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Q&A with Pat Griffin - Insights into "I'd Rather Do It Myself."


marvin

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As most of you know, Pat Griffin is a long-time contributor to this website. He and I go back over 15 years, to the embryonic days of this website. I've always considered Pat to be my 'twin son from a different mother', because we share an uncanny connection in our musical tastes. While we grew up in different countries, a few thousand miles apart (and met for the first time in 2004 at fittingly a 'berries concert), we were listening to the same music through our teenage years. Pat is a wonderful friend, and we have had lively discussions not only on music, but also on hockey and baseball.

 

I'm sure many of you now know that Pat is also a singer-songwriter who recently released his own cd, "I'd Rather Do It Myself." What follows is a Q&A which we conducted over email that I hope will give you a behind-the-scenes look into not only the work that went into his cd, but also some insights into the artist himself.

Thanks for sharing your time, Pat. Is it now time for me to cue up "Sugar Baby Love";)

 

 

Q: Let’s talk about some of the songs on this record, beginning with the song that’s probably touched the most people, “Daddy I’m Alright.†I can’t imagine what you went through to put this experience into words and music, but I’m guessing that there was a cathartic release when it was completed. Can you speak a bit about the song and what it was like to write and record the song?

 

Pat: Obviously, it’s the most personal song I have ever written. One day, my daughters were all on a vacation in California and I was alone for a week. I went to the cemetery to visit Jennifer’s grave. I got in the car and I usually listen to music all the time when driving, but this day, I just had silence, and the chorus just came to me, same lyrics that day as are on the record. By the time I got home, I was literally drenched in tears. I sat in the car in front of the house for a few minutes and turned on the radio and “From Me To You†came on, which was the “first Beatles song†(as I’d written) I had ever played her, so that really freaked me out! I just knew this day was something special and I went into the house, went right to the piano, and wrote the entire song from start to finish in less than fifteen minutes. It just flowed like never before.

 

Q: Sometimes a title can draw in the listener. For me, “I Should Have Kissed Her†is a good example of this. I love the title. Can you speak a bit about the inspiration behind this song?

 

Pat: Thank you for saying that about the title. This song was written in my head while saying goodbye to someone who meant a great deal to me. I think everyone, well, at least I do,  has someone that oddly pops into your life at the strangest times and that person might be “the oneâ€, but it never quite happens. As I was saying my final goodbye (again) to this person, who was leaving town (again), the title came to me. She got out of the car and I went home and wrote both “I Should Have Kissed Her†and “Out Of My Life†the same day. Good trade off for me, I suppose! We’ll meet again!

 

 

Q: “How Could You Do this To Me†is a song that seems to come from “angry†Pat, something that we don’t see on the rest of the album. What brought this song on?

 

Pat: This is actually an old song I wrote when I was in college and have recorded a few different versions of it over the years, but it never had the right sound that I was going for. I hear so many things in my head, no, not the voices, (lol), that never quite come across the way I want on record and it frustrates me not being a guitarist. I always have wanted a much crunchier guitar sound for this song. Maybe one day, Wally Bryson will play on it, eh? I bet he’d get the sound I hear in my head. My old high school and college buddy, Charles Johnson, souped up the drums on this one for me, after I had given him the final mix and I really like what he did to it. Other than him doing that, I play and sing everything else on the entire album. He still argues with me that it should have been called “The Girl Of My Dreamsâ€, but I stayed with “How Could You Do This To Me?†I don’t really think it’s showing my angry side, as much as it’s the expected “I got dumped again†story of my life.

Q: Is there a song or a style on the record that you had to dig deep within yourself to write because it was out of your comfort zone?

 

Pat: I made a concerted effort to try and write some country flavored songs for the record, which I really had never done before. I have loved country pop music since I was a kid, from Glen Campbell and Charlie Rich to Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, but rock and roll always was first to me, with the Beatles leading the way, so writing country songs was new for me, though I’ve played on demos for friends who play country. We had just come back from Nashville and the music scene there made an impact on me. I love all music, though. Maybe my next album will be all hip hop…ummm, maybe not.

 

Q: What was the first song written for the album?

 

Pat: â€œHow Could You Do This To Me?†is the oldest song, but the first song I actually wrote for the album, per se , was “Daddy, I’m Alrightâ€.

 

 

Q: For me, listening to this album was like looking into your soul. Was this a conscious attempt to include deeply personal songs?

