Several events occurred this past week that brought me up short and made me do a little self-reflection.
The first happened during a conversation with a friend at a show. We were sitting and talking prior to me going on stage,when he dropped a bombshell on me. He said that he had something to say to me and he hoped that I wouldn’t take it the wrong way. Continuing, he told me that I was a really good songwriter, and I needed to believe in that, and quit trying to work so hard in selling myself to others, and that all I really needed to do was to sell myself to myself—others already believed it.
It was a good show and I played a good set, the response was surprising to me, and I suppose that by what my friend said to me, I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Next, I played another show on the following night, and when I turned up there was no one in the room. I asked about that, and the owner said that they would be there, that they would come in to see me, and not to worry. He was right, the place filled up with folks who, and again to my surprise, said they came out to hear my songs.
Another event that happened last week is that worked out a deal for my publishing with an group out of New York (I’ll write more about this is later postings). I asked them why they had approached me, an Americana/Honky-Tonk/Folk songwriter, when it seemed as if all they represented were R & B/Soul/Rock artists, and their response was that while they may prefer to listen to the other themselves, they recognized the need in their roster for what I did at the level I did it.
Now, I have always thought that I believed in my songwriting, but after listening to my friend, I find that I think he is right—all the signs are there. Let me explain. I have always thought I have needed a band to be a success, and I have consistently had trouble with bands. Also there is also always at least one person in any band I have been in that has told me that if they had my songs all they would do is focus on getting them out there to A&R people, publishers, and any artist who would listen to them. I have always believed (up until now) that I needed to make a band happen to get them heard. Around and around has this conversation gone.
The striking thing to me is that my best audience acceptance has been as a single act, and that is what I am going to concentrate on from now on. I can carry a crowd. I can write great songs. I am going to do just that.
Folks want a band to dance to when they want to dance. I want an audience to listen to my songs when I sing. I want people to hear my words. My songs are highly danceable, but my lyrics are about what the words themselves have to say. I have learned this week, after writing for over 35 years, that I can trust my words to get me where I need and want to go.
It looks as if my my future will be filled with lots of time in the studio, producing, and writing songs, and my stage life will be as a single act. I will still keep the 45-90 tag, because when I need a band I will have interviews and put another version of 45-90 together. It is a late lesson learned–I hope.