Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ken Owen, Songwriter; Part 1: The Drummer Has A Songbook

"He's got a tattered grey notebook,
had it for years,
it's got all of his happiness, sadness, and tears."

...and so it's been since I was a young hippie in high school; always observing, listening, and writing things down: song titles, lyrics, thoughts, poetry, free verse, etc....I re-discovered my old notebook just prior to our recent move, and though reliving past writings that came straight from the (usually broken) heart was somewhat painful (and a little embarrassing), I realized that there are (IMHO) some fairly decent things in that tattered grey notebook. Then it occurred to me that if I could ever get going and turn my writings into songs, I could pull a few favors and call on the talents of some of the most creative musicians in the Bay Area that I've been lucky enough to perform with over the last 30+ years to help me see my songs performed and recorded. I had to start somewhere, so I took a more recent song idea, turned it into verses and choruses and handed it to my friend and mentor Maurice Tani, asked for his feedback, and took a deep breath.

Maurice is a wonderful song craftsman who takes great pride in the art form of the song, so to say I was intimidated would be an under-statement. Three weeks went by with no response from Maurice, and I wrote it off to him being one very busy gentlemen and I left it at that. So imagine my surprise to not only receive a recorded version of Maurice singing a version of my song, but an accompanying story that he liked it so much that he had been performing it at singer/song writer circles! His support has been amazing; he not only loaned me a multi-track recording machine to record my song ideas/demos on, but encouraged me to enroll in Jim Bruno's Song Writing Class at Foothill College (more on that in a future posting) where Maurice's special guest performances in the class have garnered him a well deserved "Song Writer Guru" status.

I have turned into a classic case of "it's never to late to learn"; I am back in school (which is amazing if you knew how badly the last school wanted me out), I have a wonderful friend as a great tutor, and the creative juices are flowing so much that I can barely keep up with all the song ideas that seem to come from all around me. I am discovering music again by listening to lyrics and not just the musical performances, with a new understanding and appreciation of what makes a song lyrically great. It's been challenging but fun, and it feels great to learn.

No more ramblings for today; I've got homework!