A Note From Ellen • Hookist

A Note From Ellen

28 October 2014

Hi Everyone!

We’re done, we’re done! We have written TWO songs in a month. Pretty great, right?

This has been such a great experience. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I have. It’s been wonderful to work with so many creative people with so many different ideas. It forces you to take creative turns you might not take otherwise, and that’s a good thing.

So the last line of the song – the honors go to Dan Herman for his line “She learned her lesson from the skies/ Better to live with open eyes”.  Great line, winds things up, is simple, provides a nice moral to the story. Exactly what we need here! Great job.

Some shout outs for sure!

To GTEdwards to “No more jumping not for me/ she whispered to her bonsai tree. Just about spit out my coffee, that was so clever!

To MJFrith for “To walk the earth is to be free/ Freedom is her destiny”

And Wally Peters with “Searched the stars to find her own/ She finally found it and calls it home”

All wonderful stuff. You guys are fabulous!

I’ve recorded a rough of the full song. Have a listen and let me know what you think. There’s a solo section in there that I sort of thought would sound great with a fiddle! What do you think would work there? Forgive the vocal sound… using the computer mic, so it’s limited as to what I can do with it.

Ok, so now we need a title. And then we are done!!!

I’ll pop in tomorrow to announce the title and to crown the overall Hookist winner for the song!

See y’all!


Visit Ellen’s Collaboration Page to submit your lyric now.


25 October 2014
Good morning folks!

Welcome to the chorus. Lots of lovely juicy bits to work with today. I ended up using a mashup of a couple lines. Riffing off of Wally Peters’ line “Fly my little darling fly/Your spirit shines a new sun in the sky” and gtedwards’ line “You chase your dreams, you give your all, sometimes to fly you’ve got to fall”… I’ve come up with “Rise, girl, rise. Standing tall. Sometime to fly, you’ve gotta fall.

Shout outs to MJFrith for “Chased her heart to the horizon/That English rose that perfect siren”. Lovely images.

Tod Hughes for “Float on feathery wing, floats, where there’s no sting”, Great stuff.  A couple interesting entries, with Tyche rhyming Nirvana with marijuana and Walker Todd Davis’ chorus She thought of the joy she had, until the day that she went mad”. A more daring songwriter than me could have had some good fun with these lines! It’s good to take risks like these. Writers like Nick Cave or Brad Roberts use unusual images like these to good effect! Well done.

So now we are on to our next verse. I think the song will likely need two more verses, but we simply aren’t going to have time, so I will fill in the gaps. We are going to extend this cycle until the 28th just to get as much good stuff from you all that we can.

Verse three needs to have our gal trying and failing one more time. Verse four is where she finally flies (as the chorus suggests). Maybe her flying in verse four is actually flying to heaven because she’s managed to throw herself from a cliff in order to fly?

But we have to have her try and fail one more time for verse three.

Back to work, friends! Recall the number of syllables we are working with in the verses! about 8 syllables per line.

And I’ll see you tomorrow!

Visit Ellen’s Collaboration Page to submit your lyric now.

Good morning everyone!

I am so excited by all of today’s submissions. So many wonderful ideas!

I’m choosing today’s line based on where I think the song should go thematically. I think that our heroine should not fly until the end of the song. The song should lead up to her achieving her goals. So she might need to fall down a few times before she is able to fly. Does that make sense? See, if she flies right away, then there is no struggle and struggle is essential to classic story telling, no?

So I am picking Kathryn Simova’s line “An autumn leaf clutched in her hand, trusting Mother Nature’s plan”.

I chose this for a couple reasons; it’s a great line, it keeps the audience in suspense until the B section of the verse, and it juxtaposes God’s will with Nature’s. But ultimately both will fail her and she will fall out of the darned tree.

Which is what I’d love for you to work on me for the B section of this verse. As I will not be checking in with you tomorrow, I’d like to pick both lines of verse 2B on Friday.

So the challenge is to write two lines in which our heroine leaps, but falls.

Up for it, friends?

Then we are at the chorus on the weekend.

I’ve roughed out an idea for a chorus. It is very simple. I’ve done this because the verses are quite long and have a lot of information in them, so I’ve kept the chorus very simple. Start thinking now about what could work with the melody I’ve roughed out.


But first, let’s get our girl out of that tree. ;~)

Big, big shout outs to a few people. I may even want to sneak in some of these lines later in the song because, although they are awesome, I think to use them at this point would be too soon!

