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Music legend Desmond Child to host all-star Songwriting Fantasy Camp

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Legendary songwriter Desmond Child performs at Lincoln Center in New York City on February 16, 2019. Legendary songwriter Desmond Child performs at Lincoln Center in New York City on February 16, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Peter Matthews)

With 80 Top-40 songwriting hits to his credit, Desmond Child has become one of the most successful songwriters in pop music history. Child has co-written career defining hits for Bon Jovi (“Living on a Prayer,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Bad Medicine”) Aerosmith (“Dude Looks Like a Lady,” “Crazy,” “What it Takes”) Ricky Martin (Livin’ la Vida Loca”), KISS, Cher, Alice Cooper, Michael Bolton, Katy Perry and dozens more.

Child says he has gathered a pack of his legendary songwriting friends to offer a first-of-its-kind Songwriting Fantasy Camp in Nashville, scheduled for April 7 to April 10. Aspiring songwriters will learn tips and techniques and will have a chance to collaborate on songs with Child and other songwriting icons, including Emmylou Harris, John Hiatt, Felix Cavaliere, Marti Frederiksen, Steve Cropper and Damon Johnson, among others.

Child says his Songwriting Fantasy Camp will present songwriters from multiple genres to share their songwriting secrets with attendees.

“I’m a social person and I can’t wait to spend time with friends like Emmylou, Felix, Steve and all of these legends,” Child said. “We’ll be together sharing our experiences and it will be an amazing experience because we each write songs differently. It’s cool to hear how other people go about sharing the story of their lives in their records.”

After writing or co-writing 80 hits, I asked Child what he thought was left for him to learn. “There’s 20 more to 100,” he responded.

For many people, the art of songwriting seems like it would be an impossible code to crack. Child says, for him, it all comes together when he walks into a co-writing session. 

“Those big hits you mentioned by Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Ricky Martin were all collaborations, I didn’t write them on my own,” Child said. “I go in there and become part of the band, like when I wrote the album ‘Trash’ with Alice Cooper. It’s about understanding what the artist wants to say and trying to help them tell their story.”

Child describes the atmosphere of his songwriting sessions but stresses that each artist works a little differently.

“When it comes time to write a song, there are no cell phones, nobody is checking their texts. Inside that sacred circle is where the magic begins.”

Regardless of a song’s quality, there is no guarantee of its success once it gets out into the world. Of the hundreds of songs Child has written, there was one whose success took him by surprise.

“‘She Bangs’ was a surprise, but it was William Hung’s version that surprised me (laughs). It exploded all over the world again and that was a wonderful surprise.”

Hung performed the Ricky Martin hit during an unsuccessful audition for American Idol which aired in January 2004. Though the judges’ reactions, especially Simon Cowell’s, were mocking of Hung’s performance, the singer’s grace and confidence in the face of defeat earned him a cult following and a record deal which ultimately fizzled in 2011.

Child says his ears are always open for an inspiring turn of phrase that sounds like it could make a great song title.

“Lots of times I’ll overhear someone talking and they’ll say something that makes me think ‘Oh my God, that’s a title!’ so I’ll secretly text it to myself under the table (laughs). Sometimes it’s just so well said or has the perfect amount of irony.”

Once Child has a title, he said a story begins to form in his mind.

“Songs are really about storytelling, so the music is really secondary because the music serves the melody. Style follows because you could write the same lyric for different styles of music. You could have a jazz version or a Latin version which shows you how unfaithful style or genre can be.”

Child offers an example of a song currently being performed in a much different style than in its original hit version from 2009.

“Katy Perry is in Las Vegas right now performing a song we co-wrote with Andreas Carlsson called “Waking Up in Vegas.” I caught a little clip on YouTube and was amazed to see her doing it Rat Pack-style. I’m dying to go see her perform it like that.”

(Desmond Child & Friends Songwriting Fantasy Camp is scheduled for April 7 through April 10 at the Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, TN. For more information, visit www.RockCamp.com.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 30 March 2022 07:55

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