Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Jim about happiness, the B-string tuner, the live version of Joe Jackson’s “A Slow Song” and those instrumental motifs.
Lyrics are too often taken for granted. What is the line of text or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember? And why?
Final line of the final song from the new album: “Search from the INSIDE.” To me, happiness is an inside job, and I try not to rely on outside factors for my own happiness. Maybe that will hit home for somebody.
When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?
Recently. I knew “Truth” was solid from the second I came up with the opening riff. It came so easily, and that’s a good sign when I write. I sat down with the guitar, and for some unknown reason grabbed the B-string tuner and detuned that string 1/2 step. Place my fingers on the fretboard and there was the riff. Couldn’t have been easier. Nothing forced. When I force a song, it tends to sound forced afterward.
Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?
Ooo, this will be tough. For rockers, I’ll go with The Weight Of Her (Butch Walker), And Your Bird Can Sing (The Beatles), Pump It Up (Elvis Costello), and I’ll Be You (The Replacements). For a ballad, I’ll choose the live version of Joe Jackson’s A Slow Song. That one hits deeply.
Recording music. What’s all the fun about?
I feel most fortunate that I can record and collaborate with artists from all over the world, right from my home studio. Over 25 of them are involved with my new album, and I have personally met ONE of them.
You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?
Great question. For me, melody rules. So I would say to strip away productional aspects and focus on the melodies – not only the vocal melodies but all of those instrumental motifs, too. My phone contains over 2,000 voice files of melodies I’ve sung into it while hiking or driving, for example. Many of those find their way into songs, being played by various instruments.
You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?
Tough question. I’ll go with Neil Finn, Butch Walker, and John Lennon. I adore their songwriting and they have (had) no trouble writing rockers, ballads, and everything in between.