The Song Journal

Miscellaneous news and writing by Bob Franke, mostly about songs as a portable art form, and the process of creating them and enabling them to do their work in the world.

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Location: Peabody, Massachusetts, United States

from Bob Franke began his career as a singer-songwriter in 1965 while a student at the University of Michigan. Upon graduation in 1969 with an A.B. in English Literature, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has since made New England his home. Bob has appeared in concert at coffeehouses, colleges, festivals, bars, streets, homes and churches in 33 states, four Canadian provinces and England.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A summer of hope and reassurance

I write this from the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee at Summer Acoustic Music Week.
This week and Summersongs have been the highlights of the summer for me, as most of my time has been spent in more immediate efforts at survival. Teaching has given me the opportunity to be inspired by my students, by their dedication to learning new and powerful ways of expressing the truth of their lives. Watching their skills unfold has made for a wonderful two weeks.

I just had a talk with a friend and former student here about how the internet is changing and offering new ways of connecting with my audience. How video, for instance, is becoming an important part of the mix. I'd love to put up a simple video of Hard Love, for instance, so that astute young guitarists can get a sense of how I make the chords, and how it all goes together. I'm hoping to get this together before too long. Meanwhile, any day now, my first digital reissue will go up on iTunes, a reissue of The Desert Questions. Paul Bryan, Duke Levine, Dave Mattacks, Julie Dougherty and Ellen Groves made an album about hard times into one of my favorite of my own recordings, through their brilliant contributions.

The nice thing about iTunes is that you can download only the funny tunes (Acid Polka and Go Heal Somewhere Else), only the sad ones (Upper Room, for instance), or only the angry ones (say, This Blank Page or El Nino). Nice for folks on a budget. Each song becomes a potential "single".

In order to figure this out, of course, I had to get my own iPod and learn how easy the process is, and why CDs are becoming an ancillary form of music distribution. I didn't put my Nimbit store on my MySpace page until the folks at the Tamarack Institute in West Virginia told me that they'd hired me because they'd gone to that page and listened to the six songs I have streaming there. It takes a while to integrate this new information into action, but I'm working on it. I hope to make it much easier for those who came to my music through Ellen Wittlinger's wonderful book to discover that Hard Love is only one example of the many songs I've written that hold meaning for thoughtful people, and to give those thoughtful people who know me better more access to my work.

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