Songwriting

My Story: by Marty Dodson

by Marty Dodson
Jul 5, 2016

I grew up in Nashville. So, I missed out on being able to say that I quit my job and sold everything I had to move here. My family moved to Nashville when I was 5 and I’ve been here ever since.

Even though I don’t get to tell a story of moving here for music, I do get to tell the stories of the air conditioner repairmen, the cable guys, the waitresses and the college professors I grew up around that were all trying to get into the music business and failing.

My story was that of an insecure kid who got an electric guitar for his 11th birthday.

I began to teach myself to play. We couldn’t afford lessons. One of my big “wishes”, if I could go back, would be to have taken lessons. I taught myself a lot of bad technique, but I did my best. My guitar came with a cheap amp. When I tried to play with the amp sitting on concrete, something about it would shock and paralyze me momentarily. That’s why they call them the good ole’ days, I suppose.

I would sit on the 4th step going down to our basement and write songs.

I discovered that this was the sweet spot. No, I didn’t even know the name for it at the time, but the stairwell had a bit of reverb if you sat in that one spot and sang in a particular direction.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my mom would work in the kitchen while I wrote and sang, just so she could hear me. Each day, I would sit on the stairs by myself and write. She would encourage me and I would catch her humming one of “my” tunes every now and then.

Even then, writing was the therapy that helped me process life.

It helped me cope with rejection from girls, a dad who took too many pain pills and my own insecurity about being short, poor, and having really wild hair.

That stairwell was my safe place. I could say anything I wanted in that space. And I went there often. Alone. To think and heal.

When I graduated from high school and had to pick a career direction, I didn’t even give songwriting one thought.

I couldn’t do that. In my mind, I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t have any connections. And I had NO money.

So, I went to college and left my safe place behind. I got a degree and started to work. The guitar gathered dust. No songs were written. That was behind me.

Ten years later, when a career crisis pushed me to make some hard decisions, I took a long hard look at my life and decided I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do.

So, I began to seriously try to become a pro songwriter.

It wasn’t easy. It tested me time and time again. I experienced failure in more ways and more times than I had ever experienced it in any other area of my life. There were no pro songwriters writing books like Song Building to speed up the process. So it was by trial and error.

But, I was doing something that filled me up. Something that excited me. Something I was passionate about. So, I persevered. And dreams came true.

And I have never regretted one of the difficult moments.

The rejection made me strong. The obstacles became victories. Each little success fueled my fire for what I do.

And that’s why I write on.

Happy writing! Marty

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a multi-hit songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing

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