O.K. So this penning is what could be called self realizations, or maybe re-planning, or backtracking, or returning to a first love.
The last is the first to be addressed. The first love of this humans' life is GOD. Through Him MUSIC is bred into this mans' existence by the grace of MY Creator. Entertaining with song has so long been a part of my life to be without it would, most certainly, be death. Since an extremely early age, performing solos for different choirs, ensembles, choruses, groups, bands and lastly self, singing is what I long to do. Being mentored by two wonderful parents, both loved music of different types and some of the same types as well. Mother was a 'classically trained vocalist who played piano, and not unlike myself, she focused on the vocals more than the instrument. The guitar is an accompaniment of convenience for a singer. Not a virtuoso by any means (I know many who are), but as accompaniment it's good to be somewhat proficient. Daddy was a lover of music (s) of his era. So from near to every angle exposure from Beethoven to Lawrence Welk and from Stephen Foster to Dean Martin. Is that all confusing enough? Well, in marched the sixties and with two older brothers came whole 'nuther' dimensions yet again. The roots set deep by my parents run truly deep. O.K., so that was a set-up for what I'm about to announce.
Since the early eighties, every so slowly my ear turned toward writing a folk/acoustic/country style of music. Through the transition some of the 'old' still shined through. Trying to compete in the 'cookie-cutter-country 'genre ' is pretty difficult as the market is fairly flooded with young talented performers and the seeming goal is to appeal to the junior audiences with things that younger people tend to pay attention to, even more than music. Sure, there are still folks writing the heart-felt songs that make you say..'.I wish I would have written that', but it has drifted so far from the roots of being 'art imitating life'. Not ever being able to make such a drift, continuing to write the 'real-life' songs that affect us all in daily life, I've come to the decision that it's time to 'return to my first love'. Being at an age where 'believability' would make one do something more in character with someone 'my age'. O.K., yeah, a long rant to say I'm going to start focusing on what I call the Blahz (a combination of blues, rock and crooner jazz). I'll continue to write what ever is on my heart in any genre' that it seemingly comes to me in. But my performances will begin to be more focused on blues, blues Christian, blues rock, blues country, blues jazz, blues folk, blues fusion, blues....you get the idea. Just so you know.
This past week, someone had the boldness to inform me that they liked a line in a song so much they were gonna use it themselves. Though it is in 'some form' a compliment, it is the last thing you should tell someone even in jest where the goal in the 'brotherhood' of creativity' is mutual respect. Having always been one, not only to appreciate someone else's creativity but to embrace it enough to learn the song and harmonize with it to enhance what others may hear. More flattering than knowing something created is pleasing to others is the pleasant recognition of my fellow songwriter(s) saying "You know my songs". So if you've come to 'Music City' to become a songwriter, be creative. Even if you co-write, take something to the session that displays your creativity. Trust me, there are plenty of rogues and thieves in this business, willing to do anything, including stealing lines to get somewhere. If that's your character level though, well bless your little heart...you know what I mean.
Twice a year (usuall at the end/beginning of the year) I make an effort to post co-written material or something I've 'produced' for someone else (not solely mine). Co-writing isn't something I do much of, mostly because of time constraints (I'm not real fond of the process either, to be honest). Most times, IMHO, the best co-write experiences have come with non-musical 'idea' people. It's become a shared 'lyric' experience with a sole-propriety of music. Writing music when done in a 'collective' format means that the 'costs' of administration and registration fees should be a 'shared' responsibility. Duality of signatures on forms and all sorts of other things are required. The following song. Life Is A Journey was co-written with a Steve Lockett. This is 'life' and it's a journey.