RuthieG: “Prayers not enough, girl; try fire. It sends hot air balloons and rockets higher.” Really great line, although I might take out the words “hot air”, just to make it fit rhythmically. This line is so clever and it points out that God’s breath is not what will make her fly.

Ray Lonsdale: “Though feathers tattered, the gentle breeze, took her far above the trees”. Loved this. I’m not ready for her to fly yet and this might work well later in the song. It suggests that our heroine is an angel (which she might be if she continues to hurl herself off of high places).

MJ Frith: “She held her courage absolute; two more steps until the truth”. This line would have worked as well as Kathryn’s, but the latter’s playing nature against religion was the clincher for me. MJ’s line here, or some permeation of it, could work well for the next attempt our gal makes to fly.

Ichabod: “Did she catch that lofty breath/ will the result be life or death”. Really catchy and clever. I liked this because, again, it suspends the answering of the question of whether or not she flies, to the B part of the verse.

So lots of great, great stuff. I’m totally thrilled.

Now to the two lines of the B part of verse 2 where she falls out of the tree. And then the chorus. Please have a listen to the basic melody I’ve roughed out for the chorus and try singing the lyrics you submit along to it. You can get a good feel of what will fit and what might be more problematic.

Also, please go and leave any comments you have in the chat area. I like to chat with y’all!

See you Friday!!

Visit Ellen’s Collaboration Page to submit your lyric now.

19 October 2014

Hey Hookists!

Hope you are all having a nice weekend.

So here we are at the second line of our first verse. Lots of great options, as usual! Remember, if I don’t choose your lyric, it is NOT because it’s not a great lyric! I choose lines based on how I feel at the moment, which is fairly arbitrary, what seems to follow best the lines that have gone before, and what fits in with the melody I am working with. So do not despair if it seems I never choose your line! Keep plugging away as the song evolves!

For the second line of the first verse I have chosen Kathryn Simova’s line “Alas in reality held back by gravity/ So many laws to live by”. I’ve shortened it slightly to fit in with the melody I’ve been plunking around with, and just took out “in reality”, to read “Alas, held back by gravity, so many laws to live by”. I loved this juxtiposition of dreams and reality. The question now is, where does our heroine go from here? That will be up to all of you!

The closer you can keep future submissions to around the same number of syllables as Dan and Kathryn’s lines, the easier it will be for me to work with them. So, for example, the first line of Dan’s line has 8 syllables. That meant I had to alter Kathryn’s line so that it, too, had 8 syllables. Now that I’m working on a melody, the closer you can get your future submissions for this song, to the lines that have gone before, the better! A syllable or two is no big deal, but if you submit something where the first line has 15 syllables or whatever, it makes it pretty impossible for me to use the submission. Makes sense?

Shout outs for great submissions to Dan Herman for his great line “She fastened her cape, was ready to soar/but fabric got caught, in her parents’ front door”. Very quirky, clever line. Love it!  Also to HugoAM for his line “Opening flowers out of season/ Creating planets with her smile”. I loved that line “creating planets with her smile”. Such a beautiful phrase!

Another great line from Ray Lonsdale, “She would never look back, never look down/Carried on a breeze like the bright autumn leaves she’d skip town.” Loved that, “never look back, never look down” line!

So the melody I’ve been playing around with has set us up to have 8 lines per verse. So the section we’ve established already, the first four lines (two submission) are like verse 1A. Now we need two more submissions for verse 1B. Because we need to finish this song in about a week and a half, I may end up having to choose two winners a couple times, or even going back over older submissions to see if things work, so if you didn’t win this round, I might still use your stuff later on in the song.

Once we’ve got verse 1B complete I’ll play a little of the melody and you can get a good feel for how it’s going to work. It’s going to be a little folky sounding and is mostly in 12/8 time! I’m writing the song for guitar, but as I do not play guitar, I will be plunking it out on my piano and having garage band translate it, so it will sound a little weird until Terry and Meredith can tart it up.

So that’s all from me for now. I will choose the third submission of the song (first line of verse 1B) tomorrow by 9am. Have a great Sunday and see you tomorrow everyone!!


Visit Ellen’s Collaboration Page to submit your lyric now.

