Written by Ben Arthur
I've been obsessed with a song by Matt the Electrician called "It's a Beacon, It's a Bell" for months now. It's a deceptively simple song, recorded as just a vocal and an acoustic guitar, but it's beautiful and resonant and deep. I find myself pulling it up on my iPhone almost every day.
That was one of the reasons I was so excited and nervous to be writing a song with Matt back in March during the SXSW Music Festival. Another reason was that we'd be writing the song, and then recording it, in just three hours for SongCraft Presents and the syndicated radio program Acoustic Cafe. Just a few days later Matt would premiere the song at our panel, and a few weeks after that the song would air for the first time on 90 stations in the US and on Voice of America worldwide for 3 million listeners.
So, a lot of pressure.
But one things I've learned working on SongCraft these last few years is that if you have great talent, and you put it under great pressure, the rest happens automatically. (This, I've come to believe, is the secret of Saturday Night Live.) I knew Matt had the goods.
And the SongCraft team are some of the most talented, and nicest, people I've ever worked with. (Advice for young artists: if you meet very talented, very kind people, hang on to them like they're the most valuable thing in the world...because they are.) Producer/engineers Al Houghton -- who owns our home base studio in NYC, Dubway Studios -- and Mike Crehore are preternaturally adept at creating a comfortable, laid back recording environment, while always getting the song in shape and the recording locked in almost without you even noticing. The arrangements just fall in place, the mics just seem to appear by magic.
Behind the camera, director and videographer Matthew Hendershot quietly nabs one beautiful shot after another, all the while shaping and capturing the narratives we'll need later to create our tutorials on Ask Video
But it all starts with my partner in putting this project together, Rob Reinhart of Acoustic Cafe. Before Matt and I begin writing, Rob sits down with the featured artist to ask his carefully researched, thoughtful questions, the answers to which will form the main narrative of the segments that will air for millions of listeners a few weeks later.
Then it's my turn. But looking around the room that day, I realized that in many ways, this is the easy part.
And sure enough, before I know it, the song was done. Take a listen and let us know what you think!