This post may already be old news to a substantial portion of its viewers.. but be that as it may, I’m confident that those who read it will find at least some new shred of information within.
For about the last year and a half, I’ve been working on a solo album in addition to playing with Root Glen and doing acoustic gigs. I suppose calling it a “solo” cd is somewhat misleading, as there are a ton of other musicians helping out with it. The “solo” aspect really only applies to the origin and creative direction of the songs. Each track on it comes from a different fragment of song that I came up with over the course of a year or so, and have continued to flesh out with varying amounts of assistance in the form of added instrumentation or verbal criticism. Not only am I lucky enough to be friends with a wealth of talented musicians who are able to play on the album, but also to know a select few willing to listen to tracks as they develop and offer constructive feedback on how they can be improved.
Even with all this help, the project spasms daily through seemingly opposite emotions; incomparably fulfilling to crushingly defeating, and though the tally of hours invested continues to rise, the incomplete tracks loom over the small pieces of free time I try to spend not working on music (or sheetrock.. because music still doesn’t pay all of the bills!). Admittedly, I’m looking forward to wrapping it- to having a complete album in hand, and being able to look at the finished work that I’ve invested all this time in. Its not all negative though; I’m excited to finally hear each song finish the transition from idea to completed work, especially because I’m working with an incredibly skilled recording engineer in John Bross. Before we get there though, I want to go back to the beginning for something…
As I’ve talked about this project with friends and family, I’ve heard a similar refrain enough times to want to devote a few posts to it: “I could never write a song, I wouldn’t even know how to start..” To be fair, I felt the exact same way a few years ago. I had played music as a hobby for some time, but it wasn’t until shortly after college that I started to take it a little more seriously. I was working at The Gow School (a boarding school for dyslexic boys located just south of Buffalo, NY), and spent many weekends restricted to supervising a dormitory. The guitar found its way into my hands a lot more often, and as I played and let my mind drift, a riff or progression would occasionally emerge and snap my attention back from wherever it had wandered.
Over the next few entries, I’m hoping to illuminate how these brief moments of inspiration (sometimes just the right combination of 2 chords) can eventually become a finished song, with one of my own tracks an an example. There are so many different ways to go about that, but rather than try to illustrate a bunch of them, my aim is to do one thing; to show that songwriting doesn’t have to be mysterious, but rather, that it can be incredibly accessible once the components are understood.
I hope you guys enjoy getting to learn how this first fragment became a song, and how much fun writing can be once the process is a little more intelligible.