In 2013 I went out on a limb. I applied to be part of a songwriting class that focused on co-writing. Up until then I had only co-written a small part of one song (I wrote the bridge), and that was it. But I wanted to do more, improve, and find new ways to be creative.
It struck me today that there are basically two kinds of writers I work with. There are empowered writers and non-empowered writers. Empowered writers write confidently and take chances. They don't complain about the state of the music business or whine about someone not getting them cuts. They realize that THEY are in charge of the ship they are on. If they are rejected, they learn from it and move on. They see criticism as an opportunity to grow.
I woke up this morning so excited to go and demo some songs today that I'm really proud of, and it got me thinking about the path my career has taken. I started as an artist - all I ever wanted to do was be in my own band and write my own songs; I didn't even know you could just have a career as a songwriter until well into my second record
I was 11 years old when I started writing songs. The only person I trusted enough to play my songs for was my mom. Before I even realized that she was hearing them, I had found that my favorite songwriting location was the staircase going to our basement. I would sit on the steps with my guitar, a pencil and paper as I crafted my first original pieces of music.
I view my songwriting like an athlete views his or her sport. I have to practice. I have to stay in shape. So I do it every day. I can stack the odds in my favor by starting with a distraction-free space. I need to feel quiet and relaxed and able to channel things that are deeper than the inputs from my immediate surroundings. I don't want the phone to ring, or the TV buzzing away in the background. When inspiration hits I need to be able to receive it clearly. If I don't catch it, someone else will.
SONGWRITERS!! Do you ever feel like you’re all alone out there? Laboring in a vacuum? Wishing you could connect with other songwriters for advice or collaboration? If you live in San Diego to Seattle or anywhere in between, you’re in luck! You have an abundance of resources at your fingertips in the West Coast Songwriters’ Association.
I grew up in Nashville. It was a very intimidating place to grow up if you aspire to sing or make music. Nearly everyone that ever came to work on our air conditioner was trying to be in the music business. Most of the waiters and waitresses were, too. I saw lots of people TRYING to be singers and songwriters, but I didn't know anyone who was actually doing it.
As a whole, writers are not the most secure people in the world. Many of us battle insecurity daily. Maybe it’s because we have to put ourselves out there in a vulnerable position any time we let someone hear our songs.
We love Matt Nathanson’s latest offering Last of the Great Pretenders for a number of reasons. Solid songwriting, good lyrics, and of course, the many references to San Francisco. Acoustic Nation editor Laura B Whitmore had the opportunity to sit down with Nathanson and chat about how the record was made, as well as his influences, favorite gear, loves, hates and much more. Turns out, not only is Matt Nathanson a gifted songwriter, he’s also hilarious!