Michael Franks, affectionately known to his fans as SOJG (Some Old Jazz Guy…but more on that later) has made fans the world over with his buttery smooth vocal stylings and innuedo-laden jazz lyrics. He is widely regarded as a great singer and songwriter, whose extensive catalog includes the hit song ‘Popsicle Toes,’ famously covered by Diana Krall along with a host of other smooth and sensual hits up through his last album ‘Time Together,‘ which includes a great song called ‘Mice.’
But how can you sound like Michael? You may think it’s hard, but it’s easier than you think.
Before dipping into Michael Franks style songwriting, you’ll need to learn about Jazz and Jazz history and Jazz theory. So you need to watch this Ken Burns’ DVD series about Jazz. It is sold for a cheep price.
Here you will learn about Bird, Diz, Monk and the rest of the guys who invented the jazz sound that MIchael use to make his music. So get the DVDs and that’s a good place to start.
In order to song-write, you will need a music instrument such as a guitar, which MIchael use to write his songs. There’s no need to cut corners, go for a good one. This Martin guitar costs just under $4000 but is worth every penny.
Once you get this guitar you will start playing and sounding like Michael.
In order to sound like Michael, you will need to use a Mic like he uses. Why not try this classic mic, the Shure SM-57, which Michael probably used at some point. Plug it in, play the guitar and your voice, and you are on the way to the Michael Franks’ type of sounds.
Under the Tahitian Moon
After you acquire the recommended gear, you’ll need experience to compose Michael Franks-esque lyrics. We recommend booking a trip to Tahiti so you can write a song similar to his Tahitian Moon song. And you can’t go on the trip without a travel book.
Lonely Planet’s Guide to Tahiti and French Polynesia is a great starting point. If you can’t afford a trip to Tahiti (it is quite pricey), why not pick up a bottle of Kelis Polynesian Sweet-n-Sour sauce. It’s the taste of Tahiti without the expensive travel tickets, and perfect inspiration for writing a Michael Franks style song.
Along those same lines, you could try becoming a vegetarian and stop eating meat, because that’s what Michael does.
Sounding like Michael Frannks is not easy, but with these tips it just got a whole lot easier to sound more like he sounds.