 

Pat: I just try to write from the heart. I’ve always felt the role of the songwriter is to stir an emotion, whether it makes you laugh, cry, or simply be moved in some way. I feel the best songs hit you in the heart. I can’t begin to tell you the private comments people have shared with me regarding “Daddy, I’m Alright†that have moved me far beyond words. A few child loss websites have posted it and the things complete strangers write to you, just tears you up. One man recently wrote me and told me he lost his daughter thirty years ago and he has never been able to discuss it with anyone, but he heard my song and it “expressed everything he ever wanted to sayâ€. He told me he listens to it daily and it gives him strength to get through his day. To a writer and a father, it doesn’t get any better than that. Just knowing you made a difference in someone’s life like that is life altering to your mind.

 

 

Q: If you could have done something differently on this album, whether a recording technique or adding (taking away) instruments, what would that have been?

Pat: I always hear extra things in my head that aren’t on the record, especially more guitar work than is on there, so I wish that I could have used a full band instead of doing it all myself. A number of musicians promised to play on it and honestly let me down by backing out in various ways and really delayed it getting out. I have always said when I made a CD I wanted to call it “Hey, What Took So Long?†and that was going to be this album’s title, but so many people left me hanging, that, one day, I simply said out of frustration, “you know what? I’d rather do it myselfâ€â€¦.and it was like a light went off. It really hurt me that some close friends turned on me like that, but that’s life. I don’t hold it against them. Well, some of them! Lol My kids helped with the front and back cover, Charles  did the (great) mastering, and my author friend, Larry Canale,  did incredible work getting the cover design specs pushed through and did the inner sleeve, other than that, it’s all me. If Larry had not gotten involved, I’d still be staring at the computer screen shaking my head over what DPI means, but I wrote it all, sang it all, played it all, and recorded it all.

                                                   

 

Q: I know that some of the songs on the cd draw from personal experience. Do you find it difficult writing about something ‘real’ rather than an imaginary situation?

 

Pat: I don’t find the writing personal stories as difficult as singing them. I’ve probably played “Daddy, I’m Alright†a thousand times on the piano, but not sure I’ve ever made it through without shedding a tear every time. I read something recently that Eric Carmen said on his website about singing “imperfectlyâ€. I don’t recall the exact quote, but he mentioned a few songs that had a little off key note or roughness in the vocal, but it didn’t matter because it was just raw and it makes the song great. The vocal on “Daddy, I’m Alright†is one take…period. That surprises many people that hear it. There is a part or two where you can probably hear me crying while singing, but I refused to stop because it was one of the most honest moments of my life singing and feeling the hurt at the same time. Could I sing it better if I did it over? Probably, but, it just felt right.

 

 

Q: The cd wraps up nicely for me with “You Are Simply Everything.†I know that we share similar strong Christian beliefs, and your faith comes out in some of the songs. Do you see yourself releasing an album-full of Christian tunes?

 

Pat: Yes, definitely, that is a goal of mine. I have enough Christian songs written to do it now, and I will, but it’s all in time. I have written both Christian and secular songs since I was a teenager and it’s a subject that really gets my blood boiling. You’d think they would be happy for me, but a number of my Christian friends have refused to acknowledge this record because they feel I should be doing one or the other, not both. It’s out of my hands what I write. If God wants me to write a song about Him, He’ll send it to me. If He wants me to write a song about a girl, or a story, or whatever, He’ll send it to me. I have no control over it. I firmly believe that.  It’s all in His hands and I simply play the chords or write the words He wants me to. There is such hypocrisy from many of my so called “friends†in that they feel they can do secular jobs, such as being a policeman, a garbage man, or a banker and still be Christian, but, in their eyes, a musician cannot, that they must be one or the other. That’s a double standard. I usually keep my songs separate, but this project, I wanted to book end with Christian songs at the start and end and the rest of my story is in between, kind of like the way my life is. I am surrounded by God, but the middle is just life.

 

Q: “Country Girl†name drops just about every female country singer. How did you decide which names to use?

 

Pat: Every performer I mention in that song is both a strong and beautiufl woman in my eyes and that’s what being a “country girl†is all about. The inclusion of “Miley†is kind of a shout out to my kids, who love her, as I do too, but I have always felt she should be singing country and it was me kind of saying “give it a go, Mileyâ€. For all everyone says about her, the bottom line to me is she is a fantastic singer and a “country girlâ€. Check out her “Backyard Sessions†on Youtube. She has an incredible voice. I love Taylor and Dolly and all the others work, too. Those two are such role models for young women everywhere. I’d love to do a video for this song, but how much would it cost me to get these eight in it? I also wanted a fun song to follow “Daddy, I’m Alright†on the record, so that’s why I wrote it. Much of that song is true, however, especially where I sing “all I really need Lord, is a country girlâ€. Is that too much to ask for?

