I get asked sometimes, "Who or what are your influences"?
When I was in a band and out at some radio station interview, I'd dive into the obligatory list: The Who, Zeppelin, The Beatles...inevitably shifting to my Flaming Lips stories about seeing them in college at OU. Those shows and their success definitely inspired and influenced me (if you know my band The Nixons, you're saying "huh?" But trust me: the lights, the show, the distortion, the hair, the sheer volume. Damn, they were loud). Or I'd ramble on about my granddad who sang country music and made sure I knew who the hell Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash were ("Okie, from Muskogee" anyone? "Boy Named Sue" c'mon).
Now, with a few years in the rearview, I see things clearer (things actually are closer than they appear). Through a little wider lens (fish-eye?). Through a little wiser tint (Fletch "Well, there we're in a kind of a gray area". Frank "How gray?" Fletch "Charcoal?")
Truth is: influences come in an ever increasing array of sources. A song. A book. My kids. A sign in front of a church house. The weather. A painting, a photograph, joke, movie, play. That one thing, that one guy said, on that one show...
Damn, what'd he say again?!
I need all that stuff. I live off that stuff.
I write songs.
When I lived in Tulsa, on the sideline of my kid's soccer game, people would ask "What do ya do for a living?"
I'd tell 'em, "I'm a songwriter."
"Oh yeah, yeah... but I mean for your job?"
Now, I live in Nashville. The response is more like, "yeah, course ya do."
A follow up question is usually centered around the amazement that I could actually wake up every day and write, or attempt to write a song.
But I do.
They don't always get finished/cut/beloved by millions. But I still try. Still hold up my iPhone and listen to that idea I sang at midnight last night or on the sideline of a lacrosse game (they gave up on soccer), or in the shower (I wait till I'm dry), or in the car (if it's raining, those are usually around the tempo of the windshield wipers), or after that one TV show.
Damn, how'd he say that again??
Bottom line: we are all influenced by everything. Everyone.
Maybe you don't write a song about it. But everything you say and do touches someone, somehow. Okay, unless you say something in the middle of nowhere (if a tree falls in the woods) or alone in the shower (why are you talking to yourself in the shower?)
Okay, now I'm gonna say something. Close your eyes.
Well, that's not gonna work. Read: but with the state of mind of having your eyes closed.
"I absolutely love. Really truly love my two sons and my wife more than I could ever say, more than I could scream, whisper, etch in stone or type on the keyboard of a MacBrook Pro."
See...that made you think of something. Someone you love. Someone you just screamed at. Someone you lost. Someone.
So, when you say something, write something, post, tweet or yell something.
I'm listening. Or someone is.
Not gonna get preachy with you here. Okay, I am a little.
When you do say it, write it, yell it, post it...
If it's good. Kind. Helpful. Beautiful.
That's gonna turn into something good or kind. Maybe you help someone. Maybe it's downright beautiful if we're lucky.
PS. mostly the Beatles though.