Bob Mould is a man always on the lookout for a new challenge. After Hüsker Dü (one of the most celebrated rock bands ever) folded in 1988, Mould would helm another powerful trio, Sugar, before beginning a fascinating, ongoing series of solo releases that have ranged from introspective to danceable, from melodic to nearly chaotic. The enigmatic guitar (and cultural) hero is finishing up what promises to be a fascinating memoir to be published next year and has just released a rock-solid solo disc, Life And Times. Read our new Q&A with him and earlier ones from 2008 and 2002. Mould will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week.
Mould: Songwriting, like most forms of expression, is a combination of unconscious, automatic and refined thought. Every songwriter has a different way of approaching the muse, and over the course of 30 years, my approach has changed several times. Technology, location and emotional state all play into the process. If I have a hammer, chisel and a tree stump, I will make you a log sculpture. If I have egg whites, skillet and a spatula, I will make you breakfast. Jimmy Webb is one of the most influential songwriters of the late 20th century. Beginning with “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” recorded in 1966 by Glen Campbell, Webb amassed a string of hit songs with the likes of Campbell, the 5th Dimension and Richard Harris. Sadly, his sophisticated arrangements were not in vogue with the “in corwd,” who gravitated toward the protest music of the late 1960s. Webb was looked upon by some as “square” or commercial. In 1998, Webb finally published Tunesmith, a detailed, scholarly and masterful look at the songwriting process. I would suggest it to anyone who writes music, lyrics or is simply a fan of Western popular music. Webb fills the pages with examples from his own catalog of hits, as well as the songs of his peers. It is an insightful tome that allows the reader to see the craft of songwriting through the eyes of a true master.