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Chapter 4: Finding the Pieces 

Some people love jigsaws, some people crosswords, some love code breaking and others like those “spot the difference” things that I’ve, honestly, always been terrible at.

For me, the puzzle I love solving is putting a song together, finding a melody and lyric that match perfectly and a harmony that supports the whole idea. The difference here, I suppose, is that with all those other kinds of puzzles you can complete it, step back, and know it’s done.

Sure, maybe one day, you’d go back to the jigsaw, break it apart and do it again, but if it were truly akin to the puzzle of songwriting, it’d be more like coming back to it because there  was a piece missing… or you found one under the lounge that didn’t quite match… or you got a piece of cardboard and made one yourself to fit.

Songwriting is, for me at least, an exercise in imperfection - being okay with that, learning, trying again and maybe getting it “more” right next time.

I was reflecting on this as I got lost down another rabbit hole recently, one called “modal interchange”. Don’t worry, I’m not going to give a lecture on the benefits of music theory (although ask yourself how you’d feel if your Uber driver proudly proclaimed “I never learned to drive, I just do what feels right”) but suffice to say it’s rare these days that I’ll settle for a “regular” chord progression… possibly to my detriment.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of songwriting as a puzzle is its inherent unpredictability. Much like a cryptic crossword or a riddle with no clear answer, the process of songwriting is filled with twists and turns, unexpected detours, and moments of inspiration. It's a journey into the unknown, where every chord change and lyrical shift holds the potential to transform the entire composition.

I’ll never forget the look on the face of my good friend Dallas Keenes when I brought a song chart into rehearsals for our then new band One Proud Monkey. I had written up 7 chords when Dallas made a comment along the lines of, “that’s enough chords for this song” when I informed him that I’d only just completed the verse. The song in question, “Jimmy Superfly”, ended up with around 23 chords give or take (ask me about inversions and chord extensions anyday).

“Pieces of Different Puzzles” is another such track, and there’s a chord at the end of the chorus - when I stumbled on that one… I just can’t convey the satisfaction that brought me. After all, songwriting offers a unique opportunity to embrace paradox and contradiction. In the world of music, dissonance and harmony coexist in a delicate balance, much like the pieces of a puzzle that may not fit together at first glance but ultimately form a cohesive whole. It's through this interplay of opposites that the true beauty of a song emerges – in the tension between light and shadow, joy and sorrow, love and loss.

Anyway… in the reflection I started to wonder if I ever want to write the perfect song - complete the puzzle if you will - because then I’d have to stop. And doing this brings me so much happiness, I just don’t think I can.

Thanks for being part of this.


Chapter 3: Chaos Is Your Friend... Sometimes 

I was so excited at the end of January, you may have heard me talk about it on the podcast doco thing a few weeks back, when I had 8 song ideas in 27 minutes.

Well these haven’t turned into songs like I hoped, so I did some reflecting.

When I was writing “The Soundtrack of Our Lives”, I was concentrating on the importance of a cohesive narrative and a structured approach to songwriting. Drawing inspiration from one of my favourite albums, "Life in Slow Motion" by David Gray, I sought to recreate that magic by infusing my music with a tighter structure and a compelling storyline.

Making the album was so much fun and I was so pleased with the results I figured I’d do it the same way for album #3, however…

In the solitude of my studio, I found myself stuck, relying on the same old routine of writing chords, bashing pre-written lyrics into place, and drawing from familiar influences. It was comfortable, yes, but it lacked the spark of inspiration I craved.

Then, an epiphany, I needed to search for music that I like but have listened very little to. My Last.FM listening stats (compiled since 2006!) came in handy here, I scanned my most played artists for something that wasn’t a bloke with a guitar writing alt country / acoustic / adult contemporary songs.

Shockingly, the first female on that list was at #129 (Thelma Plum) and after that #150 (Angie McMahon). If I was going to free my creative brain from this malaise, I was going to need a different input, and this is where it started. I was brainstorming female songwriters with a penchant for poignant lyrics and Joni Mitchell came to mind - and while she’s not on Spotify, there’s a “Joni Mitchell Radio” which pointed me towards Tori Amos - I was off and running (I eventually conquered my laziness and got some Joni from YouTube).

The moment when chaos truly disrupted my orderly world came during this week-long immersion in the music of Amos and then Regina Spektor, great songwriters who have such a different approach to mine, combined with a deep dive detour into advanced theories of harmony via a Jazz channel on Instagram that, kind of, broke my brain. It shook things up so much that ideas, not necessarily great, but creative, poured out.

