#7 Seeing Stars (“Coming Home” track by track)

I’m currently (somewhat belatedly) showcasing each track from my latest album Coming Home in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “Seeing Stars” is the seventh and final track, which means we’ve reached the end of this blog series! But that’s okay, I’ll have more songs to release soon enough. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.


This song is an interesting case because I wrote it as a frivolous little exercise and included it in the album on a whim, but then some people ended up really liking it.

I’m not sure if I’m actually going to keep trying to complete 50/90 (50 songs in 90 days) for years to come like I thought I might, but last year was my second year finishing it. At the beginning, I was in a bit of a depression/low motivation phase, and I always need to give myself a little push to get started with these things. It helps me to start by writing without pressure, like I’m just going to write this song, and I don’t care if it’s the worst song ever written. But then, I don’t try to write the worst song ever written, so you don’t know. It might be amazing. It might be terrible. That’s kind of the fun of it. And I’m not always the best judge of the finished product because I’m always going to judge my songs based on my personal relationship with them. How much did I enjoy the writing process, and how well does it express my personal thoughts and feelings? But those characteristics are invisible to everyone else, so there’s no reason they would like the same songs as I do.

So this is one of those songs that it’s hard for me to like because it’s subjective, and subjectively, I didn’t enjoy writing this song and I don’t necessarily love what I expressed with it. I didn’t enjoy writing it because I was in a low motivation state and had to force myself.

I suppose I kind of like the sentiment, and it is relevant to my life right now – a simple song about becoming disillusioned with your dreams when they don’t seem to be coming true and no one believes in you, but refusing to give up hope completely. But I tend to find my shorter, simpler songs more boring, even as everyone else prefers them, haha. I always wish for it to be more idiosyncratic and specific to my personal situation, even though I know that will reduce its potential appeal. But it certainly makes it fun for me to sing! Plus, I guess I perceive a certain cheesy factor in this lyric. The title makes it seem like it’s more about someone who was trying to make it in Hollywood than someone like me.

The other issue is that I dared to write a higher melody, which everyone else seems to like when I do it, but I hate singing high notes. It’s uncomfortable, more difficult, takes more concentration, is hard on my voice, and I don’t personally like the way my voice sounds up there. (Of course I don’t like my voice at the bottom of my range either; I think it sounds best right in the comfortable middle.) This is why, even though I agree that it’s a pleasant, pretty little song, I barely sing it live even when requested.

But anyway, for better or for worse the song is out there now and people can hear it and make their own judgment. I kept it acoustic when I recorded it. I would say that my favorite aspects of it are the simplicity and the little chord motif with the open B string that I play in the main progression. I do like the lyrics, but they don’t excite me the way some lyrics do – that’s the best way I can explain it. I respect everyone else’s right to love it if they want to, though!


You could see them in my eyes
In every old picture
Mirroring the night skies
A timeless, boundless fixture

And when I’d get my wish
I’d stay content for all of time
Though they say everything dies

Seeing stars, I was seeing stars

They told me to give up
Those lights were getting dimmer
I started to get stuck
They all knew I’d never be a winner

But nothing’s ever certain
So why can’t we just keep trying?
And everything might be all right

#6 I Don’t Love Songs (“Coming Home” track by track)

I’m currently (somewhat belatedly) showcasing each track from my latest album Coming Home in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “I Don’t Love Songs” is the sixth track. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.


“I Don’t Love Songs” is one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever written. It was another one that came together fairly quickly, and was written somewhat systematically. By that, I mean that I came up with what I wanted each part of the song to say before I wrote it, and then I carefully chose my words for each line. Without passion, that method can result in a very boring, lifeless song, but I adored the song’s concept, so I don’t think that has happened here.

In a nutshell, this song is about two things: first, it’s about my obsessive, unhealthy love for music. Second, it’s about depression. I was really excited about the idea of putting these two themes together in a song, because I don’t see it as being very common.

As many of my ideas do, this one came to me when I was just thinking about myself and my emotions. There are a lot of ways to describe depression, and anhedonia is often a big part of it. You don’t enjoy even the things that usually light a fire inside of you. For me, that’s music, so I can usually judge my mental health status by how music makes me feel. If it doesn’t affect my mood very much, then watch out. And I felt like “I don’t love songs anymore, I only like them now” was such a clear, concise, and poignant way of putting it.

I’m very proud of all of the lyrics because, for me, they are dripping with emotion and they paint a very clear picture. The latter is something I’ve had to work at, and I still do. For example, I was proud of “the scent of beer soaked pine makes me think of live music” and “sick to your stomach at that perfect mix of passion and purpose and harmony and rhyme.” Again, it’s that feeling that I’ve described something inside of me with absolute perfection. Even the lines that are simple and straightforward still feel to me like they couldn’t be anything else. That’s the mark of a well-written song.

Sometimes, when I really love the concept and lyrics of a song, I have a tendency to half-ass the music part, just procrastinate because I’m afraid I won’t do the song justice, and/or never be satisfied with it. None of those things happened here. I got right down to business, and even though, again, I wrote it very systematically, I thought it came out really well. The song is well-structured and there is good differentiation between each part.

Now, I can already hear the songwriting “experts” complaining that there isn’t much range to the melody. No, there isn’t. I don’t care. Range doesn’t make a song (or a singer, for that matter) good or bad; emotional expression and catchiness do. Also, I don’t know why some people say that “all hit songs” have wide ranges, when if anything it seems like it’s more common for them to have very narrow ranges, and people like Celine Dion and Mariah Carey are very much flukes. Narrow ranges mean everyone can sing along. It’s just about what you do within that range.