Over the last several weeks, time has been made to do many things. With fall coming in full swing, with cooler temperatures and all, the shorter days give way to the focus of 'indoor' activities. In this case, the Studio has become more active!!! Somewhat surprised that there were songs needing the finishing touches, working out other parts to bring them to a 'pseudo' complete and 'presentable' project. Even so, there are several project compositions that have been in need of re-mastering. Like any 'toy', a studio is really no different than a vehicle, atv, hobby-craft (woodworking, cards, knick-knacks, etc.), boat or kitchen in that you 'must' accessorize. Little by little, piece by piece you acquire what you need to improve your choice of leisure time consumer. Some geared toward money-making, some just for plain fun, or 'love' of the creative process. Music is what many of us do, some in hopes of being recognized for that creativity, whether it be financial or not, for therapy. Always for 'love of what we do'. Hopefully something we've written will 'strike you' in a way that will help you realize...you are not alone. That is my hope in composing songs, that it helps me therapeutically, and maybe you too!!! Blessings, toast!!!
Well, it was 'actually' a surprise to be 'in' the top 100! Reverb Nation is the only place of 'consistency' for the postings of my music. Youtube is also an occasional post location, but those are posted through Reverb Nation as well. Many, however, prefer their own personal website and/or other mediums to promote their music. 'Public' posts of the toasted publishing catalog are for the enjoyment of family, friends, fans, and the 'public at large'. Keep in mind, though, that being on this medium, even without some of the 'best in Nashville' anyone on here in the 'region' aspires to be 'heard' and recognized, and even compensated for their compositions. It's an 'effort' to feed the 'machine' so you appear to be more involved than you actually might be (like me). For the most part, my Nashville appearances are narrowed to about 10 venues, with one 'primary' place (Bobby's Idle Hour). Most come here with an 'agenda', which includes 'some level' of stardom in one form or another (as did I), but once here you learn the sense of 'community' of the songwriting/performing collective. To know and enjoy so many talented people in your midst...that, friends IS Nashville. To be listed, even if just on this medium in this area, as a top 100, is an honor. Now, to get back 'in there'!!!
Reference the song: Trading Places in the catalog.
I didn't 'grow up' on a farm. But I was blessed through a terrible misfortune to become connected with family that my grandfather moved away from to further his carpentry career. A house fire had taken all away from the family, and we had 'some' of the things they needed. So, week by week Mom (Opal) would pack the clothing 'we boys' had out grown and they went to 'Sonny' (he was actually a Jr.), and tonka toys and anything we thought could help. In this connection was 'offered' a place to keep some ponies for us to enjoy (I love horses) and OH, how I did. But so much more was gained than just the pleasure of the equine fun. I was 'but briefly' educated as to what 'farm work' was/is and the amazing amount of knowledge/skill/desire that go into owning a large amount of property. It was another blessing for those we helped as well when it came to the knowledge my Dad (Art)had as a meat-cutter (manager at S.S. Kresge) for the company later known as K-Mart (Much later). Many of those family members, who lived 30 miles away are gone now, or moved away from the 'homesteads' known as Toalston property (or 'place(s) ) and only a 'remnant' remain, Which I thankfully see at a yearly familty reunion. I tell people I had the best of both worlds being raised by a 'Deep South Southern Belle' and an 'Industrial Age 'Genius. Truth be known it was the best of more 'worlds' than many will ever get to discover. Having known many who've 'crossed the lines' and tried to live that 'other life' (in the city or on the farm), the end result was all too often 'sour grapes' that turned people back to their origin. Me? I'm certain that the 'farm life' has physically passed me by, but I yearn for those days in my memory and, yes, wish I had known then what I know now. Thank You to the 'MANY' who shaped this 'city boy' into a well rounded 'human'.
