There's Hope For Us All...,
This review is from: Song Man: A Melodic Adventure, or My Single-minded Approach to Songwriting (Paperback)
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.