bulletproof

When I go on tour, I meet a lot of interesting people. After a show near Woodstock this week, a sweet man calling himself Star Blanket handed me a mysterious bag whose contents, he said, would make me … bulletproof. I opened it and looked inside it, and it was white willow bark, a cage necklace, and a …

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living room music

There's a tempo they want. A sound quality they want. There are subjects they won't air. The music industry (like any other successful industry) is about formulas and rules. Follow them, and you will succeed in it as a songwriter and, for better or worse, likely remain a part of it for life. Incidentally, the formula looks like this: This Brightness plus that Tempo plus this …

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how to tune a guitar

You go for a drive with the top down and let the guitar sit in the passenger seat. Make the first left, that way your destination is farther and the road to it prettier, the blossoms absurdly violet. Lose your location. Fiddle with the radio dial. Brush past the popular music stations to the one of choice. Pause there just to adore …

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masterpiece

The thing I most dreaded when I began making up songs as a teenager was being struck down by an F-150 before the world could hear my masterpiece. Not so much anymore. These days I don’t sit and wonder if my next song will be liked by hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t care whether the world will …

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threads

My latest song was inspired by a lovers’ spat I witnessed outside the movie theater here in town. It’s about a terrible, terrible betrayal, and the possibility of moving from the brokenness to happiness, if only for a few moments. When you’re a songwriter living in a small town you hear more things, about all sorts of people — Those two parting angrily on the street, leaving their love affair hanging …

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truth and lies

There’s a misguided belief that just because you play an acoustic guitar and sing in a near-whisper close to the microphone, it makes you more honest than singer-songwriters who attempt to create an experience of truth in some other way. Here’s the truth: Some songs are meant to calm you down. Some are meant to stir you up. Some are transcendental, and some are …

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