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October 2016:


Having been a songwriter for most of my life, I've mostly moved in circles where people like what I do, go for the particular way I write, that folk singer-songwriter thing. I'd be foolish if I didn't understand that some people who like what I do would have me focus on areas that they particularly go for, and wish that I'd avoid areas that don't thrill them; I certainly have had moments with my favorite artists where I'll notice that certain aspects of their arts are less interesting to me than others. I wouldn't express these opinions to them, but I'd still have the opinions, can't help it. I like "I Am The Walrus" more than "In My Life". I like Roy Rogers in the movies, not on TV. Loved Elvis's first recording, not much after.

Now and again I've had to realize further: that there are people for whom nothing I've ever done has been up to par, who are (or would be) filled with ennui or dismayed and offended by how I choose to write and perform, and there are people who absolutely can't stand what I do and the way I do it. It's so non-pertinent to them that it doesn't have to exist at all, and, given druthers, they'd prefer it didn't. I've been that way about certain artists too, sometimes. If they'd've asked me my opinion, I'd've been so negative that I couldn't even begin to delineate what I see as their problems. And I can't help thinking about some artists, on occasion: this poor fool, he's wasting his life chasing an unfortunate and foolish desire. Why doesn't he give up? So, of course, there are people who think the exact same thing about me. Or who would, given the chance. And for a while now, my thoughts and efforts not only concern songwriting but also recording. I record my songs at home, for a few years now, primitively, but slowly improving.

So...recently I heard this recording, through a friend of mine who in the course of his thing deals with a lot of not-very-well-known songwriter/recorders. The recording really opened up my head, it was so superior to most things I hear, including Big Star!!! CDs. I thought the writer/recordist was extraordinarily knowledgeable about how to get sounds that just jumped out at you, sounds that were so solid in the headphones that the listener would almost feel like he could reach out and touch the sounds...they were that thick and substantial. I knew that unless I went out and enrolled in a formal recording school I wasn't ever gonna have that strong a sound. I saw that I was comparatively very amateur in my recording efforts. And in thinking about that, I did something I seldom do: I wrote this guy a fan letter, went through a lot of numbers about how impressive his sound was. Thought he should get the feedback because obviously he had spent time and care on his recording. And I wanted him to know that I got it.

And he wrote me back and we had this nice little dialogue about songwriting/recording. In the course of things I listened to a few things he had on YouTube, but I had trouble focussing on those; however the first thing of his I had heard, the one that had prompted me to write him, was so impressive in its sound that to me it rendered the songwriting aspect kinda moot..

I mean I wasn't that nuts about his songs, but I'm often not that knocked down by OP's songs. It's so personal, that part.

So he said send me something, and I did, giving a little caveat: well, I'm amateur at recording. BUT there was a part of me, I'll admit, that assumed he'd be intrigued by my songs, as people often are. And it turned out that he was so unimpressed (I'll hazard) that I never heard from him again.

If you never hear from me again it means I can't think of one positive thing to say, so I gotta admit I figured that was the way it was with him: I wasn't about to get stroked on any level.

And that was the day Dylan got the Nobel, and I thought: Here I am in Skokie obsessing about the opinion of some guy in Nashville. And I had a little satori, ready? Here 'tis:
That you don't do it for other people's approval, you do it because it's your life, and if you look really foolish to others, WTF? It's not the end of the world.

Songs. Done. Write.
Michael Smith's Songwriting Workshops
For the Adventurous Mind

Michael Smith, the internationally celebrated songwriter and performer now offers Songwriting Workshops in addition to - and in conjunction with - musical concerts.   More info...

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