David Rhodes Brown is first and foremost a songwriter and lyricist. His book of work brings to life either his own or someone else's life experiences. This is why everyone can easily relate to his music.
In his own words, David describes his songwriting techniques (including where his musical ideas come from), early influences, favorite subject matter, and much more. He even reveals his favorite song... and why!
Q. How did you first become interested in songwriting?
A. As a child music always seemed like magic. I wanted to learn how to make that magic myself.
Q. Who were your early influences?
A. All the hillbilly music from the 50's. My dad built me a crystal radio with an earplug speaker in 1956. Instead off sleeping I would listen to the radio all night long. In the evening they would play all the new pop artists and after midnight they would play the black artists; Slim Harpo, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Little Richard. So first I'd get Pat Boone's version of Tuti Fruity and after midnight I'd get Little Richard's. Even at 6 years old I could tell the difference!
Q. What do you think your music conveys?
A. In a word, hopefulness.
Q. Briefly describe your music making process.
A. When you are a songwriter, songs write themselves, but it happens differently each time. Sometimes the music comes first and I have to find the lyrics that fit that meter. Sometimes the lyrics come first and I have to find the music to fit that story. Sometimes they both come together and I can't wait to get to a guitar to figure out how to play it. The latter is how I most enjoy writing because I know the music is already on its way and I know I have something to say, like in Pray The Angels. Its the 3rd kind of songwriting that lets you know you'll never stop.
Q. From where do you draw your lyrical content?
A. Mostly from life experience. Whether its my life or someone else's.
Q. What is your favorite subject matter?
A. There's only one thing to write about...that's love! It doesn't matter if its about mountains or personal relationships... its all about love.
Q. Where do the musical ideas come from?
A. I'm a sponge to all American genres. It's not like I learned a bunch of various genres, I just listened to them and became a product of them. Its like my hands automatically know how to play a groove no matter what genre is called for.
Q. What genre best describes your music?
A. Across the board Americana.
Q. How has your music evolved over the years?
A. Well, I would hope I got better at it! Sometimes I feel like I'm doing the same thing I've been doing for 20 years but my bandmates assure me I'm getting better. When I first began I was probably a little melody naive which isn't necessarily a bad thing... but the longer I've been at it the stronger my melodies have become.
Q. Of all the songs you've written, which is your favorite?
A. Pray The Angels. It's been known to make grown men cry. It reaches people. I'm no more or less technically proud of that than any other song I've ever written, it's about the feeling.
Q. Any advise for budding songwriters?
A. You have to write a lot of bad songs before you can write any good ones. Secondly, don't put too many musical ideas into the same song. If you put too many in, maybe you have two songs. My favorite quote (I'm not sure who said it) is “All the hits are written in the first five frets”. I couldn't agree more. Another great quote, I think it was Neil Young that said “You have to put yourself in a naive state of mind, otherwise you'll be constantly afraid this song has already been written.” In other words, theres no limit to what you can do with 'G' 'C' 'F'. Lyrically the idea is to say as much as you can in as few words as possible. The best results are when the words have universal meaning but are still fresh. Think in terms of describing something familiar but with new descriptions.
Q. Any last thoughts?
A. Usually my favorite song is the last one I wrote.