Book Sources - jiva

This acoustic singer/songwriter duo first sang together in the early 70s in their local folk club ('The Jerry') in Prudhoe, Northumberland. Val moved to London while Jimmy remained in the North East enjoying modest success with Equinox, Bluestone Edge and ATS and also running the Rising Sun folk club in Crawcrook.

They formed jiva when Jimmy (the 'ji') and Val (the 'va') got together again in 2002 after 30 years. Val moved back to Northumberland after contacting Jimmy via Friends Reunited. Since then they have been building a solid reputation as performers of self-penned material and their own arrangements of other carefully chosen songs.

40 years after having first met, they finally tied the knot - travelling to America in August 2009 to be married at Taylor Guitars in El Cajon, California.

The song below is not typical of them but captures how some folksingers feel spending most of their spare time preparing, travelling and performing.

Folkie Lament

You don't hear me on the radio - you don't see me on TV
You don't read me in the papers or the glossy magazines
But I built me my own website and I burn my own CDs
That's why I'm singing in the folk clubs for free

I never played America, never made the grade
Never played the Albert Hall, never did get paid
Couldn't fill the local bar, couldn't even get laid
That's why I'm singing in the folk clubs down your way

Singing in the folk clubs, there's no-one there to hear
Singing in the folk clubs, I just do it for the beer
Singing in the folk clubs, I don't know where I am
Singing in the folk clubs and I don't give a damn

I've done the songs of Dylan 'bout a hundred thousand times
Of Paxton and of Taylor now I need a song that's mine
Sixteen verses and a chorus, harmony and perfect rhyme
Till then I'm singing in the folk clubs marking time

Singing in the folk clubs, there's no-one there to hear
Singing in the folk clubs, I just do it for the beer
Singing in the folk clubs, it really is the pits
Singing in the folk clubs and I don't give a ...

They say that I should sing the blues when I'm feeling low
Maybe play some jazz with chords that I don't know
Or country - or bluegrass - or maybe rock 'n' roll
Till then I'm singing in the folk clubs... here we go

Singing in the folk clubs, there's no-one there to hear
Singing in the folk clubs, I just do it for the beer
Singing in the folk clubs, I just can't get enough
Singing in the folk clubs and I don't give a ...

Singing in the folk clubs, there's no-one there to hear
Singing in the folk clubs, I just do it for the beer
Singing in the folk clubs, I guess I'm out of luck
Singing in the folk clubs and I don't give a ...

Words and music © jiva 2007 - www.jiva.co.uk

jiva also shared a song writing checklist, saying: "We don't have specific 'rules' and we don’t write in a formulaic manner. However we often find that songs which satisfy some (not necessarily all) of our 5R criteria seem to work better than those that don't.

R1: Reason, rationale, raison d'être
R2: Rhyme
R3: Rhythm
R4: Repetition
R5: Resolution... (optional) - sometimes a song works better if the story is resolved, or there's a return to the starting point/theme... other times it's best to leave it hanging so listeners can ponder what happens next.

We never set out to write with 5R in mind - but examining the R factors might help us pinpoint why a song isn't working or maybe help us work out what's 'missing'. We've recently realised that a sixth R can help kick start the process:

R6: Rage... quite often, when one or both of us is annoyed or riled about something, a song is occasionally born as a form of catharsis. The casual observer/listener might never know what prompted us into songwriting action for a particular song, but songs that emerge this way generally have a very strong R1 factor!" (2011)