I had the opportunity to go to the second meeting of the new North Louisiana NSAI regional meeting last night, hosted by Shayla Blake and attended by several other area wrtiters -- young, "old" and in-between. It was an enjoyable time. After doing some exercises to get the songwriter "thinking cap" on we enjoyed reviewing some of each others' songs. As planned, there will be a meeting the second Tuesday of each month.
This has been a very busy few weeks. I have been doing a lot of traveling... many trips to Texas and one to Kansas. In the midst of it, my third eval for "That's Where We Belong" was very good and Lucky 13 had a few suggestions to tie it up. I submitted the latest -- and possibly last -- version of it this week. It has really shaped up and taken a different tone musically and lyrically than it started out with -- all to the better.
I've been working on a new love song -- "Near" -- this week. I wrote the lyrics the last of April and am just now getting to the scoring of it. That has been going well and I hope to have an initial version of it done this week. I will (finally) have some new demo material posted soon. Stay tuned!
I took "That's Where We Belong" to my NSAI regional in Little Rock last Saturday and had some very, very different feedback on it than I have been getting from Lucky 13. While I do consider their feedback important to listen to, I have spent my rework and rewrite time focusing on the things Lucky 13 has told me to work on and I'm finally ready for my third eval on the song. I'll submit it tomorrow.
My dear girlfriend Carol Ann is a rhetoric and writing teacher. She knows the same things songwriters know: "re-writing is our life" : ) So it is.
Lucky 13 had some complimentary things for the changes in the second version of "That's Where We Belong" and some more suggestion. As has happened before, when the song gets tightened up in general, it exposes some more weaknesses that weren't apparent before. I appreciate Lucky 13 because he takes the time to listen multiple times before forming an opinion. So... back to rewriting! : )
Still no "Rubbin' Off On Me" demo... patiently waiting.
I spent the evening finishing up a new version of "That's Where We Belong" as a followup to the eval I got from NSAI last week. The evaluator recommended upping the tempo, which I did, as well as some lyric changes were focus was lost and particularly melodic changes. Rather than take the song "heavier" or "darker" I took it down the Motown road ala Billy Currington.
I will be on the road again for most of the rest of the week, so I am glad I got to finish it up before the week gets much busier.
What an exciting three days in Nashville! I made long trek home yesterday and had my mind swimming with song ideas and such.
I arrived in Nashville early afternoon on Thursday, March 31 and had a very beneficial 1-on-1 with Brent Baxter at NSAI. That evening, I went to the 9:00 show with the Big Loud Shirt writers: Craig Wiseman, Chris Tomkins and Rodney Clawson. Between and among the three of them are s-o-o-o many hit songs made famous by Kenny Chesney, George Strait and many, many other artists. It was great to get to hear them perform their own work at Puckett's Grocery and Restaurant downtown Nashville.
There were opportunities to make new friendships with other writers throughout the day Friday and to get some great instruction and lots of question-and-answer. Kenny Loggins, Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman -- all great writers in their own right -- now have teamed up and formed a "supergroup" called Blue Sky Riders. They performed for us in the morning. Then we got to eat lunch with a writer -- in my case, with Rand Bishop.
The highlight of the day was the publisher session. Each attendee signed up for the opportunity to play a song for their publisher of choice in a small group session at the end of the day. I was fortunate to be with Bobby Rymer from Writers' Den Music Group. He was very affirmative about "Worn Pages" I didn't get a "give me a call" -- only one writer in the group of a dozen or so got that privilege. But... there were only four of us who got a very affirmative listening. So, I am gratified by that.
Friday evening was the early show at the Commodore featuring writers Marc-Alan Barnett, Jimbeau Hinson, Bonnie Lee Panda and Allan Shervelle. Very enjoyable and I got to meet a bunch of SongRampers.
Saturday brought a panel discussion featuring song placement folks for the Film and TV market. It was very informative, too. In the afternoon, Chris Wallin played some of his tunes recorded b by Toby Keith, Trace Adkins and other. I returned to Puckett's for the early show that evening and heard Regie Hamm, Billy Kirsch, Wil Nance and Karen Staley.
In all, a very worthwhile trip.
It has been very busy the last seven days with a lot of out of town travel. I got to do a little lyric development for a new song while I was away and missed getting to practice guitar and work on my audio workstation. I did a little catchup on the new song after getting home last night while doing a mound of laundry.
Tomorrow I will be heading out again -- this time to Nashville for Spring Training. I'm looking forward to that event -- two solid days of advice and how-to from hit songwriters hosted by NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International).
I've had the pleasure of making some new friends this week, suffered some heartbreak and gotten to enjoy my relationship with the Father of creativity. Maybe I'll write a song about it. Seems that's how some songs come to be.
Like I have said before, part of the reason I blog about songwriting is to pull back the curtain on what goes into it. Last night, I uploaded my latest version of "Rubbin' Off On Me" (lyrics and audio here) and this morning received the eval for that version.
I really appreciate the evaluation process. As a writer, it lets me get my work in front of a seasoned writer who can point out weaknesses and suggest changes. This removes it from the realm of my own bias.
Lucky 13, my evaluator, said in a nutshell, "Strong, good emotional connection in the chorus, last couplet in verse 1 could be more romantic than practical. Let it percolate and see if you can make that one change."
That, folks is what I will do. I will be thinking about that last couplet in verse 1 and hopefully come up with something "just right" to tie it all up. In the meantime, I will move on to some other songs and get started on them.
Well, my first writers' night is behind me. I drove to Little Rock yesterday afternoon for the monthly Songwriter Night held by the Little Rock regional NSAI chapter at Kahlil's. I was in the second of 5 rounds and heard some very fine songs performed by some very fine writers.
Folks, I was really nervous. Like I posted on Facebook, I stand up in front of audiences to speak all the time with perfect composure and humor. I sing solos in church and sing in duets/trios/quartets routinely with perfect ease. I was a knee-knockin' newbie last night! I did not sing well. OK that is the negative.
For the positive, songwriter coach Marc-Allen Barnette is always banging the drum about getting out and performing your work. Basically, we all go through this. Though I will continue to rely on demo singers to put the best polish on my songs, I am resolved to be my songs' best cheerleader by performing them well, with excellence! So I will work harder at that. It is on list of songwriting goals for 2011.
I prayed on the way yesterday, that I would love, serve and give through my songs last night (and always). When I stand up in front of a little songwriter gathering, I want to take what God has given me, turn to the crowd and make it a gift to them. Pray for me to get that done with excellence.
As expected, the Little Rock regional NSAI meeting was very enjoyable. There were about twenty writers there and perhaps six were new faces (four first timers and a couple of writers who hadn't been there in a while).
A young family friend, Jonathan Traylor went with me. I knew he was interested in songwriting, but was totally taken by surprise when he played me the CD of country songs he has written. His songs are very entertaining and the one that he had critiqued at LR was well-received and amused everyone (his songs tend to have some very tongue-in-cheek humor). I'm glad he went.
I'm John Rowland, a country songwriter, working man and father from East Texas.