What does it take to write a good song? There are soo many thoughts on this question. Some might say great words where others might say a hooky melody. Then there’s the whole conversation about the instrumentals and wether or not composers are “songwriters” or not. At what point in life did we start to qualify what a good song is. Hundreds of years ago songwriters were travelling minstrels singing about the happenings of the day. Oh how far we have come from that.
These thoughts I have noticed also change depending what market one might be in. Say you are trying to write country songs. Does the stigma of losing ones car, dog, and house still ring true. What about a rap song? Honeys and Moneys seem to be an underlying theme throughout that genre. What do people think about the craft of Pop writing. I’m sure most think that alot of those songs don’t have a lot of substance. But let me tell you it is a true craft to be able to write something anthemic and yet simple enough to relate to all people. Just look at a liner note(I know most people don’t even get these any more) of say Taylor Swift and see how many names are credited for writing those songs. Sometimes it looks more like a roster of a sports team than credits. Then there is the obvious, that we all want to listen to things that are pleasing. Which means thousands of hours of grueling practice, so we as artists can perform for our audience with the sense of ease as not to look like we are trying. That’s a whole other post that I won’t get into right now.
So back to songs. I personally have not been performing much of my own songs lately. Mostly due to the fact that i don’t believe in them anymore. I personally don’t think that they are any good. So for the last 6-8 months I have been in this constant search for what makes a good song. I still have yet to figure it out, but I feel like I have made some headway. This headway for me has not come easy mind you. I still write songs that are absolutely terrible. Luckily no one but me has to live through those.
My big epiphany has been this. Great and timeless songs, like all sorts of great art, come from life. The sad ones, the clever ones, and even the silly ones. We as artists must find that fine line between being loners for the cause and actually experiencing life. For what we have to say is a direct reaction of something that we have encountered. I find this line very difficult to find and I wil tell you why.
When I am not locked in my room slaving over songs I feel that I have lost my identity as a songwriter. So all I am thinking about when I am living life outside of this circle is “am I a songwriter” and “if I am a songwriter why am I not writing RIGHT NOW??”
These are the two biggest thoughts that plague me and prevent me from becoming the artist that I could be. Both of these thoughts come down to doubt. My doubt, I have figured out, stems from fear. See, being a songwriter is not enough for me. I also have a deep desire to share my songs with other people. I am coming to realize how terrifying this process actually is. So let me lay it out for you.
1. I have grown on my particular instrument through thousands of hours of practice.
2. I decided that the next step was to create on said instrument through the craft of songwriting.
Believe it or not these first two was the easy part.
3. I try to pour out my heart, soul, and mind into a piece of work that might change the world someday.
4. I perform it for an audience that either embraces me or rejects me.
Please notice step 4. I perform for an audience that either embraces or rejects me. This is where my doubt through fear kicks in. We are taught as kids this idea of stranger danger. Well I believe that in this teaching we unintentionally were taught not to trust people. We all became skeptics and scared of what that stranger might do. Now I wont go into how I think this breaks Gods heart. For we are to love all people. I won’t. Not this time.
I will say this. We all as adults have carried this idea of stranger danger with us. It continues to follow us into who we decide to open up to and live life with. It affects us in ways that we don’t even notice. I will leave you with this last thought.
We are incapable of living life alone. We were not created in that way. We desire to be apart of something. Don’t let stranger danger defeat or cloud this true and beautiful truth.
I’m not. And who knows, maybe it will come through in my songs.
I know it’s been a while since I have posted. Being that this is my first real post of the year I will have to catch you all up on what’s been going on in 2013.
Starting a new year is always very surreal to me. This year has been no different. I had a great opportunity to ring in the new year with not only my Fall Classic band mates but also about 95 other people at the house party of the year(this is still to be determined but it will be hard to top).
Not only was this a great party but it was hosted by, what most might think, the most unlikely of hosts. My good friend Ian who is a pastor at a local church here in Chicagolandia decided why not get all my artistic friends together and have a celebration of talents. So included in this night was a short film festival, some great local music, and of course alot, and I mean ALOT, of dancing. Capped off with a champaign toast and a rousing rendition of Auld Lange Syne. For all intensive purposes it was one of the most perfect New Years Celebrations of all time.
Since then though there has been some huge changes in my life that have made me start questioning the big life questions. The biggest one being what kind of father can I be while being far away in distance. See my daughter will be moving to San Fran this weekend. And while it has been amazing to be soo close in proximity I can’t help but have feelings of guilt. Those thoughts of have I done enough? Did I really take the time to be a Dad while I had the opportunity. Don’t get me wrong having a child is one of the most important things about me and I am always in process of trying to be the best Father I can be. Now it’s time to figure out a way to keep the impact of my physical presence as a father from a far. Fortunately for our family the technology is amazing and in this life of constant connection it makes this situation a bit easier.
But these are the things that I will miss. Those moments where she is heart broken for some reason or another and I can’t be there. The times where she want’s me to read her a story or protect her from the dark I can’t be there. The times where she says “Daddy come cuddle and watch a movie with me” I can’t be there. So tell me what can I do when she has the “hard” questions about faith and God? In the past years I have tried my hardest to live in a way that is glorifying to the Lord as to be an example to her everyday. What is all this going to look like when she is 2000 miles away? All of these questions have left me uneasy and terrified for her. But this I do know. God is the ultimate provider and as long as my family and I continue to cover her in prayer God will honor that. He will be her protector and guide much more than I could ever be.
