I received my artist demo of "Tonight and Forever" from Galen Breen tonight. Galen is the owner of the Gator Hole studio near Nashville. The demo is very good - featuring Lydia Salnikova on vocals. It is my hope that you will be hearing this song get airplay sometime in the future. Thank you, Galen, Lydia and all. I will
Today would have been my 27th wedding anniversary. Making it to our 25th was one of the things Cindy desired to do and she did! She passed away a little more than a month after our 26th anniversary, meaning this is the first one I will have without her.
The songs I wrote about in my last post were snapshots of our life together. In our early years together, it took working two jobs to be the provider. In her last years, as she was battling cancer, she told me numerous times how she had felt loved and experienced it. I am grateful for the time we shared together, something I didn't expect to end so soon.
I really do have all the cards I talked about in "It's All In The Cards" and they really do chronicle our life together.
I have posted some lyrics I wrote in the last couple of weeks for peer review on the discussion board at NSAI this week. It is my aim to learn to master this craft of songwriting, not so I can have "hits" on the radio, but so that my songs can touch people's hearts in a good way. This is part of, as Romans 12 says, "overcoming evil with good." That is what it is all about.
I have had comments about each lyric this week that were very gratifying to me -- showing me that I'm making progress toward my goals.
The first lyric posted was a song called "Make A Better Man Of Me" about a husband going the extra mile to show love for his wife and family is more than "just words" and that it makes him a better man. The commenter said, "This now gives me shivers! I think that's a good sign. Just re-read it and I shivered again. The speaker is so very honorable and lovable. Any male artist would love to sing this song since it would make him look so good."
The second lyric was about a man who lost his wife and finds solace in the years of greeting cards she gave him... a written history of their love, called "It's All In The Cards." The commenter on that one said, "This song brought tears to my eyes. I would love to hear it on the radio."
I appreciate any honest feedback as helpful. Comments like this not only make me happy about the work I'm producing but also that I may be getting where I want to go in terms of the purpose of my writing.
I've been listening to some Jeffrey Steele songs the last couple of days -- some performed by himself and some performed by Rascal Flatts -- and I have been enjoying his craft a lot. There is a lot to learn from Jeffrey Steele and I have been trying to take what I learn into some of my recent lyric writes. I usually start with a musical plot and adapt words to it, but am working the other direction right now. It is very hard not to fall into the same musical ruts.
As a side note, I mentioned the other day that I was listening to Hall and Oates. So... I started working on a country-fied cover version of "Kiss On My List" which has been kind of a pleasant diversion.
I have been listening to Hall & Oates some lately. Recently there was some discussion about Jeffery Steele's excellent songwriting skills and I started listening to some of his work.
Late yesterday, I was struck with an epiphany that Steele's writing, especially his phrasing, very much resembles the R&B genre: Motown sound, Earth Wind and Fire, some Phil Collins-Genesis-Peter Gabriel and such. Hall & Oates and the Genesis guys were a white suburban visitation of that style and it seems that it may have rubbed off on Jeffrey Steele's country songwriting.
Maybe I'm wrong. Your take would be interesting. Comments?
I ran across an interview with Gator Hole owner Galen Breen which was published in two parts at the SongGarage blog by Aaron Cheney. I found Galen's methodology for demo production helpful. More than that, he commented on how the Nashville "method" of writing-publishing-producing, while truly a cash cow, has a tendency to dilute the individuality of writers, who sacrifice their own "voice" for the standard methodology of co-writes. Interesting reading.
After making some changes to "Tonight and Forever" that were discussed at the LR NSAI regional, I started the process for my first demo today with the Gator Hole and Galen Breen. Ready or not... I wanted to see this particular project through to the end. This will be the next-to-last step in reaching the target by the end of May.
I traveled to Little Rock yesterday for an afternoon meeting of the NSAI Central Arkansas workshop led by Charlie Crow. I met a lot of nice fellow-travelers, enjoyed a talk by Doug Deforest who runs Lake Paradise Studio in north Arkansas. Doug talked about the process of making a demo.
I enjoyed the time at the end of the session where we listened and eval'ed each other's songs. I got some good ideas for changes to my current project "Tonight and Forever" and got to experience first-hand a taste of the power of co-writing. More heads/ears can be a tremendous asset.
Talking about his new country CD, Guy Penrod puts music in a proper perspective:
"I wanted with the new album to kick it out there in a little bigger pond. I believe that country is one the best genres of music from which to tell the American story. To me, music is a way of telling the story of every day America and a country song has the ability to tell a story with the potential for the positive.
Songs can literally become modern day parables on how to live life. In fact, there's a lot of 'gospel' on the thirteen songs we just recorded—not my answers, but God's way wrapped in every day language with a country feel."
- Source: NewReleaseTuesday.com
So... back to writing and storytelling. I haven't taken songwriting seriously for a few years. When Cindy, my late wife was undergoing the surgery that confirmed she had cancer a little over six years ago, I decided to pick the guitar back up and begin writing. I did that sporadically for a couple of years, writing quirky alternative rock "message" songs. Finally, I put it back down because the things that a lovely but dying wife required just didn't allow for it.
After Cindy left us for a truly greater life last summer, it took a while for the dust to settle and adjust to having no life partner to come home to. I am entering the time of life where "doing things that matter" is a pretty important priority. Gary North says that our "calling" is that thing which we can do, in which we would be the hardest to replace. Considering those qualifiers, I believe that songwriting is part of that equation. So it continues...
I'm John Rowland, a country songwriter, working man and father from East Texas.