As the lead singer and songwriter for Chilliwack with 45 years of music experience, Bill Henderson knows he has wrecked his share of songs.
“Generally speaking, there is a certain thing that lands in your lap and rarely is it a complete song,” said Henderson. “You get this little chunk and you think, that is really neat but now how do you turn it into a song? This is the real trick and difficult part is to take that part of your brain and apply it but not lose what you originally had. The only way you do that is by lots of training. I have wrecked so many great ideas that I consider myself to be an expert in it.”
Henderson also has his fair share of hits, including Fly At Night, California Girl, My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone) and Whatcha Gonna Do. Along with Roy Forbes, he will be hosting their annual concert on April 20 at 8 p.m. at Summerland Centre Stage Theatre. It will kick off the duo’s weekend for the 17th annual Songwriters Workshop in which they teach.
Henderson said the craft of songwriting has not disappeared. He said it can be found in songs by Canadian singer Feist’s 1234, songs by Amy Winehouse and Adele’s Rolling In The Deep.
“When I look at that song I look at an imperfect song. There is still come clumsy stuff in it, but that doesn’t detract from its power and its ability to communicate with people,” said Henderson. “There are some parts of Rolling In The Deep that are really good and some that aren’t. That often happens in a song where the heart and soul is pounding and while it has a lot of good stuff in it, it’s not perfect. Then again, there are some songs that are perfect, but they aren’t very good. They say perfect is the enemy of good.”
As part of the workshop, in which two Summerland natives Julie Blagborne and Tanya Graham will be part of, Henderson and Forbes try to relay the two sides of songwriting, craft and inspiration.
“That is the thing we are trying to help people with. How do you reach somebody as they are pushing their shopping cart around in Costco, or wherever. Why would your song capture their imagination?,” said Henderson.
As far as some of his all-time favourite song creators, Henderson said the Beatles are pretty tough to beat. He said by dissecting what John Lennon and Paul McCartney brought to the studio, it was obvious the pair fed off each other.
“I get a sense of Paul being a volcano of constantly erupting musical ideas with amazing musical talent for chords, melodies and hooking melodies. Lennon, not so much. But, he was very strong with his sense of what he wanted to write about and what was worth writing about. I think that is how and why some of those songs are so great,” said Henderson.
At Friday’s concert, Henderson said they plan on bringing a few new tunes, along with some songs for their own repertoire. They also will sprinkle in songs that shaped the pair’s view of music and others that just meant a lot to them. The main focus, however, will be on ensuring the audience is having fun.
“To me, that is the main event in what happens between the performer and the audience. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are all laughing or singing along but that they have a strong memorable experience. Generally speaking though I like when they are laughing and singing along. It reassures me that they are actually there,” said Henderson with a chuckle.
Tickets to their concert can be purchased at Martin’s Flowers in Summerland and the Dragon’s Den in Penticton.