about any topic, focusing on using the "motif" presented in your wordle, but I want you to avoid using the exact words. You can use your online thesauraus for alternates if you like.

Please post a link to your wordle for us to see.

If you don't have many songs written, or no songs written, paste three of your favorite songs in and use that.

If you need more inspiration, go for the rhyming dictionary, random wiki or random flicker images.

Good luck and good writing.

Week 40

Whenever I've got those homesick blues, and it's so dark outside it seems like an eclipse, but it's just a hard rain's gonna fall...when it seems the elements are conspiring against me, and you're drunker than me, I just think of a few of my favorite things....and I write a list song.

Your assignment is to write a list song. If you have any questions about what they are, well they're songs with lists in them, but you could look here for a few more examples:

Don't forget all the tools at your disposal...

Good luck

Week 41

I just got my guitars out of the car after returning from Riverside Jam 2011. It was a four hour drive home and I spent a long time thinking about the perfect assignment for this week, but I only came up with this.

Choices, you've got choices, but it's all about love.

So take your pick of one of these:

love lost
a love you wish would get lost
your current "perfect" or "not so perfect" love
wishing someone would notice you love them
or a different take on loving someone

That's part one, but that would be WAAAAAAAY too easy.

Now take your pick of any childhood diversion, finding shapes in clouds, skipping stones, playing hopscotch, kick the can, fishing, dangling your feet over the dock, playing in the creek, arson, shoplifting, I don't know....what did you do in your childhood?

And finally, use the activity selected in part two as a metaphor for what you selected in part one.

Please, use the rhyming dictionary and thesaurus to help you get more choices.

Good luck, and I promise to write this week.

Week 42

As I was watching Bourne Ultimatum for the umpteenth time, it occurred to me that what I really like about it is the way the scenes are put together. It's not just the action, it's the images, eg driving through Paris at night, running through bazaares, the city center in Berlin. Each little bit of the movie is interesting in it's own right.

Your assigment this week is to take a scene from a movie, any movie you like, and make it into a song. Don't tell us the name of the movie, because the trick here will be to make the song stand on it's own, just like the scenes.

Week 43

Well this one is a bit of a stretch I must admit, but here is the start of one of my songwriting ideas. It came to me walking along the beach today. Here are three sets of words, use them all and do your best not to be trite and cliche:

Stealing, stolen
Breaking, broken
hating, hoping

Use the thesaurus, rhyming dictionary, wiki etc. to broaden this.

Good luck

Week 44

This week is the beginning of a two or three parter. And that's only because I haven't figured out what to do next.

Everyone knows they should keep a notebook with them so they can write down brilliant ideas for songs. Does anyone really do it? I don't. I sometimes email them to myself, but that's rare. Who here hasn't forgotten more great ideas than they have ones written down? That's a shame isn't it. So this week is about trying to create a new habit.

This weeks assignment is to post an idea every day for a week. Create your reply today with today's item and edit it throughout the week to put in the ideas you have sorted by days of the week. Put in rhymes, alliterations, irony, ideas, observations, thoughts, anything, but put in at least one or two a day. You won't be judged on the content. You won't have to use it all.

For instance at the beach on Thursday, prior to being evacuated, I saw all these places offering Henna tattoos. Apparently the Henna wears off eventually. So how about a song about a guy who thinks he's in love, but isn't sure, so he gets his girlfriend's name tattoo'd on his arm, but in Henna.

What else did I have? Well as I was preparing for Irene, I went shopping. An observation,(which is now my facebook status):

The line at the grocery store? Out the freakin' door. The line at Dunkin' Donuts? There is no line at Dunkin' Donuts. 5 dozen donuts and 18 Mocha Coolatas should last us through Irene.

Remember, at least one or two entries per day. Here's to habit forming.

Week 45

Hi all,

This week we are continuing on writing down ideas every day. I had two days of drought, but do your best to write every day. Any idea is acceptable, it could be to record in a style of something you heard, a rhyme or two, a concept, really anything is okay.

But here is the twist, I want you to record any musical snippets that come to you. It doesn't matter if you are at home and can sit down and record in private or you think of the musical idea in a board meeting. Use your smartphone, leave yourself a voicemail, record it on your laptop or PC. Find a way. By the end of this week we should have one week of recorded musical ideas and two weeks of written ideas. You do not have to post these recordings. You only need them for inspiration later. So don't be shy.

We are killing two birds with one stone here. First off, you keep track of the ideas you might otherwise forget. Second you'll find you get a lot more ideas from your every day life experience. We are creating an idea gold mine for you to pillage whenever you want.

Look up free apps in the app store for you Apple, Android and WebOs users. There are plenty.

If you only have a regular cell phone, consider setting yourself up a free google voice account. You can call your own number and the message is automatically saved in a listenable format on your pc. It's easy.

