Songs from Scratch

Minnesota Public Radio

July 2008

You know a good song when you hear it. What you probably don't know is what went into creating that song. Songs from Scratch chronicles the songwriting process to find out what transforms a vague idea into a full-fledged tune.

We gave three local musicians—Best Friends Forever, P.O.S., and Jeremy Messersmith—two weeks to write a song. We assigned them a theme ("The Wizard of Oz") and a set of lyrics (penned by Honeydogs' frontman Adam Levy) to up the difficulty level.

Songs from Scratch is documenting their techniques and inspirations, as well as their challenges, to get a first-hand look at how a song comes to life.

Check Out Songs from Scratch 2007»

What's this all about?

MPR's Tom Crann talked with Larissa Anderson and Chris Roberts, two of the people who are working on the Songs from Scratch project.

Meet our songwriting guide

Adam Levy of the Honeydogs chose our theme and wrote some lyrics to get our songwriting challenge started. Read Levy's lyrics»
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The musicians get the lyrics

Our three bands get the lyrics from Adam Levy, and begin shaping their songs.

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The songwriting begins in earnest

We check in with our three musicians as they try to turn the lyrics into complete songs.

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The musicians record their "Wizard of Oz" songs

Our musicians have had two weeks to create a song using Adam Levy's lyrics as a starting point, and "The Wizard of Oz" as their inspiration. We hear what they come up with.

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Check out their songs

Jeremy Messersmith: "The Man with Iron Veins"

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P.O.S.: "I Made it from Scratch"
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Best Friends Forever: "I'll Fall in Love with You Anyway"
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What does Adam Levy think of the songs?

Songwriter Adam Levy listened to what our three musicians created, and offered up his reflections on the project.

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The Local Show

The Local Show re-broadcast our "Songs from Scratch" series, from beginning to end.

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Songs from Scratch Live

Minnesota Public radio invited an audience to the UBS Forum for a live roundtable discussion on the art of songwriting, featuring insights and music from the Songs from Scratch participants: Adam Levy, Best Friends Forever, Jeremy Messersmith and P.O.S.

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Several dozen musicians submitted their own songs and videos. Check out the submissions»

Spread the Word

Want to tell the world about your Songs from Scratch song? Use these badges to link to your song from your blog or Web site:

The lyricist

Adam LevyADAM LEVY is frontman for The Honeydogs. His songwriting style is a combination of infectious melodies, poetic, political lyrics and a soundscape that stretches from soul to pop to blues to bossa nova and more.

The songwriters

Jeremy MessersmithJEREMY MESSERSMITH is known by some for his melancholy lyrics, and by others for his sweet melodies. The Twin Cities singer/songwriter has been compared to everyone from Elliot Smith to Brian Wilson.

P.O.SP.O.S. is a critically revered, soul-baring rapper who fuses punk energy with an emotionally raw, exposed lyrical flow. He's co-founder of the Twin Cities' hip hop cooperative, Doomtree, and is also signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment.

Best Friends ForeverBEST FRIENDS FOREVER lay down quirky songs about boys, presidents and friendship. The group is fronted by real-life best friends Brianna Smith and Jess Seamans, who co-write the group's music.

Reporters: Larissa Anderson, Chris Roberts, Sanden Totten, Nikki Tundel
Broadcast editor: Jim Bickal
Online editor: Melanie Sommer
Web designer: Rebecca Cioni
Web production: Nick Wallen
Photographer: Bill Alkofer
Interactive producer: Julia Schrenkler
Audio engineer: Michael DeMark
Video production: David Underhill, Brian Forrest, Jeff Harkness