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My First Lesson
By Tim Ogle - 06/17/2006 - 05:11 AM EDT

My First Lesson

One thing there is no lack of in Nashville Tennessee is songwriter and open mic nights. The Nashville Scene and All The Rage are two magazines distributed on just about every street corner in Nashville that are full of open mic listings but there are many that are not listed in these publications either. A songwriter could literally stay in Nashville for over two months and never play the same songwriterís night twice. This month I will focus on my first experience performing at a Nashville writerís night and what I have learned.

I found that writerís nights draw a diverse group of writers. The style of music ranged from gospel to rock. All of the writerís nights I visited had one thing in common, the key focus was on well crafted songs, not the style of music that was being played. There are definately well crafted songs being played in bars all over Nashville. At times I found myself thinking my songs didnít seem to ďmeasure upĒ to the same caliber as the songs I was hearing. I tucked my tail and walked slowly back to my car after many a writerís night, but inside I knew I couldnít let myself be give up.

I decided to play my first writerís night at the Hotel Preston. I practiced my three songs daily during the week prior. I changed my guitar strings on Sunday so they would be fresh for my Monday night debut in Nashville. I decided that no matter how good or bad my songs were I was ready to play them. I packed up my guitar, put on my cleanest dirty shirt and headed for Hotel Preston. Walked in signed up on the list ordered two shots of Wild Turkey 101 and waited my turn. Tommy Barnes called my name and I proceeded to the stage. I was all ready to go. I plugged my guitar in sat down on the bar stool strummed my first chord and NOTHING. I felt like I was in one of those bad dreams where you wanted to scream but nothing would come out. Tommy was very cool about it. He adjusted volumes, tried other channels and then said ďI think you have a dead pickup just use mine.Ē All my nerve was ruined, I could never recover. I played my three songs thanked the audience, shook Tommyís hand once more and went back to my table. In my mind I had blown it. I ordered another double shot and sat at my table trying to find my dignity in the bottom of that glass.

What did I learn? Play out and good things will happen. Ironically this was the night that I made my most important contact. I befriended a songwriter and he has proven to be my most reliable contact since I have been in Nashville. Iíve played more songwriterís nights since then, I even put a new pickup in my guitar so I donít have the problem I did that night again. Most importantly I have began to learn how important my approach to songwriting is.

I have met many people since that first night. Some good some bad. Iíve met people that act are on the search for that ďhitĒ that will make them rich. Iíve met people that donít return my calls. Iíve met people that have to write me into their busy songwriting schedules and still forget they were supposed to write with me. Iíve met people I like, Iíve met people I donít like. I sincerely wish the best to all of them. Because Iíve found the only thing that I approach songwriting.

Iím a songwriter on a journey. I donít know exaclty where it started and I donít see it coming to an end very soon. I write songs because thereís a passion inside of me that drives me to do so. I write to express myself. I write to have fun. I write to learn and I write to perform. I write for myself and I write to share with others. What I write will never be as important as why I write. Sometimes what I write is good sometimes what I write isnít but everything I write is me. The most important thing is that I keep writing everything else will work out on itís own.

Next month I want to talk about things to think about before making a "Big Move".

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