 

Q: What is easier for you, writing the lyrics or the music?

 

Pat: No question, it’s the music. I can write music all day, but I’m often changing lyrics. I would love to have a co-writer that does the lyrics and I do the music, like Elton John has with Bernie Taupin. I have several double entendres on this record that make me laugh, whether anyone else gets them or not! I feel my best one was “sometimes, relationships aren’t all that they seem†in “Out Of My Lifeâ€, but the one that captures my imagery the most is “blood stains on my heart†from “I Don’t Understandâ€. Man, that line makes me feel the hurt.

 

 

Q: Sometimes it’s hard for us to write songs and not have them sound like a favourite singer. Do you write trying to emulate a certain style or singer?

 

Pat: The writings of Lennon-McCartney are so far above anything I have ever heard in my life, that I’m sure some chords have subliminally bled through to me. Other writers like Eric Carmen, Burt Bacharach, and Brian Wilson all have their place in the soundtrack of my life, too. I don’t think I try to sound like any of them, though…wish I did. One of the nicest compliments I ever received was in two recent reviews of the CD by two different writers, it was mentioned that my song “I Don’t Understand†has some “very Bacharach like overtonesâ€, which thrilled me to no end. As a singer, I try to be unique, but when I was younger I was known to do a pretty good Lennon on some live songs like “No Reply†and “Twist and Shoutâ€, and nobody does a better Jim Morrison  â€œRoadhouse Blues†than me! haha

 

 

Q: Do you remember the first song that you ever played or sang? How old were you?

 

Pat: The first pop song I ever learned on piano was “Bang-Shang-A-Lang†by the Archies when I was about seven or eight. The first song I ever sang live in front of people that actually paid money was “It’s Only Love†by the Beatles when I was probably thirteen or fourteen.

 

Q: What are you listening to these days?

 

Pat: I still listen to the same people I did when I was young. The Beatles, Paul McCartney, Raspberries, The Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, etc.  Can’t get enough of McCartney’s “NEW†record. As far as modern performers, I like Sara Bareilles and Bruno Mars, but I also enjoy some of the young pop gals out there like Miley, Demi, Selena, and Taylor….hey, wait, am I starting a new song?

 

Q: What’s next on the recording front for Pat?

 

Pat: There should be a new “official†video for “Daddy I’m Alright†out shortly after the new year. I have already started writing for the next album and have about five or six “keepers†so far, including a duet, but I am looking for the right person to sing it with.  What if I fell in love in the mean time? That could change the entire record! Yikes! I’d also like to co-write some songs, but you never know. I guess in closing, I’ll say, I’d rather do it myself, but sometimes, it’s nice to have a little help from your friends!

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Bravo! Great job, Marvin. I loved all your questions, and Pat's responses give us a great window into his head (and heart). Having become a close friend of Blackhawk Pat's over the years, I have heard (and read in e-mails) some of the sentiments above, but there are all kinds of interesting things I didn't know... like, "Bang-Shang-a-Lang"? Nice, Pat! I also like the Q&A on Christian beliefs and music. The older we get --- and the more we live --- the more important that spirituality is, right?  

 

Being cut from the same musical cloth as you and Marvin, I appreciate the Beatles reverence, and I also like what you said about digging into country music. I've always loved Glen Campbell and Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash. Your song "Country Girl" is a real kick, too. 

 

Anyway, great CD, great read, and... great days ahead.

 

PS: Thanks for the shout-out on the CD booklet help, Pat. It was totally my pleasure. And I'm looking forward to the video release and... to the next CD.

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Pat and Marvin,

W-O-W!!! Loved, loved the Q & A guys! Put simply, excellent questions, excellent answers. Marvin, what a great idea! Pat, you are such a great singer/songwriter and a very unique person.

Not often am I at a loss for words but.....

Hope to see more Q & A in the future.

Kudos gentlemen to both of you!

redd :)

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Thanks to everyone for their kind words on the interview and CD. I also want to thank Marvin for doing his usual stellar job and I always give thanks to LC for all his help getting it done...if any of you are sports fans or know one, you all should read his book Mickey Mantle: Memories and Memorabilia, an amazing retrospective on the great baseball star.

 

It really means so much to a writer to get the acceptance of his friends and colleagues. I've been a loyal poster to this site for sixteen years now and it's incredibly nice to read the wonderful comments from both long time and more recent posters thoughts on your work.

