How does it feel to win the lyric contest for the second time? I guess we can start using the word “dynasty” now.
I’m super humbled by it. I only entered hoping to get second or below, just to be able to get mentioned again in the magazine for my own sort of PR, because I’m trying to make it as an artist, you know? A kind of ‘fake it till you make it’ sort of thing, like, “Yeah, I’ve been in American Songwriter three times,” just to tell management companies and stuff.
But the fact that I won is just crazy to me. I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time right now, even though financially it might look like it. It’s affirming to know that there are other folks out there that are into what I’m doing.
You’re currently working on an album. How’s that going and when do you hope to release it?
The whole album is completely tracked. I’ve been doing it with Mike Marsh, who’s the drummer for The Avett Brothers. He’s playing drums on it, too. I’m hoping to have mixing, mastering, and basic artwork done by the beginning of March.
I don’t know how I want to release it at that point. I don’t want to just put it on Bandcamp, put it on iTunes, and then tweet about it and that’s it. I want to see how I can go about doing PR for it, and shop it around to people and see if there’s somebody interested in releasing it for me who’s excited about what I’m doing.
Let’s talk about the song. Where did that line “fields of my heart” come from?
This is actually the most personal song I’ve ever written. It’s more like a journal entry than a song lyric to me. I was thinking a lot about myself and no matter where your beliefs fall on the religious spectrum, my soul felt empty, my heart and soul felt empty. I’ve got a great marriage, I’ve got great friends, but I don’t know? What I’ve been pouring into myself to seemingly fill it up had been working for a little while but it just felt more and more empty as I moved on and those things didn’t satisfy me the way they used to and I started thinking of different ways to say that.
I just kept thinking, “What’s a good way to talk about my heart?” I landed on a field, and if you neglect a field for a period of time … I grew up, well, my dad grew up gardening. He grew up on a farm, and he’s gardened my whole life. If he neglected it, fruit could still come from it, vegetables would grow, but over time it will fall apart. So I was able to cling to that metaphor and understand it, just because I’ve experienced it in a literal sense. That’s how I felt that my heart was. I hadn’t really taken the time to tend to my soul the way I believe a person should, and it started getting filled with crap and filled with leaves and it was just dry and gross and I didn’t like that. I wanted to write about that and make that my statement of, “I’m gonna change this, because what’s going on right now is killing me.”
Is it uncomfortable to put those kind of songs out there?
It’s scary. I talked to my wife about this the other night. It’s one thing to write a song that’s a love song, or super happy, or even super sad, and kind of step away from it and make that a character or a fictional story. If somebody hates that song, it’s fine, because it’s not technically you, but with other songs, the personal element of it …
That’s just how I process things in my life [through songs] and it makes it hard to release them. I’m super anxious about this album, just because if it does get rejected, it will feel like, “Man, I’m a good person. Why are you rejecting me? This is who I am.” Not necessarily taking into account that maybe they just don’t like singer-songwriter music. There’s a bit of me in every song I’m releasing. People really like that. I feel like it’s a really good introduction to who I am and it makes me feel good that they don’t necessarily just like the melody or the sound of a song but it’s actually a glimpse of who I am and they’re relating to me.