Writing, Writing, Writing

Hello and thank you for checking in on your boi! This is going to be a blog. I have never blogged before but I have thoughts and words and the internet is where that stuff goes so this is where I will be putting them>>

2019 has been a great year, full of new experiences, new friendships and growth. I’ve been able to play more and more new places as well as work hard to grow my experience playing for special moments in people’s lives. I never thought that I would enjoy being a performer at weddings and parties because I thought it was an empty and lackluster musical endeavor only based on the way that wedding bands are portrayed in the media. There is always such an air of greasiness, despair and lack of self awareness that is espoused to wedding performers in movies and shows and it totally shaped my view of what that meant.

That is so dumb lol.

I’ve learned from dozens of weddings, engagements, anniversaries and surprise parties that those moments are some of the most special and memorable pieces of our lives and I totally forgot that the rest of the time that same media is obsessed with trying to portray the beauty and profound divinity in those same moments.

I am constantly awed by the extents people go to show their love to each other and the importance of letting each other know how much they mean to one another. I can’t help but to be entirely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of those moments and to do everything I can to help enhance that instance and that memory to elevate it to something completely unforgettable and powerfully representative of those genuine emotions. I am always excited to be surrounded by a group of people that I have only begun to know, and seeing them be their absolute best and brightest selves while they smile, catch up, laugh, reminisce and celebrate for hours on end. It is a genuinely magical thing that we humans have chosen to ritualize and I am grateful everyday for the opportunity to play a part in that realm of our shared existence and constant search for the most purely positive and affirming experiences in this life.

This year has also been a new chapter in my quest for self discovery as an artist. My thirst for musical development and vocabulary has always been a somewhat defined and concentrated endeavor. I perpetually want to improve on my instrument and there is always an infinite library of resources to draw upon at any given moment to fuel that interest. I can download a million worksheets, watch ten thousand youtube lick lessons, read five hundred theory books that are instantly available etc. etc. There is such a concrete and tangible roadmap to development on an instrument it seems but I have never felt that I had that kind of understanding when it comes to writing lyrics.

It is ironic because I have always enjoyed writing creatively and puns and rhymes are basically how my brain works anyways. But the concept of lyric writing has always been so elusive to me. I’ve never understood the process by which people are able to tie words and music together so harmoniously to the point where its impossible to tell which came first.

Last Summer I was part of an eye-opening seminar series from the Los Angeles Songwriters Collective that completely reset my perspective on how lyrics work. The seminar series was awesome and completely worth every penny and I’ve met some amazing people and begun some very meaningful relationships that were born there. The thngs that I gleaned from the series were so simple and so powerful, which I think is the most beautiful balance because it means that they are accessible, implementable, and expandable.

There are a million little tricks, tips and pointers that you can focus on at any given time but on the macro level the things that I took away the most were to 1. Practice 2. Let Go

Anything creative requires some brazen buffoonery in the form of searching for something extraordinary. You have to be comfortable with failure and let it go as quickly as it comes. This is the biggest fear that has always held me back. That whole mantra that social media is your window into people’s highlight reels and you cant compare your behind the scenes to what you see is so true and so so easy to forget. Every artist I hear simultaneously inspires and scares the shit out of me because I love their work and it makes me want to create. Then my little devil shoulder dude pops up and says “bro you can’t write like that, look how good they are, what are you just going to copy them now? They already said all of the cool shit, if you say it now you are just copying them, plus they are already successful so people definitely like to hear them say it so there isn’t really a place for you. blah blah blah blahhhh” That fear is soooo paralyzing its insane. And its just me in my Buick by myself having this whole convo in my head. Its nuts! So making peace with the fear that you don’t belong and aren’t good enough and have nothing special to offer is enormous and I struggle with it everyday but it also gets a little easier everytime I confront it.

The other main component is a no brainer - PRACTICE. I used to sit and yearn (do you ever sit and yearn?) for the ability to write endless prose with depth, skillful rhyme and thoughtful cadence with a liquid ease and have an abundance of ideas, original thoughts and unique voice to funnel it all through. Essentially I wanted to have the ability to easily create on a whim and have evert idea be groundbreaking. No pressure right.

Of all the things I learned from improving on my instrument I can’t believe that I never though to apply the most basic concept from that endeavor to this new one. In my defense I think that the main issue was that I didn’t know how to practice.. Lyric writing seemed so elusive and ethereal, like all of the words were supposed to be there and it was a magical and divinely appointed gift to be able to just know what works and what doesn’t. Like there was some sort of inherent poeticism that all real songwriters have and they just have to summon it and turn it on to create bodies of work that the world sat back and picked apart as well as admiring at length. But once I attended this class series and began to go through the motions of the minutia of lyric writing I quickly found out that its nothing ethereal. NOBODY sits down and writes the whole thing in one page, perfecty spaced without eraser marks. It is a maze of failures and discoveries in search of a feeling that takes the form of 4,5,6,8,14 pages with words, lines, paragraphs scratched out. Arrows going from the 3rd word of the second like to the 5th word of the 9th line with a question mark next to it. 17 words that all rhyme and two of them having circles sloppy whipped around them while the others are all left behind. Its a living, breathing experiment into expression that has dead ends and U-turns and cliffs it falls from. There are spurts of excitement and intrigue that cool down and turn to ice in seconds. Then you move onto the next page and repeat a 3 word phrase in your head for 6 minutes until you come up with something half way decent that you don’t end up using anyway. But its all about the search, the work that you do to push yourself to find something else to say. It all becomes a part of you and your voice and your journey to that final statement that you land on that feels complete and like..it belongs.

These things have been so profound to me that I am still constantly working to incorporate them into my real true understanding of this craft. Fear and anxiety haven’t left, discipline is coming around more often and excitement is bubbling all the time. I took the plunge and released my single “Sorry” this year as a way to hold myself accountable to these things. I wanted to face the fear, accept the anxiety and indulge the excitement and I am really proud of having accomplished those things for that moment. Everyday it starts over again but it does get easier over time. I’m spoiled to be a capable, able bodied, able brained, musically talented, young person with resources and positive and inspiring people all around me. I’m constantly trying to keep those things in mind to remind myself of the sheer magical beauty of this life and to take every piece of it and see it through to the end. I really genuinely appreciate every single person that comes to see me play, wants a hug, listens to my music, asks me for more originals, buys me a drink, says hi to me on the street, tips me $2 of the money they worked to earn, sings along and wants me to play one more song when I’m done at the end of the night. Its a remarkable way to make a living and I am deeply greateful for it every day.

I’ll be back on here to drop a line again in a few days.

With love,

Sam