 

BTW, here's a link to LC's book:  http://www.amazon.com/Mickey-Mantle-Memorabilia-Larry-Canale/dp/144021543X

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It really was a great interview.  Marvin asked great questions....he should do this more...and earn money doing it!

 

Pat, just from this fan´s perspective, I hope you continue to write the lyrics.  Music is SO much more special when our favorite artists write everything themselves.  It just is. 

It makes the listening experience much more meaningful.

 

And we love your lyrics anyhow!..

 

James

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The interview is on facebook too.  Here´s my response there:

 

"I love your answer re: Christian songs and the reaction by some of your so-called Christian "friends". It´s ironic in that my best friend here in Columbus writes music also. He has recently gotten close to God and Thursday night (over pizza) we discussed what he will write in the future. I mentioned that I think a lot of Christian artists force it and write/sing what they think they´re supposed to write/sing or what their fellow Christians want them to write sing.....I told my friend that the result is a lot of trite Christian music out there and that I hoped he would ask God to fill his heart and then just write straight from that heart. If he does that his music will be real and powerful (he´s a great song-writer) versus the bland phony stuff you hear so much from Christian artists. Great answer Pat, great interview too Marvin and Pat, ...Jeff (James)"

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Thanks, Redd and LC.Redd if you search this site, you will see Q&A's conducted with Jim Bonfanti, Dave Smalley & Billy Sullivan.

Marvin,

As always, you are a great source of information....

Will happily check it out :)

Many thx (for all you do)

redd

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Very good interview, by Marvin.

 

Pat, I like that you just write and perform, or record music.

Christians you know can miss the point- Reach out to people.

And who do people call with a problem, Their doctor, plummer, and more.

 

Here's two songs on Youtube. Just look up

Jon Gibson Youtube, "God Loves A Broken Heart"

 

After that, scroll to see the second suggested song for you,

on YouTube, "You've Gotta Love Somebody"

That's Indugu on drums. Pay attention to his part throughout the song 

All live playing, for every musician..

To see why he is so good.

 

That's Michael Jackson's former drummer, Ndugu,

Rob Mullens on keyboards, Greg Vail on horns.

All have been on " many secular hits, too".

There are several artists who take something from Jon's musicianship, etc.

The point there is to show quality to the world.

 

And has played concerts with allsarst. They are incredible musicians.

And most of then may not be Christians, when he plays or records.

He wants quaility. They play, because they can play right then, in concert.

They get a call, and they're in.

They show up, and play.

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  • 7 months later...

Thanks for asking, LC. It's difficult to say when it will be out. I will probably release a single or two before the actual CD. That seems to make more sense at this point in time. Just did a rehearsal of some of the new stuff the other day with a band playing and really enjoyed that..

 

I have really soured on the industry and the way things work after releasing this first one. I can fully appreciate Eric's disdain for it now. You put out a song for under a dollar and very few people will buy it, yet you offer it for free for a day and 150 people download it. You go back to .69 and three more buy it, yet a week later, it's free and another hundred download it. That seems to be a real pattern. So, people won't spend .69 to help me feed my kids, but they are all over it when it's free.Keep in mind you don't get to keep all .69 of it and yet there is a cost for giving it away for free. it's quite depressing. The people who sell your CD can drop the price all the way down to five dollars when they have sales, but they don't cut their take, they cut yours. You use up a year of your life doing it, shell out big money to put it out and then people want it for free. 

 

Then, there is the whole songwriting royalty thing. Van Dyke Parks recently co-wrote a song with Ringo Starr. He said that "if you co wrote a song with Ringo forty years ago, it meant a house with a pool. Now, with the changes that have been made, we feel that if it sold 100,000 units, we can SHARE about eighty dollars. What have they done to songwriters?" You really need to have connections now more than ever to even get something in the hands of the right people. I have a number of friends on facebook, who put out really great things and yet, they can't make their rent. One of them recently became homeless. You know you are in trouble when you have to come to me for financial help! Very, very sad.Think about what VDP said, though. You write a song with a Beatle, for crying out loud, and it goes nowhere. Yikes!

 

That being said, I am extremely grateful whenever someone does buy it, as so many have done from this site. While sales are not what I had hoped on the first one, I cannot begin to tell you the amazing things people have written me about their own stories and how my music has had an affect on, or touched, them. It's truly amazing and makes it all worth the crap part of it all.

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You might add some top forty songs, when you play live.

Play at weddings or receptions, afterwards for steady work.

It helps to do some storytelling, and jokes.

Just be stupid, and get them to laugh.

But practice your jokes, before with a few friends, or on the phone.

