Continuing merrily along on my adventures in songwriting, I spent this past week in Kona (far away from the flowing lava), at the Hawaii Songwriting Festival with about 200 participants, 2O mentors and Kenny Loggins! More about Kenny in a moment.
All the festivals (more like workshops), have been different in size, spirit and approach. Last month, the Johnny Mercer Program at Northwestern University was a more intimate forum with a much smaller group and the attention to one song at a time was intensive.
In Kona we were operating at a quicker pace. Each day the staffers rolled up their sleeves, sat in separate circles with 10 talented songwriters and examined their work. In the “Demo Derbies” writers pitched songs to music supervisors. We also had some high-speed mentoring—15 minutes of one-on-one.
One other unique aspect to this particular festival is that our daily workshops looked out over an ocean. Nothing wrong with that. As my colleague Jason Blume commented, "It's the most beautiful place I have ever critiqued songs."
Here's where Kenny Loggins comes in. He was there mentoring too. Can you imagine Kenny Loggins critiquing your song? I’d definitely have begged to be in his group!
Ya know, some rockstars can be *holes just because they’re rockstars. He’s anything but that. For one week he was one of us—telling us a story of how he wrote “Return to Pooh Corner,” when he was graduating from high school, thinking about the innocent life he’d be leaving behind. Disney demanded he cease and desist release of the song, after all, it would commercialize and monetize Disney characters. Disappointed, he told his new girlfriend. Little did he know that her Daddy happened to be a bigwig at Disney and thankfully Daddy ceased and desisted the cease and desist. And that’s why we know the song today. :)
He also mentioned that his daughter, in assessing his career, suggested that he’d been lucky. Kenny remarked, "Luck smells a lot like sweat." Even if he managed to be in the right place at the right time over and over again we can all agree that he backed it up with the right stuff. No one should ever feel guilty when they get lucky. Luck is something the Universe rewards us with when we’ve done the hard work and believe in ourselves.
He offered some advice when a young writer asked him what it takes to pen a hit: he said...write 100,000 songs and chances are, one of them will be a smash. She’s gonna be a very busy girl.
I was honored that Kenny (and his lovely lady, Lisa), hung around after his Q&A to see my Living Room Live which I performed for all the festival goers. He totally could have opted for some privacy or room service. Oh and also? I couldn’t have asked for a more ideal demographic—a crowd of 200 songwriters in one room who can relate to my story. I'm pretty sure they enjoyed it but nobody had more fun than me (than I?). That I can assure you.
On the last night there was a culminating concert (common to many festivals) - a fun loving pageant of original songs performed by both attendees and staffers. Last in the line up was Mr. Loggins.
I’ve only ever heard “Danny’s Song,” through the dash of my car, the speakers in my living room, my earbuds or, way back in another lifetime, a transistor radio at Jones beach. To hear him perform it within 10 feet of my body was a disarming experience that thankfully lingers. And then for the piece de resistance, everyone joined him on stage for a “Footloose” jam.
This morning on my last little jog before going to the airport I queued up Kenny Loggins Essentials. Sure I know all his hits but now I will hear them in a different light. I always liked Kenny—the artist. But now I’m Fangirl of the human. Such a lovely, generous dude.
If you follow me you're aware that I’m thoroughly enjoying this time in my evolving career. In a few days I'll be gearing up for another month of escapades—NY, Nashville, Colorado! Until then, I’ll be sleeping peacefully in my own bed in between 2 kitties, catching up on Sharp Objects, and bonding with a backyard I will miss. In other words til I fly off again I’ll be celebrating me home.
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