A Newspaper Article About a Song About a Newspaper Article

As all songs in SpinTunes 3 Round 2 had to be, my entry, Program aids food stamp users, was based on a newspaper article, initially one from the Poughkeepsie Journal’s Northern Dutchess Focus then also informed by one from the Millerton News / TriCorner News.

I thought those papers would be interested to know about a song based on an article, and the Millerton News ended up interviewing me. The story appeared in the Millerton News and at the TriCorner News website last Thursday, July 7. At the site, only subscribers can read the full text, but the editors of the Millerton News have graciously given me permission to reprint the full article right here. Enjoy!

Incidentally, my song tied for 4th out of a field of 21 songs. Time to move onto Round 3.

Local ‘Health Bucks’ program inspires original song

Thu, 07/07/2011 – 9:16am * Millerton

Stefanie Giglio

MILLERTON — The Offhand Band, based out of Red Hook, was recently inspired to write a song about the Health Bucks program after reading about the program in the Poughkeepsie Journal and The Millerton News.

The program, which is run by the North East Community Center (NECC) and funded by Sharon Hospital, allows people who use food stamps to receive discounts at the Millerton and Amenia farmers markets.

The song, entitled “Program Aids Food Stamp Users,” was written for an online song-writing competition called SpinTunes, which challenged song writers who made it past the first elimination round to use a recent newspaper article as the basis for the song.

Mark Merrit, the songwriter and sole member of The Offhand Band, wrote on his website about the contest and his process of creating the song.

“I don’t subscribe to any newspapers. I hardly ever read any newspapers. I don’t watch much news on television or read much on the Internet,” he wrote.

He said that the reason behind that was because the news is “just not relevant in my life or the lives of anyone I know.” That lead him to search for a story that “exemplified the notion of little things meaning a lot, a story that might be as especially impacting for someone’s life as the vast majority of news stories, especially the larger ones, are fundamentally meaningless to most of us.”

In an email conversation, he said he hopes that his song shows people how much the little things can make a big difference.

“The basic idea is that what’s really important are the things that can make a significant impact in the lives of ourselves and others,” he said.

On his website he described the story he wrote into the song about a person who is receiving food stamps who is also “aware of the difference between globalized, factory-farmed foods and local fare which [is] healthier both physiologically and economically.”

The lyrics of the song are written in the same style as a newspaper article in terms of the word choice, style and punctuation. Merrit stated that the use of attributions in the song, like “Johnson said,” gave “some nice newspaper ambience while also stressing that the song is giving voice to someone who normally might not be covered by the media.”

The song debuted during the SpinTunes Listening Party on Tuesday, July 5. It will be available for a free download on www.theoffhandband.com and on the SpinTunes website, www.spintunes.blogspot.com.

Merrit said that the main purpose of The Offhand Band, particularly the first album, “Everyone’s Invited,” is “to create songs that could be enjoyed by all ages, together or on their own, and that would provide a generally positive outlook that would encourage people to make good things happen for themselves and others.”

He noted that not all of his more recent songs were created to serve that original goal.

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