I started coming up with silly little songs at an early age, like most people I’m sure… but the difference was even at four years old I was serious about it.
At sixteen I discovered Country (and Western) music, and realized it resonated with me. Deeply. Not every song, because some are just too hokey to handle, but rather what was possible in the genre.
In my eagerness to learn more about the craft I began paying close attention to singer/songwriters who struck a chord in my head and heart. Besides the obligatory pop and rock stars like Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg, I sought out country artists who weren’t afraid to at least occasionally buck the Nashville establishment. That meant latching onto folks like the inimitable Waylon Jennings, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rex Allen Junior and Earl Thomas Conley among many others too numerous to list.
I saw the latter perform many times, and got the good fortune to become friends with his equally-talented brother, Fred. I think I was around 20 or so when I asked for Fred’s opinion on some lyrics after a show in Dallas. They were performing again the next night so Fred told me to show up and he’d give me feedback. My first from a professional! I was so excited I couldn’t sleep.
The next night while Earl was hobnobbing with local celebrities Fred sat me down and gave it me straight. My writing showed promise, but I was trying too hard. Too much poetry, too few hooks. I wasn’t too discouraged– Fred just confirmed what I already suspected I needed to do.
So I spent the next several years writing constantly, any time an idea hit. I accumulated pounds of scrap paper with thoughts inscribed. Song fragments emerged onto the backs of envelopes, on post-it notes, and yes, even on the proverbial napkins.
At some point I found myself close to that sweet spot where I could say something hopefully clever and have it connect with audiences on different levels– without being heavy or preachy. Finally, forty some-odd years after beginning this journey, I find that a groove occasionally shows in my path and I fall into it gladly. It’s a track that pulls in all the right elements and when I’m in it, the songs write themselves. I think I’m just the conveyance.
I write all the time even when the groove isn’t there. I think those are the times of sheer practice, filling my subconscious with forced thoughts that over time it crunches into something more creative.
Lately I’m real pleased with the results, and can’t wait to share them with a larger audience. Brace yourself, world, it’s coming!