I guess every songwriter has a story about the influences that shaped who they are as an artist. For me, I was influenced very early on by some great Americana Music writers who had the ability to create great music within a wide range of musical genres. I remember sneaking out my bedroom window to go see a Bob Seger concert with several friends. One of my friends even made it up to the stage and shook Bob’s hand. Well, that was all it took, I knew I had to be an Americana artist. I couldn’t wait for the next Springsteen or Tom Petty record to come out and would be first in line to get my copy.
I think the thing about Americana Music that gets me most, is the stories that the artist tells. When Bruce talks about Rat meeting up with the Barefoot Girl across the Jersey state line in “Jungleland”, it’s like watching a movie in your head. Or, in “American Girl” when Tom Petty sings about it being ‘cold that night as she stood alone on her balcony’, you can just feel the chill.
I had an assignment once in a photography class to take pictures of a live performance, so I went to see Emmylou Harris and Chuck Berry, a couple of great Americana legends, and got right up to the stage. I am forever influenced by Emmylou’s amazing, angelic voice and Chuck’s showmanship. I still have the pics and they are incredible! I knew even as a young teen that if I wanted to write like these great artists, I would need to play guitar, so I worked hard with my guitar teacher on many great songs by music stars like Dolly Parton (Jolene), Roy Orbison (Blue Bayou) and Gary White (Long Long Time), which gave me the drive to try to create like they did.
I feel lucky to have been impacted by such amazing Americana Music artists and to have worked on their music with a great teacher because it helped make me the writer I am today. Maybe we should work on some songs.