A few years ago a friend of mine introduced me to Tom Jackson; a top live music producer. Tom has worked with artists as diverse and popular as Taylor Swift to Casting Crowns to Shawn Mendez. He has an uncanny ability of teaching performers how to pull “magical moments” out of a song (performance), and in turn, create a show that people walk away remembering forever.
As I learned more about Tom’s “Moments” approach, it occurred to me that this is valuable inside stuff for songwriters!
Once this crazy pandemic is behind us, singers will be looking to record and perform songs that allow them to create these magical moments in their shows. Therefore, the odds of that artist recording yours or my song go way up if we understand these moments, right?
I was lucky enough one night to witness this kind of moment in a Texas stadium. It was full of people singing along to one of my songs as country music artist Clay Walker belted out the notes I had written. Yes, Clay sang a song written by another clay (me). But even crazier, the publisher’s name was Clay also! lol
I had heard my song was a big moment in the show, but I didn’t really understand why.
I mean, my co-writers and I had written it sitting in a small room on Music Row on our small acoustic guitars. How could that translate into an important moment in a huge stadium?
As Clay Walker sang the chorus to “Fall,” the whole crowd swayed and sang along. Okay, I get it, I thought: a big melody and words people can pour their heart into and sing. That’s how we felt. A wonderful moment for me for sure! But…
…when Clay got to the last line of the bridge: “Hold on, Hold on, Hold on to me……” he milked that last bridge note for all it was worth! Then he stopped.
He looked to the side of the stage where I stood and grinned. The crowd went nuts in anticipation of him singing that last chorus of the song. Though it was only a few seconds, it seemed like time was standing still. He hit that first note of the chorus and the crowd erupted in a frenzy!
Finally, I understood. I had witnessed an unforgettable “magical moment, the kind that Tom Jackson helps a singer find in a song.
Every person in the stadium that night went home and remembered their role in that moment, when the song stood still as if time had frozen for a moment.
Though we had not realized it in the writing room, we had instinctively written “magical moments” into “Fall. Great artists recognize these moments. They want to record and perform these songs. Since learning of Tom’s approach, I have built it into my yearly Melody MasterClass. It has been a big help to former students with landing staff writer deals and major label cuts.
So, as we all write today, let’s all aim to create those “magical moments” in our songs.
Write on! ~Clay