About the Editor

PZ, photo by Henry Diltz


Paul Zollo is an award-winning author-journalist, as well as a singer-songwriter, recording artist and photographer.

He is the author of several books, including the best-selling Songwriters On Songwriting (Da Capo Press), which has been called “the songwriter’s bible.” Containing more than 60 interviews with the world’s greatest songwriters, including Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Pete Seeger, Sammy Cahn and Paul Simon, it’s used as a textbook in college songwriting courses around the world, including USC, UCLA, Berklee, and NYU.  Zollo was awarded with the John Bettis Songwriters Fellowship Award in 1992 for this book.

The New York Times, as well as The New Yorker magazine, both declared that Zollo’s 1992 interview with Bob Dylan is the best Dylan interview ever, and the only one which focuses entirely on songwriting and creativity. Famed record exec Jac Holzman said that Zollo’s interview with Leonard Cohen, also included, is “the best interview ever on the art of songwriting.”

He’s presently at work on Volume II, which features interviews with Leiber & Stoller, Dave Stewart, James Taylor, Matisyahu, Chrissie Hynde, Stephen Stills, Rob Zombie and others.

Songwriters On Songwriting, By Paul Zollo

He’s also the author of Conversations with Tom Petty (Omnibus), The Beginning Songwriter’s Answer Book (Writer’s Digest) and The Schirmer Complete Rhyming Dictionary Schirmer).

In 2005, he wrote a book of Hollywood and its unique history, Hollywood Remembered (Taylor Trade), for which he was awarded with the 2005 “Man of  Hollywood” award.

BLUE HR Blue cwtp

Presently the Senior Editor of American Songwriter magazine, he was formerly editor of SongTalk, and Managing Editor of Performing Songwriter. He’s contributed to countless magazines, including Variety, Billboard, Musician, Hollywood Reporter, Oxford American, Acoustic Guitar, Classic Rock, Sing Out!, Boulevard, Stiletto and others. He’s contributed writing for the program of the annual Grammys program, produced by the Record Academy, for 17 years.

He’s contributed writing, research and interviewing to many films, most recently Legends of the Canyon, directed by Jon Brewer and narrated by Henry Diltz, a loving chronicle of Laurel Canyon and its musicians, such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, for which Zollo conducted all the interviews.

He’s a singer-songwriter, former leader of the band The Ghosters, and presently a Trough Records recording artist. His debut for Trough, Universal Cure, will be released in November, 2014. His previous album, Orange Avenue, featured a duet with Art Garfunkel on the song “Being In This World.” He’s written songs with many great writers, including the late Steve Allen, as well as Severin Browne, Bob Malone and Darryl Purpose.

Zollo is also a celebrated photographer, known for his portraits, and has had his work displayed at galleries in California, Illinois and New York, including Cannibal Flower, the Infusion Gallery, Soho Dream, Nocturne, Valjenna, Memphis Café and Joe’s Diner. He has contributed frequent photo essays to Campus Circle magazine as well as portraits in American Songwriter, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, and People. His work has been used in many books, and on CDs. In 2015, he will complete his long awaited book of portraits, Angeleno.

He’s taught classes and led workshops on songwriting all over the country, from Berklee in Boston and NYU to UCLA and USC, and at annual songwriting conventions, like the TAXI Road Rally. He was host of the Aspen Writer’s Foundation “Lyrically Speaking” program, also broadcast on Aspen Public Radio, for which he’d interview great songwriters such as Aimee Mann, Michele Shocked and David Crosby.

Bluerailroad is Zollo’s online magazine of the arts, which he started originally to publish the full interviews that he condenses for magazines, but quickly expanded to publish poetry, photography, reviews and more.

You can email Mr. Zollo here: zollo@bluerailroad.com

Ztollo with David Crosby, onstage in Aspen for the Aspen Writers Foundation "Lyrically Speaking."
Zollo with David Crosby, onstage in Aspen for the Aspen Writers Foundation “Lyrically Speaking.”

