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Inside The Art of Songwriting

Jimmy Webb
Reviewed by Jace Carlton
Originally published in
The Songwriter's Connection  -  July  2000

I've always wanted to meet Jimmy Webb, and with Tunesmith I got to do just that.  (The only thing I don't have, though, is his autograph!  Someday!)

I've marveled at his storytelling, allowing for many wonderful interpretations of his songs by artists as diverse as Johnny Rivers, Richard Harris, Glen Campbell and Linda Ronstadt to name just a few.  Even listening to just the melodies is entrancing as they easily stand on their own, not needing words to fulfill their mission of transporting the listener into another place and time.

Jimmy takes you through early experiences in his life and career as he struggled like any other songwriter just to get his songs heard and cut.  One good connection led to another, and then another, and after the requisite time of "paying his dues" he was off and running, and in great demand.

Once the "personal" stuff is shared, he begins to get into the actual "art of songwriting". Tunesmith is not only about Jimmy Webb.  He generously (and with permission) uses lyrics from dozens of famous songwriters as well as insight from interviews he conducted with dozens more.  He spends a considerable amount of time (and several chapters each) on music composition and lyric writing, breaking them down into digestible pieces and sharing lots of examples to clarify points he's making.  Even if you specialize only in composing or writing lyrics, you'll still benefit from the information on how "the other half" works.  The only negative I found with Tunesmith was the chapters on music composition became too technical at times.

Tunesmith is a companion every serious songwriter should read, and read again, and keep handy for constant referral.  I do ... and it's magic!  It's a good read if you just want to find out more about Jimmy Webb, and it's also an excellent textbook from a master in the art of songwriting to highlight favorite passages and dog-ear certain pages.  Just be careful about loaning it out to a friend.  Make sure your name is in it or you might not see it again.

Copyright © 2000 by Jace Carlton

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Jace Carlton is a Nashville based songwriter, music publisher, artist manager, and freelance writer.  As a songwriter and collaborator much in demand in the Country market, he also enjoys writing for A/C, Pop, R&B, Smooth Jazz, Contemporary Christian, and Cabaret.  As a Freelance Writer he has contributed reviews on new CD's to online newsletters and artist websites, and occasionally  ontributes book and concert reviews along with personal commentary on the music industry to Nashville's Songwriter's Connection e-Zine.

He was recently honored by being selected to be a part of Nashville's Shine On Foundation, assisting talented songwriters, artists and musicians.

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