OPEN MIC; Hosted by Gerry Moss
OPEN MIC every Wednesday. Hosted by Gerry Moss
Gerry Moss is interviewed by Joe Beavers of KSAR 92.3 FM, Thayer, MO.
This interview was conducted on Joe Beavers program, "The Ozark Talent Showcase."
This interview is presented in two parts. Part one lasts 9:58. Part 2 lasts 12:45.
WMSC Songwriter Spotlight: Gerry Moss
Gerry Moss was inspired by music at an early age by the music he heard on the radio in the 50's/60's. A relative showed him folk chords on a guitar and when the Beatles came out, he was swept up in Beatlemania and the British invasion. That lead to a profusion of other influences including the blues, country and jazz. He’s covered a lot of music since then and his own songwriting bears the influences.
Do you pay attention to rhyme and meter or just free-writer whatever feels good?
I do pay attention to the mechanics of a song but I also try to let it flow so I don't get trapped by editing while I'm writing, but rather write…then edit. Someone said you can't 'think and feel at the same time'. When I try to do both simultaneously invariably one suffers and I end up arranging a song that's not fully formed and my writing gets blocked.
How do you avoid writing the same song over in different ways?
By changing keys, changing tempos, rhythmic feel and different subject matter. It always helps me to have a title to work around and someone to collaborate with.
Who inspires you as a songwriter?
I listen to a lot of songwriters from Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Berry Gordy and the Motown songwriters, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, all the Brill Building writers, Goffen and King, Neil Sedaka, Henry Mancini, James Taylor, Fagen and Becker from, Steely Dan, Randy Newman, Bobby Darin, JJ Cale, Lloyd Price, Marc Cohen, Steve Goodman, Van Morrison, Keb Mo, Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Leon Russell, Towns Van Zant, Paul Simon, Tom Petty and many more writers too numerous to list here. The things that inspire me in these writers is sometimes just a groove or the magic combination of the right lyric on the right note at the right time. I also read a lot of books which has helped me in how a story or lyric is developed.
Have you had any type of formal training for songwriting?
I do not, other than countless hours spent listening and learning songs, playing with and learning from other published songwriters who are friends like, David Lynn Jones, Adam Mitchell, Jon Christopher Davis as well as with many more lesser known but talented writers none-the-less.
Do you write for yourself to sing or with a band in mind?
Typically for me , the music, melody or chord pattern will inspire a lyric but in some instances, especially when co-writing, a set of lyrics will present themselves first. It's always helpful to have a title, even if it's just a working title.
What is the most important element of the song for you?
I try not to think about the destination the song will take. I perceive a song as its own entity, one that if you listen closely and repeatedly will tell what it needs to become fully realized. After it's been written, it becomes like a child send that now belongs to the world.
You play several stringed instruments. Which one do you use, most often, to write?
I don't think, feel that there is only one important element to a song. Sometimes it's a groove, sometimes it's a great guitar lick, sometimes it's a great lyric that captures me. Most times it's a varying combination of all those things. For me, a great song has an irresistible 'something', a knee jerk quality to it that not only makes me want to hear it again but hopefully inspire me to emulate it in some way. The combination of voice, lyric, melody and rhythmic feel is a truly magic idiom, something that transports the listener through time and space like nothing else will. I play guitar, piano, bass, mandolin and dobro. More times than not, I will write on guitar and piano. Sometimes, I'll just sing something and try to find it on an instrument later.
Is there a ‘hit’ song out there that you say “I wish I’d written that because…” ?
There are so many songs I'd wish I'd written. Some that come to mind are 'Singing This Song For You' by Leon Russell, 'Superstition' by Stevie Wonder, 'Imagine' by John Lennon' , Michelle' by Paul McCartney, 'Money' by Barry Gordy, 'Try And Catch The Wind' by Donovan, 'Old Friends' by Paul Simon to mention only a few. Songs are the raw material of the whole music industry, without which, there would be NO music industry per se. However, I think there will always be songs as long as there are humans.
What is unique about your songwriting?
What is unique to the songs I write is the same thing that make me unique as a human. Sometimes I can only perceive that quality, that trait, by bouncing them off of other people and get a reflected sense of it.
How do you see the WMSC impacting songwriters in WMass?
I think the WMSC is important as an outlet for songwriters and listeners alike because it offers a platform for writers to performs their songs, get reactions, meet other writers and expose their material to the public and…get inspired, as I did.