Looking back....the journey

My love of music started as it does with many people that pursue music as a career path—at a very young age. I began singing, I believe, when I first learned what singing was. I have always had a true love for great melodies and vocal harmonies, and I remember being drawn to groups that emphasized them, such as The Eagles, Firefall, and Ambrosia, as well as many of the great R&B Motown groups. I was not only impressed with their vocals, but also with how their songs were constructed.

As time went on, I became increasingly drawn to singer songwriters that evoked a broad depth of emotion and feeling. Simply hearing a great song no longer became enough, I had to know the “story” behind it. Did the artist really experience what he was singing, and if so, what was his inspiration for writing it? I believe that suddenly I was not only listening to just the songs, but also to the “truth” within the song. The maturation process of being a songwriter began to not necessarily replace, but come to the forefront of the listener in me.

Of course there is a multitude of people I can name that have influenced and overwhelmed me and they come from all areas of music. Whether they are singers, or singer songwriters, they all play the role of storyteller and make you “feel it.”

What could be better than Patsy Cline singing “Sweet Dreams”, Etta James singing “At Last”, Willie Nelson singing “You Were Always On My Mind”, George Jones singing ”He Stopped Loving Her Today”…the list could go on and on.

There are many singer songwriters that I think are exceptional. They span all genres of music and time and it would be impossible to list every one that made an impression on me in one way or another. 

Gary Morris has always been one of my favorites. I think he is incredible. His passion and vocal range just captivate me. I still listen to his music over and over and continue to be amazed by his voice. 

Another artist is Gino Vannelli. I remember being on the road at the time and hearing his Storm at Sunup album. I was floored. What an astounding musician, songwriter and singer!

More recently, I hear Ronnie Dunn and I just have to shake my head and listen to every note of his songs because I am so impressed. In my opinopn, I believe that he has the best voice in country music.

 Each of these artists has made a lasting impact on me and certainly all are great influences in my writing.

I must say that I am a HUGE Ronnie Dunn fan and would love nothing more than to have him cut one of my songs.  SO...if you're out there listening Ronnie, I'd love to hear from you!!!

I believe that a good song is a good song, no matter what genre it is from. Just like life, there is something to learn from ALL people and music is certainly no different. You take your influences and make them a part of who you are, and from that, you create what you feel.

I find that country music was always near and dear to me because of the truth that seemed to permeate most of its music. It would not only entertain me, as all arts do in one way or another, but it would tell a story about life, love, tragedy and pain. Ultimately, it would make us laugh, make us cry, and make us believe that, in one way or another, when we heard “that song” it was written about ourselves.

I always think of my mother singing many of the country songs that we grew up hearing around the house and they hold a special place in my heart. 

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As a songwriter, I hope to have my songs create an identity that others can relate to that will inspire a feeling of knowing what I am trying to convey, or, move people in a way that they will somehow find their own story within my work.

Growing up, I played saxophone and clarinet and found it hard to sing with an apparatus in my mouth, so as you might expect, I put the horns aside. In high school, I was a member of choir and "toyed" with the idea of forming a band; however, I must admit that looking back, it would have been impossible for me to totally commit to music due to my heavy involvement in athletics and my eventual selection into professional baseball as a pitcher at the age of 17. 

Although I did not directly pursue music as a career at that time, I had already begun the process of songwriting and finding out what it was that inspired me, as well as what it was that I needed to do as a writer that would inspire others without compromising myself. 

 My true involvement and dedication to music did not come until I entered college and formed and fronted my own bands. Yes, like everyone else starting out, we played our share of copy material while writing our own songs during our "down time" and slipping an original song into our sets whenever we could get away with it.

We certainly "paid our dues" by traveling for many years and playing bars and club circuits from 8 or 9 pm until 2 a.m..  We typically performed six sets a night, six nights a week and spent the "off day" driving hundreds of miles to get to the next gig. But...as grueling as it was at times, I would never trade those years for anything. It was a great learning experience as well as "a school" for learning the trade so to speak.

Songwriting became an obsession for me early on. It was always something that just came to me. I describe it as a "word processor." I may be anywhere at anytime and see an image or hear a word or phrase and need to jot it down immediately. The "vision and sound" for the song somehow registers and remains in my thoughts. Ultimately, when I sit down to write, it all just starts coming to me. I may tweak some rhymes and lines here and there, but the bulk of the lyric will just flow. Nothing is ever forced. I usually have the "sound" that I want when I begin writing from my initial notes.

I can never sit down and say "I'm going to TRY to write something." I need to be inspired.  Positively or negatively, however, I believe that good songs come from both sides of our emotions and there is always something there to work from. One good thing about the way my writing comes to me is that I have never really experienced “writer's block.” The inspiration and ideas for my writing seem to always be there, and I am thankful for that.  The process of writing isn't something that you turn on and off...it comes from every second of life experiences and the smallest thing can bring about an idea for a song.  The hard part isn't finding something to write, it is deciding what not to write because I have so many ideas always running through my mind.

I have always loved singing and performing and being in front of an audience, but my love for writing songs has seemed to come to the forefront just as much. It is something that is a vital part of me, something that I need to have for the release of emotions.

I believe that at this point in time, I am concentrating primarily on songwriting with the hope of placing my songs with a publisher and of course, a major artist that can give them the "life" they deserve. 

 If performing happens again sometime in the future, I would certainly welcome that,  maybe something in the mode of Brooks and Dunn.  I find a duo appealing and would really like to pursue that at some point in time.

 Tony

 

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