A podcast for and about songs and songwriting
About the show
This podcast is for those who love music but can't write a tune to save their lives. We talk with singer/songwriters of all stripes, professional touring musicians to those who can't quite catch a break. Maybe you'll hear something you'll like. Maybe not. But you will come away with a greater appreciation for the gift of songwriting, and how hard it really is.
Now sponsored by @thepugdc!
For Songs on social media
Episode 58: A Second Conversation with Ian Jones
May 19th, 2023 | Season 1 | 49 mins 36 secs
americana, ianjones, newmusic, outlawcountry, seattle, singersongwriter
Music, not unlike life, is about the journey. And perhaps no artist I’ve interviewed knows this better than Seattle-based singer/songwriter Ian Jones. A true craftsman, Ian knows that getting your big break in the industry is about luck and being in the right place at the right time. His music would fit at home on Outlaw Country, though he has a soulful voice that recalls John Denver as much as it does Chris Stapleton, or whomever is leading the so-called “Americana” charts. Ian and I chatted about his latest release Results Not Typical. We talk about four songs—Rollin’, Someday, Without You I’m Lost, and Goodbyes are the Hardest Words. So sit back, grab a beer, and welcome Ian Jones back to For Songs.
Episode 57: For Songs Singles! Break Down the Walls, Emma Noble
April 23rd, 2023 | Season 1 | 23 mins 5 secs
disco, emmanoble, london, motown, newmusic, noble&heath, soul, soulmusic
The best thing about music is no matter how old you are, no matter how long you’ve been listening and loving music, you can still hear something that will stop you in your tracks. Which is what happened to me a few months ago when London-based singer/songwriter Emma Noble’s latest single Break Down the Walls jumped out of my Spotify feed. Break Down the Walls sounds like it could’ve been recorded yesterday, or 40 years ago on Motown. Emma is a key player in London’s thriving soul scene. Her music draws influences from ‘50s-‘60s soul, ‘70s disco, and ‘80s new wave. In this episode of For Songs Singles, Emma discusses her musical journey, how her DJ-ing business led to developing relationships with producers and songwriters, and how this genre-bending gem of a pop tune came together. Dig in!
Episode 56: A Return Conversation with Dan Murphy of the Scarlet Goodbye
March 24th, 2023 | Season 1 | 45 mins 32 secs
danmurphy, goldensmog, huskerdu, jeffarundel, replacements, scarletgoodbye, soulasylum
Join me as former Soul Asylum guitarist Dan Murphy makes his long-awaited return not only to this show but to the music industry as a whole! In this episode, Dan talks about his new band the Scarlet Goodbye and its brand-spanking new debut album Hope’s Eternal. The band is a duo, with Dan being joined by fellow Minneapolis singer/songwriter Jeff Arundel. We discuss four songs—Angel Dust, Panic & Blame, Julieann, and Celebrated Summer. We cover a ton of ground in this episode, so sit back, grab a beer, and listen in!
Episode 55: A Fourth Conversation with Paleface!
March 10th, 2023 | Season 1 | 40 mins 37 secs
antifolk, avettbrothers, beck, folkmusic, indierock, paleface, punk, punkmusic
Remember last fall? When indie-rock legend Paleface and his partner/drummer Monica “Mo” Samalot came onto the show to discuss their crowdfunding campaign for their new album? Well the campaign was a success and the new album is out! Beyond the Bells was released in mid-February, and man is it fantastic. Drawing inspiration from his entire career, Beyond the Bells is a masterclass in production and songwriting. We discuss four songs from the new record—Most of My Worries Never Happen, Fight Song, Selfish Wayz, and The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same. Dig in as we talk about the new album, his influences, and so much more.
Episode 54: A Conversation with Mark Bingham
January 13th, 2023 | Season 1 | 37 mins 19 secs
#artrock, #countryrock, #drjohn, #markbingham, #nouveauelectric, #rem
From New Orleans to “Fakersfield,” Mark Bingham has seen it all. The sought-after producer, songwriter, guitarist, arranger, etc., has literally rubbed elbows with music royalty. Bands like REM, artists like Dr. John, Marianne Faithfull have all called on Mark to produce, arrange, you name it. All the while, Mark wrote his own music and now, he is at the beginning of an ambitious career retrospective project to release the 22 albums he’s written over the last 50-plus years. In this interview, Mark discussed a few songs from the first two records from this project—Goo Seneck and Mushroom Crowd. We talk about his approach to songwriting, musical history, and so much more. Dig in here!
