How far would you drive for songwriting?

I'm really short on new songs. I haven't really written anything new since the Public Library album, and that came out 3 years ago! Now, since then I guess I did complete the Heartland Liturgy, write a few tunes for Augsburg Fortress, and finalize some old ideas, but as far as new pop/rock/folk songs, I got not-much.

So this past weekend I had a chance to drive up to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, bring the kiddos along to see their Grandparents, and spend a few days doing my own thing. It was a great trip, and we even managed to avoid the huge snow storm that hit right after we came home. Anyway...I used my time to meet with a couple of my favorite musicians and collaborate on songwriting!

Last Friday night I cruised to Marquette to write with the brilliant Jeff Krebs, someone who I've been listening to since my teenage years. Jeff's the real deal, and it was a blast to collaborate. We came up with a nice twangy tune called "New Eyes" that has kind of a 70s southern-rock the Allman Bros meets CSN or something. Jeff had a cool stereo mic (made by Belken I think) that plugged right into an iPod and made a darn good recording. Gotta get me one of those babies. We demoed the song using our Gibson LG guitars...Jeff's is a '48 (I think) and mind is a '52. And in addition to a fine musical project, we enjoyed some tasty take-out fish fry from Vango's. Mmmmmm....
Then on Saturday morning I drove up to the land of my birth, the Keweenaw Peninsula, where I spent the day hanging out with my always entertaining cousin Bruce. After some pancakes and sausages, we retired to Bruce's newly built basement studio (pictured here, along with Bruce's daughter Hannah, my godchild. And yes, I'm wearing the same clothes two days in a row. Showering is overrated.), revved up his ProTools rig for the first time, and sat down to co-write together for the first time in a decade. (By the way, the first song I ever attempted was written with Bruce back in 1987, twenty years ago this year!) Bruce has been suggesting for years that I develop a musical idea that I wrote back in the '90s...a weird instrumental tune called "Pale Green Balalaika." We strummed through that old progression, and found a cool way to play with with dual guitars, and it became our musical structure. Then we took a lyric concept I had left over from Chicago days called "Key to a House" and re-worked it, added to it, and fit it to our guitar arrangement. It worked perfectly, and we ended up with a cool pop song...maybe like the Rembrandts or something. And we whipped up a quick full-band demo of the tune using Bruce's drums, guitars, and mini-keyboard, pumped into ProTools. Turned out good!

Two days of work resulted in two totally great little songs. Hopefully this will prime the creative pump, and I can write a pile of new tunes from the perspective of a mid-30s, suburban Dad with inclinations for prog rock, bluegrass, and organized religion. Sounds like a killer rock record to me!


Bridget Delaney said…
Hope you get the creative juices flowing. I'm doing NaNoWriMo ( again this year. I've done it four or five years, but only twice have I hit the 50,000 word goal. That's why I am still up at almost 12:30 in the morning - I have not written any words since the 11th. I need to write at least 1700 words and nothing has really come to mind on how to continue the story yet.

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