Joshua Radin

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Videos by American Songwriter

Joshua Radin’s Wax Wings reached #1 on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter chart — not bad for a self-released album. His popularity is thanks, in part, to his music’s ubiquitous presence on TV — everyone from Scrubs and Grey’s Anatomy to ESPN College Football has gravitated to his gorgeous, lyrically expressive tunes. We asked the Cleveland, Ohio-based songwriter about his writing habits, his favorite song on the new record and more.

How much of your day do you typically spend being creative?

I try to be creative every day. Even if it’s something small like writing down one phrase. On tour it’s much more difficult for me to write. That’s sort of where I gather information and conversations so that when I’m home, I have pages of ideas to w12rite about.

What sort of things inspire you to write?

Everything. The world. Love. My family. My friends. Paintings I see and books I read. Women I want to woo.

Who are your songwriting heroes?

The regulars: Dylan, Lennon, Simon, Young.

Tell us a bit about Wax Wings.

Well, it’s the story of a romance. I’ve only truly loved one woman in my life and it was years ago. I wrote so many songs about her and but now I see that relationship differently; I have a new perspective that only time can bring. So I felt like I needed to express that new perspective.

How would you compare it to your previous album?

It’s much more accessible. My last album I made for me.

When did you start writing songs? Were they good right away, or did that come later?

I’ll tell you when I feel they’re good. Ha. I started playing music when I turned 30, got a very late start, so it’s only been eight years of making music and i still feel like I’m finding my voice.

How do you go about writing songs?

I always write the music first. Then I wait around, living my life, waiting for inspiration to strike.

What is your approach to writing lyrics?

I write what I know. I try to make myself as vulnerable as impossibly can. Then I know I’ve done my job and people will relate to the lyrics.

What’s a song on your album you’re particularly proud of and why?

“Back to Where I’m From.” It’s a story. I’d like to get better at writing about other people instead of just myself. This song is one that marks a new direction in my writing.

What’s a lyric or verse from the album you’re a fan of?

I’m really bad at saying things I’m proud of.

What was the first song you ever wrote?

It’s called “Winter.” I was walking through the East Village where I was living and I kept thinking “I should know who I am by now.” And that became the first line of my first song. It came out of frustration.

What’s a song of yours that’s really touched people?

“Winter” is a song that I hear people really have been moved by. A lot of people play that song at funerals, so I know it’s an emotional response people are having.

If you could co-write with anyone living or dead, who would it be?

My grandfather. He passed when I was eight years old. He was not a musician, not a writer, but I’d love to have him help me write lyrics for a song.

Who do you consider an underrated songwriter?

Kathleen Edwards. Her last album Voyager was my favorite of last year.

What do you consider to be the perfect song?

I love old soul songs and Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” is my favorite soul song. But no song is a perfect song. Songs are malleable and when other artists cover them, they make them their own.

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