Why I Think Taylor Swift Wins

January 7, 2016Creativity, News, Songwriting

A lot of conversation goes into deciphering what makes Taylor Swift special. She’s charming and beautiful and has a phenomenal team behind her. But I’ll be honest and say that none of that matters as much as this: Her songs are good. The lesson I take from watching her (and maybe you resonate with this) … Read More

Everything Has Changed

September 1, 2015Creativity, Good Music, Songwriting

IS THIS THING ON? The last time I wrote and recorded a stand-alone collection of songs was in 2008. That is part of why this collection, entitled “Everything Has Changed,” is such a joy. I feel like I’ve been away from this medium for a while** and now I’m standing on stage, leaning into the mic, … Read More

Title Pending: Keep It To Yourself

January 27, 2015Songwriting, Title Pending

When I’m at the beginning of a project, I generally let just one or two people into my process and share my vision, or at least as much of it as I have clearly in mind. They are people who will hold me to the work I’ve committed to rather than just pat me on the … Read More

Title Pending: You Are Always Beginning

January 20, 2015Songwriting, Title Pending

The hike to the top of Mt. Diablo is roughly seven and a half miles. And though I know that cognitively, I don’t climb the mountain with that number in mind – I climb it in sections. The first two miles are relatively easy, with a few short hills and plenty of flat ground between. … Read More

Title Pending: Details

January 13, 2015Songwriting, Title Pending

At the very end of Pearl Jam’s hit song “Daughter,” the drum track delicately vanishes, the bass track disappears and Vedder’s signature vocals are long gone. All that remains are two guitar parts, playing single-note patterns… and a beat. But the beat isn’t played on a drum kit. Nor is it played on a djem- … Read More

Title Pending: Study A Master

January 6, 2015Songwriting, Title Pending

My wife studied studio art in college. And as part of her coursework, she spent a good chunk of time not only looking at but re-painting or re-sculpting pieces by master artists. On the wall near my desk is Amy’s study of Wayne Thiebaud’s “Black Shoes.” I find Thiebaud’s original piece particularly remarkable because the … Read More

Title Pending: You Want To Be Critiqued

November 6, 2014Creativity, Songwriting, Title Pending

Mid-way through that songwriter retreat, one of the other contributing artists shared a story that, in my estimation, clearly detailed the danger of expecting niceness rather than seeking critique. Upon arrival, one of the participants whose song he had critiqued approached him, infuriated. Student: “I don’t understand the feedback you gave me.” Teacher: “Let’s take … Read More