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15 thoughts on “About the Editor

  1. I’ve just discovered your publication, and I’m impressed. I’m looking forward to reading all of the interviews, particularly with James Taylor, and the article on Woody Guthrie. I’ve read the excellent Billie Joe Armstrong interview, and I’m also happy to see reviews of poetry and fiction here. Thank you!

  2. Hey Paul!

    Dude, is there anything you can’t do? (For those of you who haven’t heard him, Paul Zollo is one of LA’s finest singer/songwriters. Paul wears his songs like a coat of many colors, radiating warmth and scattering light).

    It’s a great thing, having Blue Railroad on the Internet. In a world of disposable stuff, BR is the antithesis of the general ho-hum music rag, getting down to what’s important: The courting of The Muse.

    We all owe Paul a multitude of kudos for the passionate work he puts into this place.

  3. Earl, you are to right. Paul Zollo is truly aazing. His songs are mesrizing and rearkable. He honors the gretness of the songwriters he writes about while shining in his own excellence. Paul writes songs in the truest tradition of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and other phenomenal artists. At the same time, his uniqueness and talent set hi apart and plces him in a league of his own. Paul Zollo music is one of the finest treasures I have ever discovered. Blue Railroad is the way to artistic Utopia.

  4. Thanks Michell!

    I meant every word. Paul can interview great songwriters, and know what questions to ask that mean something, as he’s a great songwriter, and he asks himself those questions.

    Earl Grey

  5. I stated this earlier, Mr Paul Zollo. But, if you didn’t catch it, I want to thank you very much for this wonderful interview you did with JT! It was a treat for me to read/learn/experience it! You caught JT at his best, it sounds! I loved hearing of his life/experiences & his thoughts of his own music. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  6. Hi Paul,
    Leslie suggested that I contact you. I absolutely love your interviews!
    I’d love to send you the current issue of my magazine, too!
    Send me an email, if you have a chance!

  7. Mr. Paul Rollo,

    Just finished your article on James Taylor. I asked myself who is this guy “Rollo?” And better, where has this magazine been all my life? Your questions, Taylor’s expansive answers—I knew you must be musician-writer. I write for a newspaper, and it’s hard to get such results! Unless, of course, the subject is comfortable. Bravo! Probably the best interview I have yet seen! Thanks to James Taylor for opening up his take on so many topics. He’s one musical icon who seems to strive for perspective in his life.

  8. Hi Paul. Great stuff and congratulations on getting back up and running! I am Pete Hopkins. Harvey Kubernik (Author of Canyon of Dreams) sent you our band’s Bio and CD, J.P. Hopfelt. The E.P. is called “L.A. Vintage Rock” We’ve got Bruce Springsteen and Steve Miller’s Rhythm section and Janis Ian’s Bassist among others… it’s quite a rockin record that’s getting great response. We’d like to ask you to review the album and perhaps we could do an interview. We have a unique story to be sure as you will read in Harvey’s Bio. Our CD is the one with the pick on it. You cant miss it. I have your phone number but I thought this might be a less intrusive way to introduce myself at first… If you do like to talk on the phone… Our contact numbers are on the bio as well as the CD. I read that you are also a songwriter. Where may I hear your music Paul? Thanks and look forward to speaking with you soon. -PH of J.P. Hopfelt -Rock Rebel Records

  9. Hey man,

    Just read your How to Avoid Creative Ruts article. Cool concept. I just wanted to point out that you mentioned ~13 songwriters in your article, all of them white men. It’s disappointing (and still common) in this biz and many. Would be awesome to see efforts made at conscious inclusion. Thanks!

    1. hello. Okay. I will admit i give that no thought. But I have written for years about great women – and i speak on songwriting – and never don’t mention Laura Nyro – and also Carole King, Joni Mitchell – and many others.

      Also have written a lot about black songwriters – but i have not consciously considered when doing this kind of story to mix it up more. But not out of any lack of respect.

      I basically quote ones I interviewed myself –

      Just did a 5 part interview on my podcast The Great Song Adventure with Carole King.

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