Scratch and Dent Sale: The Cure for Those Sleepy Songwriter Shows

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Most of us have either played and/or been invited to one of those songwriter shows. You see them all the time. You know the ones... three or four songwriters pick a venue, invite their friends and fans and voila: a heartwarming show ensues. Lives are changed. Tears are shed. Etc. But we all know the truth. More often than not, if you put that many songwriters on a stage, it's an utter snoozefest. Total wrist slitter. Pass the Prozac.

So, why is that, exactly? Hmmm ... I dunno... I think a lot of it has to do with tone and dynamics. The "earnest meter" gets pegged on the first song and usually never goes down. Those damned songwriters just wanna take you to that place... that sensitive place. That feeling place. That healing place. That ... God, I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Go to enough of these shows and the next time you hear someone promoting such an event you get really good at coming up with excuses on the fly...

"Yeh man... Love to go. But I'll actually be poking myself in the eye that night with a burning hot shishkabob skewer. Been planning it for weeks. Otherwise, I'd totally be there."

So, as both a perpetrator and a victim of these types of shows, I've been struck with a conviction to make a change. To do my part. I've been thinking of ways to make these things a little more ... um ... interesting.


I'm going to do a series of shows called SONGWRITER DEATH MATCH. We'll promote it like a cage fight, complete with deep-seated grudges and vicious smack talk. Each show will be thick with intrigue and gossipy back stories about how the songwriters playing that night really, truly hate each other. He stole his girlfriend. She slept with his drummer. He banged her sister. She knifed his tires. He stole his bass player. You know -- the everyday, normal stuff, brought out into the light.


Hip hop artists do this shit all the time to pump up buzz and jack up record sales.


We could even get the audience into it, turning them into bloodthirsty Romans at the Coliseum. Maybe the crowd could vote for their favorite song after each round (with their blood curdling screams) and the three songwriters who "lose" have to do a round of shots with the audience, or some other humiliating task -- something like that. We could crown a winner at the end of the evening, Conan the Barbarian style. We could even award a trophy. It might be good if we had an MC for the night... like that weird priest guy in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

What do you think? It's just a rough draft, man, but I think the age of those polite, sensitive songwriter shows needs to go away for a while.


-- John Common

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