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More Songwriters on Songwriting (Da Capo Press), by Paul Zollo

Nov. 22, 2016
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It you want to learn something about songwriting, it makes sense to ask a songwriter. That was the idea behind Paul Zollo’s 1991 Songwriters on Songwriting. In the sequel, Zollo interviews 45 writers plus Woody Guthrie’s widow (in a 1981 conversation). The thick volume covers a lot of musical ground, from Fiddler on the Roof lyricist Sheldon Harnick to country singer Loretta Lynn and Philly soul man Kenny Gamble. Richard Thompson speaks to the importance of writing from your roots, “from where you come from.” Donald Fagen admires Harold Arlen and addresses growing old: “You don’t have the energy and you’ve used up a lot of your ideas.” For Patti Smith, “Poetry is a solitary process. Songs are for the people.” Zollo is a fine interviewer, bringing knowledge and zest to the conversations. 

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