So I just finished spending 30 days or so in Nashville.
I arrived with nothing planned. I just showed up.
Here is what happened:
- I wrote, sang, and recorded my first 7 song EP at The House of Blues studios.
- I got my guitar out and played a song for my uber driver, and she invited me to play at a live songwriter set.
- I worked with 2 amazing vocal coaches.
- I met a lead singer from the #1 voted upcoming rock band in Nashville, who went on to produce my album. He was bad ass.
- I worked with a Grammy-winning engineer on my album, and his girlfriend really liked my music. Wahoo!
- I recorded in the same studio as Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Band Perry, and many more… (That studio… it smelled like good ol’ mary-jane big time).
The Grammy winning engineer worked on smash hits like Matchbox 20’s album from 1997. He had done hundreds of albums. He was a hilarious dude. Swore like a sailor. Smoked like a banshee. And made me smile almost every minute.
The lead singer from the #1 upcoming band broke apart just after they got their award, and so he was starting a new production company. The band was 10 years old right as they got the award and had gone through a lot of change. I was his first client. He’s a bad ass songwriter, singer, and guitar player. He was a great mentor & producer for my first album.
The 7 songs I wrote were fun and hard to write at times. I had a blast and worked with some great people on them.
But I digress, this blog post is all about me playing my first songwriter set.
My First Live Songwriter Set
It was a good old standard Tuesday when I got into my Uber ride just after lunch. I had a funny feeling when I got in the car that something cool was about to happen.
Me: Hey, so what do you do when you’re not driving uber?
Her: I’m a songwriter.
Me: Oh cool me too!
Her: Oh awesome, maybe you could play at one of our songwriter sets one of these nights.
My whole body just flashed with fear. I took a deep breath in and tuned into my heart, and had a conversation with myself.
I asked my heart, “Hey I feel all this fear, what do YOU want me to do, heart?”
Heart: Do it, say yes.
Me: I’d love too, let me sing you a song when we park so we can decide if I’m ready for it.
When we got to the location, I whipped out my guitar and played her a song. After I was done I looked up at her and she said..
Her: Yes, we definitely want you to come and play.
Me: How many songs do I need prepared?
I was thinking to myself, shit, I only have like 3 songs. I tuned back into my heart.
I asked my heart: What do you want to do buddy?
Heart: You’ll figure it out, just say yes!
Me: Ok I’ll do it.
Then the next day she emailed me and said hey I only need you to sing 4 songs. So I was quite relieved.
But then it was time to get to the stage…
I had practiced my songs as many times as possible before arriving on stage. When I got there I got on stage with 2 other songwriters.
They all started talking into the mic and testing their guitar volumes.
I had no clue what I was doing, so I just pretended like I knew what was happening.
I started strumming my guitar and adjusting my volume…
Then I spoke into the mic and it sounded alright…
Me: Alright my levels are good.
Phew… ok I past the first little test.
Then we listened to one of the songwriters play their first songs.
I was thinking, “Damn she’s good. What the eff am I doing here? Nah it’s ok I’ve got this!”
It was a break up song about a relationship if I remember correctly.
I was thinking, “I don’t really write those kinds of songs that much, I write more inspirational music about vulnerability and for the heart. Shit I hope people like that stuff.”
I played my first song, called “What If Someone See’s My Light?”
It’s about the fear that comes along with shining brightly.
I got a nice round of applause.
Phew, alright past the second round of tests.
Then when I got to my fourth song, I froze.
I didn’t want to sing my fourth song, I don’t like it anymore, I thought.
So I thought, “shit, what am I going to do?!”
“Ah remember Dane? You can make up songs on the spot.”
So it was my turn…
I leaned into the mic and I said…
“Hey guys, I’m going to do something I don’t think has ever been done before on this stage, and I may bomb miserably, but I’m going to give it a shot. I’m going to make up a song right here, on the spot.”
The crowd sat forward on their chairs…
“So go ahead, give me a topic to sing about.”
Someone yelled, “Frog Princes.”
I jumped right into my tune and started singing about Frog Princes…
Oh Frog Princes
And The Girls
When they have to kiss so many a frog prince…
I said a bunch more shit on Frog Princes…
Then I said next topic…
Someone yelled, “Dolphins.”
I started singing about Dolphins…
Oh dolphins, those beautiful creatures.
What things God made
With all those dorsil fin features.
I sang a bunch more on dolphins…
Then I said, “next topic”
Someone said “Splunking!”
And I went on again…
By now a few people in the crowd were recording from their iPhones.
“Damn, this is going over really well,” I thought.
Then when I was done I had a number of people come up and give me a business card, many people praising me.
And I had successfully played my first songwriter set.
All because I asked my heart what it wanted, and made my hearts voice louder than the fear.