Sometimes one turn in the road reminds you of another. Recently, it looked like I'd found a situation where I would be able to record a new record. That would have jump started my whole situation. The scenario fell apart and I was left back at square one. That turn in the road took me back to the time I first turned toward a life of writing and performing. I had no clear way forward other than a faithful leap into a destiny I could only hope would come with a break or two and little affirmations. From my soul, came a picture encompassing the totality of my future. I was called to forge a life for myself with a guitar. I'd seen enough at 17 to know that whatever course one took, hardship would come. I was inviting hardship, setting out to be an artist. My crosses would be my own and that was my preference.
So, without a way to jump start my career, I was left with hope in the kindness of my destiny and a resolve to take my blows. The calling returned to remind me that I knew this drill. I wrote this about it:
When the leaves start falling
I remember the calling I heard
"You look a little tragic
find some magic in words"
Now leaves in the breeze
are floating to the creek in tune
I follow to a clearing
where a coyote is rearing for the moon
I'm the coyote. I do my best to be natural like that. It's comforting to think that howling or singing is supported by nature. And that, as long as it's natural, there is a place for it.
Spring is arguably the most beautiful season of the year. In this time of blossoms and warm breezes, I'm called, in my songwriting, toward a quest for beauty. I'm a bit of a naturalist and always hope to be in sync with nature. It is my hope that I will bring forth my own musical blossoms soon.
In every one of the 8 records I've released, there's at least one pretty song. Invariably, those songs are slower and melodic. The consistency there is an homage to my hedonism because beauty is certainly a source of pleasure.
I'm fortunate to have a regular fiddle player these days, Richard Bowden, who can be utterly beautiful when the song inspires him. I've written a few songs with his penchant for beautiful contributions in mind. And he's never disappointed me.
When I consider my body of work, I am as proud of the songs that some have called beautiful as I am of any of the others. They are my contributions to a part of the world that is inspiring in a humbling way. And those songs remind me to be proactive. Beauty is to be shared. It's almost a medium to what is right in the world.
I don't do many interviews these days but there was a time that I got used to them. Most of the journalists would ask me about my process of writing. I suppose that's why the fact that my process is a mystery to me has nagged at me over the years. I wish I understood what happens when I write a good song. That way I could court and control it. But I don't understand it. It seems I'm a channel to something outside myself and yet the results can be very customized.
God, as well, has always been mysterious to me. And that's a small part of why I've connected, in my mind, the songwriting process I go through and my perception of God's influence on my life. That's kind of like seeing the hunger of birds satiated by God's Mother Nature and equating that with the satiation of one's hunger for a song.
I regularly survive within the mystery of songwriting. It's an interesting thing for me to be led by. If I could tell someone how I do what I do, I probably wouldn't have done it for 28 years. I suppose I get an affirmation of God's love when I successfully write a song. And maybe that's why I do it. I do believe that God is the artist behind the creation of the universe. So, attempting to be an artist within that universe helps one to feel closer to what I consider the supreme creative force. But I don't know how God creates and I don't know how I create. There is no hard and fast ritual I use. There is no consistent process. The best I can do is be open to muses in what amounts to a hunt for magic.
When I was growing up, my dad kept me busy helping him at a farm we had and also tending to some rental properties he owned. Quality time with him was something like working on barbed wire fences all day. He instilled a good work ethic in me.
Now, besides working at my music, I keep the house clean for my girlfriend who is often working during the day. Recently, I was feeling a little guilty about not doing enough and then i stopped. I always have something related to my music on my mind. There's a song I'm working on or a gig I'm trying to book. I write all the time and work at keeping dates of my shows on the calendar, all the time. I'm always working. So, I wrote a song to help me remember that, even though it's second nature to me, my music is a full time job. This will help me when I start to feel like, after the dishes, I should do some farm work.
You can listen to "Always Working" and or download it for free via the "Free mp3's" tab above this blog. I hope you enjoy.
Ever since 9/11, the terror alert level has been rising. Now the nudists of California have come out in favor of the full body scanners at airports and other places. With our internet activity monitored with an eye toward censorship and cameras on street corners etc., we're approaching an electronic police state. And it's all in the name of keeping us safe from terrorists. But we, the innocent citizens, are treated like suspects who are guilty until proven innocent. I'm tired of it.
Here's a new song stating, for the record, that I am not a terrorist. This is one of my braver endeavors in song. You can listen to the whole thing and or download it for free at the "Free mp3's" tab above this blog. I hope you enjoy.
I have one new year's resolution, to release a new record in 2010. I've been taking stock of my new material and I'm happy to report that I have just enough songs. This is my favorite time to be a songwriter. The obligation of coming up with a CD's worth of new music is done. I've made a recording of my choices, at this point, and am now in the "better the work tape" process. Everything I write now might be released this year. Because of that, there's an excitement to my songwriting that comes around each time I'm choosing songs for a record. I'm closest to my audience now. I'm in a window of songwriting time wherein I might come up with something you'll love to hear and or own. Luckily, bookings and band availability has been good so I have ample opportunity to try out new songs.
