WHY I LOVE SONGWRITING

The Nelson Brothers on a songwriting trip to France

I love songwriting. As Janis Ian said “One of the hardest things of all is to start. Just sitting down and getting over your own intimidations. Every professional songwriter I know is terrified every time they sit down to write. You’re always convinced that your next song is going to be your last, or that it’s going to be your worst, or that you’ll never be able to write anything as good as your hit. It’s a constant terror. I think all artists live in a constant state of terror.”

I wrote my first song when I was seventeen. It wasn’t very good. But the thrill I felt when I finished it was like nothing I’d ever felt before. I wasn’t writing for recognition, or money. I was writing for the sheer joy of creation. To start with a blank sheet of paper, and create something that didn’t exist before amazed me. It still does.

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Records Can Change Your Life #1

Part of Simon Nelson's CD collection from Paul Simon to Tom Waits.

Records can change your life. As kids growing up we were exposed to a varied collection of vinyl records, from the likes of Al Jolson, Bing Crosby and Glenn Miller through to Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash. It was from Cash we got our first taste of the history and geography of the United States. ‘Ride This Train’, recorded in 1960, imagines a journey by train around America, taking the listener on a tour through space and time, and features a narration by Cash which is as absorbing as the songs themselves.

Johnny Cash - Ride This Train album cover

Johnny Cash – Ride This Train album cover

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Stroud Americana Music Festival

The Nelson Brothers at Stroud Americana Music Festival

Americana Music is alive and well in the UK.

On a fresh day in early summer, a light wind, big, low cumulus scudding across a powder blue sky, The Nelson Brothers head west out of London on the M4. It’s a two-hour trip to Stroud. We’ve been invited to play at the Stroud Americana Music Festival at the grand Stroud Subscription Rooms.

One of the acts on the bill described Americana Music as the coming together of two strands – one from the British Isles and the other from Africa – in the US, to form new genres.

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Nelson Brothers Band live at The Convent

Nelson Brothers

A buzz of excitement in recent weeks – The Nelson Brothers have, for some time, not been up to much because of our commitment to Sadie and the Hotheads. Since Lady Cora (aka Elizabeth McGovern) is currently on the set at Highclere Castle for the last ever series of Downton Abbey. The Nelson Brothers have taken the opportunity to dust off their own songs and get back on the road.

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KEY WEST – a songwriting trip

A songwriting trip to Florida - Eden House Hotel, Key West, Florida

Saturday February 19th, 2011, The Eden House Hotel on Fleming Street. Surreal, sub-tropical paradise. The room… a single bed, a fan, a palmetto bug in the night when I got up to pee. Now 6am and I’ve had about 6 hours sleep after a long flight… 9 hours to Miami, then a 4 hour layover before the 40 minute swoop down to Key West. The world I live in is a world away from here. 6.30am… still dark. What time does it get light down here?

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