The Well Mannered Songwriter

In the past I’ve written blogs about what goes on in a co-writing session and touched on some of the etiquette involved. I know the title of this blog may sound a little fussy and, as artists, we’re allowed to be unpredictable and a bit ill-mannered but I’ve never read much about the common sense that should go into creating a co-writing relationship. Manners are huge!

I like stories better than facts and figures so here’s one of many I could tell to illustrate my point. Years ago I was living outside of Nashville with a very cool home studio, feeling at the top of my game and, through the hard work of my publisher, Windswept Pacific, some great writers were knocking on my door.

I have to back up a bit and say this whole process of putting songwriters together is pretty much like dating. The publisher is the Yetta that says “You two HAVE to meet! You’ll make gorgeous kids and live happily ever after.” Some publishers are better Yettas than others, that’s one of the reasons they get where they get.

So….on this day a writer came a looooong way to get to Nashville and I was one of a few “hot” writers they “had to meet”. This stuff makes me as nervous as a first date and so I did what I could do. Prepared.

I had studied the other writer’s cuts, had a starter idea or two, Kathy had lunch figured out. Then . . . our session time came . . . and went. Came and went again . . . finally just went. 10 am turned into 11 turned into 12:30pm  turned to 1 turned to me driving the neighborhood to see if he was lost, dropped his cell phone into the Harpeth River or drove far enough into the country to hear the banjo theme from Deliverance and wasn’t coming’ back.

By the time he  ( and his wife) made it to my door I was a jilted lover. I was over it. I know he’d written some great songs but I was feeling like chopped liver. I showed him around, walked him back upstairs thanked him for coming and showed him the door. Kathy was mortified; she’s better, kinder and gentler than me and  wanted to make sure they were fed etc. but all hope of coming up with the perfect match had gone.  Yetta had left the building. Might have been my loss but I’ll never know.

I guess it comes down to respect. We’re all trying hard to be great at this and it takes a lot of heart. When it seems like someone isn’t seeing yours, it doesn’t matter how much he or she has. Just my two cents.

Looking back I wish I had been more patient, more forgiving or even more career minded but I still hold to the idea of craft and manners and bringing something to the table and showing up for dinner…ON TIME !!!!