As I dove deeper into this world, something incredible happened. The chaos of my creative approach began to yield results. I discovered a freedom in my music, unshackled from the constraints of my trusty old ways. Each session in the studio has brought new discoveries, new ideas, and new directions to explore.

I feel myself growing as a songwriter. Embracing the joy of spontaneity, letting go and allowing the music to take me where it pleases. Chaos, it seems, has been the much needed catalyst for something truly rewarding—a positive outcome born from disruption and disorder.

Oh, and I finished 4 new songs this week. And this time, I actually like them.

Chapter 2: Would You Watch This Movie? 

Would you watch this? Or is it a little too cliche... maybe I got carried away, it's all part of the adventure... read on... oh, and who should play me?

"The Silence Between The Chords"

Stuck in a small town and battling self-doubt, a 46-year-old aspiring songwriter wrestles with the question: is pursuing a creative dream in the face of doubt and practicality ultimately selfish, or the bravest act of self-acceptance?

Act 1: The Dream and the Nightmare

Clinton, a talented but self-doubting songwriter, spends his days toiling away teaching Art and Music in a small town, his dreams of music fame feeling increasingly distant. Despite his passion for writing original music, he struggles with feelings of inadequacy, haunted by the constant requests for 30 year old cover songs. His inner conflict reaches a breaking point when he has the opportunity to perform at a local open mic night. The applause he receives fuels his hope, but it's quickly overshadowed by all-too-familiar doubts.

Act 2: The Conflict Unfolds

As Clinton continues to grapple with his conflicting desires, he faces external challenges that further complicate his journey. Financial constraints, geographic isolation, and societal expectations weigh heavily on him. He begins to question whether pursuing his musical aspirations is selfish or if it's a valid pursuit of happiness. Sleepless nights dominate the summer, under the weight of his internal struggle, his family is supportive and encouraging, they even know the words to his songs - but he wonders, is this a fool’s errand?

Act 3: The Resolution

Despite the challenges, Clinton finds solace in the transformative power of music. He reconnects with the passion that initially ignited his desire to write songs and realises that his fear of failure was what was holding him back. With newfound determination, he takes a leap of faith and decides to pursue his dream wholeheartedly. Embracing his age and life experience, he sees them as assets rather than obstacles.

With his family’s unwavering support and encouragement, Clinton embarks on a journey that takes him far beyond the confines of his small town. Armed with his guitar and a suitcase full of original songs, he travels the world, sharing his music with diverse audiences. Along the way, he discovers that his music has the power to transcend language and cultural barriers, forging connections with people from all walks of life.

As he stands on stage, playing songs that resonate deeply with listeners, Clinton realises that his dream of connecting with others through music has become a reality. He no longer sees his pursuit of music as selfish but as a gift that he has to share with the world. In embracing his true passion, he finds fulfilment and a sense of purpose that he never thought possible.

This film is a heartfelt exploration of self-discovery, perseverance, and the transformative power of following one's dreams, even in the face of doubt and uncertainty. Through Clinton's journey, audiences are reminded that sometimes the greatest obstacle we face is the one we create within ourselves, but with courage and determination, we can overcome it and unlock the song inside us all.

Chapter 1: An Epic Adventure Awaits 

Once upon a time, in the vast and sunburnt landscapes of regional Australia, there lived a dreamer named Clint. Clint was not your typical Aussie bloke; he was a songwriter with a heart full of stories and melodies waiting to be shared. With two albums under his belt, he was no stranger to the struggles of the independent artist. Yet, the call of his creative spirit urged him to embark on a journey to write his third album, an epic adventure that would test his resolve and passion.

Clint faced a daunting challenge – he had no record label backing him, no marketing machine, no publisher, and the news of Spotify abandoning payments for artists with fewer than 1000 streams left him feeling like a lone wanderer in the vast outback. Undeterred, Clint decided that this would be the album that would define him, the one that would echo across the hills and resonate with hearts around the world.

Armed with his trusty Cole Clark (tuned a half step down) and the desire, if not the skill, to incorporate piano and string arrangements into his work, Clint set off on the path. Even though you can’t hold a dream, Clint found it a heavy thing to carry. The choice was stark, play the game the way it has been played for all time, after all it works… for some. Or attempt to forge a new path, built on real stories and true connection… and risk being out there all alone.

The conventional path whispered promises of familiarity and safety, a well-trodden road where success was a calculated equation. But Clint's heart beat to the rhythm of a different drum, echoing the tales of the land and the stories etched into the hearts of its people. He yearned for authenticity, for a connection that transcended charts and algorithms.

The quest would be long and potentially (metaphorically) dangerous but there comes a time in an artist’s life where chances must be taken, lest one be deemed unfitting of the moniker.

