I just returned from a fabulous whirlwind trip down to Nashville to meet with a producer, Matthew Wilder, who will be producing several of my songs for a radio/major label demo I am going to be doing in the month of February.
First of all, for a big city, Nashville is really a small town. I was impressed with the friendliness that surrounded me. Considering how much money and fame has been generated in that town and how much everyone there is striving for SOMETHING, there wasn't the restlessness and snobbery that I expected.
As soon as Steve (acting as a sort of manager for me right now) and I arrived at Matt's house, I had a great feeling. I was greeted by the sweetest bassett hound in the world, who leaped up on me and demanded attention. Matt took us down to his studio, which occupies and lower floor of his house, and I discovered we were definitely in the house of an all-around artist. Not only is he a fantastic writer, producer, and musician, but he's a painter, the evidence of which is all over the walls, on which he has created un underwater world. I'll probably be cutting my vocal tracks next to dolphins and sharks...
Matt played us some of the things he's been working on recently, and I was floored. If you mention a particular style of music, he proves very quickly that he can create that sound effectively and uniquely. I have no doubts he will take my music to new levels.
I also had the pleasure of meeting a songwriting teacher, who makes his living consulting with songwriters all over the world via the telephone. I will hopefully get a chance to speak with him much more, as we only had a few minutes to philosophize about the art of songwriting, and I'd like to get much more specific and get his pointers and tips concerning my own songs.
Here we get to the biggest thing this project will teach me: how to edit and arrange my songs. My songs are organic, and most of them are little babies that grew to be eight feet tall. There's just a little too much for them to fit through the doors of most people's houses (or their ears in this case.) Radio is unfriendly to folks like me, who tend to write ANTHEMS rather than songs! :) On the seven-hour car ride back to Columbia I began the process of thinking about my songs in a different light, prodded on by Steve's questions about lyrical passages and musical themes. I tend to write lots of meaty lyrics, and create four or five important musical themes to most songwriters' one. This almost gives the listener too much to grab onto. Today I sat down, and within an hour had come up with edited and re-arranged versions of eight of my best songs (or what I think to be my best) which are shorter and more radio-friendly, but still retain the meatiest parts of the songs, and remain organic and honest. It is a process of letting go, and challenging myself. It isn't ever going to be a bad thing...the longer versions of these songs will always exist SOMEWHERE (probably in performance) but these new versions might get my ideas and thoughts and music out to many more people.
I can't wait to head down there. We start the project on February 9th and it looks like it will last until the end of the month (20 studio days). I'll be crashed out on the studio futon, living like a starving artist. And I'm thrilled...