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How To Create A Song: Lake Street Dive Style


We're hearing throughout today's program from Lake Street Dive. The music group has two men, two women, and we'll talk here with them about how to create a song.


LAKE STREET DIVE: (Singing) Would it be true to say that I ordered you? Or was it you that ordered me?

INSKEEP: Like this one. They use jazz instrumentation, more or less - trumpet, stand-up bass, guitar, some drums, voice. They play pop and soul, and draw big following.

LAKE STREET DIVE: (Singing) That you might be my problem, not my love.

INSKEEP: These musicians, all in the neighborhood of 30, met at the New England Conservatory of Music. The founder, Mike Olson, tried the experimental jazz that their education encouraged.

MIKE OLSON: And we would just go blah la la la la. So it was like - it was just - it was a - it was a free-jazz sandwich.

INSKEEP: Until they had an epiphany.

OLSON: That's not what people want to listen to.

INSKEEP: The music had no hook, as it's said in pop music. So they listened and learned from other musicians. An old Beatles song inspired Lake Street Dive's new song, "You Go Down Smooth," even though their creation sounds nothing like the Beatles.

OLSON: So, "You Go Down Smooth" is based on, "Got to Get You into My Life." Paul says, that this song is like an ode to smoking pot. But veiled, you know. It's not like, "I love marijuana."


THE BEATLES: (Singing) Did I tell you I need you, every single day of my life? Got to get you into my life.

OLSON: So I wanted to see if I could write a song that was a veiled ode to some vice. "You Go Down Smooth" is kind of like this - it could be about drinking but it could also just be about, you know, being a love song.

LAKE STREET DIVE: (Singing) And I'm afraid to need you so. And I'm too sober not to know.

INSKEEP: The group is Lake Street Dive, and we're hearing parts of our conversation with them throughout today's program.

LAKE STREET DIVE: (Singing) Cause you go down smooth.

INSKEEP: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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