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"Jack Blanchard, Songwriter"

I was born in Buffalo in 1941, on my way to Nashville. 

I wrote my first song when I was sixteen: "The Foghorn Blues". 
I don't remember how it went. 
We had an old upright piano I used to sit at by the hour, 
and a lot of my early songs were written on it. 

I had a doo-wop vocal quartet in the late 1950's, 
and I stepped up my songwriting pace. 
I think the reason was that we were on Coral Records, 
and I had to come up with material for the sessions. 
It's easier to write when you know somebody's waiting for it. 

My early influences were the big band standards. 
In Buffalo, in order to work, 
you had to know all the Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, Carmichael, etc. songs, 
and you had to be able to play them in their standard keys. 
Later I picked up on a lot of other good pop and country writers. 

I always liked to read short stories. 
I read and saw a lot of movies, too. 
That helped, because I think we songwriters 
are putting together three minute movies of the imagination. 

To me, the funny songs are easiest. 
There are no rules on nutty humor 
and it's a big part of my life. 
I can't resist a funny line. 
But I really enjoy composing a good serious song with meaning. 

I'm not known for following rules, 
but I have a few self-imposed guidelines that help me: 

On a serious lyric I try to avoid cleverness. 
It sucks the sincerity right out of it. 

You can't please everybody. 
If you try, you come out bland. 

I'd rather be controversial than be ignored. 
If your work is good, it will be recognized. 

I try to avoid the cliche rut, tempting as it is. 
There are a lot of good songwriters already ahead of us in line, 
so we have to come at it from a different angle… 
Provide something different and, if it's good, it will work. 

First I stare out the window a while 
and mentally put myself in a place and situation, 
and see where it goes from there. 
In my case, most of them are places and situations I've personally been in. 
I set the scene with a few details I call "furniture", to get the feel of it, 
then the story develops from that. 
I never know the ending until I get to it. 

Misty Morgan and I have five CD's and a bunch of albums and singles out there, 
and I've written 99% of them. 
It seems impossible to me, looking back. 

"Tennessee Birdwalk" was written in twenty minutes, 
and recorded in one take. 
It surprised us with a Billboard #1, and a Grammy Nomination. 

Some of our other pet originals are: 
"Somewhere in Virginia in the Rain", 
"It Seems Like There Ain't No Goin' Home", 
"There Must Be More To Life Than Growin' Old", 
"Humphrey the Camel'", 
"Call On Me", 
"Just One More Song", 
"Fire Hydrant #79", 

Wait a minute! 
I have to stop making this list or I'll have to go buy more paper. 

Copyright © March 28, 2002 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.

 

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