I have been so fortunate to have spent over 30 years in the music business and am extremely proud of what I was able to accomplish…but truth be told…there is one thing that I was never able to do. I started out as a singer/songwriter and long after I gave up on that singing career, I still had the desire to write a song that would resonate with the mainstream. As a young artist…long before I headed for Hollywood to seek fame and fortune…I had an amazing ability to take a great idea and turn it into a mediocre song. So you can see why I have so much respect for songwriters.
Songwriters are today’s poets. The truly great ones’ write songs that get into our minds and souls and say so much better what we want to say. I’ve always maintained that a hit song is universal. It is written as a personal experience by the writer but once released becomes ours. How many times have you heard the phrase, “That’s our song”?
Having said all that…it brings me to my latest effort to write that song. A while back, I bought some stamps at the Carmel post office. They now have what’s called “forever” stamps. When I had to purchase another book, I joked with the clerk that “forever” doesn’t last at long as it used to. What a great idea for a song! I started working on lyrics that pointed out how easily we use that term and how quickly forever is gone and we move on to the next forever. Sadly, after agonizing over the most profound lyrics that mankind has ever heard, I revisited the 1982 hit by Michael Martin Murphey, “What’s Forever For”. Sadly, he had stolen my idea 37 years ago.
There is some solace for this frustrated songwriter, however. Michael Martin Murphy is an amazing artist/writer known for his 1975 classic “Wildfire”, which sold over 2 million singles. He’s had an amazing career and has written for artists from The Monkees to Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Lyle Lovett, Cher, Flatt & Scruggs, Roger Miller and more. When I re-visited “What’s Forever For”, I marveled at how he wrote exactly what I was trying to say. The song reached #1 in 1982 and catapulted his career. He was named the Academy Of Country Music “New Country Artist Of The Year”. What was a revelation to me was that, in fact, Michael didn’t write this song. It was written by Rafe Van Hoy. Even a great songwriter recognized a song that resonated with him and obviously said what he wanted to say. Michael and I obviously have that in common.
Undaunted, I continue to search for that idea that will launch my songwriting career. Meanwhile, I will continue to immerse myself in those great songs that have touched me over the course of my life and marvel over all those great songwriters who stole my ideas before I had a chance to write them down!