Just a little bit country

At some point, after moving to East Tennessee, I gingerly turned the radio dial to a country station and boy was I surprised. The songs were fun, the musicianship was fantastic, and while the themes sometimes trouble me, it wasn't anything I had feared it would be. I've always been an omnivore of music, and can find something of interest in everything except Webern and later Schoenberg. I ended up feeling like I missed an important train, because country might be the style I was always supposed to write.

Pop music rarely welcomes me, but country does. In country, it's okay to tell a story, it's okay to have a good singing voice, and clever lyrics are welcome. It's still formulaic as hell, and some of the "good ole American values" in country songs are driven home in ways I don't like.I now believe that a lot of country music is pop music with a cowboy hat on, but there are also musical traditions and theoretical distinctives under the surface that I need to get to know.

Anyway... I went to some songwriter events here, got some songs critiqued, heard a lot of other songs in many different styles, and the feedback I got on my own songs helped me a lot. It's a long story but I ended up having very limited resources for musicians to help me demo my songs, and that ended up helping me a ton because I had a very strict template. I am learning to strip off the extra lyrics and fancy chords that I use in other styles, and try to fit my story into a very small package. I like to say that songwriting is like being a Navy SEAL: get in, get it done, get out. And try not to get killed.


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