While all this is happening I continue my search for a true artistic voice. Even though I have released music in the past I have found that those particular songs I am not connecting with. So while taking a break from performing and focusing on writing and recording music that is not only poignant and powerful. I find that no matter what I must remain true to myself in this process. This last weekend I had a very talented and great friend Guy come and visit from Nashville. We spent 3 days in the studio and it was surreal. I am soo excited about this collaboration that I am really scared to ruin it. Which keeps me in this constant feeling of unrest when it comes to being authentic. How does one be true to themselves when there are thoughts of doubt in their own skills. Tell me please if this will ever stop. I am fully aware that as I continue to grow I will constantly be unsatisfied in myself. For all musicians know that there will always be someone better.
So we will see how the rest of this life journey continues. I do have hope for there is only ONE reason why we breathe and have purpose. For God has given us life and talents to be a sense of light in this dark world. So even with all these uneasy feeling of what if’s and doubts. There will always be one constant I know I can rely on.
“But all these things, which I then accounted gain, which were once my confidence, my glory, and joy, those, ever since I have believed, I have accounted loss, nothing worth in comparison of Christ.”—Wesley
There are only a few things that get me excited now a days. As I have continued to get older that sense of wonder we all had is beginning to fade. I was fortunate enough to get to work and produce this wonderful Singer/Songwriter these last few months. Let’s just say that she helped me find a piece of that wonder again. Go ahead a take a listen to a little teaser track off of Emily’s new EP “Growing Up” Enjoy
Hey music lovers READ THIS ARTICLE. Some crazy smart people ran a study on Pop music of the last 50 years via some insane algorithm. What did they find? Well you will just have to read the article to find out.
Hey all. My friend Brynn is raising funds to put out his next record. He as been actively giving his music away for a long, and I mean, long time. He loves music and people and we should all love hime back. Click the link and show him some love.
Well to be honest these last few weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions. My first nephew was born, my cousin got married, and a close friend of mine passed. To say the least I have become a bit numb these last few weeks just to survive. But after processing through all this excitement and deciding to quit playing music all together I have decided this…
I will start writing again!!! In the normal nature that all song writers must. I haven’t had a regiment of writing and being creative since before last years release of “id”. So now it’s time. After exhaling after my first “full length” release and playing it all around I feel that it’s time for me to start venturing into new areas. For everyone that loves the music but mostly for myself.
I am also excited to say that I have started to produce a new Chicago singer-songwriter Emily Henderson. She has been writing great pop tunes for a while now. In fact she has two released that way. follow here and you can take a listen—————> https://www.facebook.com/emilyhendersonmusic
We have started production and hope to have her EP out late July.
Stay tuned for more info on her releases and sneak peaks of new tunes!!!
I don’t often talk about death and for the matter I don’t often think about it. Mortality is not a thing that I like to dwell on especially mine own. I usually leave those thoughts to the elderly who have lived long and full lives. Even when they start to pontificate about how “crazy kids are these days”. And the whole “i remember when…” soapbox. But today is different.
I have experienced death. Fortunately not a lot of it. And only a few times has it been someone that was taken too soon. My thoughts are always the same, as of much of the world when someone passes early. They had such a bright future, I never got to say goodbye, or what seems to be the unanswerable question of why?
The reason for writing this post might be clear to some and not at all to others. I had a friend pass a few days ago. A fellow musician that I got the chance to collaborate with on multiple occasions. A man that was turbulent and caring all in one swoop. A man that at the age of 33 already had some of the wisdom of an old man. A man that never let his experience damper on his curiosity for life or music. I will not echo the typical statements that most do on days like today. I will say this and recount the memories of the last time we created together.
It was any typical night and we sat across from each other separated by two friends harmonizing beautifully together. It might have been the venue or what it was like to play with him but there was a connection there between the four of us that was undeniable. Something that was so pure, so true, so uninhibited. This is rare to find between two people much less four different musicians. My memory will finally be of this. Here is a man who is right where he needs to be. Behind a piano or guitar placing those notes in the perfect place. Just enough to make the song push to that next level.
I will miss you friend. I will miss talking with you and creating with you. i will miss you saying “just give me a second I have an idea”. And I will miss watching you be in awe of a song and then turn it into magic that only you can do.
Be well and at peace with God. May you find what you were looking for. I look forward to creating again when we are before God worshiping with a wild abandon.
As I continue on the search to find myself as an “artist” I am continually humbled by the multitude of great music current and past. To the point that I always will know what a childhood curiosity looks like.
With the ushering in of spring comes a song that, if the season had a soundtrack, would appear on it. A song traveling the Midwest landscape with no particular destination in mind except the grace of new growth’s vibrant color. We are not yet in full bloom but are making are way towards it. And if hope springs eternal, the entire record will carry that same sentiment on its 4.10.2012 release.
Check out the song above and click to be directed to more info