What is “I Wrote this Song for You”?
In this podcast, I have an intimate conversation with each episode’s guest, then share a song I’ve written just for them. Each episode is roughly 25 minutes long, so it’s perfect for listening on a walk around the neighborhood or driving across town. New episodes are released monthly and are available on all podcast platforms.
How do you choose who to write a song for?
There’s a certain feeling I experience — a kind of emotional vibration telling me that a song wants to come out. It’s hard to say why certain people or situations inspire a song, but I’ve learned to be receptive and listen for it. It’s not a choice I make at the conscious, decision-making level. The desire to write a song for someone, what to write, and when to write it...that all feels totally spontaneous to me. I guess that’s what inspiration is. I’m just inspired to write songs for people.
What’s your process for writing a song?
My process is exactly 12% inspiration and 88% work. How the seed of a song arrives in my psyche is a total mystery to me. Each time, I’m astounded by it...I don’t know where they come from. I go into an intense place of focus and listening in a kind of liminal state, like in a dream. At this point, I'm conscious of making decisions about what words to use and what chords or melodies might work, but mostly in a light, receptive way. Once the song arrives, the process is comparatively down-to-earth, and there's a ton of work to do. I decide what instruments to use and the kind of voice or voices that would work best. I book singers and musicians, create sheet music, schedule rehearsals, and handle boring, administrative-type stuff. Once a song is recorded, mixing and mastering it requires countless hours and aesthetic decisions. I try to keep going back to the original seed that grew into the song, asking over and over again, “What do you want to become?” I guess that part is a lot like gardening. My dad is an avid gardener and we joke about how I have a black thumb…but I guess maybe I take after him after all. I just grow songs.
What does this podcast mean to you?
It feels like my indigenous creative home that I wandered the world looking for. It’s a place where I don’t have to pretend I’m someone other than who I am, especially as a musician. Because I spent so much of my professional life feeling like I couldn’t find my way, I cherish this project really deeply. By sharing it with you, I feel a sense of togetherness and connectedness, creating community in a way I’m starting to understand on a different level. It’s deepening my relationships with friends, family, and musicians I’ve known for a long time. I’m now able to talk about it comfortably with strangers, allowing me to be myself in a way I’ve longed for.
Why are you doing all of this for free?
There’s an assumption that I’m being generous, because I’m a musician creating songs for people without pay. In a transactional model, it seems that they gave me nothing, and I’m giving them an original piece of art in return…but that’s not the whole story. By sharing their authentic selves with me, something profound shines through the minutia of everyday life…which feels like a gift to me.What I think most song recipients don’t realize is that without their inspiration, I have nothing to write songs about! Sure, I've written commercial music with the goal of selling products. I’ve written songs about myself with the goal of promoting my image. I’ve composed music for all kinds of reasons. But to compose something honest, I need something honest to write about…and that’s what people are sharing with me. Writing music is simply what I’m wired to do and this is a way that I can feel useful in the world. So I am doing this for other people and for the joy and intimacy of that connection, but I’m doing it for myself too. This process has helped me understand the idea “to give is to receive.” It’s not some far off concept...it feels really good to share songs with people.
How can I support this project?
Please head over to Patreon where you can make a monthly contribution to keep this podcast alive. Your contribution allows me to continue paying studio fees, musicians' fees, and hiring audio technicians to mix and master the songs. It also makes it possible to devote more of my time and energy.
Will you write a song for me?
I’d like to write a song for everyone! Everyone deserves a song. But honestly, due to the limits of time, I can only write and record about one song per month. Would your story inspire me enough to feel that I have to write a song for you? It’s possible!
How do I submit a story or suggest a song recipient?
If you’d like to suggest someone who deserves a song — including yourself — please share a bit of your story here. Every month, I’ll read submissions and if your story inspires a song, I’ll get in touch! I also save space each year to create a small number of commissioned songs, so please get in touch with your idea and we can explore possibilities.