Peter Case

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Assignment Zero:  25 titles, names of songs you might write someday,  appealing word combinations, subjects etc but compressed into one short phrase. Song Assignment 1 1.  Write a song based on a desire,  about a person, place or time that you long for: someplace you would like to be, someone you would like to see, a time, or something you long to do. Compose the words as vividly as possible, so as to make a very clear picture of your subject, that appeals to the senses. Examples of this type of song  are the Byrd’s Chestnut Mare,  the Beatles’s StrawberryRead More
WHERE MY SPIRIT IS, I AM : Magical Aspects of Songwriting “Painting  isn’t an aesthetic operation, it’s a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange hostile world and us, a way of seizing power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires. When I came to that realization I knew I had found my way.”  – Pablo  Picasso “If you get an idea you just elaborate on it. If you’re singing about a house,  you talk about the shingles, you talk about the door, the window… there aren’t any rules.” – Lucinda Williams ”Read More
I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things. “I know a girl, she been married so many times, she got rice marks all over her face” “She was sharp as a razor and soft as a prayer” “I did my time in the jail of your arms” “I’ve got a bottle for a trumpet, a hatbox for a drum…” One look in his eyes… and everyone denies… ever having met him.” Even Jesus wanted just a little more time, when he was walkin’ spanish down the hall” “I stay in a place called ‘Rooms’… There’s a whole chain of them.”Read More
Clamping the mind down on details. some exercises and then a song. or two. William Carlos Williams: “It is in things that for the artist the power lies, not beyond them. Only where the eye hits does sight occur” –haiku, I think, is a clever method to get ourselves to write/see/picture simultaneously. First, most people during early school years actually did write some form of it, and might recall it with fondness or joy, or embarrassment and scoffing. Either way, many of us can remember the act of really writing, before we began an endless series of quizzes and bubblesRead More
  Once you’ve got a first draft down… 1) a. Is the melody defined? Is there a note for every syllable of the lyric? b. Is the rhythm defined? c. Do the chords support the melody? 2) Is there contrast between sections?  Or do the same musical ideas repeat in different sections of the song? This can often hold a song back. The different sections need to be different musically, creating sympathetic contrast. Also, a middle eight needs to get far enough away from the verse that the verse feels and sounds fresh again when you return to it. 3)Read More
  to David Ensminger, for Joe Carter: In response to your question: “What do I believe are the poetic qualities of Hendrix’s lyrics?” First of all, he created memorable, and dynamic original phrases of speech, blazing lines that stick in your head forever. I think he had more of these in three or four albums than the Beatles, for example, made in their whole run: “‘ ’scuse me while I kiss the sky!” (from purple haze) ” I know what I want but I just don’t know/ how to go about gettin’ it” (from manic depression) “will it burn meRead More
  Produced by Andrew Williams, at Mike Meltzer’s TMOP Studio in Van Nuys, CA, sometime in the mid-90’s. With Sandy Chila on Drums, David Jackson on Fender Bass, and  Peter Case on 12 string, harmonica, and vocals.  This is the opening track on the Case Files compilation, on Alive/Naturalsound Records, available from their site: More
Davido, Eddie and I, with Clem Burke going crazy on drums. The Williams Brothers, Andrew and David, sing backups, the way they did on the original A Million Miles Away. Ethan Johns, (son of Glyn) engineered this,  and Andrew Williams produced it. Ethan brought in a Gretsch that was once David Crosby’s, and I played it throughout, one of the greatest guitars I’ve ever had my hands on, it just had a river of electric musical power running through it, amazing.  The lyrics spin a cautionary tale, but its all with a rock n roll sense of humor. This trackRead More
I met and collaborated with the absolutely great Willie Dixon–a thrill!–when his songs were administered by Bug Music—he listened to one of my piano demos over at the Bug office, and had me over to work at his house in Glendale, a little cottage really, a very small place for such a definitive musical giant;  his publishing suit against Led Zeppelin for “Whole Lotta Love” hadn’t been decided yet; word on that Bug hoped would be coming soon. He reclined in a large leather upholstered chair in his office,leaning back and peering through bifocals, scratching away at lyrics in pencilRead More
    “If this record doesn’t sell a million copies I quit the business.” T-Bone Burnett was addressing the visitors to the control room of studio B at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, on a distorted radio shack bullhorn. It was early Spring 1986, and we were listening to a playback of my first, self-titled solo album, a collection of songs and music that was considered a big departure. The material had begun the journey to vinyl two years before and run into a gauntlet of trouble and interference. Though I’d spent the previous ten years playing in some “perfectlyRead More