A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘USA’

Another Stretch in Iraq, my Christmas Song

December is only hours away and I have just entered my song Another Stretch in Iraq into the Paramount Group’s Christmas Song Competition. Why enter a song about a soldier going back to the Iraq War?

I couldn’t think of anything more poignant than soldiers in the field opening up a parcel from home which has a miniature Christmas Tree in it. The men and women will be thinking of home, wishing they could be with their friends and family, just as they would have at Thanksgiving. Just as their families and friends are thinking of them, wishing they were at home, hoping they will come home safe, sound and soon.

The concept of soldiers going to war with pictures of their loved ones helping them keep it together and coming home finding their loved ones have moved on in their absence is not unusual and while it is tough, the strength and security of knowing your fellow soldiers have your back is in a sense even stronger than your home relationship because their support can be the difference between coming home alive or in a body bag. The memories of experiences in the field can not be fully understood by those who have not served in the field of war. The worry of those at home waiting and praying for their men and women is also a unique feeling, worrying every time the mail is late or the doorbell rings late at night.

So while my Christmas song is not about sleigh bells ringing or Santa coming down the chimney, it is about love and family, about fellowship and trust and about being alive, that special way of feeling alive in a world of uncertainty.

Now I haven’t been to war, I’ve been lucky to have come of age between wars, but plenty of my family members have served in times of peace and war.

I did spend 6 months or so researching it and the reaction of men who served in Desert Storm when I performed it in the US last year suggest that I managed to capture some of the feelings.

It must be pretty tough for someone to want to go back to the Bradley (personnel carrier)

Id rather have my Bradley

I'd rather have my Bradley

and the MRE rations (Made Ready to Eat) having gone home to the girl or guy they felt they were fighting for and finding they now love someone else. But the story has probably happened a hundred times to soldiers in the last year and to thousands before them.

So, I give to you and the judges of the Paramount Group songwriting contest, Another Stretch in Iraq and hope that they see my Christmas Song entry as a piece written full of respect for the men and women whose blogs I read and commented on at the Milblogging Site and the diaries of Desert Storm which told their story in their own words. This isn’t a song of war, but a song of people who do what they feel they must and what they feel.

Merry Christmas to all those brave people fighting and peacekeeping on their missions around the world. You and your families have my deepest respect. May your stretch be short and your Christmases with your families holding each other around  the tree be many.

Another Stretch in Iraq

(you can listen at MySpace)

©Luigi Cappel 2007

1

I was walking on an empty street

My feet were marching to a lonely beat

I had you on my mind.

I kept on walking though my feet were sore

There was no procrastinating I could take no more

I wanted to leave you far behind.

I served my time on the sand in Iraq

While you were making hay with my good friend Mark

How could I have been so blind?

Thinking of you helped me keep my cool

Little did I know you played me for a fool

Feel like I’m gonna lose my mind.

Chorus

I might as well sign up for another stretch

There’s nothing left to keep me here aint life a bitch?

At least in the army I know where I stand

Serving my country in a foreign land.

Sit-rep says its all haywire

Its home where I got shot by friendly fire

I’m going back

Home is where I thought I wanted to be

Now I’d rather have my Bradley and an MRE

Even in Iraq

Bridge

It’s a strange old world we’re living in

Don’t know who you can trust

Don’t know where to begin

Now I’m gonna live my life one day at a time

So its Christmas time and the desert is cold

My life is with the army if the truth be told

They’ve got my back

My mom and dad sent a little Christmas tree

They said that they were praying for the boys and me

They said get yourself back on track

Chorus

I might as well sign up for another stretch

There’s nothing left to keep me here aint life a bitch?

At least in the army I know where I stand

Serving my country in a foreign land.

Thanks so much for reading my blog. If you know someone who would appreciate this blog, please send them a link. Please feel free to leave a comment, I always welcome feedback. If you are inspired by this, check out the links, its not too late to contribute to a Christmas Parcel. The guys who blog at Milblogging also appreciate feedback and knowing that even total strangers are thinking of them. Finally wish me luck with my Paramount Song Competition entry, I’m keen to grow my career as a songwriter and a competition like this could be a leg up.

This day deserves a song

For those of you looking for an idea for a song, the events today deserve many. The day that America elected a Black President. I’m not an American and although I am deeply moved, my experience is second hand. I can’t do this song justice.

I marched against Apartheid in South Africa having previously seen segregation there at first hand as a young boy passing through. I heard them sing We Shall Overcome. I heard Huddy Leadbetter (aka Leadbelly) sing “White men in Washington, they know how, throw a colored man a nickel to see him bow.”

I heard Martin Luther King say “I have a Dream” I loved the “Has anybody here seen my old friend John” when the child is asked what racial prejudice is and he answers “I think it’s when your sick”.

