Making an Album is Sadly a Fond Memory

There is something ironically sad about looking back on fond memories.  They were so wonderful that you want to relive them.  But you can’t.  So you file them into a happy place and visit them from time to time.

I would love to jump on a plane bound for Australia again and say hello to the guys that made my 5th CD “THESE DAYS” a reality.  I’d like to walk down the same beaches that helped inspire lyrical ideas, or swap trivial stories with the locals, stare out the window of the downtown trams at the passer-by’s and of course, step back into the studio with the blokes who helped create the album.  Fond memories are usually moments you would love to experience again.

I could sing any lyrics and you wouldn't know!

I could sing any lyrics and you wouldn’t know!

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons making a CD is something I absolutely love.  It’s not just about the song.  It’s about the whole journey.  It’s about the hard work, the goal of making this dream a reality, the great friends that share the same interests, the challenges, the small details, the life long memories, and ultimately the final product.  Then you have it. All wrapped up and stored onto a compact disk in the palm on my hands.

That’s what’s left.

For me, “These Days”, isn’t just an album of tunes.  It’s a chapter in my life.  A challenge set out and completed.  It’s an idea that started with a chord on a guitar, a melody in my head, or a lyric stolen from a street sign. It’s a search for a cheap airplane ticket, it’s hotel rooms, a new city, new friends and a common goal.

Shibuya, Tokyo.  Promo pic.

Shibuya, Tokyo. Promo pic.

I see a million small tasks that I must do for my dream to finally become reality.   I see the inspiration of family and friends and above all, I see myself doing something that gives me a sense of self-accomplishment.   When it’s finally done, there is an immense satisfaction I hold but at the same time a yearning begins to do it all over again.  An addiction to the whole process.  A desire to be better.  The drugs have kicked in and I’ve started new memories.  I’ll be recording the newest CD in Nashville come August 2013.

Live at the Bunkakaikan

Live at the Bunkakaikan

7 Steps to writing a song you’re proud of.

Playing iive at the Bunkakaikan in Japan.

There are 7 factors that I require when writing a  song that makes me happy and they are:

1) Emotions: The best place to find these are through the turmoils of your life.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  They are the driving force behind wanting to write something in the first place.

2) Catchy melody: Usually my songs start with some sort of chord progression on the guitar but not always. Then a vocal melody wrapped around the chords in an interesting and satisfying way. If you interviewed most famous songwriters, they’d tell you most of their best songs seemed to channel through them in an almost effortless fashion. If I look back on the songs I’ve written, I’d agree that my stronger songs were the ones that seemed to write themselves.

3) Strong lyrics: If you put strong lyrics with a very catchy melody then you’ve got something to be proud of for sure. Don’t ignore the importance of lyrics.  I’ve only recently realized that they are the “icing on the cake”.  A great melody gets you far but if you have lyrics that connect, they you’ve made a fan or two.  Write from the heart.  Write about something we all can relate to but do it in a way that you feel hasn’t been done before.  For example, write a love song without using the world “love”, or write a happy song with “minor chords”.  Whatever you do, make it ‘yours‘. 

4) Re-writing: This is where a lot of people fail miserably. They’re always too damn proud of their first take and are afraid to throw away something to make the song better because they really like one line.  Don’t be afraid to trash a line even if it was your best line.  If it doesn’t fit, save it for something else.

Changing Chords and melody can lift a song too. Sometimes for example, you can replace the root chord with a minor 6 and give it some mood.

5) Play it live: Play your song to your friends and ask for honest opinions. Don’t let the negative vibes get you down either. A lot of the time, you’re friends won’t know what they’re talking about- but a good song is pretty much universally liked and you’ll be able to weed out the good from the bad and generally get a sense of what is strong.

6) Write lots: You’ll get different opinions on this but for me, writing a lot of songs just makes me a better songwriter. It’s like learning to play the guitar. If you practice every day, you’re going to be much better than if you play it once a month.

7) Sleep on it: It’s weird but often I’ll wake up in the morning and play the new song again and it doesn’t have the same impact on me. That’s a sign that perhaps it just wasn’t the hit song I was planning on retiring on.

But I’m sure I’ve got one in me ready to surprise the world.  It’s just around the corner!  🙂

Good luck fellow songwriters.

In Melbourne Australia with the legendary Greg Arnold.


Two sides to an LP.

Two sides to an LP.

Side One

Although I have been selling a lot of songs via MP3 download lately, physical CD sales still surpass them. For some strange reason, it’s comforting to me to know, some people still prefer the physical aspects of a CD case.

It’s a different era to be for sure.

When I was a kid, cassette tapes and CD’s meant everything to me. You always bought the entire album and you read the jacket from front to back with such desire! And more often than not, the hit song from the band was never their best. It was always the song that wasn’t radio friendly enough that became my favorite.

Music was fashion for a majority of the world! When I lived in Australia (I’m Canadian), I could talk to a local about bands like REM, Oasis or Counting Crows and they knew and loved them as much as I did.

It was cool to be up-to-date on the best bands and have that common connection.

It’s a lot harder to find that today and music seems to carry the same value as a bumper sticker.

Side Two

The flip side for me is I have always been an independent artist. With the fall of major record companies and the power they possessed over radio and promotion, I am finally getting a chance to expose my music to the entire world!

Internet and MP3 downloads have crushed major music corporations and have set wings on smaller independent bands.

I can now have my songs and pictures next to Counting Crows for free! This makes it a lot tougher for the consumer to weed through all the crap out there, but it offers every musician a fair and fighting chance.

Bonus track

Amazing what has happened in the last 3 years of music.

It’ll be interesting to see where this revolution of the music business will end up in the next 3 to 5 years.

I really have no idea but I do predict it won’t look anything like it does today!