The Next Chapter·Like This? Love That

If you liked How to Write One Song by Jeff Tweedy, you'll love Dirty Birds by Morgan Murray

The Next Chapter columnist finds a Canadian counterpart to an international book.
The Next Chapter columinst Vish Khanna is a musician, journalist and radio personality. (CBC/Sinisa Jolic)

American musician and author Jeff Tweedy's nonfiction book How to Write One Song explores the nature of songwriting. It has been described as a "counterintuitive guide about creativity."

The Next Chapter columnist Vish Khanna has read How to Write One Song by Jeff Tweedy and says if you enjoyed that book you should check out Dirty Birds by Morgan Murray, a Canadian novel that was on the Canada Reads 2021 longlist.

Dirty Birds is a humorous coming-of-age story, set against the backdrop of the 2008 global recession, about a man on a quest for fame and fortune.

How to Write One Song by Jeff Tweedy 

Jeff Tweedy is an American musician and founding member and leader of the rock band Wilco. (Dutton)

"As he's gotten older, American musician Jeff Tweedy realizes that he is in a fortunate position as a successful songwriter and artist.

In this book, he's demystifying the practice of songwriting. It's a how-to book, but it's for the would-be songwriter and fan of his work.

"He not only can make records, he can — in an ideal circumstance — go on tour. He's always been making music. He's on a certain level that a lot of musicians aspire to. 

"In this book, he's demystifying the practice of songwriting. It's a how-to book, but it's for the would-be songwriter and fan of his work.

"The book is about reconciling yourself to the fact that you've created a thing through writing a song. It means something to you. It might not mean anything or the same thing to anyone else, but you have to be good with it. You have to be good with what you've done."

Jeff Tweedy

George Tonight

10 years ago
9:39
George speaks with singer and songwriter Jeff Tweedy about his kids, starting his own record label and how music distribution has changed. 9:39

Dirty Birds by Morgan Murray

Dirty Birds is a novel by Morgan Murray. (morganmurray.ca, Breakwater Books)

"If the other book is meant to be an empowering 'Anyone can do anything!' kind of book, Morgan's book is about 'Maybe not everyone should do everything.' This book is a comment on youthful, ahistorical types of people who have delusions of grandeur. It is about a character whose name is Milton Ontario. He is from rural Saskatchewan, he's not from the small town of Milton, Ont. It's sort of a coincidence. 

This book is a comment on youthful, ahistorical types of people who have delusions of grandeur.

"Milton Ontario is a Leonard Cohen fanatic. He decides he's going to leave his home in rural Saskatchewan for Montreal.

"He's going to try to become a poet as famous as Leonard Cohen — and hopefully meet Leonard Cohen. But instead, he falls backwards into notoriety. 

"He obliviously becomes internationally infamous for something he's written. He gets sucked into a crime syndicate. He's seduced by a young woman who makes arty and abstract documentaries and falls in love. And he does, in fact, meet and encounter Leonard Cohen, who turns out to be a much more complicated figure than he realizes. 

"It's entertaining and funny and it's educational. It's well researched with a lot of Canadian history. It's a meditation on fame."

Vish Khanna's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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