Living near and performing frequently in Nashville, it gives me some sense of pride knowing I'm in the 'Top 100' listing of Reverb Nations (R N) songwriters' for this 'region'. Realizing, though, not all those 'successful' songwriters use R N as a medium to showcase their music there are many that do. Frequently I'll go and see who I'm in the 'company' of and find that the songs get 'enough' play to keep me listed favorably. Knowing many have no idea who 'write the hits' you may hear on the radio, as one who lives here I do to some degree and am humbled by such an association. If you've read this far, know this...Nashville is now a city of over one million, of which, they say, 5% are songwriters and only 5% of them are 'properly paid for their efforts. Stardom is not my goal, royalties are. The simple compensation of documenting our lives for all the world to hear is the goal. Only a few receive this. So why do we do it? If you're a songwriter, regardless of where you live, you already know the answer to this. If you're not, know this...'It's therapy'. My friend Emmett has a song 'That's Who We Are, That's What We Do', and it's really true. The proudest moment, even moreso than payment for their efforts, is to know that the composition they've penned has found it's way into the heart(s) of a listener(s). If you've read 'this' far, I pray that one or more of my composition has found it's way to yours...God Bless You!!!
I'm ask that question nearly every time someone finds out I'm a songwriter. 'Always' the reply is...'Everything but Rap and Heavy Metal'. If it comes to me yelling or screaming my 'music', #1. I don't like being yelled or screamed at. If I try to rhyme words together rapidly it usually just turns into a 'jumble' of incoherent, ineffective communication, or just plain nonsense. #2. I would like to convey 'some sort' of message that means something positive/ means something/and sounds like it was 'tastefully' composed. 'Coming of age' in an area of the country (Northeast Ohio) which is synonymous musically with 'All over the map' it is a part of 'life'. As a 'budding' songwriter of 13, it was obvious through my 'training', experience and heredity that 'love of music' was an open playing field. Those early years were filled with the likes of The Mills Brothers (Youngstown), Bob Hope (grew up in Cleveland), Dean Martin (Stuebenville), David Allen Coe (Akron), The O'Jays (Canton). However as adolescence was outgrown, though I still 'dearly' appreciate and admire my parents influence, it was obvious that a new age would come to influence and shape more of what I love. The likes of Phil Keaggy (Youngstown), Chrissy Hynde and the Pretenders, Devo, Ben Orr (The Cars) (all of Akron)...you get the point. In fact, the music industry of 'every genre' has extremely 'notables' from all over the state of Ohio. So it's easy to understand how you can learn to love it all. The real answer to 'what kind of music I write' is THERAPUTIC. Penning compositions, for me, is about what primarily influences life. Relationships are at the top of that list. Regardless of 'style' or 'genre' music, even rap and heavy metal 'should' evoke a memory, experience, or even a fantasy/dream you have had. That, in music, is the 'common denominator' that 'connects us all' and makes music, real music, worth listening to. What Kind Of Music Do You Write?
Tomorrow will be Christmas Eve. But this year I began to feel sort of lowly about how the traditions that I grew up with have faded over the years. Many times the mix in the traditions can water down what they mean to us as a marriage, loss, or change in situations compared to what we experienced when we were growing up. Some may be rather overwhelming, while some may seem rather dull or silly and even miss the meaning of the season altogether. Not everyone grew up in that church setting that centers on Christ, not everyone grew up in that tight knit family that warmly welcomes everyone in, not everyone had that perfect community that thrived on making the town look as though the celebration was the only thing on their minds. In all though, as the name implies, it is the season where the love of Christ is at its peak. More Christ, Christmas, more love, more peace, more understanding, more charity, more hope, more Christ. As we make our way through the season, take a moment to reflect on how more you can make a difference to those around you, how more you can show the love that God gave to us through the Christ, how more you can help someone understand that you care. Merry Christ more, Merry Jew more, Christ was a Jew, Merry God More. Merry Christmas!!!
As I reflect over the years, I remember how we enjoyed Halloween as children, the pumpkin carving, the trick-or-treating, the candy, but never was there anything more than just the fun. As I got older, the 'fun' stayed, the candy wasn't so meaningful, but the 'dress-up' became the 'treat'. My fathers' death 'supposed' at midnight on the 31st (according to mom), changed the meaning, especially later as I learned more and more as a Christian. Love, however, was the theme always of my family. As time would have it, everything changes, but the love of my family is still a primary forethought in my heart and mind.