(The story of how I almost gave up on my songs, but luckily didn’t)
When I first heard the story of how ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot‘ got into Pat Benetar‘s hands despite the publishing company hating it so much that they made the studio delete the demo tape – that story struck me deeply. No pun intended. Besides the obvious underdog winning theme I had no idea just how much it would affect me until this year. It was at least 10 years ago at Canadian Music Week that I was inspired and moved by Eddie Schwartz‘s fight for his song to have a life and it was clear, he truly loved the song and his love for it was infectious.
His story then made me take notice of the song ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)‘ by The Proclaimers and how 5 years after the album and single were released it became not only a number 1 hit in North America but a song that will live on forever as it continues to get played at events from weddings to political events year after to year after it was featured in the movie Benny and Joon. I knew there was something special to these stories and why they resonated with me but I couldn’t place my finger on it for years.
A friend of mine once said to me after a break up; “there’s nothing like the next one to get you over the last one”. I laughed at the blunt truth of it but also realized how he was poking fun at the ‘running away’ part of the situation. I then correlated that with how I approached my songs. I used to think ” I’ll release it and if it doesn’t get to where I want it to go right away – then I’ll let it go and start writing the next one”. That always made me feel better and the newest song was always my ‘best’ song ever! But was I giving the songs I really loved the proper commitment and time? Not really.
At shows people would often request certain specific songs that I had long forgotten about or had decided that their time was over because in my mind they were ‘old’. But I started to take notice. I thought certain songs were ‘old’ but what about the people hearing me for the first time? Or even the people that HAD heard my songs before but only a handful of times live – for them it was a familiar but fresh song and welcome because they’d heard it before. Suddenly I was realizing the importance of continually sharing the songs I loved no matter how ‘old’ I thought they were.
I had a strong feeling for one particular song, This Is The Soundtrack, that I co-wrote with a friend of mine for my second album back in 2008. It was a song that was written backwards from the chorus to the verse – the melody in the chorus was undeniable and it was where the idea originated from. From the start it was a song that began writing itself and really took a life on of its own, it was a magical experience writing it and I believed it had a strong chance to be a single on my album and be a song that was going to be fun to perform live. When it was finished, I played it for everyone I could like a kid at show-and-tell in kindergarten!
When it came time to release the album in Feb of 2009, radio-tracking was a part of the plan to expose the song to a wider audience but money ran thin quickly and even though it got picked up by a radio station in Vancouver and played for over a year – it never really got the national exposure I was hoping for and after the year was over I gave up. In my mind time had run out for radio because the album wasn’t a new release anymore and it seemed all but over for that song.
But I loved that song. And I didn’t want it to be over. And even though radio play across Canada was my dream that hadn’t happened yet for this song – I couldn’t put it away. I started to remember why I got into the music business in the first place – to share my music with as many people as possible. I continued to play it live at every show – even after I released two more albums – an EP and a full length – I played it to all my audiences because I wanted to share one of my favourite songs.
In the fall of 2012 I decided that I would move to Germany to develop a fan base there. In October 2013 I played my last show in Canada and though it had now been officially 5 full years after the release of ‘This Is The Soundtrack’, towards the end of the show I played my song. By this time the song had evolved into something totally different from the original recording, but right from the first chords the approving hoots and hollars was as if the crowd knew the song like it had been on the radio – that familiar ‘aaah – I know this song’ feeling, that ‘I’ve been waiting for this song all night’ feeling, that ‘I love this song’ feeling was present. I knew right then – this is what it feels like when you believe in a song and you keep sharing it no matter what you’ve done with it…it’s always between you and your fans and its your job to get it to them and not give up on them.
For the Proclaimers it was a movie, and countless others its been TV, Commercials and Radio that have kept their songs alive along with live performances.
Two months into staying in Germany I signed a record deal and the first single chosen by both the label and myself to hit radio was my favourite song. The song I almost gave up on but couldn’t quite let go nearly 5 years later is now getting a new life and a new chance to be exposed to over 80 Million people in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This is just the start – the possibilities of its afterlife are actually impossible to predict with licensing opportunities to commercials, tv and film. So love your song and believe it can make an impact on your future yet to be discovered fans – A great song is a great song and time can’t take anything from that. Be like a kid at show’n’tell and as determined as Churchill who once said “never, never, never give in….”