Written by George Kamel
What inspired you to write “Mockingbird?”
The idea of not knowing what you have until it’s gone. I think a lot of times with relationships we kind of get our heads in too deep, and when you take a step back you realize how much you really have that’s there. Often times, we get annoyed by the small things in our life, and when they’re gone we kind of lose our equilibrium and realize that they’re actually really important to us. “Mockingbird” was a metaphor for that idea.
Could you share with us a little about you and the character in your song?
Yeah, I think you can go a few different ways with it. Being a Christian, there is a spiritual aspect in that relationship between a person and God. There’s obviously a romantic aspect to, as far as having a significant other. From a relationship standpoint, when you know somebody so well, it’s easy for little things to get on your nerves, to be really frustrated with the smallest things that they do, and so I guess the mockingbird is kind of like that other person in the relationship pestering you, non-stop, always there, but once they’re gone you kind of miss it for some reason.
Were there any parts of the song that were particularly challenging to write?
You know, the song kind of has this folksy talk to it. Like ‘Mockingbird, don’t you mock no more.’ And stuff like that. It was a little tough to write from a grammatical standpoint. I learned you’ve just got to let things go sometimes. You can’t really be too precise, as much as I’d like to be.
My songs are usually a little more topical and abstract, but “Mockingbird” is very much a narrative story. So that was difficult on its own, because I’m not as much of a storyteller as I think I might be … it’s not as easy for me to go that route.
Describe your typical songwriting process?
It’s really kind of rare inspiration, and you really have to grab it by the throat and choke it down, and make the song come out. So I don’t feel like I get better at songwriting, per se. Rather, I feel like I become more in-tune with myself, to be more aware of an inspired moment when it arrives. For me, writing is a strange and mysterious beast, and it’s mainly because I don’t ever sit down to actually write. Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s usually a rare moment of inspiration that will hit me once every few months if I’m lucky, and I’ll record a demo on my iPhone just so I won’t forget it.
My best songs unfold themselves within 15 to 20 minutes, which is a good indicator that it’s a keeper. Sitting down and writing feels so unnatural that even if you have something that’s not terrible you won’t feel good about it. And that’s important as an artist, to feel good about your work. I could make a sugar-covered pop-song and it could be a hit but I’m not gonna feel good about it at the end of the day. And that’s what indie music is all about I guess [laughs].
What artists inspire you to write?
Bon Iver, The Avett Brothers, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird – the indie rock scene but rooted in that folk tradition.
You mentioned this song is on a record. Is there any place where people can hear or buy your record?
Yeah the record is called The Great Coward, it’s a full-length record available on iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, and Spotify.
Do you have any shows coming up in the next few months?
I do. I have a show at a venue called the Blind Mule in Mobile, Alabama. Information is on my website at gkamel.com.
Check out George Kamel’s performance of his winning song, “Mockingbird”, with the Gibson Keb Mo Bluesmaster Acoustic Guitar.