The Working Songwriter

By Joe Pug

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Description

Joe Pug hosts a monthly conversation with one of today's best songwriters.

Episode Date
Sean McConnell
01:03:16

The former staff writer for Warner Chappell has stepped centerstage with a solo career, discusses what the feeling of charting a #1 hit, home recording, and the pros/cons of co-writing.

Feb 22, 2019
Craig Finn
01:06:02

The Hold Steady frontman talks about making a life-changing move in his late 20s, the legendary Minneapolis music scene, and his daily writing process.

Jan 29, 2019
Jesse Dayton
01:16:33

The Beaumont native discusses playing studio sessions for Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, the balance of having his own band and playing for other people, and the simplicity that he's always chasing as a songwriter.

Dec 28, 2018
Courtney Marie Andrews
01:01:14
The acclaimed songwriter from Phoenix talks about touring as a backup musician, producing her own breakout album, and her love of the road.
Nov 30, 2018
Birds of Chicago
01:04:23

The husband and wife folk/soul duo now residing in Nashville talk vocal maintenance, plumbing subconscious depths for material, and learning to tour smart.

Oct 26, 2018
Ian Mackaye
01:17:51

The founding member of Minor Threat, Fugazi, and Dischord records sits down to talk about the mild "writer's block" that parenthood can usher in, the reality of not being able to control people's interpretation of songs once they're released, and the practicality of his storied business ethos.

Sep 28, 2018
John Moreland
01:03:55

The Tulsa troubadour describes his transition from hardcore music to folk, how to put on a compelling live show solo, and staying inspired even when the creative process is painful.

Aug 31, 2018
"Music Modernization Act" Emergency Episode
31:23

The "Music Modernization Act", which has enormous consequences for how songwriters and copyright holders will be compensated for streaming music, passed the US House of Reps unanimously but is now hamstrung in the Senate due to an eleventh hour change by SESAC.  Both sides of the argument are presented on this episode, and then our resident expert Brendan Anthony from the Texas Music Office calls in to help explain the situation as it stands now.

Aug 01, 2018
Hiss Golden Messenger
58:48

MC Taylor is the songwriter behind this Durham-based outfit.  He talks about finding his writing voice over the course of several different projects, working with a long-time collaborator, and developing less encumbered music listening habits.  Also, watch out for the surprise cameo by Phil Cook.

Jul 28, 2018
Lee Ann Womack
38:28

One of Nashville's favorite daughters, by way of Jacksonville Texas, discusses arriving for writing appointments with children in tow, finding song inspiration in everyday conversation, and dealing with the success of an international crossover hit.

Jun 29, 2018
Trampled By Turtles
01:01:44

Dave Simonett, songwriter and founding member of the Minnesota bluegrass powerhouse TBT, talks about the mania of touring in your 20s, keeping a band together through the power of respect, and techniques he uses to keep himself inspired.

May 25, 2018
Brian Koppelman
58:36

The screenwriter, essayist, and former A&R man speaks about changing careers with a young family, the need to protect a fledgling project from outside influence, and the discipline of creating.

Apr 27, 2018
Gregory Alan Isakov
52:53

The Colorado wordsmith remembers stuffing the cardboard sleeves of his first demo himself, putting off school on a lark to tour with Kelly Joe Phelps, and the joy of sharing the journey with his longtime band.

Apr 04, 2018
John Paul White
01:16:00

As a staff writer for EMI, a member of The Civil Wars, and now the owner of his own independent label, he’s seen a lot.  John Paul White stops by to share his wisdom on creativity and performance.  Plus, Brendan Anthony- the head of the Texas Music Office- stops by at the start of the show to discuss the finer points of the Music Modernization Act that is before Congress.

Feb 23, 2018
The Killers
36:36

Brandon Flowers discusses a meteoric rise to prominence in his early 20s, the feeling of responsibility that he's developed toward music, and writing songs on the dodgy upright piano in his house instead of the baby grand in his studio.

Jan 26, 2018
Lydia Loveless
59:40

The Ohio native discusses her passion for classic country, capturing the vitality of live performance on a record, and her habit of constantly collecting material for writing.

Dec 29, 2017
Mandolin Orange
58:40

This lyric-driven Bluegrass outfit discusses the perils of booking their own shows, signing with Yep Roc, and the art of arranging a band around great songs.

