There is a Cheers-esque quality to The Bluebird Cafe when Jeremy Dean arrives. In fact, any place where songwriters gather is a place “where everybody knows (his) name.” His gregarious, genuine nature has something to do with it. He knows others not just by name, but by song, by genre, and by latest project. His helpfulness in all-things-Nashville inspires familiarity too. He unbegrudgingly spends time helping songwriters navigate their way through the music industry. And certainly, most songwriters who are active in the community have worked with him in some way. He frequently co-writes and hosts songwriters nights.
But the major reason for Jeremy’s popularity is simple. His talent and professionalism precede him.
This guy is good.
I asked Jeremy to share some of his experiences as a Nashville singer/songwriter and to tell us about his exciting project with country/gospel artist Trae Edwards. As always, he was very thoughtful and generous with his time and answers.
When did you begin songwriting?
I was about sixteen when I wrote my first song. I remember my first thought when Mr. Carnahan showed me my third guitar chord: “I can write a song now!!” I have always been musical, but songwriting pretty much became my first love at that point. The first song that was commercially recorded was a song I wrote a couple years out of High School. My song “The Table Grace Prepared” was recorded by Grammy nominated artist, Barbara Fairchild, in 2000, on a Gospel project titled “Forever Friend.”
You do a lot of co-writing. Share some of your personal experiences with that process.
I recommend co-writing for all songwriters. Amateur or seasoned, songwriters collaborating can glean a lot of wisdom and expansion of thought, as well as adding to their networking endeavors. I write solo as well, but I find co-writing to be something what takes me “out of the box” and gives me a fresh approach to what could become “tunnel vision” as a solo writer. Two writers can have the same thought, but varying perspectives can really help the approach to a lyrical idea.
Tell us about your process when writing alone. How does it differ from the co-writing experience?
I am a bit of a “deep thinker,” so when I write solo, I try to find the various angles to an idea and then my process broadens. I believe co-writing has expanded my abilities as a solo writer, in that I can now more easily identify opposite or varying perspectives. So, over the years my solo writing has really become a therapy as much as a passion…I enjoy writing solo whenever I can.
I think people who don’t write music are always interested to know; which comes first – music or lyrics?
I’ve written both ways. Sometimes a musical riff or chord progression will set the pace…but more times than not I start with the idea and get the “feel” of the lyrics…the emotion of prosody determines the movement of the music more times than not, for my writing style. I am not a musical giant when it comes to playing the guitar, so I have a pretty broad approach musically, when I take the song to into production, but for starters, I generally hammer out a solid lyric base and build the music and movements around that. Lyrics should always be strong enough to stand alone though.
Who are some of your favorite songwriters? What influence have they had in your career – musically and personally?
I was primarily influenced by Paul Overstreet (who I would LOVE the opportunity to write with sometime), as well as writers like Don Schlitz, Skip Ewing, Clint Black, among others! Paul’s style and approach to lyrics really affected me as I began this journey though…and I admire his work over the years.
Describe what it’s like to live in a place with so much talent – known and unknown.
Music City is a montage of weird minds, creative hearts, and lots of soul! I know some truly genius songwriters who are yet to be discovered…and work with established songwriters who know how to hone lyrics in a polished craft. I will be honest with you, I never intended to live in Music City. As a young man, I thought if I were going to do music as a business that I would love to live in Branson, so that I could just hire on with a theatre and not have to travel all over the country. Road life is not as glamorous as it can be made out to be, but I was asked to come to Nashville in 1997, singing with a group…and once I got here, I really got turned on to the songwriting community, and set my focus there.
Tell us about your current projects.
I am blessed to have four songs recorded commercially so far this year. You can find these songs on a project by Trae Edwards (www.TraeEdwards.com) titled “I Believed.” I am in the process of releasing three or four more for another upcoming artist, and I am hopeful that will pan out as well. As far as personal recording, I am in the studio rejuvenating some old lyrics with fresh mixes and I have a number of new songwriter demos being produced presently. Always something going on.
What advice would you give someone relatively new to songwriting?
Do it because you love it! There is no “process” in this town that will guarantee success. You should do whatever it is you do because it is not what you do, but who you are. If nobody ever heard my songs, I would still write. You have to approach whatever talents and gifts you have in that manner. You won’t kick down any doors that someone else hasn’t already tried to do the same. You won’t write a lyric that hasn’t in some way been touched on already, but if you are who you are and you approach all that you do with everything you are…you will always succeed, regardless of how everyone else defines that.
– Anita, Noted in Nashville
Learn more about Jeremy by clicking the links below:
JEREMY DEAN – PO BOX 90576, NASHVILLE, TN 37209
www.jdeanFX.com – “Where Side Effects Are A Good Thing.”
YOUTUBE VIDEOS: http://www.youtube.com/ilcul8rk
Jeremy Dean Project Video by AJ Schubert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-Ra2dNPBfg&feature=youtu.be
“The Table Grace Prepared” – Jeremy Dean @ The Bluebird Café: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_beGdGCZkg8&feature=share&list=PLA5CED3698E3FFF69
(First song commercially recorded – Grammy nominee, Barbara Fairchild from her project “Forever Friend” in 2000.)