The Spark that inspired this podcast
An aspiring or professional musician who does not want to talk about their music is a rare thing, and I'm no exception, as I first conceived of this podcast series to talk about my OWN songs and their inspirations. I then realized how much better this could be if it weren't only about myself, as hard as that was to admit!
Every song has a genesis. It can range from a song prompt to a feeling of heartfelt empathy for someone else, or just putting words and music together until something clicks. Sometimes we write biographically about things in our own lives, and sometimes those personal experiences, instead of being the subject of the song, become the launching point for something re-imagined and beautiful. To me, the magic of music and songwriting is how the combination of twelve notes and 26 letters can create new and unique songs again and again.
There are many podcasts that interview successful songwriters and delve into their creative process, and these are all fascinating to me, but I want something more succinct. My own song on this podcast (the 'beta-test' where I actually interview myself) sets the tone for this podcast. It describes an actual event in my life, one that was rather brief and unremarkable, but one that, after some thought, inspired me in more ways than one.
I've been writing songs since I first learned to play guitar - it just seemed like a natural extension of playing music. My songwriting started developing more in high school, after I ditched my electric guitar and junior high rock band and let the influences of Grand Funk Railroad yield to those of James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg. Thankfully my friends liked what they heard and guitar playing and songwriting became my favorite forms of expression. Eventually starting a business and raising a family took over most of my time and music became secondary. For a while.
Fast forward to my 40s when I once again picked up an electric guitar and started playing with some talented local friends, and a whole new world re-opened. I wrote, and performed with my band, songs in blues, rock, 'island vibe' styles, and again, people responded well. OK, fast forward again. Now I'm in my 60s and have been active in the music scene west of Boston for twenty years, performing, organizing events, and hosting open mics. I was urged to attend Ellis Paul's New England Songwriting Retreat in 2018, and haven't looked back. Thanks to that experience, and continued mentoring by Ellis and a very supportive musical community, my songwriting has only gotten richer and at 62 I released my first full length album of original music, followed a year later by a second album under the band name Sway Island (both on Spotify and Apple Music). It's an honor to consider myself a 'composer', and it's a total blast to be able to discuss something I truly love with such talented, honest, and insightful people.
Thanks for listening!