Last Saturday at the Flea Market, I turned the corner and saw Jesse Goldberg (with me above) at one of the booths. He looked familiar and I was sure he was a songwriter I had met somewhere in Nashville (after a few years, we all start to recognize each other). After a few minutes, I realized I had watched several of the TV programs he hosts on local cable station Channel 19 and the ION Network (Mind Your Own Music Business, State of the City and The Jesse Goldberg Show). He has hosted more than 600 shows in the last 15 years! (Check network listings for local showtimes).
Jesse started writing songs when he was 15 and he specializes in music comedy. Besides being a frequent musical contributer to the Dr. Demento show, Jesse has an entire CD full of songs written in 'first dog' called "It's a Ruff Life." His work has also landed him a TV Ace Award for a Honeymooner's Lost Episode theme song and music video for Showtime. A jack-of-all-trades, Jesse is also licensed lawyer in four states!
Jesse was kind enough to answer a few questions for us…
What would you say is the 'state of the music industry' today?
I don't know if it's me and the fact that I'm just getting older, but there is very little I like in the music I hear on the radio. As far as country is concerned, It all sounds like stuff I've heard before with some slight word changes. Plus, it's hard for me to relate to the subject of High School problems when high school was such a long time ago for me. Although I respect the artistry of someone like Taylor Swift, the lyrical content of her songs and others like her don't speak to me at all. Maybe when she grows up a little I'll be able to relate to what she is saying.
What is the key to writing humorous songs?
The key to writing humorous songs is to remember to be funny. I guess it takes the sense of timing of a comedian combined with the skill of a songwriter. Because of that sense of timing, there are certain things that normal songwriters do that comedy songwriters should not do. For example, try not to repeat choruses in exactly the same way you did it before. Once you've heard a joke, it's usually not as funny the second time around and especially not the third time around.
A comedy song has to keep on being funny from beginning to end. It has to keep going and growing. Also, comedy is based on surprise, so don't telegraph what comes next. As always, as in regular songs, try to look at your work through someone else's eyes as if you didn't write it. Then say to yourself, is this funny? Be honest about it.
I've heard you've written for Broadway plays---could you please tell us more?
My professional writing career began as a game show writer for "Win Lose and Draw" and "Rodeo Drive."
The musical I'm involved in now was written by Sue Fabisch and is called, "Motherhood The Musical." It is being produced by the same people who did "Menopause The Musical." My involvement is that I am a co-writer on six of the songs in the musical. All of those six are comedy songs and all were written with Bill Flowerree and Sue Fabisch. The show is about an expectant mother and her three friends who try to wise her up as to what to expect as a mother in the future. Sue Fabisch wrote the book and the rest of the songs by herself or with other co-writers. So far the musical has played in Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, two cities in Texas near Dallas/Ft Worth, Atlanta and Philadelphia. It also had a run in Scotland and is currently on a two year tour of Australia.
Along with my co-writer Gene Levine, I've written a musical all about dogs called, "It's A Ruff Life." There are 14 songs all sung in first dog, as if they dog was singing. There are no humans in the play, only dogs.
Any other wisdom you'd like to share?
The only true love in this world is the love between a man and his dog (or a woman and her dog).
If I had to give advice to any young artist or songwriter I say quit now before you ruin your life. Do something else. No one in this business is happy. If you are not successful, you want to be successful. If you are semi-sucessful, then you want more success. If you are very successful, then you wind up doing drugs and need to go to rehab.