There were some wonderful entries last week. It may be difficult to keep it going, but do your best. It's a habit well worth keeping.

Next week we are going to combine just about everything we've been working on since I came back into one glorious songwriting extravaganza. Don't worry if you didn't contribute in the early weeks or even last week, you'll still be in fine shape if you can just make it through this week.

P.S. You may find it much, much easier to just record the ideas you'd normally write here too. I know I do. Go ahead, but still post them here. You might even find you end up with more ideas.

Week 46


You've got two weeks worth of ideas. If you came in late, steal somebody else's first week ideas, with credit of course. Let's put it all together. If you've got music, go for it. If not, no problema.

Use all the tools,

Online rhyming dictionary
and use a popular song as a template if you wish

Let's see what taking notes does for the songwriting process. Is it easier? Harder? What do you think?

Week 47

Is that right? Did I skip a week? Whatever, this year may end up having 53 weeks.

This week let's write something not quite there, a walk down a hallway of half formed shadows, life grunting and writhing away behind closed doors, a man lost, seeking something, maybe himself. Which door to open? Which way to turn? Do i want to find what I'm looking for? Was that too vague? Good.

This week we are going to write a vague song about a specific instance. Don't start with random words. Figure out EXACTLY what you are going to write about. Be very, very specific. How about Cricket? What do they wear? Are their trousers stained with grass? What motions are made? What is the crowd doing? How is the weather? Nail down ALL of the given circumstances BEFORE you start to write. Once you have that info, pick specific instances/images/ideas and write them as part of the story line instead of telling us directly.

Don't put in what you are writing about in your post. Let's see if we can guess.

Keep writing down all of your ideas this week.

Good luck and don't forget to use all the tools we've been using. Wiki, flickr, rhyming dictionary, thesaurus.

Week 48

Yet another week of examing song structure.

You are still half dozing when you hear a familiar sound. Suddenly you realize it's trash day and you've forgotten to take out the trash. It's cold and raining outside but nice and warm in your bed, but the trash is full and has to go. Do you forget about it? Stay dry and catch hell for the trash later, or get cold and wet and do it now? Decisions, decisions...

That's a pretty simplistic example of conflict. Very often songs are written around conflict, you want something but something is standing in your way. You have something, but it isn't what you want. You need something, but you can't have it. Someone doesn't know how you feel, won't pay attention, doesn't know you exist, what ever...

This week take a look at some of your favorite songs and see if you can identify the conflict. Once you find several, list the song titles and the conflicts in your post. Step two, take any one of those conflicts and write your own song about it.

Good luck.

Week 49

And now for something completely different.

Part 1 of a multi part assignment

No songwriting this week, instead we are going to do some story telling. Here's how it's going to work, I want you to write three stories that would take you two minutes each to tell. In other words you should write a few paragraphs or roughly a page of text. One story will be something that really happened to you that had an emotional impact. Another story will be taken directly from a movie, book, play or tv show, but also has an emotional impact, it's important you stick to the script or story. The third with you guessed it an emotional impact, will be a complete lie. You can write them in any order, post one or all on a day, just don't tell us which is which.

You goal will be to write all three with the same degree of realism, with the same personal truth so we can't tell the difference.

Everyone gets to guess which is which at the end of the week and we'll see how you did.

Good luck everyone

Week 50

Hello campers,

This week we are writing chorus, title and hook

For those of you who put their three stories in, I want you to think about what you had to do to embellish the script and to create the lie to make it sound more like your own voice. This is what David talks about when he says "even when you are writing about something you don't know about, write it from a place you do."

Also think about how you laid out the untrue story. You started with the beginning, not the end, right? Duh... You added detail from your own experience and you resolved the action at the end.

Take one of your stories, or combine parts of any story and come up with an idea for a song. They don't even have to be your own stories. So for those of you who didn't write last week, you aren't off the hook. You can either write out a single story for us to read this week, (2 minutes to read or three of four paragraphs) or you can pick and choose parts from those posted and create a mashup of your own.

Step 1. Find the hook and title

While sitting and jamming yesterday, David said to me that "I'm married to the other woman" had a lot of potential as a song title. I agree, that will be my title and hook for this week. I know David suggested it, but that's the benefit of having friends in high places.

Step 2. Write the chorus

Good luck

Week 51

Like I even needed to post this one.

So you have a story, you have a hook, you have a chorus. Let's put them together with a few verses and see what we come up with.

If you haven't been playing along, feel free to write your own complete story song this week.

Week 52

And here it is...

This week's assignment is all about time, specifically not having enough of it. I want you to write about not having enough, having to wait to get started, waiting on something out of your control, and deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.

As an added benefit, you now only have three days to complete the assignment.

Good luck