Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Talktime - Soundtracks

Singer Songwriters – The Girls

As many of you know my other great love, other than books, is music, especially country music. As I’ve said before and I’ll say it again romance writing and country music are like two sides of the same coin. And with category romance it is even clearer. A category romance novel has to tell a story in a very short word count, nothing can be wasted. And in music you have to tell a story in three or four minutes, nothing can be wasted. OK so not every country song has a happy ending but there is a lot of love, loss and yearning which is great fuel for inspiring you romance writers.
Back in February I took you through my soundtrack for my book 'Dream Date' (RIP) and I realised that most of the music I chose was from male singers. This month I thought I would redress the balance and talk about the female of that species called ‘Singer/Songwriter’. Now a singer/songwriter does what it says on the tin, these are the people who write and sing their own songs. Not that there is anything wrong with those great artists who interpret other peoples work. Sometimes I am interested in people telling/singing their own stories. (And I apologise to Kate Hardy and her family now if I cause her to shell out money on music)

Country music these days are full of talented ‘Girl Singers’ (as they were traditionally called *rolls eyes*). And some of the most successful are young singer/songwriters. If any of you have teenage girls I’m sure you have come across the phenomenon which is Taylor Swift. Taylor made a name for herself on MySpace before being picked up by Big Machine in Nashville. I was lucky enough to meet her just before the craziness took off and she is as lovely as she is talented and gorgeous. She doesn’t pretend to be anything but a high school aged girl, her songs deal with all the agonies of growing up, boys and best friends. My particular faves are ‘Tim McGraw’, ‘Teardrops On My Guitar’ and ‘You Should Be With Me’.

Another great singer songwriter who is going great guns these days is Miranda Lambert. I *heart* Miranda’s work. It is grittier than Taylor and has a bit of a rockier vibe, I have been known to sport my camouflage fan t-shirt when out and about (hey it has got crossed smoking guns on the front – who wouldn’t want to wear it!). Miranda hails from Texas and hit Nashville a few years back when she was in Nashville Star (country music’s American Idol). She didn’t win but she didn’t need to. A platinum selling album and a gold selling album, one best album award, a gorgeous boyfriend in Blake Shelton
and opening for Kenny Chesney. The girl done good. Her songs deal with break ups and lost loves along with small town life and general ‘kick ass-ness’. Great tracks include ‘Kerosene’, ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’, ‘I Can’t Be Bothered’ and ‘More Like Her’.

If we go off chart, one of the great singer songwriters is Lucinda Williams. No happy endings here but great gritty heartrending stuff. Check out tracks such as 'Passionate Kisses' and 'Words'.

And who can forget Dolly Parton, the greatest girl singer of all time! Her prolific songwriting is almost as amazing as her business acumen. This is the woman who wrote ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘9 to 5’ but also ‘Coat of Many Colors’ and ‘Two Doors Down’ to name but a few.

I’m going to leave it here because I could go on about some great female songwriters out there Lori McKenna, Allison Moorer, Alison Krauss, Sarah Buxton and that’s just in country music! But I think the one thing these ladies all do well is to tell a story. A story full of conflict and resolution, a story full of love and pain and a gift to the listener just as category romance is a gift to every reader.
So who are your favourite singer songwriters?

Biddy is currently faffing around trying to finish ‘Bah Humbug’. She is hoping to have her thinking cap on soon for her next story. She’s thinking unrequited love.

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  1. If you want to continue in the country vein, Mary Chapin Carpenter is a great one. She writes great songs, both upbeat and more thoughtful ones, and has a great cover of Passionate Kisses.

  2. Jill - yes Mary Chapin Carpenter is indeed good.

    Now is it just me or does the playlist thingy not load?

  3. Kathryn Williams (the album she did with Neill MacColl last year is excellent, too).

    Sheryl Crow (she's exactly three years older than I am. Oh, to look that good, to play guitar that well, and to have that vocal range).

    Anna Nalick ("Breathe 2am" on "Wreck of the Day" is fabulous).

    And Joni Mitchell. "Blue" is one of the best albums ever.

    Oh, and how could I forget Carol King?

    (Biddy, you're having your revenge on me today *g* I'm going to be getting my guitar out instead of working! Don't tell my ed...)

  4. Dolly's version of I Will Always Love You always makes my eyes water (in a good way), not as showy as Whitney's but with more truth I think.

    And I adore Carol King, and Joni Mitchel. I'm such an old hippie at heart...

    Nice post Biddy.

  5. Kate - I promise not to say a word to your ed. Ooo Anna Nalick is a new one on me, will check her out later.

    Heidi - Dolly is all about the truth! She is one hell of a performer. Glad you liked the post.

  6. Biddy - to make it easy for you:

    Anna N -

    Kathryn W - (Come with me Darling - I LOVE the guitar bit 1.52 to 2.15) - and check out her cover of Hallelujah, which is outstanding and by far the best version I've ever heard of that song (including JJ Cale).

    Bad influence? Moi? :o)

  7. You? A bad influence? Never!! Luckily for my bank account this PC doesn't have a sound card! I will take a look tomorrow though.

    I am currently writing a blurb for one of my projects before I go to my writing course this evening.