James McLean / Blog

Well, Hello Again

So, it has been so long since I posted here, and since I dripped new music...Let's change that!

Yesterday was my birthday (57) and so I thought I'd post a new song I've been working on for a while. This song has an alternate title, which I cannot write here, due to contractual promises, but, I am now able to at least post this version...I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you for listening, and keep making great music!!

Peace, JMD

If Only - New version

In honor of the third anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, I have recorded a new version of the song I wrote in part as a result of the bombing.

I also have new music coming soon, I have been focused on my new book, which will be out very soon and the accompanying screenplay.

Thank you for listening, be good to each other out there...


Been Gone a While - New Music Coming Soon!!

So, Happy Autumn Everyone!!

I have been busy the last few months, both musically and otherwise. News Flash - I am writing a book, which will be published early next year. More on that as I can talk about it.

Musically - I have been writing like a crazy man, and have 4 songs that still need a little work, but I'll be posting them as soon as I feel they're ready. ***Heads-up*** three of them are probably considered "protest" songs (what, I'm a child of the 60's/70's...).

Thank you to all the musicians who've been in contact me, really love Reverbnation, it's been a great resource for me to meet other songwriters and musicians.

More later, have a great Fall everyone!!


Quite Like You

If you think about it, in fact, there really is no one Quite Like You…(unless you’re identical twins…LOL). I have several other songs in the pipeline, but this one kind of jumped onto the page as I sat down and played with a tune I’d been hearing in my mind. I write “story” songs, and I also like to use emotion in my words, and music. If someone says to you “I Love You” then they are expressing an emotion. What if they were to say, “Without you, what am I?” Well, maybe they are co-dependent (lol), or are maybe they just so much in love with you that they never want to be without you? If you can affect someone so clearly and definably that they express it that way, then maybe you have something special there…or, you might need to call the police cause that person is STALKING you…LOL…it’s one or the other. Anyway, I felt the emotion of the words with each syllable when I was writing it, which is how a truly emotional song should live. And, it does live, in my heart. If you have a love, express it, if you don’t, and you don’t feel you need one, that’s OK too. However, writing from the heart is how I write. I feel each piece of a song, this one in particular. Thank you to all my friends and fans for letting me know how much you appreciate my music, and thank you for listening. JMD And – thank you to all those other artists making music that I enjoy so much, you all inspire me!

Your Kiss

So, I really never know how songs are gonna come out of my head, some are fast to form, others take a little sunlight, water, fertilizer and time…and this one was a surprise. I love the chord Em (as if you can’t tell, esp if you are a regular listener…). I also love to surprise with some rock inserted into a calm rhythm. My original title on this song was “Lament to a Kiss”…but “Your Kiss” was much more appropriate and easier to write as well. A Kiss is Just a Kiss – there are lots of kinds of kisses; with a significant other, you can kiss your mom or dad or relatives; you can “cheek kiss” your euro-centric friends…a kiss is a powerful thing with many types of meanings. Here, I write of a kiss that has captivated the giver, or the receiver...I forget... making a need in their (his/her) life for “more that a kiss” overpowering, hence all the lead, which in my mind relates to the emotions of a powerful kiss Everyone’s world gets rocked and many times, the start of all that rocking is a kiss. Thanks for listening, and enjoying…keep on rocking… JMD

The Simple Things

The Simple Things… On occasion, I watch NASCAR. There, I said it. Come on, the cars look like peanut M&M’s racing around…which sounds kinda fun, and tasty… Anyway…I was watching Sprint Car qualifying a couple of months ago and Dale Jr. was being interviewed about his cars performance in qualifying. Dale mumbled something about a wedge adjustment, airfoil and the nose of the car and aerodynamics…and then he uttered in his North Carolina drawl, “Well, it’s the simple things, you know…” I could just visualize him sauntering off to the hauler and popping a(nother) cold one. I immediately jumped up and found my “title keeper” notebook (where I keep all the phrases and words I want to use for song titles at some point) and wrote down “the simple things.” From that point, I played around with a couple of tunes, and waited. My writing style is to kind of let things percolate, and eventually, when I return to the song title, something will magically appear on paper – sometimes more easily than you’d believe. This song was like that. When I sat down at the computer and started writing, I had my (sisters) trusty seagull 12 string and the music flowed out of it. The E tonic I play in the song – play a regular G chord, slide it up to the 7th fret and release the middle finger…that’s the chord…I THINK it’s an E tonic, but I might be wrong… After recording it, I thought the power in the ballad was the intermission between verses. I love that chord progression, and tried not to overuse it. Like Dale, I also believe that the simple things are critical to life, to happiness and perhaps to a great meal. Try simplifying your life and see what happens. Thank you for listening and for enjoying my music. Now, where did I put those Peanut M&M’s, I’m hungry… Peace JMD

