People often ask me how I come up with a song. I have a hard time answering that question because each song starts uniquely and then develops its own world. A song might germinate as a thought that keeps adding to itself over time until I ﬁnally sit down and work it out. Or, a song might begin in a chord progression I ﬁnd when I’m playing around on my guitar and I might write into the night until I ﬁnish it. I wouldn’t say my songs write themselves but I would say they establish themselves quickly and their world becomes immutable from my perspective. Its almost impossible for me to return to a song and change it once I feel it ﬁnish. I just move onto the next one, not knowing where its going to start from but trusting there’s always another one there because my life is so full of experience and emotion. And I know that as long as I stick to the truth and don’t try to fabricate it, each song will ﬁnd its ﬁnish and will work for me.
I’m also often asked who I write for. I guess I write for myself mostly, if I’m being honest. A great singer/songwriter told me that his Dad told him to play a song so often that it’d be like sawing wood. And if it felt solid when he played it over and over and if he enjoyed singing and playing it over and over, then he’d know he’d written a good song. I ﬁnd myself approaching my songs that way. If I’m not having fun tinkering with a song and playing it and its parts over and over as I go, then it’s not developing for me and I’m not happy with it. Of course I hope I’m telling a story by the end that someone else will enjoy sharing in with me when they hear it down the road but that’s not the motivation behind what I do.
My favorite songs are not the songs others like the most. They are songs that I gravitate back to playing because I just like playing them. They feel organic to me and I don’t have to think much. They are usually easier for me to sing, more in my wheelhouse range-wise than a lot of the others might be. And often, the lyrics to these came from a place that I enjoy more than anyone else because the time or place or story is more personal than universal. “Girls and Squirrels” is one of my favorites. It hasn’t been recorded. I played it in a picking circle once and no one could get beyond the title words. I was supposed to be practicing augmented chords and I kept looking at my dog in the backyard parked under an oak tree on perpetual squirrel watch. And I thought to myself that if I were a guy, I might learn something from my dog that I could apply to my pursuit of girls. The augmented “G” worked it’s way into the chord progression so I was off and running with the song. There are a few others I keep coming back to that I play when I’m hanging out and supposed to be working on something else.