• Mark Mathews

The Book Every Songwriter Should Read: Isle Of Noises

I've read a lot of books about, and by, songwriters to try and get an idea of how other people do it - Pick their brains without them physically being in front of me. There have been many great books, (Keith Richards and Bob Dylan's autobiography's spring to mind) that have given an insight into the songwriting craft, but they have always seemed to be lacking something. I also continue to trawl magazines,online articles and TV interviews of songwriters to, again, get a glimpse into their way of writing, to find comfort in the similarities that I may share with them and discover something that ignites an idea in me. But again, more often than not there is something lacking. The interviewer doesn't go deep enough or more often than not salacious 'Rock n Roll' stories trump those of the songwriting craft.

But all that changed recently when I discovered Daniel Rachel's book, Isle of Noises!

A songwriter himself, Daniel Rachel has put together a collection of interviews that he himself has conducted with twenty seven of the greatest British songwriters, to explore their creative processes.

Each interview is spell-blindingly fascinating, allowing the creators of songs and albums that are ingrained in the public consciousnesses to explain their techniques, approaches and inspiration when writing. This is exactly the book that I have been looking for and is a read that every songwriter should read!

Some of the interviews have touched me on a personal note - when the likes of Ray Davies or John Lydon speak of a concept or approach to songwriting that I also use - but what makes it utterly charming to me is the kind of 'club' that songwriters are a part of: an ethereal, heavenly place that I feel privileged and lucky to be a part of.

The interviews are set in chronological order started with Ray Davies in the sixties and ending with the wonderful Laura Marling in the twenty first century and although the book is something that you can dip into and read out of sequence, I think reading start to finish creates an even better journey giving a much better perspective and over view of songwriting.

I really cannot recommend this book enough, mainly to songwriters of course, but also to anyone with any interest in an artistic creative process. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

The twenty seven songwriters included are:

Ray Davies

Robin Gibb

Jimmy Page

Bryan Ferry

Joan Armatrading

Chaz Jankel

John Lydon

Mick Jones

Paul Weller


Andy Partridge

Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook


Annie Lennox

Billy Bragg

Johnny Marr

Neil Tennant & Chris Lowe

Lee Mavers

Damon Albarn

Noel Gallagher

Jarvis Cocker

Lily Allen

Laura Marling

Have you read any decent books on songwriting? Let me know in the comments below!

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