Saturday, January 19, 2013

Charlie Parr Talks About Songwriting

"Never mind critics, what do you yourself think is wrong with your writing? How did you dream of your book before it was created? What were your best hopes? How have you let yourself down?"~Zadie Smith

This is not Charlie Parr
There sure is a lot of fine music here in the Northland. It didn't end when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper passed through here. Last night I got to hear Alan Sparhawk and Low at Mitchell Auditorium, which was a very special treat. I'll share my impressions of that concert when I pull them together. 

This morning I was listening to a podcast interview at with Duluth musician/songwriter Charlie Parr as he talks about songwriting. Like Sparhawk, Parr's country blues music has developed a fan base overseas. In addition to citing song writers like Greg Brown he shared how some of his influence has come from literature, from writers like Steinbeck and Raymond Carver.

Parr's style often begins with the music first, he noted, creating the atmosphere for the song. Recording doesn't always reflect a finished song because for Parr most songs are never finished. They evolve over time. It makes me think again of my early thoughts about painting and how sometimes the piece ought to be permitted to keep evolving. Framing and signing is often premature because there's still more life to be invested in it.

Parr talks about how he's been strongly influenced by the way he grew up. He's also been influenced by the lyrical structure of traditional songs.

"Lately, the story seems to be more important than the structure of the song." His style of song writing has changed so that he writes a song and creates the atmosphere around it. "I'm a big fan of the sound at the end of a phrase."

For a high school dropout it's interesting to hear him speak of philosophers like Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard.

The interview ends with Parr singing one of his songs, "Jesus Is a Hobo."

Here's a link to Charlie Parr's official website. Enjoy.

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