Interview with Singer-songwriter Floyd Jane

Those of you who hang out on the PG Music Forum will know who Floyd Jane is. You will know how he has been an incredible inspiration for us folks there. You will also know how generous Floyd is with his knowledge. He never fails to offer great advice and help the rest of us try to reach his level of musicianship. I recently asked Floyd a few questions for my blog and here is the result. You can visit Floyd’s website here 

 THANK YOU Floyd, once again, for your amazing generosity. 
1. Do you have a musical family or did you just fall into songwriting all on your own? 

 Music was not really a family thing in any way. We had a record player but it was seldom used. I remember my mom playing a Vic Dana record. "Red Roses For A Blue Lady". I can still sing that one. Top 10 radio (AM) became a big thing in my life in the late 60's. Then FM rock in the '70's. I started playing guitar when I was 14, singing Glen Campbell songs mainly because of his TV show. 

2.  How old were you when you wrote your first song? What was it about? Can you remember how to sing it? 

 I was probably 15. "There Can Be A Love The Second Time Around". Nice title, eh? I remember the melody to that title line, but that's all. For a girl that I was crazy about. We were sort of together, then not - and I wanted her back. 15... 

 3. About how many songs have you written or co-written in your life? 

 I have no idea. Hundreds. I've thrown away hundreds. I started writing when I was 15, I've gone through periods (many years) that I did not write - life getting in the way or I just had to quit for a while - and periods where I wrote every day, for years - because that WAS my life. Different writing periods were for different reasons. Some to be "an artist", some to be strictly a songwriter. 

4. If I was to turn on your ipod right now what five songs or artists would I see? 

That changes constantly. Right now... Turnpike Troubadours "Diamonds and Gasoline"... Brandy Clark - "12 Stories" (in anticipation of her new one). Tyler Farr "Suffer in Peace". Jason Isbell. Springsteen. Those are some I've listen to a lot lately. Ones I keep coming back to. I do a lot of one-off listening. Queue up an album and listen to the whole thing to see if I like it and would listen again. Recently did a Zac Brown record.  And a Chris Young. The Joey + Rory record Hymns (I wrote with Rory once and did a round at the Bluebird with him). Then I go back to the few that I listen to all the time. Hard2Love by Lee Brice. Based on the strength of the songwriting and the production. That's what keeps me coming back. 

5. Who has been your biggest songwriting influence and why? 

That has changed a few times through the years. My first influence was Jimmy Webb. My first "musical hero" was Glen Campbell. "Witchita Lineman", "Galveston", "By The Time I Get To Phoenix", "Where's The Playground, Susie". Webb used maj7ths and min7ths all over the place. No one else (in Country or folky singer/songwriters) did that... melody was king... Then next was John Prine. His first album was my "songwriting bible". I wore it out. To this day, some of the best songs ever. "Hello In There". "Sam Stone". "Angel From Montgomery". "Illegal Smile". "Far From Me". Maybe my favorite lines ever "We used to laugh together...and we danced to any old song...well, you know, she still laughs with me... but she waits just a second too long". That just stabs you in the heart. You can add in "The Dutchman" (written by Michael Smith, recorded by Steve Goodman). That song had a huge influence on me. From there, I moved to James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Jimmy Buffett. 

When I decided to concentrate on writing for the commercial Country market (after a 10 year break) instead of writing "as an artist", my influences changed completely. Writing for radio is an entirely different thing. The people who do it are not household names. And to "get there" you need to concentrate on what they do and how they do it. For me, at that time, it was Pat Alger, Hugh Prestwood, Kostas, Gary Burr, Gretchen Peters, Dean Dillon, Alan Jackson, Harlan Howard, Tom Shapiro, Danny Mayo, Bob McDill, Bob DiPiero... to name a few...whoever wrote the radio hits. I stopped listening to anything other than Country radio. I heard it and was involved in it day-in and day-out. That was my influence. When you have the chance to hear the songs preformed by the writers - with just an acoustic guitar - that's a different thing. Danny Mayo was a big influence at that time because I wrote with him a lot. At first, I thought that his lyrics were "too simple". I was accustomed to the clever writing of the John Prines of the world. But that doesn't work for radio. Danny's lyrics "spoke to the heart" in the simplest manner possible. Listen to "Keeper Of The Stars". It's a whole different thing than "Far From Me". So I had to learn how to do of the hardest things to do - to "write simple" and meaningful at the same time. It is a craft unto itself - difficult to master. 

6. If you could see any artist performing live who would you go to see  and see and why? 

Brandy Clark. Listen to "12 Stories". If that doesn't convince you, then nothing will. I'd go see Jason Isbell again, too - any day of the week - great show. 

7. What  situations and/or experiences give you inspiration for writing songs and why? 

 That's impossible to put a finger on. It can come from anywhere. It's the old "I know it when I see it..." And that changes depending on who you are and why you write. I generally know right away if an idea has enough to it to fill out a song. It needs more than one dimension, or you'll run out of good lines quickly and likely repeat yourself of start throwing in cliché ideas to finish. Never a good idea. I'll have an idea and figure out 2 or 3 different ways to arrive there. And that should start small and work toward "big" (or complex, complicated - but well explained)... 

8. Do you ever experience writer's block? If so what techniques do you use to get past it? 

Not really "block". I have quit writing for long periods of my life several times (10 years at a clip). But that has always been because my life has taken a different turn. Moving on to other things for various reasons. 

9. What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you (music or performance related)?

I can't really think of any. 

10. What is the most trouble you have ever gotten into (may or may not be music or performance related)? 

 I can't talk about that.