Ben Wakeman: Host of Take Me To The Bridge Podcast
This one of several website Ben Wakeman maintained from approximately 2006 in December when he had his first podcast, Episode 1 called KRISTIAN BUSH HAS ATTITUDE through October 2010 with Episode 19 called: HIGHS AND LOWS WITH SHAWN MULLINS.
The content below is from the site's 2010 archived pages.
Ben Wakeman, songwriter and host of Take Me To The Bridge podcast
It's All About The Song
The focus of this project is to shine a light on the craft of writing songs and the people who choose songwriting as a way of life. There's a lot of attention devoted to the singer of the song in our culture which in my belief is a celebration of the messenger, rather than what matters more: the message itself.
Every two weeks we will talk with a great songwriter and try to coax them into sharing what wisdom they have earned in their years of chasing down songs. Songwriters, like most creative folks, lead interesting lives rich with stories that we hope to capture in this intimate setting. On the nuts and bolts side, we will talk about the creative process and techniques for better lyric writing and music composition, understanding song forms, demoing and even (gasp) pitching songs commercially.
How Many Ways Can the Same Song Be Sung?
This is one of the questions I wanted to explore when I started this project at the end of last year. Having the opportunity to sit down and talk with so many amazing songwriters, I could not resist the temptation to put them on the spot and ask them to do what they do without a net. I did not ask everyone, and some who were asked politely declined. For the brave few who were willing, I put lyrics in front of them that they had never seen before -- lyrics that had never made their way into a song before, and asked them to improvise a melody and arrangement on the spot.
The results were truly inspiring. Every single artist took the lyric and made them his own, singing them in the style and spirit that fuels their own diverse writing comfort-zones. For episode thirteen of Take Me to the Bridge, I am going to present all of these performances so you can be as blown away as I was. You can look forward to hearing the following artists' versions of my "Take Me to the Bridge" lyric:
- Kristian Bush
- Pierce Pettis
- John Gorka
- Matthew Kahler
- Craig Cardiff
- Pat Walsh
- Richard Shindell
Take Me To The Bridge is a project that I have been working on all my life, but is only now finding it's venue. Over the years I have written a lot of songs and had the chance to get to know many wonderful songwriters -- some of them known to the entire world: John Mayer, Shawn Mullins, Sugarland's Kristian Bush and many of equal talent you wouldn't know if they lived next door to you for the last five years.
For me this project is about creating a place where I can collect the stories, wisdom and of course songs of all these people to share with a larger community. Songwriting is an artform that is largely passed along from generation to generation in an oral tradition. Most of the great songwriters I've met never went to music school and couldn't tell you what a plagal cadence is, but they can turn a phrase over a simple chord change that effortlessly captures an emotion or an idea in a way that no other medium can.
I see my role in this adventure as nothing more or less than an enthusiatic fan of the song and how it came to be. Yesterday it did not exist and today I heard it for the first time and it is the soundtrack for the last ten years of my life. Songs are just that powerful. I imagine this project like an enormous patchwork quilt with an infinite number of quilters bringing me their patches to contribute. When they are all sewn together, what will the big picture be? Let's find out together.
Ben Wakeman is a jack of all trades, master of one: not being able to master a single trade. He is a husband and father of two boys, a singer, songwriter, guitar player, recording engineer, web application developer, writer, photographer, graphic artist, teacher, friend, neighbor, goofball and pancake master chef. On rare occasions, he has been known to yodel, speak with a bad Scottish accent and apologize profusely without understanding exactly what he did wrong. You can learn more about him at www.benwakeman.com.
You can subscribe to Take Me to the Bridge using iTunes or other software like Juice, NetNewsWire, or Transistr. You can also listen to individual episodes directly on this web site without subscribing.
Colin Hay: Not a Hero, Just a Working Man
Colin, in addition to being a gifted singer and songwriter is a wickedly funny man and puts on an amazing show which is one part Men at Work material, one part Colin Hay material and two parts monologue. From anecdotes chronicling his childhood in Scotland, to his experience of living in California and touring with Ringo Starr, he effortlessly takes an audience in with his self-effacing nature and razor sharp wit.
Take Me to the Bridge host, Ben Wakeman spoke with Colin when he came through Atlanta in support of his most recent CD release: American Sunshine. In this interview Colin talks about what inspires his writing these days, about his early success with Men at Work and the challenges he faces with the music industry as he tries to get his new music out into the world.
Three Songs from the Inside Out
In this podcast he talks in depth about three of his new songs which are at various stages of completion as he prepares to go into the studio to work on his next album. He performs each of the three songs and talks about what inspired them, how they evolved and his own process of editing, reworking and ultimately listening to the direction of the song.
The intimacy and candid quality of Take Me to the Bridge show is at it's best in this episode because Ben removes all barriers between the artist, the song and the listener, inviting you in to sit down and be a part of the process as it unfolds. The songs he chooses to share are unique, compelling and each one presents it's own challenge as Ben talks through them, playing a verse, then discussing what worked, what didn't work and why. Songwriters and songwriting fans alike will truly enjoy this behind the scenes look.
- Three Songs from the Inside Out
In this episode Ben Wakeman talks about three of his new songs in different states of completion as he prepares to go into the studio to work on his next recording project. He talks candidly about the songwriting process, allowing a glimpse of what really goes into the making of a song.