Rewards await, however the work comes first, your unwavering support is the fuel that pushes us onwards.

Where we've come from and where we're going  

As I sit back and reminisce about this time last year, I find myself transported to the recording studio, where the sessions for what would later become “The Soundtrack of Our Lives” were taking shape. The excitement of delving deep into the creative process, capturing songs that longed to be shared with the world, was palpable. From deeply personal compositions to some of my favourite work, the journey was exhilarating.

Fast forward to the album's release in May, and the joy of performing these songs live has been nothing short of thrilling—perhaps as exciting as any moment in my musical career thus far.

Now, with the dawn of a new year, there's a sense of reset, a chance to reflect and plan the next steps. While I'm not one for New Year resolutions, December and the early weeks of January have been spent contemplating the path ahead. I find myself deeply enamoured with the music-making and writing process, reigniting the drive that fuels my creative journey.

The primary focus is on the follow-up to “The Soundtrack of Our Lives”. I've decided to pull back the curtain on the creative process, offering you a glimpse into the journey from the inception of the songs to their recording and the album's final assembly. While I won't reveal too much now, I hope this album will serve as a genuine and worthy sequel to the emotional landscape explored on the last record. Expect an exploration of life's appreciation, the fleeting time we have on this planet, and the people we share that time with.

Keep an eye on your inboxes for updates and messages from me. While I'm uncertain about the next live performance opportunity, I encourage you to come, chat, and become a part of the music I'm creating.

As a token of appreciation, I'd like to offer you a sneak peek into the "where we've come from" aspect of this musical journey… An early demo from the last record—a version that sounds nothing like the final track. It's not better, just different, and I believe you'll sense the evolution. Enjoy this glimpse into the creative process, and thank you for being a part of this musical odyssey.

The Road 

Whoever said the road has no lessons was obviously not paying attention. Or having too much fun. Either way, I've been playing around the place a bit recently and I've had some thoughts - some nuggets of wisdom if you will (definitely more healthy than actual nuggets). 

Who knew Orange could get so chilly? I mean I did… so what I mean is - who would go to Orange so woefully underprepared (I would)… But hey, they sure dig songwriters and original music, which makes the cold worth it. The Vic, one of my favourite venues, hosted a killer "4 on the 4loor" last month and I was lucky enough to have a spot on stage. It's rare that someone comes up after the show to share how much they enjoyed the music, I wish it'd happen more - maybe you're scared that I'll start talking to you about it.... that connection with the audience is what I've always aimed for though, I'd like to think people are finding something in these songs.

And Bathurst, which outdid Orange for winterness (but again I knew this). Lesson learned: July is not T-shirt weather there, even in the middle of the day. On the bright side, they've got these awesome venues filled with people who genuinely appreciate original tunes. Playing at the Keystone felt like stepping into a scene from a Baz Luhrmann movie – seriously cool vibes. It's like tapping into your inner Greatest Showman, and who doesn't love a bit of that magic? (Yes I know Baz didn't make the Greatest Showman but whatever…)

The great thing has been the incredible new talent I've come across, there are insanely creative people everywhere - we should all get out more and show our support. 

I recently joined the inaugural “Song Circles” – a gig with some of my favorite local musicians. We played each other's tunes, collaborated on some new ones... got a huge compliment from someone in the local scene I deeply respect, who said it was the best gig they'd seen in ages. Encouragement like that fuels this creative desire, and I'm pumped to see where it takes us.

Exciting times ahead as I continue to explore more of the regions. Can't wait to see what the rest of the year has in store.

Thanks for listening!

"The Soundtrack of Our Lives" launch 

Embarking on the launch of "The Soundtrack of Our Lives" after a dedicated 2 1/2 years of work, I was moved to see a crowd filled not just with random faces, but with individuals who have supported me throughout this odyssey. This album marks a pivotal moment I think… allowing me to strip back layers and explore the essence of being a songwriter in this phase of my life (still searching for a name for that phase. There's a collection of intimate feelings and strong convictions coming to the forefront as the driving forces behind these creations.

The overwhelming love and support is not lost on me, and I wanna extend my heartfelt gratitude. As I look forward to taking this album on the road in the coming months, I hope I'm creating meaningful stories and experiences to share. To everyone who has been a part of this musical adventure, thank you for your unwavering support—it is genuinely appreciated. Until the next show, thanks for listening and thanks for showing up. It's everything.

This show was supported by Dubbo Regional Council and the NSW Government via the Country Artist Support Program

Puzzles with Different Pieces - Part 1 

My last album was released in 2019, so it’s nearly 4 years old, though some of the songs have been with me much longer than that - Ramble first appeared as a bonus track on the CD for the last One Proud Monkey record (go on check, it’s there!), Stare at the Clouds was actually performed once by the same band, as was We Gotta Get Together - in Coonabarabran of all places.