Anyway, I was careful to come up with a slightly more varied strumming pattern so it could be differentiated from the rest of the album. Then I only added simple harmonies (which I was pleased with) and kept it simple and acoustic. As I’ve said before, with limited production and arranging skills, it’s always better to err on the side of simple and unadorned rather than risk ruining a good song. Someday I hope to have more choices than just “simple and acoustic” or “ruining the song,” but I can wait!


The scent of beer-soaked pine makes me think of live music
Makes me think of a world of friends and the best days of my life
Makes me think of my inner power and of knowing how to use it
And of calming meditations and dreams bursting from inside

Music’s made me fall in love with everything
Again and again and again
It used to be my reminder that I was alive

But I don’t love songs anymore
I only like them now
And I don’t dream of open doors
Because I only wear them out

And I’ve always wondered how common it was
To get sick to your stomach
At that perfect mix of passion and purpose and harmony and rhyme
Because it happened to me all the time
It happened to me all the time

I’m not so happy with how these past few months have been going
But I’m not gonna lose my mind because I’ve felt like this before
It’s all gonna be okay because there’s a comfort in the knowing
That there’s always an ebb and a flow but I always come back for more

Music’s made me fall in love with everything
Again and again and again
And when it comes back around then I’ll come back to life

#5 Running on Empty (“Coming Home” track by track)

I’m currently (somewhat belatedly) showcasing each track from my latest album Coming Home in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “Running on Empty” is the fifth track. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.


“Running on Empty” was one of my rare songs that came together relatively quickly. I don’t just use metaphors in songwriting; I use them naturally in my own thinking, to clarify my feelings or experiences or sometimes just for comfort. So one day when I was thinking or journaling about my music career, this metaphor just popped into my head, of being on a trip to a particular destination and not knowing if I had enough gas or resources to get there.

At this point I feel like I need to defend myself a little bit, because most people who either are DIY musicians, or who like DIY music, love to talk about how success and money don’t matter because playing music is just about being creative, expressing yourself, etc. To the point where, whenever I talk about long-term growth goals and things like that, I get a lot of patronizing comments trying to invalidate basically the entire concept of having ambitions and the resulting feelings of disappointment. Let’s set aside the obvious counterargument that you need money to survive, and while it’s all well and good to say “just work a day job and do music for the love of it,” those day jobs take a ton of time and energy away from music and limit the opportunities you can say yes to, and while it’s the norm for plenty of talented working musicians, that doesn’t make it suck any less.

But for me, the counterargument actually goes a little bit differently. Believe it or not, my primary purpose in writing and playing music is not to express myself or be creative. It’s to express myself to other people and to build connections through it. So if I’m only writing for myself — if I’m the only one who’s listening and the only one who cares — for me, it’s fundamentally not worth it. It’s fundamentally pointless. And while it is nice having 5 or 10 or 20 people who truly care, I dream of the day when there are hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands who are passionate about my music, who get my lyrics tattooed, and who have positive interactions and a whole community with each other built around my music.

I know that many people will still scoff at this dream and say I should just be satisfied because I’m writing music and expressing myself, but oh well, this is how I feel. Connection and community are what make music beautiful and special and worthwhile to me, and I long to play an actual role in that aspect of it. It is the main reason I’ve been obsessed with music for my entire life, and it’s the main reason I’m obsessed with making music now. And I’m totally on board with the idea that you should try to feel happy and fulfilled with yourself and your life as it is, no matter how it is or what you ultimately want. It’s just easier said than done, and probably easier for some people than others. For me, it’s one of the hardest things in the world.

So this is all just a long-winded way of saying that when I talk about a “destination” in my music career, I’m generally not talking about making a certain amount of money, winning an award, or getting signed to a big label. I’m just talking about reaching a tipping point where I can actually say that a significant number of people care about what I’m doing, that people are listening, and that my music actually matters, at least to some little corner of the world.

(By the way, the “resources” and gas in this metaphor, for me, represent the traits needed to succeed in music and to truly build a thriving fan base. I suppose I’m mainly referring to talent and charisma, though I know that luck plays a role too. Hard work is the one thing I will definitely give myself, though!)

On the other hand, the crux of this song is that even if you never reach your destination or ultimate goal, it doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy the journey. Chasing this dream for the past several years, I’ve already had many priceless adventures that I never would have had if I’d been settling into a safe and secure life, and that means something to me. If I keep chasing this dream for the rest of my life, I’m going to smile on my deathbed at all the memories and adventures I’ve had. I’m not going to look back with boredom and dissatisfaction and have to ask myself, would my life have been more interesting and fulfilling if I had chased my dreams? That is how I am choosing to live my life already, and while I might never get even a modicum of what I want out of it, what I get back still has some correlation with what I put into it. In other words, back to the metaphor, “no matter where I stop, at least I got to feel the wind in my hair.”

I was quite pleased with the concept and lyrics of this one. I also came up with some really good harmonies in my opinion, which took me many tries to get them sounding as I wanted. The electric guitar chords and subtle (virtual, of course) strings that come in later were easier to create, but I also like what they add to it. Actually, this is another one of my favorites! I will say that truly being proud of and enjoying your own song as a listener is worth it. It might not be “enough” for my greedy brain to feel completely fulfilled and happy, but it’s one of those little victories to check off along this journey that could end at any time.


Sometimes this whole thing
Feels like I’ve gone on a road trip
Without the resources
That I actually need to make it to my destination

Still don’t know if I’ve got what it takes
But I feel like whatever I can give I already gave

And I don’t know how much farther I can go
Running on empty
But I won’t give up until the engine blows

I don’t even know if I mind where I end up
When I reach that time
I’ve heard it said that it’s about the journey
And that just might be

And I know I’ve always wanted to get there
But wherever I stop
At least I got to feel the wind in my hair

I’ve already made it so much farther
Than I ever dreamed in my early days
You never know until you try
That little tank might just make it all the way