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What is a singer/songwriter?

   Discussion: What is a singer/songwriter?
Nathan · 16 years, 11 months ago
It's a term that seems to get thrown around a lot, but I'm not exactly sure when it's appropriate to refer to a musician as a singer/songwriter.  There are plenty of people who write and sing their own songs, but never receive that label.  Do they have to be folk musicians?  While that's a possibility, some people referred to John Mayer as a singer/songwriter in a recent thread, and I wouldn't say he does folk music.  Another possibility is that a singer/songwriter has to perform as a solo artist, so band members who write their own songs don't fit into that category unless they perform them without the band.  Is there any official definition here?
Agent Scully Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
Example of a CD

YES! I own this! :)
Nathan Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
So Elton John counts as a singer/songwriter, even though he only writes the music?
Arbie Back · 16 years, 11 months ago

His name is on the song credit so I guess he is. I agree that it seems different than others who write both, although most singer/songwriters have co-written stuff from time to time. I guess the performer has some say in how they wish to be perceived, Janet Jackson, for instance, gets songwriting credits on most of her songs because she has some input into the lyrics. But I don't think she considers herself a songwriter.

You made an interesting observation, there do seem to be a lot of singer/songwriters in the folk field. Or maybe we just notice them more because the state of the genre (small venues, small audiences) encourages the solo artist.

nate... Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
For me.... I see "singer/songwriter" as a genre... the same way that I see "indie pop" or "hip hop"

Now, as for what causes people to be in that category.... well, I see that as something that is, basically, people who write and perform their own music... largely solo.... and it's generally guitar and/or keyboard based.

I would *definitely* not equate "singer/songwriter" with "folk"... as some of my favorite groups are one and not the other.

When someone writes songs.. then puts out an album which is just them performing the songs..... with very little added support... that's kinda the closest I can come to describing "singer/songwriter".
no one Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
So, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were not singer/songwriters before the Beatles went into their hiatus?
nate... Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
When they were part of the beatles?
No, I'd say not.
That was a band.
Talcott Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
But Früvous is often labled "a band of singer songwriters".
Is it like how Voltron is made of cats, but is not a cat himslef?
nate... Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
Voltron reference = 10 points.

Making voltron sound deep = 15 points.

misspelling "himself" = -5 points.


Not bad... 20 total points for that short a post!
Phoenix Back · 16 years, 11 months ago

Very entertaining...
What's your formula though? The misspelling of labled doesn't count?


A girl named Becca Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
Actually he spelled labled correctly. It's the misspelling of labelled that doesn't count.
Adam Hartfield Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
I think he gets extra points for referencing Lion Voltron and not the stupid car Voltron.
nate... Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
Car voltron?
Talcott Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
He wasn't just cars. He had a rocket ship and trains if I remember right. Growing up, my brother always got the car one, and I'd get the cat one. Which I thought was a good deal ;-)
nate... Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
How bizarre!
I never even heard of that... it was always cats for me....

Was there, like, a sequal TV show, too?
Talcott Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
I think it was a "the show's dying and we need something new" thing.
Adam Hartfield Back · 16 years, 11 months ago

I think they were just different seasons. Let me consult the Oracle at

How about that. No wonder the two seasons didn't make much sense.

nate... Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
Heh... yeah, that's funny.

I guess I must've stopped watching before they ever aired any of the car ones.
J · 16 years, 11 months ago
how about Eminem he writes both does that make him a singer songwriter?

by the way I think he sucks so don't attack me
I can see the bunny Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
I wouldn't really classify rapping under the same category as 'singing' although Eminem is a songwriter. Though I suppose one could - rap is for the most part folk music from the urban/ghetto (at least it was back in the day *g*)

The term singer/songwriter has really become misused these days as a genre of music unto itself when in reality there are a lot of genres that it can apply to. It's become a term to describe folk music because of the automatic perceptions people have of the term 'folk'.
nate... Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
I have a lot of respect for eminem.

However, I don't consider him a "singer songwriter".

I consider him a "rapper songwriter".

As ... well... nobody can argue.. there is a big difference between rapping and singing.

Josh Woodward Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
Well, to be fair, he does sing..

"You don't... wanna fuck with Shady... 'cuz Shady... will fucking kill you."

"I said I'm sorry mama, I never meant to hurt you, I never meant to make you cry, but tonight I'm cleaning out the closet.."

"So long, bitch, you did me so wrong.. I don't wanna go on.. living in this world without you.."

It's not exactly James Taylor, but he probably has a "better" voice than Tom Waits or Greg Brown. ;-)
Songbill Back · 16 years, 11 months ago
A better voice than Greg Brown??? *Shocked and appalled*

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