Original Since 1996
I’ve been writing, arranging, contributing, and performing original songs for over 25 years. This spans 3 bands, 4 projects, 1,300+ stages, and plenty of couch and computer time in between.
My method of writing is not based on recreating pages from another’s playbook, I don’t do exercises such as “30 songs in 30 days,” and I’m definitely not a factory floor for churning out songs.
A sample of songs written and performed by my various bands and projects:
Stop Drop Roll, Blue Turtle Seduction, 2008
Gallows, Dad's LPs, 2011
I Once Knew a Woman, Homespun Seals, 2021
My talent is an above average communication channel with my muses, therefore I have a good intuition about when a nugget of an original idea presents itself – whether that’s when I’m aimlessly playing the guitar or I hear something in a dream, and then attempt to recreate it. Recording that nugget as soon as possible is key, something that unfortunately took me too many half-remembered ideas to realize.
Relief, Dad's LPs, 2011
*See below for a background story about this song
Home, Blue Turtle Seduction, 2006
Hourglass, Blue Turtle Seduction, 2008
With an initial idea documented, I sometimes start working right away or let it sit for years. No matter, the process then goes to putting the body around that idea, which can take anywhere between a day or a hundred hours over an extended timeframe.
Yet, the journey is not done. Next comes (maybe) a bad habit, but my favorite thing – the tinkering part. It’s not uncommon for me to get an instinct about a song that had already been published, played countless times, and then reinvent or add parts to the song (see new EP project, A Charcoal Afternoon, Session 1). This becomes like putting on a familiar jacket and then realizing there’s an inside pocket you never knew about, and it’s got a hundred dollar bill in it.
Death By Fire, The Hydrodynamics, 2010
Roll with The Hills, High Tide, 1998
S.I.R., Blue Turtle Seduction, 2006
I often hear other songwriters claim they have written hundreds, sometimes thousands of songs. I definitely can not make the same assertion – not even remotely close.
Because of the original idea / spark / nugget pre-qualification, and then my penchant for tinkering with already produced songs (and everything else that comes along with life, full time touring, full time jobs, etc.), I can claim about 85 to 90 fully flushed out songs over 25 years (well, maybe the first 10 to 15 songs shouldn’t count). There’s about 3 dozen writing and arrangement contributions to fellow bandmates' songs and about 40 to 50 undeveloped nuggets … and who knows how many lost ideas.
I don’t claim to be prolific, groundbreaking, or genre smashing. However, I have received enough validation to know I have a gift to create good original songs. And regardless of validation or not, writing and working on songs is probably my most favorite activity in life.
White Flags Part 2, Dad's LPs, 2011
Streetlight Rewired, Homespun Seals, 2021
White Flags, Blue Turtle Seduction, 2008
* Special note about “Relief”: I had a dream one night – I was doing something and somebody else was with me. A radio station was playing in the background. A song came on and I casually said, “Oh, this is the song that Jim James from My Morning Jacket and I wrote together.” It wasn’t a big deal to me in the dream. However, when I woke up, I was like, ‘wait a minute, I heard a song that Jim James and I wrote?! Oh shit – I have to remember it!’
Did I remember it? I tried. “Relief” was the best I could do.
** footnote: In addition to songwriting – musicianship, performing, and branding/viability are their own separate topics. In my opinion, people who do 3 of the 4 very well (usually) find themselves able to navigate the music industry while financially supporting themselves, their family, a support team, entourage, etc.