Wednesday, August 3, 2011

a songwriting goldmine

despite a workload that could choke a horse,
I'm still working as often as I can in the studio with daniel.
I stumbled on to a songwriter's goldmine recently
and songs have been pouring out like free beer.

for the last 6 years I gave up songwriting altogether,
so it came as a surprise to find those gears turning again.
I gave up songwriting because it seemed pointless.
that's how I felt for the last 6 years.
a sad weary mixture of "it's all been said and done
before", and "maybe I'm getting too old for this"
inflamed by the bitter knowledge my songs have
mostly been "orphans on the streets of radioland"
as I once put it.

but in the back of my mind during the first 3
of those years while I was composing e
(which I consider a "composition" not a "song")
I had thought I probably would return to songwriting
again specifically for the power trio, that was step 2
in my plan, after showing the world what the trio
could do musically with e.
but once eric absconded, I truly lost all interest.

what with the internet, free downloading, free burning
of CDs, and the bleak landscape of modern radio
which demands pop songs be mindless dance beat
fodder for young kids who need to procreate
or wallpaper for those who don't want to think,
perhaps you can empathize how defeated I might feel.

but following the BIG EVENT orchestral production of e
and my subsequent return to earth I suddenly knew
that songwriting is such an important aspect of my art.
it's the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place.
doesn't matter how many people hear my songs
or whose top 100 list they are never on,
my songs are integral to my creativity
and no, I'm not too old, and I do have new things to say.

I've often wondered what might have been different
had frank zappa never discovered me and my answer
has always been the same:
apart from remaining poor (as I was)
and having no one know my name,
nothing would be different.
I believe I would have continued to make music
for a very few people and write songs no one ever heard
because that is who I am.

my re-entry back into the world of songwriting
was brought on by two things I've always relied on.
1) when you're stale, switch tunings.
I made up a new tuning as I often have in the past.
from low to high it's spelled D A D E B E.
the low E tuned down to a D, the G down to an E.
suddenly it was like starting all over again.
my habitual chord shapes no longer mattered.
I found myself discovering new things every time
I picked up my acoustic guitar.
it was (and still is) exciting.

2) switch instruments.
I switched to piano, an instrument I don't play enough.
my piano chops are non-existent so any time
I write on piano I have no idea what I'm doing
which forces me to follow the melody in my head
and focus on the logic of the accompanying chord changes.
for me that's ideal.
I thrive on discovery.

the end result of all of this?
I'm currently writing and recording a new batch
of solo songs that I'm enjoying immensely.
hopefully by next spring you'll be enjoying it too.


  1. You put a big smile on my face, Adrian! Yay! Looking forward to them.

  2. i think a big reason i look up to you is because aside from your talents and history, you are open about facing the same insecurities young musicians have now. and you get over it, because your approach is right - natural, fun, creative.

    if you make an album that is fun to play and the type of music you want to listen to, and you will find it fits in seamlessly with the rest of your discography and our collections.


  3. If it's any consolation, 2 more people know about you than yesterday. They asked about my Mr Music Head tour tee-shirt.

  4. This is fantastic news, Adrian! But please don't forget to release DUST on CD...

  5. Yes, do what you are good at no matter how many follow. Those that do, appreciate it immensely.

    Count me in.

  6. Thank you once again for sharing a little piece of your soul with us Adrian. Your honest, heart centered , fearlessness is one of the things that make you so special.
    Daniel is a very lucky man !! I so look forward to the songs...But please.... don't knock procreation... "virtuosity is sexy"

  7. Not only have you been blessed to do what you love, you've also been kind enough to share it with the rest of us... and there are more of us out there than you may realize.

  8. This is great,great news!!!! Your songs hold a special place in my heart.

  9. I love your songs Adrian, and i am very excited that you are creating something new, i loved "e" but i've always loved that other part of you, that create songs, truly amazing and great songs. looking forward listening your new songs!

    Count me in for a cd already.

  10. Glad to hear it, Adrian. Please record more of your singing. You have one of my favorite voices.

  11. You may not have had a lot of radio play for your songs, but many of those underplayed songs are very dear to many of us out here...

    Any new material will I am sure be well received by your fans, we who are (probably) not listening to the formulaic dance songs.