Episode 53: A Return Conversation with Lisset Diaz of the Sweet Lizzy Project
November 18th, 2022 | Season 1 | 48 mins 15 secs
cuba, cubalibre, cuban, indierock, lissetdiaz, punkrock, rocknroll, slp, sweetlizzyproject
If you love music, if music changed your life, if music made you feel things you’ve never felt before, then this is the interview for you. Joining me once again is Lisset Diaz of the Cuban-by-way-of-Nashville-based Sweet Lizzy Project to discuss the band’s newest and long-awaited album Pirate Radio/Radio Pirata. Pirate Radio is a concept album that traces the life of a fictional character in Cuba who goes to great lengths to listen to rock and roll music. While loosely based on their own story, Pirate Radio is the story of all too many Cubans. We talk about four songs—Pirate Radio, Black Water, Slip Away, and Shake the Walls. Like the album itself, this is an as emotional, powerful interview. My only hope is that this interview does justice to their cause, so please sit back, buckle up, and welcome Lisset Diaz back to For Songs.
Episode 52: A Conversation with Nora O'Connor
November 1st, 2022 | Season 1 | 36 mins 45 secs
countryrock myheart, decembrists, folkrock, nekocase, noraoconnor, singer-songwriter
There’s a moment in singer/songwriter Nora O’Connor’s new album My Heart when you realize just how special her talent is. By admission, the Chicago-based musician is more comfortable in the background, singing backup and playing with such Americana luminaries like Neko Case, the Decembrists, Robbie Fulks, among others. But for the first time in 18(!) years, Nora is back with My Heart, released in early October. With a soothing voice, Nora has been an in-demand harmony vocalist for two decades. In this episode, Nora gives a refreshing interview about My Heart. We discuss about four songs—Sore, Cambridge Cold, the album’s one cover It’s Alright Now, and Fare Thee Well. Nora walks us through how these songs came to be and how performing outdoor shows during the COVID lockdowns unlocked her creative juices. So sit back and listen in as Nora O’Connor joins me for this episode of For Songs!
Episode 51: A Conversation with John McCutcheon
October 10th, 2022 | Season 1 | 40 mins 11 secs
banjo, folk, folkmusic, guitar, johnmccutcheon, songwriting, woodyguthrie
You think you’ve been productive during COVID? Well, you may have been, but not as much as my next guest did. In fact, folk singer John McCutcheon’s latest album Leap, released in September 2022, is his third album since 2020 AND but his 43rd of his career! John’s love of folk music began as a young teenager watching the 1963 March on Washington. He’s been writing and recording folk music since the mid-1970s, and hasn’t looked back. In this episode, we talk about four songs from Leap—The Ride, The Troubles, Sorryland, and Work. We take a deep-dive into his prolific songwriting process, how the material keeps flowing, and how he hopes to stay “useful” as long as possible. Listen in!
Episode 50: Another Conversation with Paleface
October 3rd, 2022 | Season 1 | 18 mins 12 secs
beck, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, danieljohnston, indierock, newmusic, paleface, songwriting, womeninrock
As you’ve no doubt heard in listening to this podcast, the music industry is not for the faint of heart. In this special episode of For Songs, we are joined again by indie-rock legend Paleface and his drummer/partner Monica “Mo” Samalot. Paleface has seen it all, a veteran of the industry since the early 90s. PF and Mo discuss the crowdfunding campaign currently underway to support their next release, which is expected to come out in early 2023. We talk about what goes into writing, recording, producing, and releasing an entirely independent record. We discuss how you can play a key role in getting their new album out on the streets by supporting their efforts.
Episode 49: A Conversation with Barry Lynch
July 13th, 2022 | Season 1 | 45 mins 33 secs
armagh, belfast, ireland, irishmusic, mumming, session, sessions, strings
For me, this episode is 11 years in the making. For my guest Barry Lynch and his group the Armagh Rhymers? We’re talking 30 years. The Armagh Rhymers, a traditional Irish mummers band from Northern Ireland, released their first album in 1992. So now 30 years later, “Vol. 2” is on the streets and, well, you need to take a seat, grab a pint or two, and listen in. Mumming, for those who don’t know, is an ancient tradition, dating back in Ireland to the pagan, pre-Catholic days. Barry helped produce and mix the album, as well as playing all kinds of stringed instruments and adding his distinctive vocals. I met Barry more than 11 years ago on a trip to Northern Ireland and we stayed in touch over the years. Barry is an accomplished musician, having played all over the world and even at the White House in the late 90s, promoting the peace process that ended decades of sectarian strife in Northern Ireland. So go grab that pint (or two) and welcome Barry Lynch to For Songs.
