Josh Grider checks back in with us and tells us all about a day in the life of a working Nashville songwriter.
A DAY IN THE LIFE…
More than once I’ve been asked what a work day in my life is like these days. I thought maybe it would be a good topic for today. Here goes…
When I’m in town and in writing mode, I usually have writing appointments that start between 10 and 11. I was lucky if I had three a week before I signed my deal, but now that I have help scheduling them, I’m writing about 4 to 5 times a week, usually with folks I’ve not written with yet. I’ve never been on a blind date, but I can only imagine that first time co-writes are similar in a lot of ways…sans the prospect of hooking up in the end. You go into a writer room, meet your co-writer, small talk for a bit, and drink some coffee. I always try to bring and idea or two into a cowrite; maybe a little melodic idea, or a title, or a phrase that I think might sound clever. After kicking around ideas we’ll collectively decide on a path and try to get a song. This morning my co-writer (whom I had never met) and I had two paths to go down. He had a really cool idea about a guy in jail blah, blah, blah (it’s not my place to be sharing his song ideas). It was folky, cool, with an intricate story–something that would have been challenging to write. Door number two was a poppy, more mainstream, straight ahead something that you might hear on modern radio thing. Definitely an easier road to walk.
Today we chose door number two. When I don’t know the person I am writing with, sometimes I find it best to go down the simple road, one where I am pretty sure we can get a song by the end of the session, while at the same time trying to figure out if I dig what the other person does in order to see if another session (or date for the sake of our analogy) is even worth it. It’s a very strange dynamic. Sitting in a room with someone you don’t know and making up anything takes a certain amount of confidence and willingness to open up that isn’t always the most comfortable thing to do. Back to the blind date analogy, you don’t jump straight into politics and religion right off the bat. Probably best to ease in with sports, weather, and where you’re from. You can learn a lot from those conversations before you decide whether it’s worth wading into the heavier things. Although I do have to admit that a lot of my first writes have come out really well. There is a certain amount of liberty in creating (or just talking) with someone you don’t know. There isn’t any real pre-conceived idea of how it’s supposed to go. Sometimes it’s easier to be open and opinionated with a stranger than somebody you know. In the end you hope for a song, that’s what we’re all here for. Sometimes you meet kindred spirits, sometimes you meet jaw dropping talents, and sometimes you just can’t wait to get out of the room.
My favorite days though, are the ones where I show up without a clue what to write and coming away with something I love. I think so much of being a writer is learning to listen like one. Listening to conversation, or TV shows, or other great writers for hooks and ideas. I don’t think the best writers have heard to anything that anybody else couldn’t hear, they just listened to it in a way nobody else did. Scripted television shows are really good for me because the economy of words is so important in them. All the words count. The same is true of a song (not so much of a blog, ha).
Folks knock how regimented the Nashville writing process is, and all I can say is that’s it’s been great for me. I know it’s not for everyone, but the overall structure is good for my scattered brain. Now I’m facing the difficulty of picking six songs to cut for our EP due out this fall. Let me tell you, it’s not easy. I’ll write more about that another day.
FYI, I’m in Galveston, TX playing at a place called the Stingaree at 8:30pm on this Thursday the 9th, and then with my brother from another mother, Drew Kennedy at the Auslander in Fredericksburg, TX on Friday. Both are acoustic shows.
Holler at me if you want. Thanks for reading! email@example.com