  12. We all at some point find ourselves stuck and at a "certain" age wonder????? It's all about pushing and not giving into the mindless music fodder out there....I welcome your new songs...look forward to seeing you in Chicago my friend...Pat

  13. you're our treasure!

    thanks for the vulcano working!

    pierluca from milan

  14. this is great news. looking forward to it already.

  15. Doesn't matter indeed! See you soon.


  16. Will we be hearing any of these new songs on the Power Trio/Stick Men tour in September? :) I know I would love to hear some new music in a live setting...

  17. Also, I have to say, as a fan, I truly appreciate you entering the world of songwriting again, as that is how I first heard your music, in song form. I enjoy immensely material like 'e', but I am greedy, and want more of all of it! :)

  18. i'm afraid i have to say
    you just made my day

    play it for me , tinklie fingers .

    *wipe's eye*

    the piano stuff on Mmh is such a treat .
    i just said something about this to Donna after you announced the 2pp tour . i was all " i bet he is gonna start doing songs again ..." she gave me this look ! best music news i have heard in years . i've been waiting for this for a long time , have fun .


    p.s. remember this ?

  19. i swear i dreamed this last night!

    can't wait to hear my dream come true.

  20. Your music may not be heard by the masses, but it is truly appreciated by the best audience possible, those with the best taste. Glad that my favorite artist continues to find the goldmine...

  21. Hope you and eric are on good terms. Sometimes you gotta do whatcha gotta do. You are one of my favorite songwriters not that everything is that great but when you hit you hit!! and so it should be.

  22. I love your abstract and progressive pieces, and certainly don't consider them less important than your songwriting, but I do have to admit, it's well past time to create a new album or two of AB Pop Songs. You have a way of doing it that always feels both compellingly original and yet warmly familiar, like discovering new Beatles, Talking Heads or XTC albums that were lost in spacetime. A new AB pop album never fails to get played endlessly here in Limbo, until I've absorbed every nuance and learned a new language. Have fun, and be sure to let us know when it's time to celebrate them with you.

  23. =====)^_^(======

  24. Hello Mr. Belew! You don't know how happy it makes me to learn that you have not given up on the most touching and heartfelt lyrics that I love so much! I was so sad when you said that that part was over for you, because I love your words and your voice so very much. You really have a gift with words. Darek and I will see you at the Bijou in K-town onthe 21st...Can't wait! Tracy

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  26. Go on my top top Raconteur/Troubadour, youve got a lot to say! ;-)

  27. I've always loved your songs and am still amazed at your lyric writing *especially* in the insane musical environment of King Crimson. The fact that you wrote such amazing songs/lyrics on top of such complex and intense music is just unbelievable. Can't wait to hear your new songs!

  28. Your songwriting from the beginning of your recording career has been stellar. Your lyrics, arrangement and that guitar style you carved has been nothing short of inspirational. I love what you said about radio. Radio is considered to be a media for those that do not like music. A jazz musician told me that. There's truth to that. The new material will be more than anticipated.

  29. There are more people than you might realize who love your work - all of it. From your collaborative efforts, to sideman, solo work, King Crimson. I have turned many people in the last few years onto your work, and taken many people to see the power trio over the years. Cannot wait to see you in Fairfield CT in late September. The frustrations you feel are understandable. A man with your talent and genius on the guitar should be a much bigger star.

  30. Good Work Adrian, and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

    Marco from Milan

  31. Been out at Bodie all week, a california gold mining, ghost town. Come in to read about your gold mine .... Somehow I know this will turn out to be my favorite gold stash!

  32. There are many more fans out here than you believe, but your fearlessness and ability to connect with your fans are a part of what makes you my favorite musician. After a packed show at the Double Door in Chicago (early/mid-90's I think), I had a chance to meet you and, tongue-twisted, I managed to tell you that your performance was the best live show I had ever seen. In retrospect it was a Chris Farley-esque thing to say ("Remember that time you played that show? It was awesome!"), but you looked me in the eyes, thanked me, and seemed genuinely pleased (and surprised) to hear that.

    Ever since "discovering" your music in the 80's (in Urbana), I've been sharing it with anyone who would listen. This blog post brought tears to my eyes as I thought of the world deprived of your talents. Keep doing what you're doing, Adrian. Music distribution will continue changing, tastes will ebb and flow, but your art will live on forever.

    Finally, it's too much to ask no doubt, but Houston is the fourth largest city in the US -- perhaps swing by here some day?!