My muses seem to have a lot of purpose now and I'm considering all the possibilities a new recording project brings. I don't have the budget for extravagant recording and a promotion push for this project. That's all the more reason to work at my collection being better and better. It'll have to be good enough to sell itself some. All of the positive communications I've received from around the world come back to me now. Who might I reach this year with a song I write tonight? I feel very grateful to have a little audience for my work. Therein is still a reason to write a record.
Will T. Massey
Over the last few years, I've received news on a couple of occasions that someone fairly young in my life has passed away. The disquieting experiences have caused me to think about my own mortality. Both of my friends, too soon from this world, were involved in the music community. So, music played apart in marking their passings.
Saying my goodbyes, I found myself wondering what music would mark my passing. A few weeks ago, I decided to take a shot at writing a song for my own funeral and "I Had A Good Life" was what I came up with. I like the song pretty good and have it recorded here at the "Free mp 3's" tab (above this blog) if you'd like to listen to it and or download it, free of charge. This is my way of summing up a ride that has been interesting and promises to remain so.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and find some love to take into the new year.
Will T. Massey
After more than 20 years of pursuing a career as a singer/songwriter/performer, I found myself in the inspiring position of being only a source of support for another's pursuit of an artistic dream. My girlfriend, a photographer, has her first exhibit up this month. Having a bird's eye view of her groundbreaking endeavor has inspired me to think young again about my own journey as an artist. it has taken a great deal of courage for Valerie to cull through thousands of pictures, choose and invest in some to be framed, hang them and then invite the community to see them. It was a huge and successful step in her burgeoning career as a photographer. I was taken back to the event of releasing my first record. Each picture was like a song and the audience was being introduced to this person anew.
Seeing Valerie follow her passion to a beautiful end reminded me of why I do what I do. I genuinely love writing a song, when it works, then following it to the conclusion of sharing. And I've made that love central to my existence because, from it, comes enough fulfillment to sustain peace and happiness.
Valerie and I share the same goal, to earn a living with our art. we're not there yet but we're getting closer. Every affirmation we individually recieve is an affirmation of the destinies we believe we were meant to follow. So, thank you for your encouraging emails, your attendance at shows and for buying my music. Any and all of that fuels a confidence which is challenged by insecutity.
My show this Friday takes place at the venue where Valerie's pictures are hanging. If the weather is bad, I'll be inside surrounded by her work. it will be an honor to sing pieces of a dream amid pieces of a dream.
Will T. Massey
Getting ready for my big show @ Flipnotics this Saturday I recorded a demo of a recent song, "I'll Be True To You," for the fiddle and cello. It sounds good enough to me to share so I've made it available via the Free MP3s tab on this website. You can download it or just listen. This is just me and a guitar. The song was inspired by the wonderful woman I've been with for 3+ years. "I've been a rebel all my life for rock 'n' roll/ I'll break with the law and our leaders too/ There's a little loyalty left in my soul/ And baby, I'll be true to you"
My old record "Kicking Up Dust" will be available for free for few more days. I've been dusting off some of the songs therein and playing them again.
I hope you enjoy.
Recently, an old friend was coming over for dinner as I was finishing a song. I suppose the fact that I was fairly confident that I had a good new song had a lot to do with the direction my mind took. My friend used to be in the music business and has heard and commented on numerous new songs over the years. The thought occurred to me, while I considered playing the song for her, that there are no authorities in art. A diversity of opinions flourish and even the artists, who must give their work up for scrunity and consumption, are only considered subjective commentators on their own creations.
Record sales are not an adequate measure for the greatness of songs. There is rarely a consensus among critics about an individual piece of work. And, even if there is, there will be some who legitimately disagree. Because no one is definitively right in their opinion about a tune. The best we can do in an attempt to be a pleasing part of the artistic process is to be true to ourselves in our creations. It's a difficult thing, knowing what's a keeper and what's not. I've found that honest friends are the best sounding boards and invaluable.
I recently wrote a line for a chorus, "I've been a rebel all my life for rock 'n' roll." I've never done well encountering authorities and I'm quite comfortable working at a craft that succeeds or fails on a case by case basis, each audience of one. Each artist is the ultimate critic of his or her own work. That's where it lives or dies. When I find the critic in me being too kind to myself, I'm glad I have understanding friends. And I'm glad I have a lot of songs.
My old friend liked my new song, "A Sane Goodbye" a lot and so did my girlfriend so, so far, I'm glad I gave it a chance. Although songwriting is therapeutic, the songs are really supposed to be shared. Hopefully, I'm right in my belief that I'm supposed to write songs and play them for people. That way when objectivity is lost, nature takes over and the outcome will be positive.