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Mike Willis – photo Kate Butts

Songwriting #1 – Mike Willis

In the first of an occasional series Resonance FM host Jude Montague talks about songwriting with local exponents. Mike Willis chats about a song he has been writing.

Mike Willis has hosted very much loved songwriting sessions from his base in Norman Road. He is the first songwriter to contribute some thoughts to this occasional series.

MIKE WILLIS: For me writing a song is an opportunity to communicate something in my head or on my heart which requires more than words. Adding music (chords, melody, and production) creates a moment in time and an emotional backdrop for my message.

Sometimes these songs fall out of my mouth and onto the page in a dramatic epiphany, and other times, I’ll labour over each line and idea for weeks and months.

Lately in my writing, I’ve been circling around the subjects of life, death and gratitude. I think it’s because I’m nearing the age where my friends and family are starting to have health complications more often or nearing the natural end of their lives. This most recent batch of songs is my way of processing how I feel about all this.

In the song Goodbye John, I had recently said goodbye to our family dog, Lil Jon. He was born with us in Nashville and made the move with me to the UK in 2015. I’m not exactly a dog person, but Jon and I spent many lonely hours together through my divorce and as I found my new life here. His passing was sobering for me.

But when it came time to let him go, I was struck by the sequence of events… say goodbye to one of your closest friends, pay the lady some money, then exit through the gift shop and back into a world that’s completely ignorant and somewhat ambivalent to your grief.

The song is an abstraction of that experience. John in the story has been recently made redundant at his long time job. Essentially his world is over and he’s being shown the door in a friendly somewhat superficially gracious way. In the end though the emotion gets the best of the speaker.

I wrote it in the weeks after his passing and immediately after I was asked to sing at an old work colleague’s funeral (also called John).

It’s one of those that basically came out in one shot and then I tweaked the words and melody over the following few days.

Mike Willis website

The News Agents, Jude Montague’s show about international music and history, and where news meets arts, is broadcast on Resonance FM on Saturdays 2.30-3.30pm 

Jude is presenting an evening of original songs and discussing songwriting on Thurs 16 May at Mike’s, 74 Norman Road – book here

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Posted 18:29 Wednesday, Apr 24, 2024 In: Music & Sound

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