IN THE TEMPLE OF A SONGSMITH

IN THE TEMPLE
OF A SONGSMITH
H I T
S O N G W R I T E R
M A R T I N
P A G E E
ANTONIA VENEZIA
“
I started out as a bass player in funk bands in England touring the American Bases. When I
was in these bands, I realized the power of the song. The song was more important than the
image of the band. The way we played wasn't as important as the song. The songs were going
to be the power that got us a record deal. That's why I pursued songs.
”
- Martin Page
When Bernie Taupin, Elton John's long time collaborator, handed songwriter
Martin Page some of his lyrics, who would have thought that the songs, "These
Dreams" and "We Built This City" would both soar up the charts to the number one
slot? "We Built This City" is a song written by Bernie Taupin, Martin Page, Dennis
Lambert, and Peter Wolf, recorded by the group Starship. "Originally I wrote 'We
Built This City' for myself. The demo of that song is very dark. It had a kind of "Shock
the Monkey" feel to it. When I first heard Starship's version of the song, I didn't really quite get it, but I was very happy when it went to number one," says Page. The
song features Mickey Thomas and Grace Slick on lead vocals, and the single version
reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in November 1985.
"These Dreams" was released by the rock band Heart that same year. It was the
first song by the band to become a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. "Bernie
Taupin gave me the lyric up front. It was originally called, 'Boys in the Mist,' not 'These
Dreams.' The first two lyrics that Bernie ever gave me were 'We Built This City' and
'Boys in the Mist.' He was testing me to see if we could work well together. 'These
Dreams' was a bridge lyric and I changed it around. I was really nervous to ask him
if I could switch it around. It was a dream to work with him. He was one of my influences growing up," says Page.
Not only is Page responsible for penning such hits as "We Built This City" and
"These Dreams," he also co-wrote the song "King of Wishful Thinking," a top ten hit
in 1990, performed by the UK group Go West. Moreover, the song charted inside
the UK Top twenty, reaching number 18. The song was featured in the popular film
Pretty Woman, starring Richard Gere. In addition, Page co-wrote "Faithful," another hit
for Go West.
Martin Page is known as a musician, singer and noted pop songwriter. He began
writing some of the greatest hits for some of the biggest stars around: "Time
Machine" - Barbra Streisand, "Fallen Angel" - Robbie Robertson, "Dance With Life
(The Brilliant Light)" - Brian Ferry, "Who's Gonna Take You Home Tonight" - Tom
Jones, "Magnetic" - Earth, Wind & Fire, "Animal Instincts" and "Lay Back" - The
Commodores and "Invisible Hands", "I Pretend" and "You Make My Heart Beat
Faster" - Kim Carnes.
As a songwriter and recording artist, Page earned eye-opening success in
America for his own band Q-Feel with the dance hit, "Dancing in Heaven," which
brought him from England to America in the early eighties.
Page's debut solo LP called In the House of Stone and Light, released by Mercury
Records in 1994, caught the attention of music executives and fans. In 1995, its title
track became a solid pop and adult contemporary hit, breaking the record as the
longest charting single in Billboard's A/C Chart history and winning Billboard's "1995
Top Adult Contemporary Single Of The Year" Award and ASCAP's (American
Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) "most played" Award for 1995 and
1996 at ASCAP's Annual POP Awards. >
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I was fortunate to meet Martin Page in April 2007 at ASCAP's "I
Create Music" Expo where more than 2,300 music creators gathered in
Los Angeles. He had a gleaming smile, firm hand shake, and was quite
charming. When I asked him for an interview, he graciously accepted.
Soon thereafter, Diane Poncher, his longtime manager coordinated what
would be an engaging interview which lasted for about an hour.
With his uplifting personality, Page spoke from his heart as he told me
about his songwriting, spirituality, his parents and upcoming solo album, In
the Temple of the Muse, which will be independently released on his own
label, Ironing Board in early 2008. "The reason why I called my independent record label Ironing Board is because I could only put my speakers on
my mother's ironing board," explained Page.
When Page spoke about In the Temple of the Muse, there was great
passion in his voice as he explained that this very personal album has
been a labor of love. This will be his second solo release, since In the
House of Stone and Light. The first album was personal, however, this one
hits home even more for Page. He's obviously thrilled to share this new
project with the world. "Through the period of making my new album I
lost my parents, life changed, things happened to me and reality took
place. I was able to step back. These songs reflect a period in my life with
major changes. My new album is definitely more of a soulful and bluer
record. The tempos are more mid-tempo. It's a more silent and much
more inside record—very close to me. I'm already proud of the record
before it even comes out because it's my own label," says Page.
Page is hopeful that his new album will get used in a more emotional media, like in film and television. The songs on his "In the Temple of the
Muse" album were specifically recorded as demos, with the songs being
kept in their rough, organic form.
