You can here the new demo on the "Tunes" page.
I mentioned in my last post that I was working on a demo with Lee Johnson from Boulder CO. Well, we received the finished demo today and I wanted to share it with y'all. Hope you like it... it rocks!
You can here the new demo on the "Tunes" page.
I did a complete re-write of "Forever My Man" (female singing to male) -- changed it to a male singing to female and had it re-sung by Dusty Drake. I am so glad to be writing again after a long and very busy layoff. It makes me grin : )
Guys, I hope this song makes you want to grab your wife and slow dance with her. You never know what might happen!
You can here the new demo on the "Tunes" page.
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.
I had the pleasure of seeing Travis Tritt perform solo tonight for over 2 1/2 hours. As he said after the opening medley, we would hear some song tonight that might not sound like they did on the radio, but would sound like they did when he wrote them.
His performance was not flawless, but it was energetic, engaging, masterful -- both his vocals and guitar playing, and he had the audience from the get-go. It was a wonderful example of a great singer/songwriter. I knew that since he would be performing solo, it would be a good way to set the bar for how to do a songwriter night .
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.
Last week was a busy one for me... day travel to Houston for work then leaving again the next day for a long weekend in Kansas for my Dad's birthday. During the trip down, I got a new eval for "Rubbin' Off On Me" in my email inbox. I was just sure that I had gotten it where it needed to be. Not to fast, buddy! Lucky 13 had a couple of more suggestions that will require some... you guessed it... rewriting! But hey, like I say at work, "this is our life" -- and I had better enjoy the challenge! Now that I'm home, I can get into a routine again and get the re-write done.
I bought a ticket to see Travis Tritt later this month doing a solo show here in El Dorado. It will be an interesting learning experience from a singer/songwriter perspective. I have been to writers' night in Nashville and Little Rock. It will be interesting to see how a seasoned performer handles it. Looking forward to that!
I posted a link to a Pomplamoose video on Facebook today with the comment "The simple joy of creativity." One reason I am keeping this journal is to allow anyone that's interested the opportunity to "get inside my head" in regard to my journey as a songwriter.
I recently put a new love song I have written out for demo production. This song represents a challenge for me relating to "simple joys". One thing I run into a lot when I a getting evals for songs I am writing is the need to "punch up" the lyrics and make them larger than life. I understand that from a commercial standpoint and I can't argue with the logic. In this particular love song, I am looking at a couple of very intimate vignettes in the life of the couple and in doing so, must relish the fact that life's joys can be very simple. Consequently, the song is probably weak commercially but enjoyable on a personal level.
I kinda treat each song the way a painter would treat a canvas. I try to do my best on it and paint a picture. I'm gonna hang them on the wall -- warts and all -- and they will be what they will be. I hope that the enjoyment will eventually by shared by others, but that is beyond my control.
Life's joys are simple. In love, it is the sharing of everyday joys that is most important. Not every day and every event can be larger than life. Enjoy them when you have them, but savor the simple things.
I started another song today... my fourth consecutive love song and the second one I am working on concurrently. It's loosely based on a love story that started in 1977 and ended in 2009. I'm kinda shy when it comes to gals, hard to believe, right? But because of that, my late wife Cindy and I got off to a rocky start. Over time she found that even though at first she didn't think I was the man she wanted, in the long run I was the man she needed. If you haven't read the story, you can read the long version here. There are three blog posts covering the whole story, starting with the post regarding how we met. It's a great story if you have the time.
Songwriters find sources for their songs everywhere. Someone asked me if my dad was the man behind "The Worn Pages" and I told him that, in fact, the story was pulled together from a variety of sources -- my own Bible, situations that people are facing today, and the desire to represent an ordinary man who finds real answers for life in the God of the Bible.
So, in this latest love song, I will go back a few decades and draw on a true story, put in in a more modern setting, but try to communicate the same thing... God gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want.
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.
My goals for the songs I write are simple: well-crafted, enjoyable and meaningful. I have to believe that if I meet those three goals, the songs will find a way into people's lives. Trying to stand out is a sea of faces is very tough. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame. I read a couple of things this week that make the point well.
South Arkansas native Odie Blackmon is a hit songwriter who is well established in the business. This week, he posted on Facebook that one of his co-writes (with Bill Deasy) called "This Is My Day" has been picked as theme music for a new Melissa Peterman comedy on CMT called "Working Class".
Someone commented about how hot Odie was now and Odie's reply shows the reality of the business even for someone with his credential. He replied, "I'm about as hot as tap water! :) The music biz ain't what it used to be. I wrote this song about seven years ago and it is a miracle that it made it through all the gate keepers. I really had nothing to do with it."
Another side of the "getting my 15 minutes" is something that Nashville calls "gherming" -- taking advantage of people to "move up in line". Songwriter and producer Rand Bishop commented about how the advent of social media like Facebook has created a morph call "e-gherming". He wrote an enlightening blog post about it here.
So how does a no-name like me move up in the ranks? How do I get my 15 minutes? One of the most famous songwriters in history was King David. Songwriting was not his day job, ever. But one of my most favorite comments about him comes from Psalm 78 verses 70 and following (written by Asaph -- David was not promoting himself!) It goes like this:
He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
from tending the sheep he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel his inheritance.
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.
The story line in this scene occurs when David was a very young man and his job in the family was to go out and tend the flocks. The prophet Samuel was sent by God to David's daddy's house to anoint Israel's replacement king. Samuel looked at each boy in the home and thought, "this must be him, he is strong" or "this must be him, he is handsome" and God kept saying, "Nope, not the one." He finally ran out of boys and asked if there was anyone else. David's daddy said "well, there is one out in the pasture." Samuel said, "Go get him." and the rest is, as they say, history.
What does this have to do with my topic? This: the reason David was chosen was because of the excellence of his integrity and the excellence of his work. If I will just focus on those things in my life, songwriting included, God will take care of the rest. So, I will write songs that are well-crafted, enjoyable and meaningful. With God's blessing, they will find their place in history.
I'm John Rowland, a country songwriter, working man and father from East Texas.