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To Tell The Truth: David G. Smith On The Art Of Songwriting

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Some musicians pride themselves as songwriters, seeking to write about the truth as they see it. KMUW’s Jedd Beaudoin spoke to one such musician recently and has more.


David G. Smith tried his hand as a songwriter in Nashville for nearly two decades but found that it wasn’t always to his liking.

“It was doing bad things to my soul,” he says.

Smith had grown tired of the city’s reputation for song formulas. There were certain topics that were guaranteed to be hits. He decided that he wanted to do something different. Encouraged by several friends, Smith took to the road and began writing and recording the songs he wanted to hear—and the songs that he believed other people wanted to hear as well.

“I think that every songwriter I want to listen to is going to write about something universal, something that does have some staying power, has some legs,” he adds. “It speaks to your soul as well. You get both of those components going and, man, that’s a good day of songwriting.”

Armed with music he calls “real songs about real people” Smith spends most of his days and nights in venues he calls listening rooms—homes, cafes, and, now and then, libraries.

“I’m looking for rooms that are conducive to the listening experience. Libraries are almost like a ‘Duh!’ Where you make money these days, unless you’re in the top .0001 percent of songwriters, is out on the road,” he notes. “You’ve got to be out on the road to make ends meet.”

As to whether he sees himself as a live performer or a recording artist, he says that he doesn’t worry too much about such distinctions while writing material.

“There used to be your studio songs and ones that worked better live,” Smith says. “I think that to some degree that still comes into play. I don’t sit down and think too much about what’s going to work and what isn’t. My job is to write the truth. It’s about writing your heart and your soul and writing the truth. You can use that philosophy for any line of work that you’re in. You’re looking for the truth.”

David G. Smith performs at the Central Branch of the Wichita Public Library on Wednesday at Noon.