Hi! My name is Jim. I am a songwriter from the state of Kansas. You can call me the Kansas Songwriter or Jim, either one will work. Browse around my website and check it out. Some songwriters play every time they get a chance. I would like to do that too, but I have a job that doesn't play well with others. This is the place to come to hear some of my songs and find out about the struggles of being the songwriter. I will share things that I have learned on my journey. Join my mailing list and I will send you free songs. Who says, "Nothing in life is free?" Thanks for stopping by.
“Songwriting quote- We all worship someone or something, I worship Jesus, King of all Kings. ( Long Live the King song lyric)”
— Jim McCarter
Songs are not autobiographical. They can be but that is not the point of a song. I read a quote in a book by Pat Pattison called "Write better lyrics." He said, Never let reality get in the way of truth. The emphasis of a song is telling the truth. Or maybe it might be the way that I see truth. I have an example from my songwriting of how this works.
I wrote a song called, " How to fish". The story is about going fishing with my Grandpa Cowhick. There are some lines in my song which are not accurate. The first line of the song is, He taught me how to row a boat. Okay, he didn't really teach me how to row a boat. We didn't have a boat. Now if we would of had a boat, he might of been the one to teach me. The truth is I went fishing with him and a I learned how to fish from him. That is the truth.
I do like that opening line. How many of us remember the first time we tried to row a boat? It is really difficult if you chew gum at the same time. It takes awhile to train your muscles to do movements that are new. Does it really matter to your audience, the color of Grandpa's shirt, if the sun was really shining that day or whether you owned a boat? If the accuracy of these details really matter, then go ahead and write your autobiography. I hope this helps the next time you go to write a song.
My grand daughter Alyssa is eleven years old. She loves music and want to learn how to play guitar. I have started giving her guitar lessons. This is not an easy job. A guitar teacher has a big impact on creating an environment where the student wants to learn. I don't want to be the reason she stops playing. I want to be the person that inspires her to play.
There are a couple avenues that you can take to become a great guitar player. One method is to practice and learn musical scales. If you are playing in the Key of C. You would play C,D, E,F,G,A,B. This would be all white keys on a piano. If you were going to write a song in the key of C you could play any of these notes and they would sound good. (They would be in the right key.) Now you might have to play around with them to get a great melody that is easy to sing.
Another method is learning from music books. This was one of my earliest methods of learning. I had the Alfred's basic guitar method and Mel Bay books. These books are a combination of scales, sight reading music, and learning songs. I remember when it was thought the best way to learn music was the Suzuki method. I never learned this method. It involved listening to a simple melody and learning how to play by ear. I think this is a great way to learn if you have an ear for it.
All of these are great ways to learn the guitar but we are not very patient students. As a student we want to play songs. I remember playing songs but they were often times not the songs that I wanted to learn how to play. I wanted to play the songs that were on the radio now. The songs in the song books were Hank William, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline songs. I wanted to learn Alabama, the Eagles, Grand Funk Railroad, and Three Dog Night. Alyssa and I have worked on a couple songs. One was Blake Shelton's- Boys Round Here. It is an easy song with two chords. Next we worked on a Taylor Swift song, the riff for Smoke on the Water, and For What It's Worth.
I started out taking piano lessons. I learned how to read music. I believe this hurt my piano playing. I played the right notes (most of the time) but it lacked feeling. Louis Armstrong was a world renowned trumpet player. He was asked, Do you read music? I love his reply. He said, "Not enough to hurt my playing." Music is about feeling not exact notes.
I hope that I become a good guitar teacher. No, that is not what I want. I want Alyssa to love playing guitar and have fun doing it. That is why I play guitar.
I started this music gig as a guitar player. My goal was to not sing. I was going to play guitar only. That worked out fine until I needed more songs to fill up a show. This led to finding easy songs that I could sing. I sure wasn't going to sing Bohemian Rhapsody like Freddie Mercury of Queen. I decided I would play it safe and sing Bob Dylan songs. Bob is not famous for his singing ability. His songwriting was his ticket to success. I started writing one song for each upcoming gig to help fill up space. This worked great because I could make the songs (more) sing able for me.
