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Blackstone and Songwriting


I wrote my first songs while in law school.  Still don’t know why.  What happens a few weeks before

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law school is unlike any of your prior pre-school (not the kiddy deal) experiences.  One day in August, you make a trip to your mailbox and find a large envelope.  It’s been sent courtesy of your new law school.   You open it up and find reading assignments numbering in the hundreds of pages, actually court opinions, which are to be “read” prior to the first class in each of your courses.   What makes this doubly interesting (singly being that school hasn’t even started), is that the step where you learn how to read a case has been wholly omitted.

Thus begins the process   which prompts law school newbies to seriously contemplate suicide a la The Paper Chase.  Over the course of the next three years, the skills needed to extract the few essential kernels of legal significance out of a veritable ocean of verbosity are acquired.   So while by the time I graduated, certain I didn’t want to spend the rest of life on the phone with my fellow students, it may surprise you to hear that this songwriter absolutely loved the rigors of a legal education.  In fact, he saw its positive effects on his songwriting.   It somehow translated to an approach to writing song lyrics    which prized succinctness, cogent narrative progression and an intense aversion to verse matter that repeated any thought previously articulated.

Those first songs were really bad, but by the time I graduated, I’d written a few that I thought didn’t suck and brought them to music publishers who, to my amazement, offered me contracts.  So while I’m not sure I’d urge fledging songwriters to sign up for law school prep courses, for me it’d be easy to defend the argument that the study of law made me a better songwriter.

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