Tell Me About Your Song
'Tell Me About Your Song' consists of a bunch of edited interviews with musicians and songwriters, in which I talk to them about a song they wrote. The discussions usually last around half an hour to an hour, though a couple have been shorter and a couple longer; I then edit them down to around 20-30 minutes and release them on the Internet for people to listen to.
The format of each episode is: I play a snippet of the song, then I introduce the musician or songwriter, the edited discussion follows, and at the end I play the song in full, so that listeners can hear what we've been talking about.
I normally release a new episode once every two weeks. People can listen to them as a podcast (using iTunes or the RSS feed), or they can listen to individual episodes at the 'Tell Me About Your Song' blog, where notes and links related to each episode are also posted.
I've put together a quick sampler of snippets from different episodes; it's in the upper right corner of this webpage, or you can watch it on YouTube. You can also listen to the most recent episode here:
Who I talk to
Among those who have appeared on 'Tell Me About Your Song' are Erin McKeown, Christine Lavin, Alec K. Redfearn, Libby Koch, Adam Levy, Allysen Callery, Rudy Cheeks (of the Young Adults and other bands), Pavel Rivera of the electronica group Twintapes, jazz vocalist and author Suzanne Cloud, the band ilyAIMY, and New York Blues Hall of Fame inductee Beki Brindle.
Many of the episodes feature Rhode Island area singer/songwriters, simply because I live in Rhode Island and know a lot of talented singer/songwriters in the area, but (as I hope the list above demonstrates) I'm definitely interested in other genres and other areas of the country and world. While I prefer to have the conversations in person where possible, I'm happy to do phone interviews when that's the most convenient way to talk.
Why I started it
After Ray Manzarek died in 2013, 'Fresh Air' reran an interview with him in which he talked at length and in depth about how the Doors' song 'Light My Fire' came to be. (You can listen to the segment here.) I found it fascinating; I had not given the song a lot of thought, but listening to him talk about it in this informal, engaging way made me appreciate it in a way I hadn't before.
And after I heard it I thought that it was a shame that there aren't more opportunities for musicians to talk about songs in that way. Most interviews cover an entire album or career, so individual songs won't get more than a minute or two of discussions; and most songwriters are self-conscious about spending too much time talking instead of performing during a live show, and are worried about seeming egotistical or pretentious.
So I got the idea of starting a podcast to address that lack, and I bought a portable audio recorder and started recording interviews, releasing the first on September 1, 2013.
What's a podcast?
You may already be familiar with podcasts, and maybe you even listen to them already; in that case, this section is not for you! But if you're one of the majority of people who hasn't heard of them, or isn't sure what they are, here's an attempt at a description.
A podcast is sort of like an Internet radio show; the person responsible for it records episodes and puts them online for people to listen to. Most podcasts, including Tell Me About Your Song, are audio only, though video podcasts do exist.
There are various computer programs that let people subscribe to these podcasts. When you subscribe to a podcast using one of these programs, it will automatically detect when a new episode for the podcast has been released and let you know. You can then download and listen to it if desired. (Most programs can also be configured to automatically download new episodes, if that's what's preferred.) So instead of having to constantly check back on the websites of all the podcasts you want to listen to, they're all collected in one place, and you can easily go from podcast to podcast. I find them good companions on a long car trip ...
These links should work to subscribe to Tell Me About Your Song:
There are podcasts on every conceivable topic and for every audience. Some have thousands of listeners, others just a few. As I write this in March of 2015, I estimate that 'Tell Me About Your Song' episodes get downloaded around 800-1000 times a month, but the numbers have been increasing steadily, and I'm hoping that the podcast's audience will continue to grow and that we'll keep reaching new people!