Today, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Reno, Nevada. Last night, I played the second of 5 shows in a row at Harrah’s Casino. As I sat on stage, looking out at a crowd I couldn’t even see because of the bright lights, I was thinking about all of the amazing things I have been a part of simply because I write songs.
I have been all over the U.S. and to several other countries just to play the songs I’ve written. That blows my mind.
I remember the days when I very tentatively told people that I was a songwriter, because I feared the next question. It was always some variation of “Have you written anything I might have heard of?”
When the answer was “no”, there was always an unpleasant, awkward moment when I could tell that they were thinking to themselves “He’s not a REAL songwriter.” The polite ones changed the subjects. The rude ones would say things like “I didn’t think you could call yourself a songwriter unless someone has picked up one of your songs”. I don’t even know how you “pick up” a song, but the comments hurt.
What I wanted to say then and what I will say now is that those who write songs are songwriters. We are the poets, historians and prophets of our time. Commercial success does not validate or define us.
We write because we have been given a gift and we are willing to share it with the world. That, in and of itself, is noble and is a valuable calling.
At my 25th high school class reunion, a guy who had always been a jerk to me walked up and said (in a sarcastic tone), “So, I hear you are a songwriter. Have you written anything I might have heard of?” I could tel that he was expecting the answer to be “no”. When I listed them off, his jaw dropped. He was speechless.
I took the opportunity to ask what he did for a living. He said that he was a lawyer. I asked “Have you won any cases I might have heard of?” He shook his head and said “nope”. I changed the subject. That’s the last I heard from him.
If you are a songwriter, hold your head up high when you tell people. If they ask if you’ve written anything they have heard of, just say “not yet, but you will”.