Be entertained with a song and an extended chat, ranging from off the cuff banter/humour to life observations and song analysis.
Welcome to Song and a Chat. This is the podcast where you'll have the pleasure of listening to a new song each week - plus, you'll get to step into the shoes of a songwriter : You'll hear about the background of the song, the inspiration, how/ why the song came into being. After the song finishes, I'll go over the lyrics and finish each episode by looking at the song from a songwriting point of view. If you just want the song and no talk, the time where the song kicks in will be in the title of each episode.
Hi, my name is Pete Pascoe. I am a performer and composer - I love lyrics and I love a melody. I play piano and sing. I have a number of albums to my name.
I have written over 800 songs. Of course, not all of these songs I written will make it onto an album. As a songwriter, the first step for a new song is ( or was ) to record a demo. Often you catch something unique in this demo - something that is often not replicated in the studio cut....a certain feeling.
If you're looking to be entertained, like listening to new songs and live recordings, I hope you'll enjoy what's on offer here.
I have a stack of demos from which I'm sharing one on a weekly basis. Plus I relate anecdotes about my life as a piano man, from around the time each song was written. I treat each show as a mini intimate concert - with extended chat, which ranges from off the cuff banter/humour to life observations and analysis.
The idea is : the song can be listened to for pleasure in its own right, or the listener may choose to also be entertained and informed by the story around the song.
I'm really enjoying recording these podcasts. Each week I look forward to getting behind the mic, setting aside my current musical and artistic projects and casting my mind back in time by focussing on a song I've composed. It's turning out to be a satisfying - and sometimes surprising - time of reflection and discovery for me.
The lyrics and the recordings take me straight back to when the song was written.
Gain an insight into songwriting and listen to a series of snapshots of life of a songwriter / performer / artist.
It's a great way for me to archive a song and it's 'back story'. Music is to be shared. What point is there In having five songbooks and piles of demos gathering dust?
I welcome feedback - whether you're tuning in to enjoy music for music's sake, you enjoy finding out about the origins of songs, you're looking for tips on songwriting or perhaps you've got tips for me. Either way, I'll be learning plenty as I go along. Thanks for a having a read. Come on and join me for a listen.
To Dark To See
Episode#126: Too Dark To See (Song starts at 3:33)
Hi, for this episode I recorded a conversation with Paul Dredge, the co-composer of 'Too Dark Too See'. Although the audio quality isn’t quite up to scratch, I think this was a well worth while exercise. The resulting candid conversation offers an insight into our songwriting style/relationship (and friendship) in an engaging and entertaining manner.
'Too Dark To See' is track number 3 off our new folk-rock album, The Untrodden Track. It’s one of my favourites on the album.
Where did this song spring from?
I remember I worked backwards from the title - which may or may not have come from this (not sure if I’m making it up - perhaps the similarity struck me later): I’m a big fan of Bob Dylan. His (brilliant) song Not Dark Yet from the album Time Out Of Mind may just have inspired me… what if it was ‘too dark’ ? How would that work as a song idea? …
Us songwriters are magpies for sure. We are what we listen to, that’s for sure. Music inspires more music, art inspires more art, life inspires art..and ..art inspires life. I think it's a cyclical evolving scenario.
You’ll get to hear (including some actual audio) about how Paul provided the chords and feel as I improvised the melody over the top. This is the way we do it when we write in the same room together. We stumbled across this process and discovered it works really well for us when we were on the road together.
I write the lyrics before hand and we take it from there together, in the moment. We work quickly together. It’s great fun to write songs like this with Paul.
You have to be very supportive of each other. It comes down to mutual respect. A healthy dose of humour appears to be a key when mistakes are made. It’s a great way to diffuse any potential tension and keep the ball rolling.. I also think any hints of frustration or manipulation during the process shuts the muse down.
I’m particularly happy with the arrangement of this song. You’ll get to hear it on this episode, of course. The interplay between the guitar and piano underpinning the vocal harmony, etc (If you like it, please do check out the album).
Here’s the link to all 12 song samples and links to streaming it on your favourite platform.
* THE LINK to the HEAR NOW website here.*
I ran out of time to talk about the lyrics of Too Dark To See (You can read the finished lyrics on my blog post), as usual www.petepascoe.wordpress.com
I found the original draft today and discovered a few of the edits that were made. This is part of the usual practice of writing a song...
One step at a time. Never lose sight of the goal I keep reminding myself as I follow the winding path,
One step at a time. Never lose sight of the goal I keep reminding myself as I fall
I think this is much stronger. The word fall is so unexpected. The black humour here allows for a more digestible semi- tragic image of ...hopelessness in the moment. Straight away this opening statement establishes the tone and sets the scene in terms of the narrator not making any headway at all on the path for the moment. I think we can all relate to that.
