Reviews and Editorials
Evan Shlansky American Songwriter
Rating: 3 ½ Stars
There are a lot of songwriting books on the market that are music business-based, others that devote equal parts to the biz and the craft, and a couple of noteworthy ones that stand out for their lyric-writing emphasis. Murphy’s book compiles new material and archived articles into an entertaining read that, more than anything, digs into the nuts and bolts of song structure and lends perspective to the mysterious connection between songwriter, song and audience. Murphy, who currently serves as ASCAP’s VP of Membership/International, is now in his sixth decade as a hit songwriter, publisher and, among other capacities, a purveyor of songwriting wit and wisdom. He has a keen analytical sense about what makes a song commercially viable and why, and you’ll come away from this book with a better understanding of audience psychology (predominantly female in country music, Murphy stresses) and what keeps it ticking the radio dial toward certain types of songs during the morning drive to work. After digesting some thoughts on the “six forms” of song structure, you might be inspired to try writing your second verse first (a really useful technique), or maybe get outside the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus box to tackle something compelling outside your comfort zone. Confessional songwriting, or writing for oneself, is all well and good. But as Murphy points out, there’s a tried and true defense mechanism among aspiring commercial songwriters that you’d do well to avoid: “I like to leave it to the listener’s imagination …” There are always exceptions to the rules but, if nothing else, Murphy’s Laws gives insight into what historically has worked, doesn’t work, and continues to work best between the writer and listener. And thus, you’re better armed to find tactful ways to break them.
Don Grahm Cashbox Canada
Ralph Murphy and I met through Keith Sykes back in the early 90′s and subsequently become “flatmates” as he liked to put it…for about three or more years. He was great to have around as he was really NEVER around – as Ralph is one of the HARDEST WORKING people you will EVER meet in the Music Business! But we had a great deal – as he introduced me to some of the biggest players in the Music Industry! His day would start pretty early as he had his two cups of Tea and then he was out the door – assuming that he was even in town as he traveled the world speaking, doing seminars, attending trade shows, conferences, award shows and more. In fact, Ralphy was THE MOST “PLUGGED IN” person I’ve ever met in the Music Business! When he was in town – he’d hit the door running early – and whether it was songwriting appointments, pitching, or even going to his “day job” as ASCAP the day just STARTED for Ralph when everybody else was going home! Ralph would hit almost EVERY showcase, every writers night he could, every music function you could think of – you name it – Ralph was there! He is the consummate networker and was out EVERY SINGLE night – It was almost impossible to keep up with him – but that’s how it’s done! His secret – keep your momentum going! Don’t stop and that’s worked for him and was sage advice for me! He’s never met a stranger and lights up a room when he walks in as he knows almost everyone and is kind to all – no matter who you were – Ralph would know your name or make an effort to learn it! In fact, we couldn’t even walk down the Croisette in Cannes without almost every shop owner, restaurant personnel or owner – all shouting – “Monsieur Murphy!” and of course Ralph was friends with and knew the Heavy Hitters in the music business as well! So in short, he never lost his humility! Ralph not only worked hard at being out there meeting and greeting but he kept going until late at night, staying out there to make sure that he didn’t miss a thing. Why? Well I’d say it’s because he wanted to stay on top of things and also SHARE that wealth of knowledge with anyone! Ralph continually was helping all songwriters, artists and more – whether you had a hit or not – he always had time for everyone! He always had encouraging words for anyone aspiring to be in any facet of the music business!