Benjamin Mason secured 3rd Place in the January/February 2023 American Songwriter Lyric Contest for his song “Love Was A Lie.” American Songwriter caught up with Benjamin to get the scoop on the lyric’s inspiration and other musings.
Interview by American Songwriter
American Songwriter: What made you decide to enter the American Songwriter’s Lyric Contest?
Benjamin Mason: I have always respected the professionalism and quality of American Songwriter and hoped my song “Love Was a Lie” would be a contender. Thank you for the validation.
AS: How did you feel when you learned of your accomplishment of winning Third Place?
AS: What was the inspiration for your submission? Why did you want to write it?
BM: I wrote it because at age 13 I knew my destiny was to be a songwriter and performer. That was the life I lived. Never a thought of children, family, or of settling down; I was on the road and the path of my dreams. That was never going to change. Three decades later I was pulled off that path by the force of a woman. Her compass pointed us to Rappahannock County, Virginia, and the land I still call home. Our marriage didn’t last, but I am forever grateful to her for that change in direction, and for the two sons that we raised in the country. I’m proud to have won this award for my lyrics, but there is no comparison to the pride I feel every day for my sons, Henry and Arlo. I see this song as a reflection of my life during those times. I always dedicate it to my boys and their mom.
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AS: What’s the story behind the song “Love Was A Lie”?
BM: It is an account of my life as I went from believing I’d never become a father, as I was caught up in the world of record deals, T.V. appearances, and being groomed as a teen idol, to becoming a Dad. The song describes my dedication to my music career, believing that I would never find the true love that would allow me to have a family. The song portrays the loneliness of the end of my marriage and the daily presence of my children. My angels had flown away. Heart-wrenching, yet I was left with the truest love of all, the love of a child.
AS: How long have you been writing lyrics?
BM: For 58 years, since I was 13. It’s a lifelong compulsion. Writing songs is my heart. My spirit. My meditation.
AS: Have you written music for this lyric? If so, how would you describe it?
BM: I have written music for “Love Was a Lie”. It is soothing and darkly sweet, with enough pulse to illustrate the sound of me walking through my house, alone, but comforted by what I still have. My sons are grown now, but they are always with me, in golden light that never goes out.
AS: What keeps you motivated as a songwriter?
BM: My constant amazement of how life changes around me. Not just in relationships, but in the spiritual gifts of deeper messages that come to me through pain and joy. The simple surprises of discovering some new chord voicing on the piano, and the way melodies rise unexpectedly from my piano. I have a memoir that will be released later this year, about the inspirations that have come from the transitions I’ve experienced. It’s called Sex, Trucks and Rock ‘n Roll…A Spiritual Journey.
AS: How long does it usually take for you to write a song?
BM: “ Love was a Lie” was started in 2019 and I finished it about an hour before I submitted it to American Songwriter in 2022. But I have songs that have taken a dozen years or more to bring fully to life. They’re all like children; some need a little more pampering. And some are not allowed to ever leave the house. Overall, I tend to nurture my songs for years.
AS: What is your idea of the perfect song?
BM: I’m not sure I can define perfect. For me it is when a song hits me in the heart, and makes me believe the writer has opened their emotions enough to let their truth spill out, to be vulnerable to what may be a painful lesson they had to learn. When those words are wrapped in music that elevates the lyrics deeply into my mind, I’d call that a perfect song.
AS: What’s the best piece of advice another songwriter has ever given you?
BM: To dig deeper…to deliver your song with the idea that one misused word can lose the listener, that the song should be experienced as an embrace from a stranger to the world, with no reward in mind. In other words, tell your story, be clear and yet colorful as you paint your song.
AS: Who are your all-time favorite songwriters and why?
BM: John Hiatt, for his gut punching truths and humor. John Prine for his poetry and wisdom and Richard Leigh for his genius and heartfelt guidance.
AS: What’s next for you?
I have four albums out. I look forward to doing more recording, and performing in Nashville, and the release of “Love Was a Lie”. And, I of course look forward to the upcoming release of my book, Sex, Trucks and Rock ‘n Roll…A Spiritual Journey. It’s a memoir of my evolution from being an arrogant rocker to an entrepreneur and a father who makes peace with himself and those he cares about. It describes my embrace of Eastern and Western faith and sacred Native American ritual that has been buried beneath progress and convenience. Learn more at www.benmasonexperience.com.