- Colin Hay: Not a Hero, Just a Working Man
Colin Hay is best known as the former frontman and principle songwriter for the hugely popular Australian group Men at Work in the 1980s, but in the almost three decades since, he has continued to write sturdy, striking and often beautiful songs. Take Me to the Bridge host, Ben Wakeman spoke with Colin when he came through Atlanta in support of his most recent CD release: American Sunshine. In this interview Colin talks about what inspires his writing these days, about his early success with Men at Work and the challenges he faces with the music industry as he tries to get his new music out into the world."
- Katie Herzig delivers her quirky pop songs like a secret weapon. With only a few words her delicate, quivery voice works it's way under your skin and into your head -- you find yourself humming her melodies for days. She talks in this episode of Take Me to the Bridge about discovering her voice and her songwriting process. Katie Herzig Sings Devil Music with the Voice of an Angel
- Matthew Perryman Jones Finds his Stride
Matthew Perryman Jones will make you believe -- not because he's going to get up on a stump and shout in your face, but because when he sings his songs, you forget yourself and are completely taken in. In this interview on Take Me to The Bridge, he talks about his journey, his inspirations and the mystical power of melody.
- Gretchen Peters Makes it Look Easy
Gretchen Peters broke into the inner circle of the Nashville songwriter scene which is no small accomplishment, but the commercial success her songs have found tell only a small part of her story.
- How Many Ways Can the Same Song Be Sung
This long anticipated episode features many of the great songwriters from previous episodes like John Gorka, Kristian Bush and Richard Shindell improvising a song on the spot from a lyric they had never read before. The resulting 'songs' are wonderfully unique and surprisingly good given the fact that they are spontaneous, knee-jerk interpretations of the same idea. Take Me to the Bridge host Ben Wakeman provides interesting insights into the personality and style of each of the artists as he presents their versions on the same song. ?
- David Wilcox Feels His Way
If you could only choose one word to sum up David Wilcox, that word would be belief. His belief in the spirit and intention beneath the exoskeleton of the song is what fuels his writing, his performances and his life. In this interview, he talks in depth about the very spiritual nature of his songwriting and performs two songs live.
- Caroline Herring Surprises Us with Something Sweet
In this interview Caroline talks about growing up in Mississippi and how the sweet memories of her childhood are tempered by the bitter realities of segregation and the racial politics of that period. She performs three songs from her two previous CD releases and gives us a glimpse of the stories behind them.
- A Poet and a Gentleman: Pierce Pettis
Pierce Pettis has been working at music for a long time. He has written and probably forgotten more great songs than most artists will ever write. His rich and expressive baritone coupled with his stunning guitar work have made him a star on the Folk music scene for the last two decades. In this interview he talks about his songwriting successes, what inspires him and the struggles he has had along the way.
- Vienna Teng Makes a Name for Herself
Vienna Teng plays the piano and sings her songs with such quiet confidence and grace that she effortlessly transports you into her world. She's been actively working on this world since she was a small girl, scribbling stories in journals and scoring soundtracks to her daily life dramas. In this interview she talks candidly about how the dreams of that little girl propelled her into the life of a songwriter.
- Richard Shindell Knows a Good Song
Richard Shindell is to songwriting what Robert De Niro is to acting. It would be difficult to find anyone who takes the craft more seriously, but maintains such a practical and non-mystical approach to what he does. In this conversation he talks about the songs that have shaped his career.
- Craig Cardiff Finds Meaning in This Business
When Craig Cardiff sings, he fills a room with warmth. He has one of those rare voices that strike the perfect balance between wonderfully articulate detail and rich, deep resonance. But you don't think about that when he sings, you simply like him and want to hear more.
- What Matthew Kahler Wants to Hear
Atlanta-based songwriter Matthew Kahler sings like a man who has nothing left to lose. The primal energy he wields to deliver his songs onstage has consistently drawn crowds show after show, year after year. In this interview Matthew talks about the quieter side of himself and his new musical direction.
- John Gorka's Writing in the Margins
In this interview, John Gorka talks extensively about his early musical development and the influences that helped shape him. He also talks at length about how his songs have given him the means to connect with the outside world and find a voice of his own. He performs two of his best loved songs live in this episode.
- Glen Phillips Makes Lemonade
In this interview the former lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket talks candidly about his music career and 'paying his dues on the other end' as he puts it. He talks in depth about his influences and early musical experience as well as his growth as a person and a songwriter on his quest to find his voice.
- Big as Texas: Eric Taylor Talks
There are a handful of American songwriters who have been around for a long time and year after year continue to raise the bar for the rest of us, writing authentic and tightly crafted songs that capture a time, a place and an emotion in a way that rivals a great piece of literature. Eric Taylor is in this class.
- Pat Walsh is an Egghead
Pat Walsh writes songs like vibrant paintings with often surreal themes, addictive melodies and shimmering guitars. In this interview he talks with Ben about his muse, his favorite instruments to write on and of course how he cracked his 'Egghead.'
- Kristian Bush Has Attitude
The experiment begins. In this debut episode, I interview my good friend and talented songwriter Kristian Bush of the multi-platinum-selling country band, Sugarland.