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Artyness columnist Liza Mulholland talks about the power of song – even if you are not Adele!

By Liza Mulholland

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It’s been something of a hectic week – and one that’s been all about song! I was ready to release a track I’d recorded in summer, made the video, put everything in place for it to go out as a digital single on the chosen day, and what do you know?! Adele went and released her song on the same day!

Liza Mulholland
Liza Mulholland

That girl did not make it easy on me! I was chuffed to get a few hundred views of my YouTube video and listens within the first day–- Adele got over 20 million! My song might be called Big Wide World, but it was that amazing pop icon who was playing among the stars.

I jest of course but it gave me a wee chuckle. While megastars like Adele have an incredible machine behind them, grassroots folkies like me cobble things together as best we can, make our own videos, embrace whatever help we get from friends and colleagues, press and media, and hope our songs and music will wend their way into the ether and touch a few hearts and minds.

Big Wide World, Liza's song for COP26.
Big Wide World, Liza's song for COP26.

That’s why we do it, after all. In expressing ourselves, we hope to connect with others, share ideas, reach out and say something about the human condition. It’s a mellow wee number and, with the video, I hoped it might induce a sort of quiet dreamy moment of reflection.

I never begin a song intending it to be this or that – the process is more organic than that – but its message of getting outdoors and appreciating nature, looking after our environment and planet Earth, is one I’ve always felt strongly about.

It’s probably the simplest I’ve ever written – it hasn’t even got a chorus! But it felt right for the song. What happened next just goes to show that you never know!

It was taken up by a UN-linked organisation who used the video to open an online COP26-related event discussing links between addressing climate crisis and nuclear disarmament. Thrilled doesn’t begin to cover it!

Songs alone may not change the world, but they can, as Brian Eno said this week, ‘Lubricate the wheels of thought and reflection’. Self-expression is a fundamental part of being human, and songs are a great artform for channelling emotions, feelings, worries, sadness, gladness, hope and more.

Songwriting workshops with Yvonne Lyon.
Songwriting workshops with Yvonne Lyon.

I’m delighted therefore to share news of a fantastic opportunity for budding young songwriters, offered by the Liam Colgan Music Fund, the brilliant charity I wrote about in my last column.

Starting Saturday 13th, acclaimed Scottish songwriter Yvonne Lyon will lead a series of online workshops (in groups and one-to-ones) giving guidance, inspiration, tips and practical ideas for fresh approaches to song writing.

It’s not only free but participants will get the chance to access Soundtrap (online recording studio) for a year. The neat thing is you can sign up as a participant or an observer, so please encourage young musician friends to apply. Definitely too good to miss!


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