Tower of Song


Get Tickets

In 1988, Leonard Cohen wrote a famous ballad about the difficulties of songwriting, something he considered a “heroic enterprise.” He imagined himself tied to a table in the Tower of Song, struggling to write lyrics that might resonate long after he was dead. He pictured one of his own musical heroes, country star Hank Williams, marooned in the same lonely place, dealing with identical problems. How do you transform complex emotions into sound? How do you pluck the right words and melodies from the air to make a song worth making?

In this session, writer and broadcaster Grant Smithies will talk to three gifted New Zealand songwriters about their craft before they each sing a few of their favourites. We’ll find out what early experiences set Adam McGrath, Ebony Lamb and Julia Deans on the path towards this strange profession. Do they feel things more deeply than the rest of us? What are some of the stories behind their best-loved songs? And are they broke, given that hardly anyone actually buys songs anymore?

And we’ll celebrate the fact that, once a songwriter sets them free, great songs become a treasure shared by all, the meaning changing from person to person as the words and sounds stir up buried memories and set off different associations in every listener. Expect music, laughter and revealing conversation with three of this country’s most highly regarded singer songwriters.

Download Programme Schedule


Aspiring Conversations
Sunday 7 April
7.30 pm
70 minutes, no interval
$35/$20 plus service fees
Lake Wānaka Centre

Supported By