I have been attending the N.S.A.I. (Nashville Songwriters Association International) workshop in Dayton, Ohio for about nine years. There are some incredibly talented writers there. In fact, I rarely attend when I don’t hear at least one or two songs that are far better than anything I hear on the radio. It’s a great community and everyone is very supportive of each other.
Sadly, during that period I have gone for extremely long periods without writing anything. It has been stressed that a songwriter should set a regular time for writing. I’ve tried it and the results have always seemed, well, mechanical and uninspired. I normally don’t let that bother me because I have always thought of myself as more of a folk singer and re interpreter of traditional Celtic music. However, at this time I am starting to feel a little frustrated. You see, I am getting ready to record a CD. I’ve thought about this for some time, and I always figured my first CD would be a collection of traditional songs. That was fine until last week when I dusted off an old song of mine, “Going Back to Avalon”, to use as my song of the week.
My daughter Caitlin one time asked me what was my favorite of all the songs I’ve written. I put on a serious face and said, “Asking a songwriter to pick the favorite of his songs is like asking a father to pick the favorite of his children…which of course would be your brother, Chris.” Of course, I really don’t have a favorite kid, but “Avalon” is my favorite song I’ve written so far.
Anyway, I’ve decided to include “Going Back to Avalon” on the CD, probably as the title cut. Having made that decision, I would like to include more original music as well as some new arrangements of the traditional stuff. Unfortunately, none of my other attempts at writing in that genre are close to being good enough. Therefore, I really have to make the time to sit down and write. I don’t hate to write. In fact, I love to write, but I do hate having to write.
I greatly admire songwriter Andy M. Stewart, who penned such songs as “Queen of Argyle” and “The Fisherman’s Lament”. Stewart was the singer for the Scots folk band Silly Wizard, and he possesses a rare talent. He can write a new song that sounds like it is hundreds of years old. When I make the attempt to write an “old” song, the result can best be described as “cheesy”. My plan for now is to take some time, inundate myself with some great old Celtic music, and see what I can come up with.