Sunday
Jun032012

Newspaper Interview 

By Maddie Wallace

 

Hi Kevin. 

What was the first song you ever wrote? What inspired this song?

 I can’t really remember the first song I wrote, but I can remember the first one that ever amounted to anything. The song is called “Arizona Love”. I wrote it when I was 17 or 18 and it was inspired by a girl I liked who was supposedly moving to Arizona. It was just a teenage crush, but at least I ended up writing a song. 


When you write a song, how do you go about putting the lyrics to music? 

Sometimes I come up with the lyrics first and other times the music will come first. I like it best when it happens together because it just seems more “organic”. For me, I seldom come up with the music first. Quite often, I will have a lyrical idea, develop a melody and then finish the lyric. 

Usually, if I can come up with a verse and a chorus, the rest will fall into place. If I am really struggling with a song, I will often put it aside. I may  or may not come back to it later, or I may “borrow” part of it to use in a new song. I try not to force anything. I find it somewhat difficult to write music to an already completed lyric. Some people work that way, but not me.  I’ve written a lot of songs from a title. That’s a good way to proceed. If you start out with a good title, it can give you a target or a destination. Come up with a good title and go from there. 

 

What is the funniest song you ever wrote? Why did you write this? 

I don’t write all that many “novelty” songs, which is what they are called in the music business, but back in the mid 1990’s I wrote a song called “Deodorant Breakdown”. I was working with several other musicians as part of the dance band at the Kentucky Summer Dance School on Lake Cumberland. It was really hot and muggy and one of the fiddle players commented that he was having a “deodorant breakdown”. Since he was a bluegrass fiddler, and “breakdown” is a term commonly heard in bluegrass circles,  I thought it would be funny to write a bluegrass song around that idea. It got a good laugh at the time and it still does whenever I play it. I don’t play it that often. 


When you perform a concert, what song that you sing has had the most 

positive reaction and why? 

There are a couple that come to mind. “You Don’t Have to Earn My Love” always seems to generate a positive response, maybe because it is a positive love song. I recently got a message from someone in Montana, whom I didn't even know at the time. She told me that she was using that song in her wedding. That’s not the first time this has happened. 

Another song that always gets a good response is a song entitled “Indian Man”, a true story of a boy in late 18th century Kentucky who was captured by the Shawnees and lived with them for 17 years. Eventually he came to be one of them and when he tried to make the transition back to white civilization, things did not go particularly well. I think the song tells an engaging story and also has a nice musical “hook” with the guitar. 

 

What made you want to start writing songs and get into the music 

business? 

Girls. Oh, and the money, but mostly girls. 

Seriously (as if I wasn’t being serious before), I have always loved music and like most young people, I was looking for a place to fit in. I was never overly gifted in athletics and was terrible at math. Going to a small high school, there weren’t all that many options.  Everybody needs some place to fit in and for me, it was music and performing.  The writing came a little later. That stemmed more from a need for self-expression, I suppose. 


How do you think your songs have changed over the years? (ex. have 

they gotten more serious, playful...) 

Hopefully, they have gotten better! It’s funny, but they have kind of come full circle. I started out like everybody else, learning the craft and just writing about things that moved me and saying what I wanted to say and not really caring whether they were “commercial” or not. In the eighties and nineties, I was spending a lot of time in Nashville and I started writing in a more country oriented direction. I learned to write lyrics that were much more direct and my songs became a bit more formulaic. Now that I am older, I have reverted to writing about things that matter to me and only writing when I have something to say. I like to write songs that tell a story and touch people on some sort of emotional level. These days, I try not to get too “clever” when I write. 

To me, songwriting must be two things to be really good. Art and craft.  Young songwriters (and some not so young), in my opinion, would do well to listen to great songs that have come before, not just what’s current, and try and figure out what makes them great. Listen to how they are put together. Notice how the verse sets up the chorus, how the melody shifts from one section to another. Learn the form, learn the rules (and then break them from time to time), learn the craft of songwriting. That is the frame that surrounds your art. It’s the same in every art form, I suppose. Painters need to learn how to hold the brush before they paint their masterpiece. It’s no different for songwriters. 

 

What (in your opinion) was the best song you have ever written? What is 

your favorite part about the song? 

I don’t know if it is the best song I have ever written, but I really enjoy performing “You Could Convince Me”. It’s on my latest album (or “cd” for you young folks). I like it because it’s a lot of fun to play and it is a bit different than many things I have written. I am also happy with “Working Class Guitar”. It’s a very personal song. 


Do you have any upcoming concerts? Where can people find your cd's? 

I try to post my events on my facebook page  and I am absolutely terrible at it. I am determined to do a better job of keeping people informed via my new website. If people are interested in listening to my songs or buying a cd, they can go to my website’s homepage at kevinstonerock.com and follow the links from there. 


Thank you! 

 

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