It's a bit like the stand up comedian making a personal confession - it's a way of drawing the audience in, gaining their trust by divulging something quite personal about themselves.
You don't get much time in a 3 minute song. Every word has to count & perhaps match the syllable count of the line in the previous verse so:
Too dark to see, And There's nothing to hear Just a high ringing in my ear
Too dark to see, And There's nothing to fear Just a ring in my ear
Again, I think this is much stronger: acknowledging it'll probably all work out on the end one way or another , while the ring in the ear alludes to the strange thing that can happen at times ...
The Test Of Man
Episode #124: The Test Of Man (Song starts at 7:20 & 28:35)
‘A trail of mystery’ is one of the phrases in this week's song. That pretty much sums up what I’m up to each week, as I record the ideas that pop into my mind and roll off my tongue for these episodes. I endeavour to put you in the shoes of a songwriter - how it feels.
I like to allow the song to lead the way...the lyrics bring up memories, ideas spring to mind as I chat. This is not a highbrow presentation. This a ‘singer / songwriter speaks’ sort of yarn. It's an inclusive, relaxed vibe and I thoroughly enjoy recording these episodes each week.
The ‘largely untrodden track’ is another line from this song. It's these words that my co-songwriter and long time friend, Paul Dredge suggested we use for the title of our new folk rock album.
I'm very pleased to announce The Untrodden Track is now streaming online (Folk Rock, 12 songs). The Test Of Man (song #646) is track #8 on the album. I'm very pleased with what Paul Dredge and I have produced. I've been alluding to the forthcoming album in previous episodes, so now it's here! I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we do.
On this episode I include a live piano vocal version - and also the album track.
Where did this song come from?
All you need is a feeling and then all you need to do is...start. Honestly. It's that easy - and that complicated. Because what kicks in straight away is like wave of energy, knowledge, emotion, new thoughts, old thoughts, music theory, the muscle memory of all those hours spent playing an instrument, on top of which you float your voice, not being afraid to make a goose of yourself, and then language comes through. Not to mention, song style, tempo, harmony,…the list goes on.
And it's a joy. How can this be fun? When it happens instinctively, naturally & quickly. It's a process that constantly amazes me. I'm very grateful to have composed about 800 songs and it's great to be able to share some of the processes - and the songs - here.
The Test Of Man is about the possibility of doing some work on the self while we are having this human experience. We are complex, us humans. I find it really interesting how we present a certain version of ourselves and then suddenly another layer of a person can present itself.
Here's the book I talk about on the episode, an inspiring story of personal survival: Surviving year Zero by Sovannora Leng with Greg Hill.
I feel so privileged to be living the way I am in a peaceful part of the world. It's nice to be sharing positive creative content online. I have the opportunity, so I’m taking it.
If you’re enjoying this podcast, you might like more…I have a blog here: www.petepascoe.wordpress.com; a YouTube channel: pete pascoe Music and art; website: www.petepascoe.com; paintings, cartoons; 13 albums: www.petepascoe.bandcamp.com (7 of which are on other platforms like spotify)…yes, I've been busy creatively for some time now.
Ultimately it's leading to some instructional video courses and ebooks. - the 'how to' . These will be further down the track (they're underway now).
Back to the song The Test Of Man ..One of the challenges of life is to have the courage to go back over stuff and find healing as a result... and we can then go forth wiser and stronger for the experience, despite - or perhaps because of - the pain.
Just keeping on moving... All of which is the test of man...at least, that's what I've presented in this gentle song.
I'm so pleased with how it's come up for the album, it has remained a gentle track. Paul embellished my piano and vocal with his finger picking guitar, vocal harmonies and harmonica.
Like the sound of this? Sit back, relax and be entertained and informed. And you can check out the rest of the album next if you like.
I'm an album man. I like to put the headphones on and lie down for 4...
Episode #124: Innocent (Song starts at 4:17 & 28:14)
Where did Innocent, song #465, come from? It came from a dream.
The finished lyrics were pretty much what I wrote down as I recalled a dream which I had, just before I woke up. I recommend trying this...often what comes though is more than you bargained for. Sometimes you end up remembering more than you thought would about the dream.
I've had fully formed songs come to me in dreams - music and lyrics.
In this case though, after casting my mind back to the dream, the images and feeling remained with me (no music).
So. Feeling: that's the key. In my book, a song must start with feeling. At least that's the way I roll.
Sometimes faces, entities, if you like, come to me in my dreams. It feels like a real connection, a ‘step on’ from just a regular dream. I find it all fascinating. Music is a great place to put this sort of thing for me.
The music came to me very quickly - at least I thought I'd finished writing it at the time.
