I’ve co-written a book on the creative process and writing songs with my friend, Mark Caro. This is not a “how-to” book. It’s a “you already know how, so get to work” book. It includes the most successful of the hundreds of writing assignments I’ve given out in my Continuing Songwriting classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music over the past 10+ years. Here’s the book’s website and here is the purchase page on Amazon.

We all have music inside us: melodies in our sentences, rhythms in our syllables, heartbeats and steps. Whether we harbor professional aspirations or just a love of playing music, many of us enjoy the art of creation. Some do so with guitar or pen in hand, some while seated at a piano or electronic device, some while taking a stroll and whistling. There is no wrong way — yet many of us struggle to tap into our abundant sources of inspiration. Now comes a book to remove the barriers between you and your creativity. Steve Dawson and Mark Caro’s Take It to the Bridge: Unlocking the Great Songs Inside You (GIA) offers a lively, instructive dialogue about the art of songwriting; helpful chord, key and song-form charts; and creative assignments designed to inspire anyone who ever has thought of adding songs to the world. It’s a book about discovering your artistic voice and adding beauty and truth to the world. Dawson is the brilliant singer/songwriter of the band Dolly Varden as well as a musician’s musician who has played and sung with a diverse array of collaborators. Caro is a longtime cultural journalist who has written about everyone from New Kids on the Block to Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. After Caro took Dawson’s inventive songwriting class at the Old Town School of Folk Music, he jumped at his friend’s suggestion that they collaborate on a book that would combine the class’s best songwriting exercises with a deep exploration of the joys and challenges of creating your own music. The co-authors are promoting the book with a series of events where they discuss their own adventures in songwriting (and perform some examples), dig into the work of their musical heroes (and villains) and try to illuminate the path for anyone seeking a more creative life. The theme is simple: You can do this! “The truth is, dear reader, you already know how to write songs. You’ve been, in a sense, studying them your whole life. My goal as a teacher, and the goal of this book, is Unlocking the Great Songs Inside You. They’re in there. I have witnessed the births of hundreds of songs in class, some so beautiful that the class is wiping back tears by the end. These songs were written by people exactly like you: lovers of music; strummers of guitars, banjos, mandolins; people who’ve dreamed of writing songs like the ones they love. So, welcome and good luck.”