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4.3 out of 5 stars
8
Song Man: One Man's Mission to Write the Perfect Pop Song
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on 22 April 2008
If you are not really interested in the human phenomenon that is popular music then this book will be virtually impenetrable to you. If though, you have spent a few years absorbing the extraordinary sounds that have been conceived and recorded in the last fifty years then Hodginson's book (and indeed its predecessor) is an axiomatic text.
I am a failed musician and yearn to be able to rewind to my youth and take music more seriously in my formative years. I have been in several mediocre bands, normally as the weakest link. 'Song Man' revitalised my interest in music and especially songwriting after 15 years of famine. I was so profoundly affected that I resolved to write a song as soon as I finished reading the book. I am rarely inspired to such an extent. I wrote a rubbish song but thanks to this book I will try again, and again. Well done Will Hodgkinson, you changed my world.
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on 22 April 2008
In an age when people are desperately trying to get on TV for no reason other than to "become famous" it's pretty inspiring to read a book by someone keen to follow a dream and better themselves for no reason other than the love of it. Will Hodgkinson learnt how to play guitar for his last book and this time around he's trying to learn how to write a song. It's fair to say that he didn't exactly succeed on that front (as a visit to his myspace page might attest) but he tells his story with such infectious enthusiasm, coupled with a rich vein in self-deprecation, which means that you can't help but root for him as he follows his quest.

Much as he did in Guitar Man, he also unearths some great advise from a interesting array of characters - from the more obvious 60s guitar heroes of which he's such a fan, like Keith Richards and Ray Davies, to the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and a eccentric recluse by the name of Lawrence who used to front an obscure 90s indie band.

Inspiring stuff - and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. Just don't expect to see him performing at the 02 arena any time soon!
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VINE VOICEon 12 May 2010
Will Hodgkinson is a publisher's dream: erudite with a great sense of humour and the ability to squeeze evry last detail from an anecdote. His most recent book, The Ballad of Britain ticked most of the boxes if one was looking for a funny, entertaining and somewhat leftfield travelogue about the ballad, its history and its place in modern music and modern Britain. Needless to say I greatly enjoyed reading it. So much so that in exploring Hodgkinson's small back catalogue I decided to try Song Man, the account of his attempts to pen and record a pop song.
A simple enough task in the technological haven of 21st century London? Perhaps, but in Hodgkinson's world things are rarely as straightforward as they seem. Not for our Will the brave spontaneity of just trying out a few chords and fitting some words to them or vice versa which appears to be how most pop music is written. The author prefers to explore the history of song and seeks inspiration in everything from Carmina Burana through to the music of Burt Bacharach, Richard Hawley and Syd Barrett. The results, although not designed to revolutionise the top twenty are admirable enough or at least the descriptions and Hodgkinson's own reflections give that impression.
My only criticism with this book is that, with such a simplistic objective it really does take the scenic route to get there - at times it took an effort to carry on through the author's frequent ruminations on obscure songs and writers and reverse with him out of the cul-de-sac he sometimes ended up in. However, that aside I rejoiced with him when the songs were finally recorded and the disc cut, 300 of them. Many, as he says will be cherished by friends and family but some copies may find their way to car boot sales or charity shops. Perhaps, in years to come the name of Will Hodgkinson will be recognized as the great unsung name of British music writing and a retrospective album will be released. If so there's hope for us all.
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on 22 April 2008
As a fan of Hodgkinsons excellent first book about learning the guitar, I was glad to find he'd lost none of his insight when graduating to something much tougher - writing a song that really touches people. On the way, he finds some of the funniest and most tragic people in the music industry. I thought the scene from Narcotics Anonymous with failed and desperate songwriter Lawrence (who I assume is an ex-star under a false name). Keef Richards agrees to help out as well, and you can't say fairer than that. Where Guitar Man was funny and self depreciating, Song Man is more about talent than skill - the mystery of what makes someone creative and how destructive that can be. Its made me listen to my favourite tunes in a compeletely different way.
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on 23 April 2008
WH's account of his search for the songwriting knack is amusing and absorbing...although he and his (imaginary?) alter ego, Doyle, perhaps never match the naive heights of their debut 'mystery fox'.
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on 21 January 2016
enjoyed it
well worth a read
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on 22 April 2008
Why would Grape Nuts moan about this wonderful book?
No Idea, but his is obvisously a fool.
So take no heed, buy and enjoy Will's travails through the world of song. Humour and insights abound. Really it is a good read.
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on 8 March 2008
I have an idea for Hodgkinson's next book: 'Ideas Man', in which our hero attempts to write a book that isn't mired in a nostalgic, imagined idea of the past, and doesn't rehash the non-idea of his first. Gasp as he tries to last a full half-chapter witout mentioning someone from the nineteen-bloody-sixties. Cry/vomit/yawn as he doesn't manage.
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