Songwriter’s Journal: A Few Simple Words

Have you ever said something you knew immediately that you shouldn’t have? Yeah, I’ve done that a few times myself. It’s easy to recognize when you’ve taken something a little too far and stepped over a line you know you’ll regret. More disturbing is when you finally get the opportunity to recognize that you haven’t done something that you should have. I have found it to be a general rule that by the time you realize you’ve neglected something that should be a priority, it’s too late. The damage is done.

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Songwriter’s Journal: If That’s How You Think It Should Be

“It has conflicting messages. Maybe it needs some work.” That was the nicest way of saying “the song sucks and we’re not even interested in taking your money and pretending to pitch it.” That was about the time I lost the taste for having songs pitched in Nashville, or anywhere for that matter. After reading those types of emails I would look up at the subject line again: “If That’s How You Think It Should Be.” How appropriate.

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Twice As Much

When I stop and look around, I realize that if I put 10% more effort into just about anything I do, I would benefit exponentially. What if you put 10% more effort into your job? Would you get a raise or somehow create more income? No? Well then, what if you put 10% more effort into looking for a new job or developing a side gig because that one apparently ain’t worth a damn? It seems our brains are accustomed to maintaining the status quo. We develop a tolerance for the work required and any additional effort is typically perceived as wasteful and uncomfortable. Isn’t this disturbing?

A few minutes exercise in addition to the daily amount of exercise we are used to doesn’t seem so bad in theory, but for most of us, it’s difficult to implement into our schedules consistently. Maybe you’re already a gym rat and exercise is a source of pleasure for you. It’s not so difficult for you to add another session. But what about job improvement? House cleaning? That project you’ve been meaning to start or finish?

In the aftermath of the 2007-2008 economical downturn I saw many local people angry that they had lost their homes, their jobs, their cars, and anything they owed debt on. Even after all of that has come and gone, have they bothered to read one goddamn financial book? Would they really have to put forth twice as much effort to avoid those pitfalls in the future? Or would 10% be just fine?

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Songwriter’s Journal: I Can’t Say

If you were to browse through my catalog of songs you would not get a very accurate picture of my life. Like most, I find it easier to turn more dramatic instances into songs, but of course that’s not the only experiences I’ve ever had. It’s especially difficult for me to write a song for a specific person on command. I find that I can’t say the things I’d like to say and expect it to flow out in the format of an entertaining song. I have done this a couple times and ultimately they both turned out to be songs that I’m proud of, but it damn sure didn’t come naturally like most of the others. For me it was like trying to dream about something specific. The more I focused on forcing myself in one direction, the more likely I was to veer off into new territory. I can’t help but wonder how often I do this in other aspects of life where I’m merely forcing what I think is the right answer or what I “know” that I should do.

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Songwriter’s Journal: Out of Spite

My grandmother often reminds me of an incident that happened long ago when I was about 6 or 7. I was staying the weekend with her while my parents were out of town. My grandfather worked in a factory and was gone for most of the day leaving me and Maw to play, and sometimes battle, with one another. According to Maw, on one particular occasion I got in trouble for one thing or another and was met with a scolding. In response, I went out into the yard, found a sturdy stick, and beat the hell out of her tomato plants.

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