David Archuleta on songwriting: “The music’s still after me”

"Every time I would think about my purpose, the answers seemed to come in sounds. In melodies. In feelings. There was no escaping the fact that the music was still after me." Chords of Strength, p. 91.

David Archuleta the singer is like an elite athlete — consistently performing at a master’s level of excellence. Not too many challenges are left for him as an interpreter of songs alone.

As a songwriter though, David is a work in progress — and we know how much he loves progress — “moving forward.” In the vlogs where he talks about songwriting — and even treats us to a sampling — the spark in his eyes is undeniable. He can’t wait to explore his own sound, his own voice.

I’ve been rereading parts of Chords of Strength lately (not beginning to end, just bits here and there), and it’s fascinating to go back and read after all that’s happened since it was published last spring. One section I found particularly enlightening was near the end. I think you’ll see why….

“One of my goals is to continue learning as much as I possibly can about songwriting. Though it’s one of the scariest things for me, it’s necessary for my shaping as an artist. Not to mention that without songwriters there would be no songs to sing! As a performer of songs, I feel I should understand the process from the beginning — to participate in the process. Songwriting is the new dimension for me, the next level. I’ve been able to feel good about songs I’ve been a part of writing in the past, whether on my own or ones I’ve been able to write with other great songwriters, but I just feel I have so much farther to go. I can really appreciate the idea that being able to create something is incredibly satisfying. You can look at it and say, ‘Wow, this is something I helped create. It came to life. It’s from my soul.’

“Even though I am  not wholly comfortable with this (yet), to get it, I’m going to do what I have always done in my relationship with music: I’m going to listen and learn. I have been listening practically since birth; and the learning has always come naturally as I was exposed to the musical library that basically has been such a big part of my life. The songs have become a part of me, so now I hope that I will be able to evolve into understanding it so well that I can also participate in its creation.

From @Davidsbackpack on Twitter via peppertara: "Did you guys know a certain someone whos name starts with, lets say D, can play the drums? Not bad either has a good beat. (:"

“I’ve done it before so I feel I have the potential, so now I just need to improve my skill set — and that comes with experience, exposure and education. The old me would have probably been completely freaked out by the idea of having to master songwriting, which is totally different from just writing a song. Now I see it as a new horizon for me — I see it as potential growth. I’m being given the chance to take my love for music further, and to begin thinking about how I can define myself as an artist. What mark do I want to leave? What is my message? What do I stand for? What is my sound? These are huge questions, and the answers will color and shape my future as a singer, writer and interpreter.

“… Another personal goal is to learn how to play guitar better so I can use it both for writing as well as to actually accompany myself when I perform. As a singer, your voice is your instrument, and even though I play some piano, I’m approaching guitar playing with the mind-set that even though I already know how to play something, I want to also have an other palette to draw from musically. I can kind of compare it to the idea of learning a new language, just like I speak a little piano and I hope to be able to speak guitar soon.”

A list of some of David’s favourite songs follows those paragraphs, and I thought it was interesting that second on the list (behind Joy Williams) was Natasha Bedingfield’s “These Words.” According to David, “This song inspired me to start writing. Natasha is willing to try new things and her lyrics are so relatable.”

What do you guys think? Since David has such a vocal gift, should he even bother with songwriting? With learning guitar? Or will it bring forth even more David amazingness than we’ve seen already? Can you sort of hear his unique sound already emerging in some of his TOSOD songs? What do you hear? (And how much would you pay to see him play those drums? 🙂 )

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30 Responses to David Archuleta on songwriting: “The music’s still after me”

  1. TOfan says:

    Bringing over from last thread from emmegirl:

    “Interesting tweets I saw from Archuleta FanScene:

    “We hear David’s new band is really something special! He’s picked some extremely talented musicians. Can’t wait until he introduces them! ”

    “We hear they’re jazz musicians with fantastic improvisational skills…the word “prodigies” was mentioned”… 8 minutes ago via web

    @janey79@FanScene lol. Deets?

    @FanScene@janey79 That’s all we’ve got for now!

    Jaaazzz musicians, who can improvise (we know someone else who can improvise too)
    🙂

  2. --bianca says:

    Yes, jaaaaaazzzzzz! David’s improv ability will be brought out more, I feel it! Couldn’t be more excited!

    I love that David is always moving forward and believe he will write some booty-kickin’ songs!! 😀 At the same time, I would like to see him experience a little more of the world, so that he’ll feel comfortable writing about a wider range of topics. I’d like to see him performing a few really different genres again, not unlike AI, to help him bring back the magic that he puts in his music. Most of all, I don’t want him to feel pressured by any timetable in the songwriting, which I think he has before with albums planned and writing for them.

