Six weeks of being challenged by the SAC Songwriting Challenge. And yes, there were some “challenging” moments. But surprisingly few, considering how ill-prepared I was for this. Yes, I have writtten songs before and even on occasion collaborated with other people but never in such a concentrated amount of time, in so many genres and with complete strangers often in other cities.
The variety of challenges was good. The support from the coaches Debra Alexander and James Linderman was great. The co-writing was the best. The scrutiny of our submissions took some getting used to. When I have a new song, my habit is to play it live and see how people react. And, over time, make changes until the song feels solid and whole.
Not here. Each week we threw pieces together, dressed them up with a few chords, slapped a bit of production makeup on ’em and sent them down the runway. Sometimes to kind applause – sometimes to crickets.
Each challenge was a learning experience – and in a good way. Not the “oh, putting my hand on a hot stove really hurts” kind of education. More the “oh that’s how you do it” kinda thing.
And above all, I was most fortunate in my roster of co-writers. Considering the hundred or so people involved in this challenge, the chance of ending up with someone with whom I did not connect was quite a distinct possibility.
Didn’t happen. Every collaboration was fruitful and loads of fun. None more so than with Braeden Mitchell, my co-writer on the Matt Dusk song.
Braeden and I connected early on with the idea that we wanted to write a fictional character for the Dusk song – one who, like Matt Dusk, was seeking to change his direction in some way. The person in the song needs a more drastic intervention but that is part of the fun of it.
Braeden and I met only a few times over the weeks but the time in between helped us to have fresh ears each time we went back to it. The brief was to write sometime more contemporary and groove-based than Matt Dusk’s previous material. They say to write what you know, this is what we came up with – Bad Habits.
My other collaboration on a Matt Dusk song was once again with Scott MacKay. Scott has a wonderful connection to classic songs and creates old-soul, down-to-earth music that is gratifyingly easy to write to.
Here’s a beautiful duet he has conjured up.
And just a reminder, even though I’m done with the challenges I’m not done yet. The results for Weeks 5, 6 and 1 have still to come in and I may keep writing this blog even after that.
So please stay tuned.