My late grandmother would be weeping today. She was a famous Dutch / German author and fellow of the Goethe Institute who wrote a book called “The unfinished life of Malcolm X” and was deeply moved by the struggle against prejudice of all kinds.

Although some people looked at me sideways when I was the only white man in several blues clubs in Chicago, I can’t begin to imagine how people of all persuasions are feeling today. This is a momentous day and I am hoping for some momentous songs.

Give Pump Audio a try

Some time ago I was told about Pump Audio, but I hadn’t checked it out until now. I’ve been using Sonic Bids for some time and I suspect if I lived in the USA, they would be really good for me, but I haven’t seen any gigs in New Zealand to aim for and very little in Australia. Don’t get me wrong, I think Sonic Bids is great, it just hasn’t been able to do anything for me.

My focus and goals are as a songwriter rather than a performer, although I do love playing to an audience. This means that my needs are to get my songs to a market, but my market is performers more than listeners which presents a problem for me. I’m not sure whether Pump Audio can do anything more for me, given that they are really looking for high quality finished product. My recordings are samples and I typically look for a way of presenting my songs that opens a door for the artist / singer to put their own personality and interpretation into it and l feel that by recording to the highest quality makes it more difficult for it to fit into someone else’s style, thereby reducing the size of my potential market.

The thin with sites like Sonic Bids is that you pay for each submission and that can add up pretty quickly. I must say that they give real value for money and the work they do is worth every cent they charge. The problem for my needs is mostly that they are US centric and more gig and song competition focussed. I will continue to use them for competitions or opportunities when I plan to travel to the US again.

So back to Pump Audio. First of all from a credibility perspective, they are owned by Getty Images, who purchased them in June last year. Getty are a world leader in photography and imagery and having just received a healthy check for a photo they bought from me recently, I know at first hand that they are serious about their business.

You can’t send Pump Audio MP3’s (except for the first couple which are an audition to see if they good enough), they are looking for high quality CD’s. The first benefit in my opinion from this is that it removes the tyre kickers who submit every song to anyone who they think will listen, and of course most of them don’t. You have to make an effort to send them your music.

You don’t pay unless they sell your music and then you get paid 50% of what they sell it for. This sounds a lot, but when I think of the money I have paid for other submission services that got me no money, this way they are motivated to move your product and if your product is good, you will get your return.

You keep your song rights (IP) and their deal is not exclusive, so you don’t have any barriers to also offering your music to other buyers. They cover a variety of media and say that last year alone they placed over 80,000 items to TV alone!

If you have high quality recordings on CD, I would highly recommend giving them a go.

In the meantime I am working on my latest song which is another song about dads and daughters, really about babies. It’s called When Madison Smiles and hopefully you will find it on my MySpace and Music Forte sites before too long.

Join your Performing Rights Association

Your Performing Rights Association can be very important to you in a number of ways. They assist you with protection and ownership of your Intellectual Property IP) and most important, they collect and distribute performance royalties on your behalf. They do much more than this, but this is the key reason for their being.

I am a member of APRA which is an awesome association covering the rights of New Zealand and Australian songwriters and composers. Venues pay them a fee for live gigs and radio stations provide them with playlists so that they can process royalties for radio play of songwriters work. APRA also works closely with their counterparts around the world, the biggest being ASCAP and BMI which are the 2 societies in the USA. You will find loads of great information on their websites, even if you don’t live in the USA. They also run amazing seminars with some of the best songwriters ever.

When I play a gig, I put in an electronic return on the web site, with the venue details and my set lists and the following I get paid. It’s not a lot, but the more you gig, the more royalties you get. You also get paid whenever your tracks are played on commercial radio. Ironically at the moment I get no play in New Zealand, but you can hear some of my songs on the radio in Canada.

APRA also puts on training seminars and as of this year, they started the great new event S3 (check out the link from my other blog about this event Song Summit Sydney) which was a fantastic learning and networking exercise. They even let me pay for my registration from my future royalties. This is no small event with speakers including Jimmy Webb, Paul Williams and my fravorite Ralph Murphy.

APRA also sponsors the APRA SIlver Scroll Awards which is the major music event of the NZ calendar.

On top of this they are greatt people and from the directors through to the team in the office, they are there to help us as artists in any way they can. You can even use their premises for meetings (relevant of course) if you need some space. APRA people are there first and formost because they care about local music. You should find out who your PRA are and join them as soon as possible. You won’t regret it. This organisation’s sole purpose is your rights an outside of running costs, all revenues aer distributed back to the artists.

Oh and I almost forgot, their website is full of useful information and contacts as is the APRAP, a magazine I always look forward to reading.

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