Hi. I have moved all this songwriting blog across to my new Chris T-T website. It forms the SONGWRITING section of the website and I’ll be updating it regularly there.

Thanks so much for reading my stuff on songwriting here – and I hope you’ll check it out and keep reading over at




Jon Boden’s Radio 3 Under The Influence essay

This blog turns once again to folk singer Jon Boden. His fifteen minute essay for Radio 3 connects a pile of influences we share (though perhaps never spoke about as schoolfriends), kicking off with the post-apocalyptic teen sci-fi literature of John Christopher, Peter Dickinson and others, to a current point of recontact – the Dark Mountain philosophy and their Uncivilisation festival.

Here’s the essay, it travels an absolutely fantastic way in 15 minutes and his conclusion about ‘folk culture’ being resilient enough to outlive the civilisation collapse is spot on:

Listen HERE (BBC online, possibly UK only, sorry!)

Radio 4’s Soul Music series

One of my very favourite radio series has started again on BBC Radio 4 and I thought it’s worth mentioning here. It’s called Soul Music and each week focuses on a single piece of music; either a song or piece of classical music.

It’s not a technical guide to the craft – however we often hear a variety of perspectives around one song, alongside intricate detail, that gets right into the heart of the history of the piece. For me, Soul Music regularly gets closer to somehow explaining why a piece of music is wonderful than any other radio or TV programme. Which is a magical feat. It also has a (still rare) lack of snobbery about classical versus contemporary work.

Anyway, if you can access the iPlayer, HERE is a link to episode 2, about the Shaker spiritual song ‘Simple Gifts’, which had the lyrics re-written to become ‘Lord Of The Dance’ and also appears in Copland’s ‘Appalachian Spring’. I pick this one because episode 1 was Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet which, though gorgeous, is less relevant to songwriting.



Tom Robinson & Billy Bragg

A rare summit for two of our greatest radical songwriters – Tom Robinson’s extended interview with Billy Bragg on BBC 6Music. Well worth a listen – it’ll be on the iPlayer for a few days HERE – it starts about 32 minutes in.

Darren Hayman’s 31 Songs In 31 Days

I’m not going to blog about it in depth now – maybe afterwards when I get a chance to listen to them all – but this is a quick flag-up for former Hefner singer Darren Hayman’s ongoing January Songs project, where he’s attempting to write a new song each day this month.

Hayman has written some beautiful songs in his time and this is a very admirable exploration of his own creativity, so if you can, get onboard HERE, where he’s using Tumblr to post the project as it continues.

Songwriting on Chrimbo radio

Howard Goodall’s fascinating history of Christmas Carols is HERE on the iPlayer.

Also this week, Stephen Sondheim is reading the Book Of The Week on Radio 4, as part of his 80th birthday celebrations. It includes a lot of fascinating stuff about lyric-writing (first episode HERE on iPlayer).

Finally, on Radio 2, in the perineum: Weds 29 Dec at 10pm, listen out for Sally Boazman: In Search Of A British Route 66. It’s a documentary about British music and roads (Sally is ‘Sally Traffic’, Radio 2’s legendary traffice and travel correspondent) – looks very interesting and I took part, talking and singing ‘M1 Song’. Worth a listen.

my songs of the year

Over on Blognostic I’ll post my review of the year in a few days. I’m still working on it, however since I’ve finished the ‘songs of the year’ section, I thought I’d stick that up here now.

To be precise, this is my Top 10 Songs of 2010 – though tracks on my Top 10 Albums of 2010 are excluded:

1. Tom Williams & The Boat – ‘In Love’
2. Caribou – ‘Odessa’
3. Isy Suttie – ‘Pearl and Dave’
4. Kate Nash – ‘Don’t You Want To Share The Guilt’
5. Kanye West ft. Pusha T – ‘Runaway’
6. Frank Turner – ‘I Still Believe’
7. Robyn – ‘Hang With Me’
8. Tinie Tempah – ‘Pass Out’
9. New Pornographers – ‘Your Hands (Together)’
10. Eminem/Rihanna – ‘Love The Way You Lie’

Also nods to: I Am Arrows, Mavis Staples, Anna Madeleine, Tim Minchin, Robyn again for ‘Dancing On My Own’, LCD Soundsystem, Emily Barker, The Fall, The Hold Steady, Warpaint and She Makes War.

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