Three Chords and the Truth: Songwriting with Mary Gauthier


This WordShop was held on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013

The inner personal life is often a lonely one. Overloaded with input, people today are rarely given time for reflection and processing the complex ways they move and are moved in the world. With time, the stress of holding our stories in can create an inner cesspool — a stagnation that produces a myriad of problems in the body, in our relationships and in our careers. The urge to create, to write songs, to write our stories, is rooted in the need for truth, balance and growth.

To allow our own evolution to occur, we need the tools to push through firewalls of fear, confusion and self-doubt, freeing us to articulate and reveal our own experiences and truths. By learning the practice of songwriting we discover the true core of our stories, our world and ourselves. We walk away with the tools to create beautiful musical reminders of our journeys that are ours to keep forever.

Guided by Mary Gauthier, acclaimed songwriter known best for her emotional honesty that is scored deep into her seven groundbreaking albums of original songs, students learned to dig deeper to discover their own unique voice and how to effectively use it in songs.

Employing interactive discussions, varied songwriting techniques and methods for developing and realizing their truths, students learned to:

   • Find their own unique "writer's voice"
   • Access new levels of awareness in their writing
   • Learned to truly listen to the lyrics
   • Explore methods to get to the truth in their songs
   • Make themselves understood in lyrics
   • Explore the relationships between melody, chord choices, song structure and lyrics
   • Write an effective chorus

Gauthier recommends Brenda Ueland's book, If You Want To Write, for those who wish to take things one step further.

Through 13 years and seven albums, singing in a voice that "channels Johnny Cash's last days," Mary Gauthier (go-shay) has established a reputation as one of the finest American songwriters around. Her most recent album, The Foundling, resonated around the world and was named in many year-end top album lists for 2010. In the Los Angeles Times, music writer Randy Lewis picked the album and noted: "The acclaimed Louisiana singer and songwriter tackles the most powerful story of all — that of her own life — in this extraordinarily powerful and clear-eyed song cycle encompassing issues of abandonment, adoption, identity, blame, forgiveness and love set to music as richly diverse as the thematic content." On the opposite coast, critic James Reed ranked the album at the top of the Boston Globe's survey, describing it as "by far her most revealing album… a heartbreaking work of powerful storytelling, a blueprint for how modern country records could — and should — sound."

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