Bringing all of these songs together was a massive undertaking, of course I didn’t realise it at the time - so many things in my life fall into this category actually…

It’s really only now, on the eve of the release of my new record, that I can actually look back with any perspective on the experience of putting the Pieces together. So before we close the puzzle box, come with me for a chat about album #1, the (accidentally) very aptly named “Pieces of Different Puzzles”.

It'll be on your favourite podcast channels, well, as soon as they deliver it. I'd love to hear your insights on the record too!

Part 1 includes We Gotta Get Together, Building an Empire, Autumn Leaves and Atmospherians - and there might be a few surprises along the way too...

Get reacquainted here:

Thanks for listening!

Recording the Soundtrack of our Lives - Day #2 

I was aiming for a 9:30am start. Nice and leisurely. 

My motel neighbours didn’t get that memo. I’d hazard that the 4:30am wake up knock rattled the doors of many unappreciative rooms. 

I probably the needed the extra time anyway, I did have to walk 15 seconds up the road to the servo and grab a toothbrush. Thankful for the opportunity to rise early, I suppose. 

I tried to go back to sleep, I meditated, ruminated… plotted revenge… I got there eventually but restful it was not - so I celebrated with a Bacon & Egg McMuffin. I’m not a quick learner. 

Two International Roasts later and I was rueing my morning’s dietary choices but at least I was on the road. 

6 hours is not a lot of time to finish an album plus a newly written song it turns out but we squeezed every available moment from the time. The saving grace is that some of these songs are piano songs. No, I haven’t learned to play, I just needed a new way to write and get some of these songs out. The performances on the record will be of a much higher quality than my demos. 

Some of the songs we tracked on Day #2 probably give off a certain mood - “Death Bed” and “Fallible” come to mind, but there’s optimism beneath the skin. The thing I found strangest was recording songs that belong to the midnight hours at 11am. “Fallible” in particular is one of the most vulnerable songs I’ve ever written, yet here I am bouncing into a beautiful studio, warmed by a host made (great) coffee and proud of what I’m putting down, it requires quite a mindset shift. 

But you know what, we got it done. 11 - yes, 11 songs - in effectively 1.5 days. The whole experience, from when I started writing 18 months ago to the final take on “The Last Song” (I’ll rename it, don’t worry), has taught me so much. It has taught me about making music but also about me. There’s more of me than in any other record. More truth. Or more accurately, facing up to truth. More love. More wonder. 

I’m really looking forward to giving these songs to you.

Recording the Soundtrack of our Lives - Day #1 

I’ll be there by 1030 I said confidently. I’d typed the destination into maps and had a 10 minute buffer, for me, that’s luxury. 

It was all planned out, I’d cue up a few Sodajerker on Songwriting podcasts for inspiration and then half an hour out of Bathurst I’d do my vocal warm-ups, ‘cause I’m a professional. 

Oooh, if I go the back road I can save myself an additional 4 minutes. I mean, who wouldn’t? 

6.5km out of Orange. 



I don’t remember the wheel pulling to the right this much usually. 

And being that there wasn’t a towel or sheet 3/4 of the way out a window, that flapping noise was concerning too. 

Dodge the pothole is an intriguing game on our roads currently. Evidently it was one that I was unskilled at. 

Let me show you a picture. 

Two people actually stopped to offer assistance. That felt nice. 

Tyre changed and I limped to Bathurst, dented rim and bruised driving ego. Kris went beyond the producer’s stated role and morphed into my taxi as well so I could eventually get to the studio and we could start work. I had started with a day and a half to record 10 songs. The clock was well and truly ticking. 

“The Boatshed” is idyllic… beautiful in its simplicity - if I could translate even some of that into the recording I’d be on a winner. “Start with an easy one”, Kris said. I laughed (internally), wishing I’d had a few more run throughs. The idea that you can forget a song that you wrote is intriguing - and all too common. 

The next few hours were a whirlwind really. Somehow, among the birdsong, either side of the setting sun, we tracked guitar and vocals for 5 songs. I was halfway done, at the halfway point. Considering how things started, I was pretty pleased. 

I’m partial to the odd spanner throw of course - ask any band mate who’s heard me suggest a new song 3 weeks shy of a gig - and I had this gnawing feeling I couldn’t shake. 

“Don’t hate me” I said to Kris “but…” 

“You got someone else to play piano?” he offered… 

“Well, no, but… I’ve written a new song…”