September/October 2012 Lyric Spotlight Q&A: Matthew Francis Andersen

Videos by American Songwriter

1st Place
“Blue Line”
Matthew Francis Andersen

Photo credit: Susy Liberato

What inspired you to write “Blue Line”?

There’s not a single event or person that inspired the song. It’s just a glimpse of someone looking back on the past. I was born and raised in Chicago, but I was also a walleye and musky fishing guide in northern Wisconsin. So I took images from life in the Midwest and wove them into a relationship song. The term “Blue Line,” however, refers to a line within the Chicago “L” train system.

When did you write it?

“Blue Line” was written in March. It’s pretty new.

Is there a recorded version of it?

There’s no recorded version of it, yet. However, the plan this fall is for Ryan Anderson from the band Go Long Mule to produce my debut record and I anticipate this song will be included.

Can you expand on the relationship between the characters in the lyric?

I’m still trying to figure that out myself. Some days it seems like the singer is looking back with tremendous fondness. Other days, a little pissed off with nagging questions about why it didn’t work out. Overall, it’s just one of those “wasn’t meant to be” situations.

What’s your favorite line in the song?

I wrote this song line by line and agonized over each one. So I’m very close to all of them. To pick one, however, I’d say, Somewhere ‘tween the stateline and the shorelines of jackpines the prairies just ran out of grass. If I’m lucky and crafted it right then it’s a more interesting way of simply saying that the romance ran out of steam somewhere between a trip to the north woods and the drive back home.

What’s your typical songwriting process?

Usually, it just starts with a line. It might pop into my head from anywhere and I write it down. Later, verses come forth. Other times, I’ll hear someone else’s song and begin filling its melody with my own lyrics instead; eventually changing the melody completely and then having my own song entirely.

How long have you been writing songs?

I started writing and performing my own songs around 1997. So, it’s been about 15 years, I guess.

Do you perform as well?

Yes. I’ve been performing my own songs for the past fifteen years or so.

Who are your songwriting influences?

Typically, no song of mine ever sees the light of day until three people have heard it: Robert McShane, Scott Momenthy, and Ryan Anderson. They are among Chicago’s elite songwriters and directly or indirectly influence every single song I write. I would not be writing today if it were not for them.

Where can people hear your music?

My home base is Chicagoland’s famous Fitzgerald’s Nightclub in Berwyn, Illinois. So I’d prefer people go there to hear my music played live. But I also have some demos at



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