Starlight Creation

I started writing this song in 1979. A major influencer of my music at the time was a recording called “Master and Musician” by Phil Keaggy (rock on Phil!!!). His tonality, use of finger plucking and simple message were, and still are, appealing to me as an artist as well as a fan. I still have the guitar I wrote the song on, which seems crazy to me, given it was SOOO freaking long ago. I was outside, watching the stars, and it seemed to me that the song needed to be written. I had also just started college, was playing in a couple of groups, and hadn’t much experience writing songs, though I did like to write poetry. I still have the original piece of notebook paper on which I wrote it, but, sadly, I did not write down the chords…this is probably because I made up three chords of this song, trying to make a song that I thought no one else might be able to play. As the years have progressed though, I realize that my made up chords are just fragment chords from root, normal chords others and I use everyday. Luckily for me, a recording of the original song existed, recorded in a church youth building by a good friend with a board and 2-track machine (back then that seemed so modern and space age…now, my iPhone practically does this…and my Garage Band for MAC crushes any machine from back then…man, wish we’d had this technology long ago, maybe we’d actually have hover cars by now…but…I digress…). As the years passed, I kept the song, looking at it occasionally, playing around with it until I was given a copy of the original recording by a good friend who still had a copy. It was then that I set out to decipher the chording, which wasn’t easy, given the fact mentioned above…but I finally figured out that the chords are derivatives of Dm, Bb and D/A respectively, but it’s the picking pattern that makes them difficult. Fast forward to the present day. We frequently sit out on our deck in the mountains after dinner, under a canopy of stars, watching satellites and shooting stars streak across the sky and I thought, “It’s time to celebrate what I see above me and record Starlight Creation.” Once in the studio, I had always heard an undertone melody in this song, and also thought it needed a harder edge. That is what you will hear throughout the song, with a new intro and a new, spoken word verse at the end. What I call "starlight creation lead" at the conclusion of the song is simply what I interpret as the “starlight creation” occurring…because it had to be big, loud and beautiful…right???!!! Thank you for reading, and for listening, keep making music! JAD

The Workshop

This is the anniversary of my dad's death from lung cancer (he did not smoke...), which is why I have waited until today to drop this song. This is a therapy song for me…it is the third song of a trilogy I have written about my father, his life and his death. I have only put two of the three songs written about him on Reverb – this one, about his totally cool workshop, and “A Simple Lad” a song about how he was a simple country kid when he went to war during World War II. The song that is not on Reverb is called “Doesn’t Matter” and it’s a slow, angry and mournful song about how it seems inevitable in today’s world that everyone will die from some kind of cancer…and I plan to never let it be heard except by my ears. I know that many (and I include myself in that list) would say that I need to write happy, fun songs about his life, about the hunting he loved, or fishing or camping. And I don’t disagree, so maybe some songs will come from that happy place later…maybe. With regards to this song…”The Workshop”…Dad was a “tinkerer”, kind of an inventor who always thought of ways to improve something he’d previously invented. He also had a great workshop with a band saw, drill press, working wood lathe, arc welder, etc.; all the stuff a guy who likes to work with his hands could acquire over a long and happy life. This song grows out of the total emotion I feel every time I go into his now-empty workshop. All the tools he lovingly used hang there, waiting for his hands to return to them. It was so much more painful the first few times I returned after his death, but, even now, more than two years later, when I walk into his workshop and see everything as it was the day he left the house, never to return, it’s like a dagger into my heart. I literally stand there and mourn him in the dark. But, I also know that my mother, still living, needs love too, so I mourn dad and then go hug her to see if there’s anything she needs. Though I say, “Now I don’t know you at all” in the phrasing, to me that means that I loved talking to him, loved his great big hugs, loved seeing the smile he always had and now that he’s gone, all those things are gone too, expect in my memories. The song ends when I tell him, that even though he is gone, his life had a significant impact on me. I trace much of what I am as a man back to my dad. We spent a lot of time together talking, fishing, walking in the woods hunting and cutting firewood for his old, wood stove in the workshop, and literally every moment I spent with him is cherished. I miss him. If your father still lives, call him…he wants to talk. If not, then find a way to honor and cherish his memory. I realize that perhaps not every father was/is as nice, cool, normal, etc. as mine seemed to be…so if that is the case, then, why not try to be the person you wish your father had been? Be Different. Be Better. Be Yourself. Be Happy. Or find someone who needs a father, then be that person. As always, thank you very much for listening, and for reading what I write about my songs… JAD

One More Day

This song started as a guitar riff – A to D to C to C#m to A to D - that Larry, my neighbor came over with one day saying “hey man, listen to this, I got this in my head but have no lyrics to it…”. So, I played around with it, wrote a few things that seemed to go with the music and with how I was feeling at the time, and bingo – One More Day was born. The guitar licks Larry brought that day are infectious, and I hope you like what I did with them. The rocky part just seemed to scream out for a chorus with a lighter side, which is where I used the C#m/A/D combination. Oh, I should also mention, if you are reading this and want to play it (or others I have here on Reverbnation.com) that I pretty much ALWAYS tune down to D major…not E 440. Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, and I hope you have a great summer of 2014! JAD

It's All Right

So, this song came about from a dream I had. I love to recall dreams, it's like they are our windows into parallel multiverses... Maybe they are...well, the "me" in one of these other multiverses had an adventure, and on waking, i was able to remember enough to make this song come from that dream.

Thank you for listening, I hope you enjoy my music.

Peace - JAD