Page was eager to inform me that the actual title for his soon-to-bereleased record was the name of a book shop in London, during the time
of the great romantic writers in England. The writers would often go to
the shop for their special books. In retrospect, this was a great inspiration
for Page, as he wrote that title down a long time ago in a tiny black book,
hoping he'd get a chance to use it someday. As his eyes lit up, he said: "I
realized that I had been pulled back into the studio to do another record
and that I had a love affair with the muse, that's how I saw it. And you
can't get away from those love affairs. The songs on the new record,
although it's dedicated to my parents, it's an album that came about really from a need to be back in the studio full-time - the studio became a
temple to me again— it's a place where you meditate. It's the one place
where I'm lost, where I truly lose myself."
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The song "Fallen Angel" that Page co-wrote with Robbie Robertson is
one of his personal favorites. "Mi Morena," which was performed by Josh
Groban, is a song that Page holds close to his heart. Without missing a
beat, he enthusiastically told me that "Mi Morena" was inspired by the
writing of Pablo Neruda, a popular Chilean love poet. The song is a
romantic Spanish love song. Page will be singing his own version of "Mi
Morena" on his In the Temple of the Muse record.
Martin Page was influenced by The Beatles while growing up in the sixties when 'Beatlemania' caused a musical revolution in England. Paul Mc
Cartney and John Lennon's writing is really what hit him. "As a kid, I always
remember buying the Beatles' records on vinyl and what infatuated me
was underneath the title of the songs. There were these two names in
brackets that had nothing to do with anybody. I thought, ‘Who are these
names?’ From that moment on, I had a desire to be a writer. The biggest
buzz for me was that one day I wanted my name in brackets under the
title on a vinyl record," mentions Page.
As Martin spoke of his parents, he became nostalgic. I sensed they had
a special closeness—they obviously left a beautiful imprint on his heart.
Every time music played in his household in Southampton England, he
recognized that his Mom and Dad were happy. It was an intangible magic
for a younger Martin Page. Though he enjoyed playing soccer as a boy,
something about music always held him. When he finished his soccer
career at the age of eighteen, he took music seriously and became a bass
player for bands. "Bass is my main instrument, but I play a little bit of
everything. I learned other instruments, so I could learn the art of writing
and production," adds Page.
Elton John and the group, Genesis, which included Phil Collins, were
musical inspirations for Martin Page in the early years. His mentors were
Maurice White, Bernie Taupin and Robbie Robertson, all of whom were
powerful spiritual teachers. They felt the art was important in songwriting,
not just the sales. Martin soon learned how to write songs that would
stand the test of time. Without hesitation, he mentioned that he is certainly grateful for their help. "In the early years, I'd write about 40 songs a
year. I was a workaholic and an addict. Now it's about ten songs a year
and they have to be of a certain standard. As you learn to edit yourself,
the songs take their own time to come through."
When Martin became a bass player, he fell in love with American R&B
music which included, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Commodores and Sly and the
Family Stone. He expressed that he had been influenced by a wide variety
of music—from The Beatles to soul music to elements of Reggae; all of
these influences helped Martin flourish in his craft, which in turn, inspired
him to pen those hits over the years, encouraging him to become a solid
songwriter.
To this day, the songs of Martin Page still play on the radio, proving
that they have great staying power. "These Dreams" and "In the House of
Stone and Light" seem to fit in today's market without sounding dated;
Martin Page obviously has been held in good stead.
In the middle of his rapid musical career, Page decided to travel to the
Grand Canyon to take a spiritual break and to get away from the studio.
When he was there to replenish himself, he got inspired to write a
redemption song called, "In the House of Stone and Light," which was
inspired by the Havasupai Indian Tribe who are based at the Grand
Canyon. It's a song about going under your own skin to heal yourself.
Today, Page is heading in another spiritual direction with his soon-to-bereleased In the Temple of the Muse album. While stressing how he has
always seen writing songs as almost healing processes, this new album
may be just what he needed in his time of change.
As his fans patiently wait for his second solo release, I'm sure Martin
Page will continue to dig deep inside to pen songs that will forever touch
others. Fortunately, his songwriting dream has come true, since the sixties
when he first read the names Paul Mc Cartney and John Lennon in brackets on those vinyl records. Not only did Martin Page see his own name
on vinyl, he got an added bonus: his name appears in movie credits, sheet
music, CD's and on various digital media web sites such as iTunes,
Rhapsody, Pandora, as well as on global radio stations. As the world today
continues to change, it is likely that Martin Page's songs will remain as solid
as a rock.
"I like to write either with a keyboard or a guitar, though my main
instrument is bass. I write from a total chordal basis. I will sit down and
jam. I'll use a tape recorder while holding chords down on a keyboard
pad. I will jam phonetic vocals singing melodies. I will listen to that for over
a period of days while shaving and doing other things around the house.
Then I will listen to see if something out of the blue strikes me as worth
while. It comes from phonetic jams with a microphone always set up and
the more rough the better. I will then slowly move forward… if I think
melodies or something spiritual is happening in the melody. Lyrics very
rarely come first. Melody is my main thing. Sometimes I have a title that
will pop up out of nowhere, but usually the words will appear after phonetic vocals and an atmosphere is created. I let the sounds and the jams
dictate what its story is." - Martin Page.
Please visit: www.myspace.com/martinpage & www.martinpage.com
©Photos Courtesy of Martin Page and Diane Poncher Management
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