Nov 24, 2017
Steve Earle
58:17
The hardcore troubadour talks about his early days in Nashville as a staff writer, empathy as the essential goal of the songwriter, and gratitude for the job he loves.
Oct 27, 2017
Josh Ritter
01:00:35

The troubadour from Idaho discusses getting his break in Ireland, early years of van touring in the States, and writing on an empty stomach.

Sep 29, 2017
Pat Sansone
40:59

The creative force behind The Autumn Defense and a longtime member of Wilco discusses growing up in a musical household, playing punk bars in the American south, and locking himself in the studio to get a song finished.

Aug 25, 2017
Shakey Graves
55:39

Born and raised in Austin Texas, Alejandro Rose-Garcia is an internationally celebrated songwriter and performer.  He sits down to discuss his upbringing in a theatrical household, learning to record on a shoestring, and walking away from a budding film career to dedicate himself to music.

Aug 04, 2017
Matthew Logan Vasquez
58:05

The frontman for Delta Spirit and now a formidable solo artist talks about playing music in the church, pulling a full "Tony Clifton" at the Casbah in San Diego, and how fatherhood has informed his latest album.

Jun 30, 2017
Robert Ellis
01:03:43

The Texas songwriter and bandleader discusses dropping out of high school to play music, his passion for idiosyncrasy when it comes to band members, and his regimented writing process.

May 23, 2017
Heartless Bastards
01:01:22

Erika Wennerstrom, the creative force behind Heartless Bastards, discusses growing up in Dayton Ohio, signing to Fat Possum Records, and her techniques for bringing a song to life.

Apr 28, 2017
Noah Gundersen
01:03:24

The Seattle-based songwriter talks about holding down dead-end jobs to continue playing music, the myth of the flighty artist, and the process for composing his upcoming album.

Mar 31, 2017
Strand of Oaks
01:02:40

Timothy Showalter, the leader of this Philadelphia psych-rock-folk project, sits down to talk about growing up in small-town Indiana, how the radio shaped his sound, and learning how to maintain a private and public persona.

Feb 24, 2017
Sara Watkins
59:04

The southern California native reflects on her prolific career in bluegrass and beyond, with groups such as Nickel Creek, I'm With Her, and The Watkins Family Hour.

Jan 27, 2017
Horse Feathers
58:03

The leader of this chamber folk group, Justin Ringle, talks about learning to love Spotify, touring for the first time, and how he uses the studio to augment his writing process.

Dec 30, 2016
American Aquarium
51:03

The force behind American Aquarium, BJ Barham, discusses growing up in Lucky Strike's company town, being accepted by the Texas Red Dirt community, and how to keep a band on the road for a decade. 

Nov 25, 2016
Kasey Chambers
59:37

The Queen of Australian Country Music discusses her childhood in the outback, a Lucinda Williams concert that changed her life, and the tipping point of composing a song.

Oct 28, 2016
Hayes Carll
01:00:32

The laid-back writer of modern country gems such "Beaumont", "Chances Are" and, of course, "She Left Me For Jesus" joins the show to talk about sitting at the feet of Guy Clark, picking up merch from Beyonce's dad, and steering the direction of his career with his own hands.

Sep 30, 2016
Bruce Robison
01:01:19

This native Texan is the writer of #1 country music hits for Tim McGraw, The Dixie Chicks, and George Strait.  He sat down to talk about the art of writing without an agenda, the Texas-Nashville connection, and his love for analog recording.

Aug 26, 2016
Robbie Fulks
01:03:01

A linchpin in Chicago's vibrant folk and country for decades, Robbie reflects on the major label blues, recording techniques, and falling in love with music for the first time.

Jul 29, 2016
Tift Merritt
01:06:00

The Grammy-nominated songwriter from Raleigh, North Carolina reflects on her time in the studio and out on the road.

Jun 24, 2016
Slaid Cleaves
56:19

Originally from South Berwick Maine, the legendary songwriter has lived in Texas for the last couple decades.  He reflects on getting his start engineering sound at The Cactus Cafe and learning from music producer Gurf Morlix. 

May 27, 2016
Anais Mitchell
01:07:10

The Vermont-born songsmith reflects on signing to Righteous Babe, writing her celebrated folk opera "Hadestown", and parenthood as a working artist.

Apr 29, 2016
James McMurtry
56:24

An hourlong conversation with celebrated songwriter, James McMurtry.

Mar 25, 2016
Joe Ely
01:01:16

The Texas icon inaugurates our show with a few stories from his many years on the road.

Dec 28, 2015