This week I had some free time so I decided to learn a new guitar song. It is hard to pick a new song to learn. You would think that I would learn a song by one of my favorite bands or artists. Maybe and Eric Church song like Record Year or Monster, maybe I would learn a new Luke Combs tune like Beautiful Crazy or a fun song like When it Rains it Pours. Or I could learn a Red Dirt song off of a Jason Boland album. Did I do that? No! I am almost afraid to admit this. I learned a Justin Bieber song. The song is Love Yourself.
This song has some finger picking in it and I like to finger pick. I also need to practice my finger picking so what few skills I have learned don't disappear completely. This song has a nice finger picking pattern in the verses and the chorus is really catchy. My favorite lyric of the song is- My Momma don't like you and she likes everybody. That line is so honest and straight forward it shocks you when you hear it. I love it.
I have played that song for the last three days and feel comfortable with it. It has been fun learning a new song. Sometimes when you learn a new song, bits and pieces of it find their way into the songs you are writing. Maybe you use a different chord change from the song you learned has. Or maybe a note interval that you sing is cool and it is part of your new song. I don't know how this song will affect my upcoming songs or if by singing this song I will have a sudden urge to get a tattoo. Time will tell.
Have a good day and love yourself.
n Have you every been driving and found yourself off course and asked yourself, "How did I end up here?" The other day, my friend, Rick and I were driving to a the Brass Armadillo Antique shop in Grain Valley, Missouri. MapQuest was our guiding voice to get us there. Most of the trip is very easy. Get on I-70 and drive east. This worked great for almost all the trip. I listened to MapQuest as it took me past the antique shop and took me into a residential neighborhood two block away and it said, " You have reached your destination." Yes, I had reached my destination but it was not the destination that I was going to. Life can be the same way.
Sometimes this happens because we are given bad advice. Let me back up a little, It might be great advice but it is the wrong advice for me. I listen to a podcast called, The Climb. It is a music broadcast video about how to succeed in the music business. After all, Who doesn't want to succeed? Success is a great thing. I love wining.
Brent Baxter and Johnny Dwinell share their expertise. Brent is a successful Nashville songwriter who has written hit songs and Johnny owns a production company and shows artists how to get noticed. Johnny sent me an email and made a suggestion to get more fans. He suggested that I go to Twitter and follow forty new people a day. His suggestion was to pick an artist that I like and that my music is similar too. So I picked Eric Church and Jason Boland. Both of these artists have lots of fans that they would be glad to share with me. To be honest though, my music is not like theirs. I wish it was but my songs have more of a folk or Americana flavor.
Johnny had a saying that I thought was good. Jesus was the only person that changed the world with twelve followers. I decided to take his advice. I got on my Twitter account and started shopping for new followers. This is a time consuming process. On Twitter you can look at a profile description line and it might help you decide if they would like you and your music. I looked for folks that liked country music, loved Jesus, songwriters, DJ's, or were members of a band. I spent hours doing this for two days. Yes, I started following eighty to one hundred new people and twenty of them followed me. I followed one guy because he was a regular Joe like me. His profile said, I sell real estate in California. He followed me back. I thought that was kinda cool. How was I going to help him? and how was he going to help me? Nobody had anything to gain by us being friends.
This is the background for my real story. Today at church, Pastor Mark talked about Absalom in the Bible. Absalom was King David's son. Absalom was the son who tried to take over the kingship from his dad. He would stand outside the court of David and tell people that he disagreed with King David's ruling if they lost. He was a typical politician/baby kisser. He did everything he could do to make himself look successful. He hired a chariot and had fifty men run before him. This would be like having a chauffeur, a limo, and having your own parade. He was successful in the world's eye. He was great at promoting himself. If Absalom was living today he would have a million followers.
The story of Absalom does not end well. He tries to steal his Dad's kingship, sleeps with the Dad's girlfriends, and is killed during the battle for the kingdom. Not a very good ending but it did help to bring clarity to my life.
I believe success in life is accomplished from doing the right things for the right reasons. If I want to be a success, I should follow God and he will take care of the details. God could give me the lyrics to a great song tomorrow. He could get my song noticed my somebody who is looking for a great song., Or that might not be God's plan for my life. He can bless me with hundreds of followers, twelve followers and no followers.
I take something simple like writing a song. A gift that God has given me and I make it about me. Life ain't about me. Hey genius type that again. Life ain't about me. It's about God and him working in and through me. It's about God getting the glory for what he has done in my life.