when I originally signed to Chrysalis, the plan was that I would be a staff writer while my producer Ethan Johns and I developed my follow up to “Restless Night.” Well, as the music biz goes, Ethan’s star began to really rise that year (I think he produced Joe Cocker and Tom Jones that year!) A year later there had been no movement on my project. My A&R sat me down and clarified for me that Chrysalis had signed me as a writer, not an artist, so I needed to let go of expecting support as an artist and stay focused on writing for the country and pop markets.
Initially I was devastated by this news. The game had changed without my knowing it and while I had discovered I really loved staff writing, it was also important to me to balance that with my own artistic endeavors. Then I thought “Fuck it! This is still an opportunity!” I planned a writing trip for myself to London and Nashville. I found that in my home town of LA the co-writes cameâ€¦ slowlyâ€¦ but if I planned a trip to those two cities, Chrysalis would stack me up with meets. I realized that, to keep working as a staff writer, I was going to have to hustle to build a library of material and start getting cuts. They say it takes 5 years to break through as a staff writer in the songwriting market. I knew I probably didn’t have that kind of time.
While in London, I discovered a bunch of my Nashville country music co-writes had fallen through. I was having dinner with the amazingly talented Gary Clark and he said “you have to write with my friend Bill Demain in Nashville, he’s amazing!” That’s all I needed to hear. I contacted Bill and we set up a session.
When I got to Nashville I became really aware of all the incredible music that was going on there, which was not Country. I had been there a few times, but this time it really started to gel for me. Nashville was alive with MUSIC in a way that for me London, NY and LA were not, as much. Journeyman artists were making music for music’s sake and the spirit of the town really rubbed off on me. I decided I would somehow find a way to make my own record as an artist, with or without support.
When I arrived at Bill’s apartment, we had a blank slateâ€¦ no specific agenda for our writing session. We got to talking and discovered our shared loved of bossa nova music. We decided to write a bossa song for the hell of it, not sure where it would lead but going strictly on the fact that we both loved the style.
Bill brought out some amazing lyrics he had stashed away. “Slowlyâ€¦ I’ve been coming ’round, waking to a soft and distant sound, like music from another room calling to me.” He had written all the lyrics for the verses and was just in need of a bridge idea. I came up with “clouds over the moon” because I could not resist interjecting some doubt and uncertainty in the mix!
The thing that really blew me away about Bill’s lyrics is how he was able to be unabashedly romantic without it sounding in any way saccharine. This was a skill I did not yet possess! The only way I was capable of writing songs about love is if I was writing about what interferes with loving. I hadn’t yet learned how to write from the position of being in love! Bill knew how to do that. So, we were a great match because he kept things genuinely hopeful!
I immediately heard a melody for the song and Bill instantly knew where to take the chords. He’s a wonderfully talented guitarist and his love of bossanova has been absorbed into his fingers! Once we had settled on the bridge lyrics, that came effortlessly as well. I would say, all in all, the Slowly session was one of the most satisfying and easy songwriting sessions I’ve ever had. We both were thrilled with the song and as a result we both ended up including it on our separate projects. Bill’s band Swan Dive cut a version of it that just got placed in NBC’s new sitcom, Best Friends Forever!
So how did we go from writing that first song together, when I thought all was lost for my follow up project, to sitting in the room together in Hollywood’s Sound Factory as we recorded my cd “Dominoes” 8 months later??? Stay tuned for my next installment of the soap opera, “As the Bossa Turns” to find out! Meanwhile, to hear “Slowly” scroll over the music player on the right sidebar.