After a near 10 year break from writing songs, I returned to music in 2017. I bought a new computer, a cheap software program, and penned several tunes that I made into a self-made EP that I called "A Cup of Fresh Ambition." (I played all the instruments).
When I was done with that effort, I immediately decided that the next one would be called "Side 2", since I thought my next recording would be the second side to that EP. And as usual, I was half wrong....(okay, I was TOTALLY wrong).
A few months later, I was encouraged by a friend--Kevin Richards--to get out and play some of those songs at a nearby watering hole called "Druid City Brewing Company" in Tuscaloosa. And as I tried to do that, I realized that all the songs I had been writing didn't lend themselves to any kind of Open Mic. So, I knew that if I wanted to play out--which I did--then I needed to start writing a new set of songs that were based on acoustic guitar and felt more "singer-songwriter" like.
Oh yeah, and right at that same time that I started to do that, something else happened: I got divorced after a 20 year marriage.
Once I got separated, I turned to music to help me pass the time and to cope with the sense of loss that I was feeling. I wrote lots of songs--probably about 20. Some of them were good, some were okay, and some were, well, not that okay.
But I played them out anyway just about every week at Druid City--many of them with my good friend and colleague, drummer Eric Baltrinic. And as I did that, I started to get more of a feel for who I was becoming as a songwriter, an artist, and a person. I also started to listen to a lot of the other musicians who played at Druid City every week. They helped to give me a much greater--and renewed--appreciation for Nashville style songwriting and story telling.
So, I started to follow their lead a bit....
Then one afternoon in October of 2019, I started messing around with a cool chord progression and before I knew it, I had written "She's Bound for Eden." I knew from the moment I penned the lyric on the chorus' second stanza that it was the best song I had ever written. The problem was that I didn't have anything that matched it--at least to my ears.
So, like a long list of songwriters, I spent about 4 months chasing that song. I don't know about you, but whenever I try to chase the past, it doesn't tend to go very well. And although I wrote about a song a month during that period, I felt like I kept coming up empty.
And then COVID-19 hit...
After about 30 days in isolation, I felt like I started to find a bit of a songwriting groove. I wrote "Love Justifies the Fall" and really liked it. Then, a few weeks later, I wrote "A Beautiful World." At that point, I started to think to myself that I really wanted to record those songs. And since I was sitting by myself for the most part, I started to wonder "Why don't you see if you can record them now?"
So, after thinking about it for about a day (LOL), I decided to cold call FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals. I talked to Rodney Hall--the owner--and then the studio engineer there, Spencer Coats, and booked some time to record three songs.
Little did I know that my world was about to change.
I'll write about the dynamics of that first session in another blog post, but I was pretty jacked after that whole experience. So, shortly thereafter, I decided to try to write a couple of more songs that would allow me to finish off the EP.
For the previous four weeks, I had been working on a tune called "Life Goes On" that I thought had some promise, but I just didn't know if I could sing it. So, I messed with the Tempo a little bit and changed the vocal approach on the demo and figured that it might work as a fifth song if I could just write another one that was better. And as fate would have it, I had been working on a cool riff that came off an E-Chord with a capo on the first fret. It had a cool Tom Petty/Bob Seger feel but it felt too simple to house a good melody. So, I decided to leave it in my pile of potential song ideas.
But as the days progressed, I kept waking up in the morning humming the guitar line, so I went back to it. And for the next three days, I kept hammering at a melody line for the chorus and came up with something that I thought was "okay." The remaining task was to try to write some lyrics for it and see if it could stand up as a song.
Now, on the personal side of the ledger, I had been doing some online dating for the previous six months--which had proven overall to be really frustrating, especially during a global pandemic (did I mention my penchant for timing?)
Anyhow, I had just met this woman online who seemed like she had the potential to be really special and important in my life. And as I started to write the lyric, I decided to throw caution to the wind and write about the feelings and "spiritual rumble" that I was starting to experience with her--even if those feelings felt like they might be a tad bit premature. And as I got to the end of the chorus, I just gave into it all, realizing that the most important thing I had to do at that very moment in my life was allow myself to let go and see what that (burgeoning) relationship had to offer me. So, I came up with the lyrical hook "So, I'm betting on you babe" as my own personal call to give in to what she and life had to offer me. And that, my friends, is when Side 2 became a real thing: my journey into the second side of life.
A few nights later, I played that song for an online open mic and the response that I got to it was really positive. And at that point, I decided that I was ready to go back to FAME to finish off the EP. Thankfully, I was able to get the band back together to do just that.
Now, "Betting on You" and "Life Goes On (Moving On)" are slated as the album's second and third tracks. I genuinely love both songs.
Actually, I love all of them. And I hope you do too.
More about the studio later.....
Be good to yourself!