 

 

 

Here's how Weird Al Yankovic got to number 1 on Billboard:

Each week, he released one song, on Youtube.

The audience grew, especially when they realized it was new,

and by popular artists.

He said that others write in a serious way, but his comfortable style is comedy writing.

 

Since your'e not selling those other songs, and only yours, it's alright to play them.

Maybe you can get on someone's podcast, where different music styles are played.

And, you can also find out from other churches who is visiting to speak during the week,

or a sunday, and play worship songs, as well as one of your own songs.

Humour is great, too.

You can change your own words, to get a laugh.

 

And remember, most likely, Jesus would be out and about playing songs.

He might really spend less time at church, and with everyone in the world.

 

Wherever you sing or play, develope that style.

With comedians, then humourous song

At church, with a straight face.

Play to the style that they are used to, and also introduce humour.

That gets better attention, I believe.

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We live in a society (when I´m in the U.S.) infested with an entitlement mindset.  Freeloaders believe they are entitled to enjoy the work and the fruits of other´s labors...for free.  And our political class, minority leaders, press etc. support them in this belief. 

 

Look what happens when an artist comes out and wants to fight for his/her right to earn royalties when their music is enjoyed by others?...they are tarred and feathered as greedy money grubbers while those who enjoy their music for free are only doing what they are "entitled" to.  We live in an upside down world...

 

....Those who produce are raked over the coals,...those who leech off others are extolled as victim-saints.   A society that continues to punish those who do good (producers) and extol those who don´t (takers) will soon reap what its sowed:  no more good stuff being produced.

 

We better doing something to change our world  with the time we have left...or we´re going down in flames.

 

Anyway, I am FOR SURE looking forward to Pat´s next CD!!.....and really good post Pat, you are as smart as they come, ..I would love to see more from you!..

 

James

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Anyway, I am FOR SURE looking forward to Pat´s next CD!!.....and really good post Pat, you are as smart as they come, ..I would love to see more from you!..

Pat,

I agree wholeheartedly with James! You are a terrific person and talented musician. More blackhawkpat music please! You have our continued support.

Sincerely,

redd :)

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So right, James. And we are looking forward to more music.

 

There are so many places to bring your CD, or to play live.

And later on, Christmas songs with some of yours.

-At hotels, maybe casinos.

You can get musicians and find a place to play.

Or, people who play different styles of music.

This way, it's a better event that more people can go to.

Maybe at an art show......

Or,  during intermissions, or after a boxing match,  etc.

Hockey games, basketball, baseball, football.

Then you bring a paper to tell them about your next show.

-Our next show is in two weeks at.

And on your paper, where you will have more shows, later.

Your schedule of shows, And more bands to  be announced at the next shows,

on your webpage.

 

 

If you go to a comedy club, you can do some jokes and play your guitar.

Some play at beaches.

Some at parties. Like tupperware, and whatever else.

So, really more people see what you do.

Maybe they tell their friends.

 

Some were discovered on street corners,

like Robin Williams, and
Wayne Newton.

 

 

There is a podcast that requires this: Just your CD.

And they tell you:

You have no manager? Alright, that's O.K.

No Record label? Check, still O.K.

No one marketing you?

No famous producer? Don't worry one bit.

No need to wait any longer.

And your homeless friend-

Tell him to get ready to play.

But where? Alot of places.

There's a swapmeet.

Talk to the manager, or one of the booths that sell music.

And how about those car or boat conventions.

That's right. Not many artists do that.

So, it's all yours to go out and perform.

No need to wait for anyone, any longer.

Maybe, they are sitting around, too.

 

 

That'snot how they work.

Send it to us, they tell people.

If we like it, you're on there broadcast.

 

They play several styles

One time the response by listeners was overwhelming,

wehn they play music from the 60's.

Because hardly any other music station was doing that.

The DJ received so many thanks, it was unbelievable.

http://kuci.org/

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Look what happens when an artist comes out and wants to fight for his/her right to earn royalties when their music is enjoyed by others?...they are tarred and feathered as greedy money grubbers while those who enjoy their music for free are only doing what they are "entitled" to.  We live in an upside down world...

 
I keep coming back to Eric saying he earned $39 for almost 1 million plays of his songs, and it makes me physically ill. In what world is that right? 

Then again, I have people railing at me every day because they can't simply sign on to our company's website and read at will without a subscription.

I'd go to jail for theft if I went into the supermarket and took a bunch of grapes or a pot roast without paying for them. Why people think they can take intellectual property without paying — or paying as little as possible — astounds me. 

Cheryl

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