“When you speak from the heart you don’t have to yell. Whisper and they will hear you.”

John PowersI found John’s music tagged as: “sounds like Leonard Cohen meets Anthony and the Johnsons”. I love both performers, but in more than 10.000 songs that I pitched, graded or approved for the database I had never heard a songwriter like that. The fragile guitars in the beginning of “Been Around” still make me nostalgic. At the time I came across his songs I was spending some time at Lake Konstanz. I had downloaded his entire catalogue of music to my android and I remember walking along the shore line listening to his tracks. After a while I got in contact with John and he told me what this song meant to him:

“I was thrilled, ‘cause I liked the hell out of the song and the lyrics were something entirely new for me. I knew that I had crossed some kind of a songwriter rubicon and that I raised my own songwriting bar higher than it had ever been. Even though I was scared in a way, but the good kind of scared. I knew that I had written my first completely personal set of lyrics with no regard for whether or not the song was going to be popular with any segment of any audience. I wrote a song for me. That was all I wanted or needed to do. The words came out of me easily, because I wasn’t creating anything out of thin air. I was just letting it all flow. Whatever happened to me, that I could recall, I wrote it down. If it rhymed, great, if it didn’t, that was ok too. It was the truth and I rolled with it. (…) I still hadn’t gone out to play this tune live yet. (…)

It was a bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan called Banjo Jim’s. (…) I was scared as hell. I’ve played in live bands my whole life but until I got on the stage at Banjo’s I’d never performed “alone” and with a whole new kind of song. I did the song solo with my guitar and while I was performing, the room grew deadly quiet. It was as if the song had sucked all of the air out of the room. I got an incredible round of applause and so many other musicians came up to me and asked me about my work after I had played. So I knew this song was really reaching out to people.

The words, the music, the vocal: Everything clicked. I was performing as a solo singer/songwriter in this whole new very intimate and personal style and I was totally inside myself and just playing the song. And it was working. I knew while I was playing it, that this song was defining a whole new direction for me. No longer putting on shows or working the room. Instead I was sitting down, playing the songs, letting the music speak for itself. No lights, no smoke or mirrors. Just me and my guitar and my voice. That’s it. Nothing else. And if it wasn’t going to work I was fine with that. I loved what I was doing and that was enough for me.

But I was wrong. The people loved it as much as I did. Every bit of it. I was and am extremely grateful that this song passed through me and everywhere I perform live, I always play “Been Around” as my first song and I never get tired of singing it. I love the words and I love the fact that it connects with people. I especially like playing it for audiences that haven’t heard it before to see the reaction it gets when I’m done. If I only got a chance to do one song at an open mic, that’s all I’d play. It works for me every time. It showed me that when songs are doing the job correctly they connect to people and bring out reactions that make listeners want to tell you how much the song meant to them. When you speak from the heart you don’t have to yell. Whisper and they will hear you. (…)”

Been Around

What winds have blown me here
Shake the dust off of my clothes
What tattered tales I tell
Would you like to know

I’ve been East and West
and North and down
High and low and nearly in the ground
Ask me where I’ve been
I’ve been around

Who knows which way to go
Their is no right or wrong
Whichever road I ride
That’s where I belong

I’ve been bought and sold
And knocked out cold
Lost and found
In my own town
Ask me where I’ve been
I’ve been around

What wind has blown me here
Shake the dust off of my clothes
What tattered tales I tell
Would you like to know

words and music
john powers ASCAP