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Song Man: A Melodic Adventure, or, My Single-Minded Approach to Songwriting Paperback – January 8, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hodgkinson picks up right where his previous and immensely entertaining Guitar Man left off. After learning to play the guitar and perform on stage in only six months, with the help of fret board luminaries such as the Smiths' Johnny Marr, Hodgkinson attempts to learn how to write songs and then get them recorded, although this time he gives himself a year to do it all. When his first songs are met by his friends with less than enthusiasm (Are you going to sing 'Mystery Fox' to Hal David and Carole King?), Hodgkinson seeks out various songwriters such as XTC's Andy Partridge who are more encouraging (At least it's a good title). One of Hodgkinson's most endearing features—and one that his prose perfectly captures—is his utter lack of fear. In his humbling, and enjoyable, musical journey, he's willing to talk with unknown songwriters as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber (With perfect grace he found a way of agreeing with whatever inanity spewed from my mouth before explaining aspects of his craft with eloquence). (Feb)
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Review

"In "Guitar Man" (2006), Hodgkinson reported on mastering the guitar. In the funny, self-deprecating, very entertaining sequel, writing a song and recording a single is his mission. Most know a great song when they hear it, but defining its essence is trickier. Hodgkinson admits he has a lot to learn, since his songwriting technique primarily consists of thinking of the name of an animal and "then finding something to rhyme with it." He receives desperately needed tips from Keith Richards, Ray Davies, Andy Partridge of XTC, Arthur Lee of Love, singer-guitarist Bert Jansch, and even Andrew Lloyd Webber as well as motley eccentrics including brilliant, erratic Lawrence, who dropped his surname years before it became fashionable. Hodgkinson also talks to muses, such as Patti Boyd, who inspired George Harrison's "Something" and Eric Clapton's "Layla," and visits New York to pay homage to the great Brill Street Building lyricists Carole King and Gerry Goffin. He and sometime partner Doyle go to great lengths to find the proper atmosphere for songwriting, one time as far as the tiny Hebridean island of Eigg. Ultimately, older and a bit wiser, Hodgkinson enters studio and records single. Wherever his next journey takes him, his many fans will gladly tag along."--"Booklist," starred review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press Ed edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306815818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306815812
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,942,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. L. Megel on February 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
Will Hodgkinson is an utterly charming guy - a first rate raconteur and a delight to hang with through this entertaining book.
What first appears to be naught but a first person account of someone with little talent for and less of a clue to song writing, is actually a vessel for interviews with some of the best songwriters of the mid-late 20th Century. Some of the interviews are more revealing than others; some are revealing only of interviewee (Keith Richards, Ray Davies), some also of the songwriting craft (Andy Partridge, Andrew Lloyd Webber).
That such luminaries agreed to meet and open up to Hodgkinson is evidence enough of his charm, but he charms us too, with a breezy, conversational style but also with his gall, naïveté (we don't even care if its put on or not), and affection for his friends and family (liberally laced throughout the book).
I'm inspired to return the affection - in thanks for a couple of very pleasant evenings (the perfect book for a cross country or trans-Atlantic flight!) and surprising amount - albeit mostly superficially but, so what! - of insight into the craft of songwriting (a craft I've practiced myself). A most creative approach to the subject. Hodgkinson may not be able to write a song, but he most certainly can write a book!
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By J. Rosenthal on May 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
One doesn't have to be a songwriter to appreciate Will Hodgkinson's odyssey. He does an admirable job of summing up the highs and lows of the creative process, regardless of genre. I thought _Song Man_ was particularly skilled at presenting the challenges of writing music in a way that doesn't require four years at a conservatory to appreciate.

The interviews with a diverse range of musicians are amazing. It's not a surprise that most of their advice conflicts -- that seems to be one of the book's central themes -- but I heard plenty of observations by artists that were nothing like what I would have expected.

And it's hilarious. I laughed out loud so often while reading _Song Man_ that people would stop me in public and ask about it. What a treat!
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By S. Armstrong on April 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
As a fan of Hodgkinsons excellent first book about learning the guitar, I was glad to find he'd lost none of his insight when graduating to something much tougher - writing a song that really touches people. On the way, he finds some of the funniest and most tragic people in the music industry. I thought the scene from Narcotics Anonymous with failed and desperate songwriter Lawrence (who I assume is an ex-star under a false name). Keef Richards agrees to help out as well, and you can't say fairer than that. Where Guitar Man was funny and self depreciating, Song Man is more about talent than skill - the mystery of what makes someone creative and how destructive that can be. Its made me listen to my favourite tunes in a compeletely different way.
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