13 October 2014

Hey Hookist Pals!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! I am thankful for a lot today. Health, happiness, friends, family. All that good stuff. But in Hookistville, I am thankful for Kathryn Šímová for her out of the park submission for the chorus! How much desire/ can you feel without knowing/ How much love/ can you get away with not showing/ How much living/ can you ignore by dying/ How much more/ how much more She used repetition to create a hook and so now the chorus is basically asking us what it will take for us to get off our butts, turn off the tv and live life to the fullest. Really wonderful! I’ve just switched a few words to help me rhythmically with the melody I’ve gone with, but still is inspired by Kathryn’s intent here. I’ve switched it to read: How much faith can you have without knowing How much love can you risk not showing How much life can you dare not living How much more. There is one line of the chorus left that I need to fill but I am just going to pop something in there myself and not leave you trying to figure out what is going on, as it has a specific rhythm. Save your credits for the last verse. Must give shout outs to other great submissions!
Walker Todd Davis with his line: If I go alone, the storm I’ll weather / Is it written that we’ll be together? Dan Herman‘s line: Bend, but don’t break/Be real, not fake/Catch me if you can/My hourglass still has a grain of sand. Dan Evans‘ lyric: Listen real close, shuffle over here / the secret of life, is simple my dear. Thank you everyone for your great submissions. Keep em coming! Now we are into the last verse. This is the big reveal, the punch line, the fireworks. Keep tight to the theme of the song, living life to the fullest because you never know when your number might be up. Refer to the lyrics already chosen for verse one and two for the rhythmic structure of the verse. The closer you can keep to that the easier it is for me! I will see you on Wednesday to announce the chosen first line of the final verse!

Have a great day!


 Visit Ellen’s Collaboration Page page to submit your lyrics now.

10 October 2014

Hey Hookists,

Welcome to Verse Two!

Again so many great submissions. It was very difficult to choose just one. Do I say that every day? It’s because it’s true. Lots of juicy bits to choose from. But one winner there must be, and that winner is Jerry Brace with submission that reads, a little less tortoise, a little more hare. A little less truth, and a lot more dare. You can see that I changed one word in the last line so that instead of reading a little more dare it now reads a lot more dare. I did that just to have the word “little” used less frequently. I hope that’s okay. This line clearly is an irresistible hook!

Lots of other really great ideas. Dan Herman’s line “pull me closer closer inside\to a place where feelings can’t hide”. I like this line because, not only is it very pretty, but it follow so closely from the first verse which creates a kind of echo to what’s going on before. I really like these kinds of hooks in songs. Kathryn Simova’s lyric that reads “Passed my shoulder, over my brow/ on gossamer wings, they echo this vow”, is very evocative plus it refers to what has come before and yet opens the door for what could fall out. A poetic line yet also a kind of workhorse line because it is opening up the next line to be about what the “vow” is about. Good craftsmanship. Songirl, I really like your line “watching the moon rise on the horizon\her only escape from the world she cries in”. Very clever rhyming here. Jen Tobey, this is your third time in the shout out section. You are prolific! But this is just lovely and it really fits with the rhythm of the song showing a real understanding of songcraft. “Not easy to find it, it’s hard to begin\it doesn’t come easy, it comes from within”. Mind the Gap wrote “chasing shadows, spinning my wheels\going nowhere I know how that feels.” This one was a close contender for me but I wasn’t ready to commit to having The lyrics be in the first person. But it really establishes the theme of the song as being about not wasting time getting on with your life doing the things you need to do.

The second verse is where these things need to be established. This is why I ultimately chose Jerry’s line. Not only is the line very clever, and rhythmically perfect, but it describes what we need to do in life: don’t waste time, take chances, etc. so this line satisfies all the requirements of this next section. Well done Jerry!

So moving on to the second section of this second verse. What really needs to be taken care of here is to consider the rhythms of the second part of the first verse. Listen to yesterday’s video and try to make sure your submission will fit in the structure of that line. It’s a bit unusual so it will be very helpful if you take a listen and craft your lyrics to fit that melody. Also, remember that this will be the last line before the chorus. This line needs to be pretty hooky, and should lead us right into a great soaring memorable chorus. No pressure. Tomorrow’s line, the chorus and the last line of the song, is really where we need to focus on the theme of the song which is about living your life now, not waiting for things to happen to you but going out and taking risks, taking chances, not being a wallflower watching the world go by.

You guys know what you’re doing, so I don’t know why I am being so directive. It will just make my job at this and a lot easier. I’m really impressed with you all and I’m having a really good time. It’s kind of like a puzzle and we’re solving it together. See you next time when we start to work on the line that leads us to our great big chorus.



PLEASE NOTE – We skip tomorrow (Saturday 10/11) and the next winner will be announced Sunday 10/12, so you have an extra day to perform your lyrical miracles!

Return to Ellen’s song page to submit now!

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