But I'm very open to writing and rewriting my songs, open to editing & seeing where feelings take me further down the track.
On this episode, there are 2 versions of Innocent. The first is a piano/vocal a version I sang during the recording of this episode.
The second version at the end, is the track which my Melbourne band, Pete Pascoe and the Patient Hum, recorded for the album 'This World Offers You' (which you can hear at www.petepascoe.bandcamp.com).
The band (Ants Reed, Neil Sims and Dan Dew and I) convened last night for a band practice... It was really great. You can hear it in my voice on this episode... Perhaps it was a little bit too good..anyhow..
The music and lyrics of 'Innocent' evolved along the way. I play keyboard bass in the band (as well as piano) and that puts me in a position where I can really drive things along and change the music by changing bass notes.
It's like letting the paint lead the way when I'm painting a picture (by the way, I visited my seascape exhibition tonight with my family, you can check out some paintings on recent posts on my blog www.petepascoe.wordpress.com.)
Eventually I'll have seascape painting, cartoon drawing, songwriting & piano instruction video courses available online.
Where will you hear about this? Insta, my blog, here, youtube, etc. You can sign up to my email list - I'd love that. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org You won’t miss a thing that way.
A new album will be dropping very soon - folk rock, with Paul Dredge (NZ), whom I mention a lot on this podcast. We wrote and recorded the album in two countries (I'm in Melbourne, Australia)
That's determination for you…in fact, that's another key factor in songwriting: I think you’ve got to be committed and let nothing get in the way of the inspiration when it comes through.
It's lead to around 800 songs for me.
There's also a new video up for the first single from the upcoming album (Paul and I) The video includes the lyrics and stick figure cartoons I keep coming up with ...there's about 1000 of these around too..
You can view the video here: YouTube Pete Pascoe Art and Music. You’re Going To Be OK (Do Do Do).
Yes, I’m busy & yes, I'm committed. I’m loving every minute of this creative path & I’m particularly enjoying recording these podcast episodes.
Join me now for another one.. Here we go…Innocent - let's see where the song takes us..
Someone To Lean On
Episode #123: Someone To Lean On (Song starts at 3:02 )
Hi there. Welcome to the podcast where the plan is : you’ll get to understand how it feels to be in the shoes of a songwriter. So how does it feel?
It feels completely free to let your hands wander on the keys (if you play piano, like me). It's like the ignition is there waiting for you.
And... it's like the sense of excitement you had when you were a child and you have some presents to open.
When you're have some lyrics ready, it's a great fun to think about adding the music - the anticipation.
Someone to lean on, song #143, was written in 1989. Maybe it's time to give it some air again ...Maybe I'll run it by the band (my Melbourne band - Pete Pascoe and the Patient hum)
This song is about the importance of having friends around. Sometimes it’s better to ask for help, rather than trying to do it all yourself. Which brings to mind..I think we are here to have fun and sure, I think we are here to learn stuff.
There's nothing like having some friends around to have fun with. Friends are great for offering some reflection, too.
That’s the sort of thinking that inspired 'Someone To Lean On'. I was alone at home on the piano (with just my flatmate’s tabby kitten to keep me company - and she made it into the lyrics).. the songs weren’t flowing this particular month.. but I kept at it and I kept having fun.
It's a good idea just to keep writing. There's a line in the song 'when the blank walls cease to reflect your great ideas and inspiration'. Just keep on moving.
Sure, have a break, get out in nature perhaps, and come back refreshed.
If you just make a start with your pen, some interesting and unexpected words will start to appear. You'll tune in to something. Perhaps your own voice. Perhaps something else comes through.
Same on an instrument. We all have our style, I own processes. It's fine - embrace your songs, your style, but I think a key thing is :
To be free. Just enjoy the process, have fun as you do it. Have fun in life.
Then you'll be inspired and have energy when your you do your art.
Ok 'Someone To Lean On', here we go.
We All Need (A Little Bit Of Peace)
Episode #122: All We Need (A Little Bit Of Peace) (Song starts at 3:02)
All We Need, song #46, was one of those songs that's been sitting in my songbook, doing nothing. Why? The chorus wasn’t up to scratch. The lyrics were just not right.
So I decided to rewrite the lyrics for the chorus.
Then, just before I recorded this podcast episode, I thought I’d have some fun and record a demo of 'All We Need'.
I think this sort of ‘ahh, what the heck!’ / free sort of feeling I have presently, is partly to do with the fact that I have just opened my Seascape Exhibition (you can view paintings on my recent blog posts: www.petepascoe.wordpress.com). It feels like my every woken moment for the last few months has been spent with a paintbrush in hand.
