IF I WEREN'T A COPYWRITER, I'D BE MAKING SUBPAR MUSIC.
From the time I had fully-formed eardrums, my dad was relentlessly filling them with Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Buffalo Springfield, Traffic, the Kinks, Cat Stevens and Pink Floyd. The soundtrack to our road trips ranged from Dark Side of the Moon to Harvest Moon; from Pink Moon to Moonshadow.
Years later, my dad came and set a cardboard box in front of me. "Open it," he said with excitement. I guess he finally deemed me a man? It wasn't a box of condoms; it was the record collection my dad had started as a kid. It was my dad's story. And now it was my story, too.
That music compelled me to teach myself guitar. I'd go on to write and record several iPhone demos in the Voice Memos app. (You can listen to a couple of these found to the right. Hit play and turn that stuff all the way up to 11.)
More recently, my wife and I took our kids on a road trip of our own. As we started out, I reached for my phone and put on a Spotify playlist loaded with the same great music my dad used to play. That's when it hit me: music is special because it brings our stories to life, and those stories unite us in shared experiences.
BEHIND THE TRACKS
We all regret things we did in our school years. In 7th grade, I had a teacher named Mr. Squire. He was filled with kindness—a trait me and my friends would exploit ad nauseam.
When the day's lesson involved play-doh, we molded it into phallic shapes. When we were tasked to build catapults, Mr. Squire was our first target. Spaghetti bridges? Nah. "Yo e-dog, shove those hard noodles into the pencil sharpener and let 'er rip!" We were disrespectful. We were unruly. We were extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile—there aren't enough adverbs or adjectives in the English language.
As an adult, reflecting on my time in Mr. Squire's class would bring me a raw form of guilt. I'm still ashamed of how I treated him. That's why I wrote a song about it. Because writing has always been the way I've expressed my emotions and told the stories that matter to me.
DIVIDED FEAT. LIL HICKY
Lil Hicky is my rap alter-ego. I like to think of myself as a cross between Eminem and John Denver—with just a splash of Rick Astley circa 1987.