Welcome back to The Weekly Learning Vault. I – Philippa – will be guiding you round once
more, with the input of our Head Curator, Thomas. Don’t worry – he doesn’t curate heads –
not unless they have some serious musical merit and have been mummified first. Maybe
one week we’ll go to the lower level of the vault and take a look… Anyhow, this week we
will be checking out some books – one to boost your playing and one to assist your
songwriting, but first, we’ll start off with a banging playlist contribution from Thomas.
Thomas finds Bob Dylan: Covered
Anybody who has seen Bob Dylan live will know that nobody covers a Bob Dylan song quite
like Bob Dylan, but others also do it well. My Thursday gift to ye, is six hours of Dylan music,
done differently. Laura Marling, Jeff Buckley, Sinead O’Connor, Patti Smith, and Miley Cyrus,
among others, perform their interesting and inspiring takes on the American bard’s classics.
Hearing these songs in a new light has been a reminder of just how special a writer he is. It
has also made me question whether we should take the songs we play in class and totally
reimagine them, as many of the musicians on this playlist have done.
Next week, I have a fourteen-hour playlist for you that I was given from a bar man in New
Immerse yourself in the sweet music here.
The Little Black Songbook: David Bowie
I can personally vouch for the excellence of this book. If you want to learn chords and chord
combinations that few other musicians use and see the lyrical and musical mechanism
behind Bowie’s songs, then I would highly recommend it. I bought this book when I first
started playing guitar and began bookmarking with post-it-notes the pages of songs I liked.
Every page now has a post-it-note sticking out of it, which you could argue makes post-it-
notes (or me) totally stupid. There are also Little Black Songbooks for the works of Bob
Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, and The Beatles, which, if
anything like the Bowie book, are probably invaluable resources.
You can get your hands on a secondhand copy for £6.34 from Abe Books.
Or you can buy it new for £9.85 from Hive.co.uk.
‘How to Write Songs on Guitar’ by Rikky Rooksby
This book is perfect for anyone looking to meddle with the ancient alchemy of songwriting.
It provides fascinating insights into lyric writing, creating a melody, song structures, chord
sequences, and altered tunings – all using real-life musical examples. It also offers word-
from-the-mouth-of-the-goat advice from songwriters like Paul Weller, Marc Bolan, and Kate
Bush. I’ve enjoyed using it as a written companion to Thomas’s songwriting workshops,
helping me to consolidate my learning. Apparently, there will also be a songwriting course
run by Mont Jake in the new year… exciting!
You can get a secondhand copy for £3.39 from Abe Books.
Or you can bag a copy new for £14.99 from Blackwell’s Bookshop.
Hopefully you’ve found these exhibits interesting. There’s certainly a lot to unpack and
discover here. We’ll be back next week for another trip down to the vault. Please bring
waterproof footwear and trousers, as the tunnels are liable to flood at this time of year.
Happy listening and reading,