I think this sense of freedom and ‘play’ is so important when it comes to writing a song. How does it feel to write a song? It feels free - or that's the way it feels to me.
I'm not one of those ‘creatives’ that spends hours and hours agonising over the details. I like the initial magic - both at the composition stage and during a recording session.
I am big, however, on constantly editing - in a free manner. How it works for me is: I regularly sit at the piano and flick the pages of my song books randomly, picking out songs to sing and play.
As I perform the song (and it does feel more like a performance than a rehearsal), I’m completely open to changing the song…the lyrics, the riff, the melody, the chords, the structure & the feel (rhythm / tempo) - and I do. A tweak here and there…
I seem to have the ability to remember the most recent version, too, which is handy. I hear the whole band arrangement - including string arrangements - even though I'm playing it on the piano.
So with this episode’s song, 'All We Need', I've reworked the chorus. The words: 'if we could have a little bit of peace today’’ popped into my mind.
So I went with them. I can always change them again. Nothing is cast in stone - until the song has been recorded and released (and even then you can record another version).
I'd just like to add here: I think it's also really important to set yourself a deadline to finish creative work by. Otherwise the years can whizz by quietly and you might find yourself with a pile of unreleased songs (or art).
Go for excellence. If you go for perfection, you'll suck the creativity - the magic - out of the process.
I'm looking forward to recording 'All We Need'. Guitars would be great - and real drums.
Also, at the end of this episode, a piece came to me on the piano. As I improvised/composed the song, it sounded like it could do with some lyrics. I’ll finish this song off one day.
So, on this episode you'll get to hear me in the moment, ‘catching’ a melody and some chords for a song as they ‘came through’ for the first time (happens at 29: 26 , just as I was about to sign out).
All of this is an endlessly fascinating & rewarding process. If you'd like to hear more about it, sit back and enjoy the show. Here we go.
Miles and Messages
Episode #121: Miles and Messages (Song starts at 2:33)
Carrying on from the last episode, this song, #256, was written a short time after Fairy Tale.
While Fairy Tale (as it's title suggests), is mostly an imagined scenario with a projected happy ending with a moral, Miles and Messages is where the songwriter (yours truly) came back to earth with a thump and faced up to the reality of what was really happening at the time.
Yes, this one shoots straight from the hip - the reality of the situation brought out some pain and with it, some clarity of thought - and what's this situation? Well, at the time of writing this song, there was someone Paul and I knew that we thought would really add to our music, if she got onboard…
…and longer term, if it came to be one day, this was someone whom I had a soft spot for. But truth be known, I was beginning to realise this might not ever eventuate. This was what inspired the lyrics - and the words then inspired the music.
There's a couple of readings from my diaries again, this time. I'm enjoying bringing this aspect into play.
A couple of years ago, I visited Kuratau, New Zealand (where I wrote this song ) again. It was the place where I wrote the song on the previous episode (plus a bunch more) all those years ago. I described the beautiful outdoor scene in my diary I wrote about how it felt to be back there again.
I also share a long forgotten poem which I found in my diary today, written back in 1993 (when this song was written). Again, it describes the scene ( the beautiful Kuratau river mouth leading into a majestic lake Taupo ) - and there's some of how I was feeling at the time, woven in.
Words are powerful things, when written honestly from the heart. You can say the same about music - and together they are a potent force.
Have a listen and hear how Miles and Messages came together...from its inspiration to demo stage (also recorded in 1993, this arrangement is piano and vocal - arranged for 3 voices, funnily enough).
I'm really going to enjoy reworking the songs on this podcast. I’ll do some piano /vocal albums; some songs with Paul Dredge ( check out our new single, folks: You're Going To Be Ok ( Do Do Do). The album will be out shortly) & I think I’ll also end up recording some of these songs with my Melbourne based band: the Patient Hum guys.
So these episodes are about rediscovery - and it’s about sharing the art of songwriting. If you’re thinking about writing a song or a poem, I say: go for it! I write all the time. It’s given myself and others so much pleasure along the way.
A few things came to me, while listening back to Miles and Messages -and Fairy Tale - after all these years: people come and go in our lives. I think it pays to treat each other gently along the way. A hug can go a long way. Outcomes are outcomes - they’ll be what they will. The journeys the thing - that’s where we do our learning.
And maybe sometimes it's a good idea to write things down, in a diary, or in song lyric.. Or in a letter. But as a line suggest in this song, sometimes the written lines in a letter can get tangled up and perhaps misconstrued…
Right - piqued your curiosity? Us creatives - we are full of emotion, aren’t we.
Ok hope you enjoy Miles and Messages. It was an emotional thing to write the song and it’s been an enjoyable experience reflecting on that time and talking about how the song came tougher musically. On with the show!