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Music, Writing, & Art

Ellis Paul- Sparking life into your songs

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ellis paulA look into the creative genius of acclaimed singer-songwriter Ellis Paul as he shares how he sparks life into his songs and his process of making music. It may be just the ticket you need to get your own creative juices flowing. Your heart will be touched when you hear the thoughtfulness and integrity that goes into creating each of his songs. Listen to his inspiration for writing Rose Tattoo.

QUESTIONS FOR Ellis Paul (Transcript from first few minutes of Segment 2.  See Segment 1)

Sparking Life into Songs 

The Wikipedia article on Ellis Paul describes your music as folk pop. What is folk pop?

I would say I am person who is a fan of Woody Guthrie and the Beatles in the same breath. I think that kind of sums it up, there are songs that have some substance to them and some social meaning, but they also have melodic hooks and tend to be presented in a pop music forum, as well as a folk music forum.  I would consider Mumford and Sons to be folk pop.

In the previous segment you said you wanted to leave a legacy of a lot of well-written songs.  What does having a great song mean to you?

It means that you are serving the song, you are doing what the song is asking you to do. It is asking you to take it to the place that’s believable and moving for people to hear. Are you serving the song? Are you writing it as well as you can? Is it doing what the mission statement of the song is asking?  The song Rose Tattoo is about a guy driving home from work on the day that he is being laid off and he’s calling his wife to tell her the story.  He is frustrated, and she says “We’ll fight for the best case scenario”.  You need that dialogue to be very believable, you need scenes to be really believable.  You have to have all the details of the song spell out the image in peoples’ heads so they can picture it happening.  And that’s when I feel like I am doing some greater good. But the first step in that, is serving the song, which is writing it a way that really makes people get transported to where you are writing.

Which song do you look back on and say ‘this was my greatest piece of work’? Or is there just one?

I think about other peoples’ work and I say “I love that song”. My songs are more like my kids, I don’t play favorites. I have five hundred of them so far, and each one of them in their own imperfect way is perfect and I accept their success in the world.  Some have gone on to be covered by big artists, some have gone into movies, some have just been on my records, and some just end up at a live show once or twice;  I value them all the same.  A good song is a good song and what happens with it is almost not that important to me, as long as I recognize its value intrinsically.

THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSE AND EDITED- For all of segment 2, listen to mp3 above.

 About Our Guest

Ellis Paul is one of the leading voices in American songwriting and one of the top songwriters to emerge out of the fertile Boston folk scene. He helped create a movement that revitalized the national acoustic circuit with an urban, literate, folk rock style that helped renew interest in the genre in the 90′s.  To continue