Introduction – I Am Who I Am.
I was born and raised in Santa Barbara California. I am Scottish, English, Irish, Polish, German, and Dutch. In short, I’m an American Mutt. And it is a part of who I am, but only a part. The predominantly English culture I live by who, loves tea w/ cream and sugar and listens to “old British country rock ”, also lives by another culture; Spanish. Santa Barbara is a city that embraces its Spanish Heritage. And so a lot of my music is a mixture of all that! You let me know what you think.
I’ve been told by music critics (don’t like that name) that my music is; Alt. Pop/Country. Close but no cigar! I like that genre title, but I don’t like to think about fitting into any genre. “I am who I am” and my music is about as mixed up as my blood. And depending on my mood, environment and if I’m playing in public, the song can run through many styles and genres.
I get personal with my songs but not every story is true. If my muse decides to tell the story differently, I just have to go with it. And just because I grew up in a nice environment doesn’t mean that I had it easy but I know what you’re thinkin’; “http://www.santabarbaraca.gov/” Santa Barbara is pretty nice. huh? I am lucky. I lived in a nice environment but everyone has his or her own demons to fight. After all, we are our own worst enemy! And I fought with myself for almost 50 years.
I wrote my first song when I was around nine or ten years old and wrote a couple of songs in High School, while enduring the teenage blues. Ugh! My mom told me that if I couldn’t talk to her about what I was feeling, then I needed to “write it out on a piece of paper and burn it”, but instead I wrote a song! That was my first experience of writing songs for therapy. Songwriting helped me define what I was feeling; so then I was able to resolve that feeling. It didn’t always work because I didn’t know anything about the law of attraction, but it allowed me to pinpoint my emotions. Ever sense then I have been using songwriting as a tool to cope with things and have learned that I am not alone. A lot of famous songwriters write songs as a way to express very deep emotions. Songs and music, in general, are good for doing that.
I grew up with the music of the late 60’s and 70’s. I also grew up to the utopia ideals during that era with songs like, “All You Need Is Love” and “What The World Needs Now Is Love”. The music all seemed to be pertaining to a feeling of love and peace (Yep, I’m a hippie at heart!). All through high school I loved to sing and write lyrics, but never thought about songwriting as a career until 1982 when I saw a performance of The Who that blew me away. Wow! I was so moved by the music, the words, and the dynamics of the music that I sang with my voice in “full power mode”. I was not alone. I was chanting, “See Me, …Feel Me,… Touch Me,… Heal Me!” with about 60,000 other people. It was a utopia of emotions that grabbed me and I thought to myself, “I want to write songs like this!” Pete Townshend’s powerfully emotional style of songwriting inspired me to want to become a musician and songwriter. I was hooked and I have never looked back!
The Who inspired me to want to write but I am also influenced by all the songs I’ve ever heard! It’s taken many years to consolidate “that library of songs” in my head. Then, I had to somehow mix “that library of songs” into my own songs. I knew this was going to take time. I have become the songwriter of all my favorite songwriters at once! I’m just a little bit of this song and a little piece of that song. Mix a little flamenco or trumpet into the mix and, viola! My music! In songwriting you always put a little of yourself into every song. You bring in environment and influences. That is what’s so wonderful about songwriting.
In the book that I wrote I write… I have compiled more than 25 years of music knowledge; tips on writing hit songs, the music business, but most importantly, the benefits of songwriting as therapy. I have two degrees in music; an associate of art degree and a bachelor of art degree. Having a degree in music doesn’t make me the music “Maestro”, it just means that I can analyze music from the past and compare it to songs I am writing when I need direction. To be fair, you don’t have to know how to read music to write a song. There are plenty of prolific songwriters who don’t read a note, like Diane Warren who;
“was the first songwriter in the history of Billboard to have seven hits, by different artists, on the singles chart simultaneously… Ms. Warren doesn’t read music and snoozed through the one music theory class she ever took. She considers her lack of formal musical training to be a source of freedom. “I’m always doing things you’re not supposed to do musically, but, hey, I don’t know any better!”
Many will tell you that The Beatles couldn’t read, but they did have George Martin who was musically trained helping with their arrangements. He even played on some of their tunes (harpsichord sounding instrument on “In My Life”). The magical thing about music is there are no rules. But for many others, and me it helps to have a little knowledge. The most important thing in songwriting is to love doing it. Skip the section on music theory if you’re not interested, but I strongly recommend that you learn an instrument. Guitar and piano are easy to learn, and in this book you will learn to play an instrument for the purpose of writing a song.
I might as well tell you right now that there are going to be areas in the songwriting process that I cannot teach you. You, as a songwriter, are everything you’ve ever heard and chances are you will differ from me. Each song will be your own story and your own interpretation of the feeling you want to convey in that story. You will have your own muse (inspiration) to listen to. However, as a songwriter, it’s important to know that, all songs have certain things in common.
You see, songwriting is more than just plucking a guitar and singing a tune. It’s been a method of communication for thousands of years! If it hadn’t been for songwriting, I know I’d probably be in a mental institution or dead. Songwriting as therapy is about opening your heart and soul into something that’s bigger than your self. So, “Change The World, Write Your Song”! And then while you’re still incubating your ideas for saving the world, discover what type of music you write naturally. What we need to agree on is to accept each voice we hear, or song we sing, as a part of a whole. I am who I am as you are who you are. We are in it together. So, let your muse be free!
With Peace and Love,
“I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings”.– Mozart
Mission statement: “To inspire and to heal through songwriting, creating a world of peace”