I spent my Sunday. I spent it completely. I zipped out of my house at 9:30 in the morning and crawled back in around 10:30 at night - and it was a day off. Cripes. I do have days that are slower - I do need to breathe - but for the most part, this is just the season of life I’m in.
As it was the first Sunday of the month, there was, of course, a contra dance involved. Generally, there’s time to catch a word or two here and there with your partner as you dance together up and down the line. A swing, or maybe an allemande, where you’re face to face for about eight beats, maybe more.
It was a little unusual when we struck up a conversation that lasted the entire dance, but I couldn’t let this guy off the hook. I’ve known him long enough to know some of his stories. He’s got some background with shows, folk music, and singer-songwriters. Apparently he has known some pretty famous folks from before they were famous. Ordinarily, this would not impress me in and of itself, but the conversation was enthralling, as you will find out:
We ended up getting into a discussion about FAWM and some of the finer points of being an effective singer-songwriter. I’ve had a lot of discussions about this. Here’s where it got interesting for me: this guy generally doesn’t like singer-songwriters.
And yet, he knows them well. He knows what works and what doesn’t, mostly through seeing a ton of what he doesn’t like.
At the end of the dance, I asked him if I could send him a few tracks here and there to critique however he saw fit. To my utter delight, I now have his business card.
Let's get something straight here: I will accept any comment anyone wants to make regarding my music. Gladly and gratefully.
But I will only actively seek comments from folks who A) know what they’re talking about and B) have the guts to be completely honest. And I think any serious singer-songwriter ought to consider who those people are in their lives, ferret them out, and actively pursue their feedback.
Obviously, I’m thrilled that folks feel so moved to compliment my music. That they take the time to encourage me. But I’m looking for the comments that tear everything apart - praise the good, but understand the why of it, and also point out the bad without fear.
It's a kind of mentorship - you go into it with the understanding that the intent is not to tear down, but to build up. Sometimes building up requires tearing out a rotten board or two. You don't have to be embarrassed about it.
The bottom line: If you don’t have a good song to begin with, no amount of production can improve it. If you want a good song, you have to become a student of songwriting. The world is tired of the same cliches and the same stories and the same beaten-to-death harmonic progressions.
(Or at least, I am!! Shoot!!)