Episode 48: Another Conversation with Peter Argyropoulos of Sons of Silver
June 11th, 2022 | Season 1 | 45 mins 2 secs
grunge, hardrock, indierock, pandemic, pearljam, punkrock, songwriter, sonsofsilver
Peter Argyropoulos has a way with words. The lead singer/songwriter of the LA-based hard-rock band Sons of Silver has his finger on the pulse on what’s happening across the country and, indeed, the world. On his band’s debut EP Doomsday Noises, he presaged the pandemic, the social unrest, and the decaying fabric of society that has been our existence the last two years. Now, a year and half later, the band is back with a blistering follow-up EP called Ordinary Sex Appeal. As much as this is a commentary on society, this interview is also a clear love letter to the power of music. So sit back, get on your thinking caps, and welcome Peter Argyropoulos back to For Songs.
Episode 47: A Conversation with Ben Vaughn
May 23rd, 2022 | Season 1 | 42 mins 15 secs
benvaughn, filmnoir, indierock, songwriter, songwriting, writing
There’s something about simplicity and subtlety that sets the best songwriters apart. Few artists have attained a mastery of both quite like my next guest, singer/songwriter Ben Vaughn. An exceptionally talented musician, Ben is a persistent writer; indeed, he says he writes almost every day. The tough part is getting it all down before it goes away. His music may remind you a bit of They Might Be Giants, a little Tom Waits mixed in with some Lou Reed. We spoke from his California home about his newest album The World of Ben Vaughn, released in May 2022. Listen in as he discusses four songs from new album—Wayne Fontana Was Wrong, Blind Alley, Asking for a Friend, and New Jersey Rock and Roll. Dig in and welcome Ben Vaughn to For Songs.
Episode 46: A Conversation with the Waymores
May 6th, 2022 | Season 1 | 41 mins 27 secs
country, countrymusic, countryrock, elvis, indierock, johnnycash, junecarter, thewaymores, waymores
Funny how the world works, at least in the world of music. This is the story of Kira Annelise and her husband Willie Heath Neal, who together make up the country duo The Waymores. When they met, Willie was a seasoned songwriter about to hang it up. He was still singing in bands when Kira saw him performing, and her world changed. Kira started playing guitar and found out that she was a helluva songwriter too. Fourteen years later, Kira and Willie are still at it, and their newest album The Stone Sessions is proof positive of their magic. In this episode of For Songs, Willie and Kira talk about their past, their future, and, most importantly, their compelling present. Buckle up, grab a drink, and welcome Kira and Willie to For Songs.
Episode 45: For Songs Singles! Restless Companion, Michael Patrick F. Smith
April 18th, 2022 | Season 1 | 23 mins 10 secs
dakota, folkmusic, folkrock, indierock, newmusic, thegoodhand
It’s been a little more than since my next guest first joined me on For Songs. Michael Patrick F. Smith returns to the show for the first time since January 2021, a few weeks before his book The Good Hand was published. The Good Hand is a blistering read, telling the tale of his journey to North Dakota at the height of the shale-gas revolution that turned parts of the state into a latter-day gold rush. With the paperback version having just been released, Michael joined me to discuss a new song called Restless Companion. Restless Companion is a breezy tune that would fit right at home on Uncle Tupelo’s Anodyne, or Son Volt’s Trace. The song itself is an ode to The Good Hand and all the literal blood, sweat, and tears that went into it. So sit down, grab a beer, and welcome back Michael Patrick F. Smith to For Songs.
Episode 44: Another Conversation with The Pug--Talking the Clash, Joe Strummer, Big Audio Dynamite & Much More!
April 10th, 2022 | Season 1 | 39 mins 53 secs
bigaudiodynamite, clash, dc, gogo, indierock, london, music, pandemic, poguetry, punk, punkrock, theclash
It’s been a rough two years, to say the least. In this unique episode, Tony from the Pug joins me for an enthralling conversation about music, the Clash, and so much more. The general theme of this conversation is as follows: What Big Audio Dynamite/Joe Strummer solo songs would’ve been great Clash songs? We tried to put in some ground rules, but those quickly went out the door. So rather than sum it up, it’s better if you just listen in. And join us online for an ongoing conversation!
Episode 43: A Conversation with Emily Capell
March 20th, 2022 | Season 1 | 45 mins 33 secs
blondie, donletts, dreadzone, emilycapell, indierock, joestrummer, london, newmusic, ska, theclash
If you had the chance to spend an hour in the car with one of your musical heroes—you are driving—what music would you play? My next guest, London-based Emily Capell, faced this very dilemma. Emily, who literally grew up on the Clash and its various offshoots, is inspired by, well, the Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, but it goes beyond that. In his exhilarating interview, Emily and I talk about two songs from her 2019 debut album Combat Frock and then we talk about two newer songs, 2020’s Flamingo, recorded with the London-based Dreadzone, and a cover of Big Audio Dynamite’s E=MC2. Emily is one of the freshest talents recording today, so go grab your beer, sit down, and welcome Emily Capell to For Songs.