For more than 25 years, Mark Caro wrote about music, film, food, and other cultural topics for the Chicago Tribune, and he since has written for The New York Times and other publications. He is author of The Foie Gras Wars (Simon & Schuster) which won the 2009 Great Lakes Book Award for general nonfiction and two prizes from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris. He also created and hosts the popular "Is It Still Funny?" film series in Chicago. He lives in the Chicago area with his wife, radio personality Mary Dixon, and their two daughters. Steve Dawson is a singer/songwriter/musician who leads the rock/folk band Dolly Varden and has taught songwriting and guitar at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music for more than a decade. He has been writing songs for more than 30 years. His band Dolly Varden has released six acclaimed studio albums and toured the U.S. and Europe. He has written and recorded two solo albums; a duets album with his wife, Diane Christiansen, and an album with three of Chicago's most revered improvising musicians in a band called Funeral Bonsai Wedding. At his recording studio, Kernel Sound Emporium, he has produced more than two dozen albums by up-and-coming songwriters.
We all have music inside us: melodies in our sentences, rhythms in our syllables, heartbeats and steps. Whether we harbor professional aspirations or just a love of playing music, many of us enjoy the art of creation. Some do so with guitar or pen in hand, some while seated at a piano or electronic device, some while taking a stroll and whistling. There is no wrong way -- yet many of us struggle to tap into our abundant sources of inspiration. Now comes a book to remove the barriers between you and your creativity. Steve Dawson and Mark Caro's Take It to the Bridge: Unlocking the Great Songs Inside You (GIA) offers a lively, instructive dialogue about the art of songwriting; helpful chord, key and song-form charts; and creative assignments designed to inspire anyone who ever has thought of adding songs to the world. It's a book about discovering your artistic voice and adding beauty and truth to the world. Dawson is the brilliant singer/songwriter of the band Dolly Varden as well as a musician's musician who has played and sung with a diverse array of collaborators. Caro is a longtime cultural journalist who has written about everyone from New Kids on the Block to Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. After Caro took Dawson's inventive songwriting class at the Old Town School of Folk Music, he jumped at his friend's suggestion that they collaborate on a book that would combine the class's best songwriting exercises with a deep exploration of the joys and challenges of creating your own music. The co-authors are promoting the book with a series of events where they discuss their own adventures in songwriting (and perform some examples), dig into the work of their musical heroes (and villains) and try to illuminate the path for anyone seeking a more creative life. The theme is simple: You can do this! "The truth is, dear reader, you already know how to write songs. You've been, in a sense, studying them your whole life. My goal as a teacher, and the goal of this book, is Unlocking the Great Songs Inside You. They're in there. I have witnessed the births of hundreds of songs in class, some so beautiful that the class is wiping back tears by the end. These songs were written by people exactly like you: lovers of music; strummers of guitars, banjos, mandolins; people who've dreamed of writing songs like the ones they love. So, welcome and good luck." -- Steve Dawson