Jonathan Katz Makes a Living from Writing Songs about Your Girlfriend

He’s basically a one-man musical Hallmark.

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05 March 2015, 1:06pm

Are you trying to write a song for your significant lover but have all the musical ability of a box of staples tumbling down a metal staircase? Are you desperately trying to rhyme love, dove and glove like Carrie Bradshaw having a ‘mare? Are you a musically inclined human being in a relationship with someone who has (rightfully) demanded that you write a song about them, even if you are fronting a Napalm Death covers band? Well, someone out there knows how real the struggle is and is here to help you. Put down that rhyming dictionary, struggling troubadour’s of the world, because songwriter Jonathan Katz has got your back.

Through his YouTube channel YourTune, Katz is attempting to create bespoke tunes for every name in the known universe, expressing emotions you’re too incompetent to put into words like a one-man musical Hallmark. So far, he has written 122 songs based on female names and has imminent plans to enter the male name market as well. Each track is uploaded along with the chord progressions so you, too, can chirpse Cheyenne or Jennifer by the way of a soppy and stolen serenade. You can also help decide the next name democratically by way of request. Bort, anybody?

I talked to Jonathan about girls names, whether he’ll avoid his ex-girlfriends ones, and the weirdest suggestions so far.

Noisey: Hey Jonathan. So, tell us what inspired the project you old romantic you?
Jonathan: I wanted to share my music somehow, and it occurred to me that not everyone who wanted to write a song was actually able to, especially for someone they loved. It turned out the way to share my music was to write songs about others, and make them available for others to use.

How are you so damn prolific?
I love songwriting. Each one is a little puzzle to solve. What does this name rhyme with? What story should I tell? As silly as it sounds, I feel like I'm discovering each song like it already exists and I'm just the one finding the pieces and putting them together. When something sounds right, I know it's right. Kind of how a sculptor might see the sculpture in the marble and remove the excess.

"Removing the excess" eh? You just can't help but talk in romantic phrases can you? So, what prepared you for this type of songwriting?
I've been writing songs since I was six years old, and grew up listening to some amazing songwriters like The Beatles, Billy Joel, Ben Folds, and Weird Al Yankovic. My experience in improvised comedy also gave me the background to come up with things quickly, as well as building a little story out of pretty much anything.

So far you’ve only covered traditionally female names. What about the dudes?
It would be great to branch out and write some songs for the dudes. You write what you know, and for me that's love songs for girls. I'm not exactly sure what a love song to a guy would be like. I'm really looking forward to collaborating with others to branch out.

Are there any names you would avoid? Like your mum's?
I'll do any name, but I'll have to avoid lyrics like "kissing" or anything overly romantic for my mum's name, which is still forthcoming. This is how I approached my sister's name too.

I'm sure Freud would have had a field day with that statement. What about your ex-girlfriends? A source of inspiration?
There are a definitely a few names in there from former romances, and I hope they like the songs. Were they about them? Who knows...

You kinda just said they were.
Yes.

How long are you going to keep this up for?
Honestly, as long as I can. I have had so much fun writing these and have had so many requests that I'll never run out of material. It's become a part of my life now and I love it. I plan on expanding the YourTune brand for other types of songs too, not just names. Maybe get into jingles or songs for movies.

Give it to me straight: has this improved your love life?
No comment :)

I'm going to take that as a reluctant no. Best of luck Jonathan!

Follow Dan and Jonathan on Twitter here and here.