Dave Carter’s Final Class

1 AS tracy Grammer and Dave Carter by Mark Rabiner Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer. Photo by Mark Rabiner

Dave Carter, who died in 2002, called his music  "post-modern mythic American folk music." The man had a stunning way with words, and it's as good of a description as any of his beautiful songs. With his partner in life and music, Tracy Grammer, he left many albums of brilliantly inspired and poetic songs, including When I Go [2002], Tanglewood Tree [2000], Drum Hat Buddha [2001], Seven Is The Number [2006], American Noel [2008], and Little Blue Egg [2012]. His songs have been covered by Joan Baez, Darryl Purpose, Judy Collins, Ronny Cox, Willie Nelson and many others.

"There is a special gift for writing songs that are available to other people," said Joan Baez, who invited Dave and Tracy to open for her on a concert tour, "and Dave's songs are very available to me. It's a kind of genius, you know, and Dylan has the biggest case of it. But I hear it in Dave's songs, too."

Dave had his share of special and unique ideas about the nature of songs and songwriting that he shared mostly with friends and loved ones. But just days before his death in 2002, he spoke in front of Kim Stafford's writing class at the Northwest Writing Institute of the Lewis & Clark College in Portland. Kim created a great gift for songwriters by taking notes at this, his final class. What follows are those notes, from "Songwriting" by Dave Carter, July 3, 2002.

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