  3. Patty-Ann says:

    Love this. I always go back & read parts of Chords of Strength. I love how David “feels” music. No wonder he is always connected with what he sings and connects so well with us. I can’t wait to see & hear about his new band. I think this time is important that David has to build his foundation and put forth meaningful music. I’m looking forward to what he has in store for us.

  4. Kizzi says:

    Since I read COS so many things solidified. I stopped wondering about the future and realized that David had a gifted voice in more arenas than one and strong sense of purpose. And it is unfolding according to his timeline, his desires, his sense of what is and what will be. COS had many epiphanies for the reader.

    Jazz? Improvisation? A new band of prodigies?…who coulda predicted that…!!

    So much to look forward to.

    Love ya’ SAz!

  5. betsy says:

    “It’s from my soul.”
    “I speak a little piano and I hope to be able to speak guitar soon.”

    Thanks for reminding me of this. ♥
    Btw, last week when David did his last vlog, I was watching it and my husband came in and watched it as well. He wasn’t too interested (ok, I was making him watch) but I wanted him to see David create music in the moment.
    He said “Honey, he is so talented, but that sounds like jazz to me, and I hope he isn’t going that route.” (obv. not a fan of that genre)
    Idk if that had even a drop of jazz in it, I just thought it interesting in light of the above tweets.
    Also, I love the title of this post more than anything.
    And I just noticed the “Tim Horton’s vouchers comment below and am dying of laughter.

    • desertrat says:

      I thought I heard elements of Vince Guaraldi when David played the piano during the vlog. I’m excited about the prospect of new material and reworked favorites.

      • TOfan says:

        betsy & desertrat, too funny, I dragged my hubby over to watch that part of the vlog too and he also said it sounded like Vince Guaraldi/Charlie Brown jazziness. And I actually had those few notes stuck in my head for days, lol.

        What I really hope is that, whatever David comes up with, he gets to live with the songs for a while, even perform them for a while, before recording them. Up till now, he’s had the time pressures to record songs immediately after writing them. And we all know how much more he brings to each song (even covers) the more they get under his skin and he gets to live and breathe even more life into them. Maybe that’s part of what he’s after with his weekly rehearsal/jam sessions. 🙂

  6. abanana77 says:

    Love this! I was actually just thinking about rereading COS, and this made me really want to reread it. So that’ll probably happen like tomorrow, lol.

    I looooooooove that he has time right now to songwrite. I think it’s something he needs to do for him, not just so he can get enough songs for a new album or whatever. And I think it’s awesome that he is taking this time for himself.

    Interesting about these jazz rumours. I am pretty non-opinionated about jazz myself (never actually have really listened to it) but I liked what people were saying in the last thread about maybe some kind of soulful-jazz sound? That would be cool and I can see David getting into something like that.

  7. Katheryn says:

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  8. lisa says:

    I have been waiting for years now to see david play the guitar on tour or elsewhere…would LOOOVE to see that…. we know he can somewhat play as he did on the crush vid. great write up, thanks TOfan.

    • TOfan says:

      lisa, I actually forgot he plays it in the Crush vid … I just happened to be watching the “making of” the ALTNOY vid and wow, lots of guitar-playing in the background! 🙂

      And thanks for the cool ZG Jimmer vid! (I do know who he is, thanks to both momJulee and my hub who was glued to March Madness, lol)

  9. lisa says:

    Also don’t know if you cool Canadians have heard of BYU’s basketball sensation Jimmer Fredette, he has just received all 6 major player of the year awards here in the USA…..but check this video of Jimmer played to …….David’s Zero gravity!!!! So sweet such a great combo…2 very talented and awesome guys David and Jimmer!!

  10. Kizzi says:

    He always played around a little with “Works For Me” when in concert. His long, improvised intro at Reno to “Works for Me” is a fan favorite:

    And he always does something different with the acapella ending of “My Hands:”

    Sounds like more soul than jazz. I like this vein of thought….live, change it up, play around with the song, use his gift to connect, in the moment…now, we will have to wait and see what he is up to. 😀

  11. awestruck says:

    I so agree TOfan – let him perform any new songs for a while before recording OR after he has performed them for a while have a live performance recording made as his next CD.

  12. refnaf says:

    Man, I need to re-read COS as well…. TOfan that pic with that caption “There was no escaping the fact that the music was still after me” had me tearing up. That entire vlog did me in **sniff**. David as a singer songwriter is perfect IMO. I think in order for him to grow as an artist, to be able to get the music this is “after him” out, he will want to write.
    I also love the idea of him performing songs for a while before he records them. David shines in his live performances, so that makes so much sense. Kizzi, thanks for posting those vids….eeeep! So good!

  13. peppertara says:

    Love the post TOfan, I’ve been reading through parts of David’s wonderful book lately too and he’s definitely a natural for musical exploration, learning and finding those creative juices and just letting them flow. Just love this too:
    “There was no escaping the fact that the music was still after me”. I imagine this must be a challenging but very creative and exciting time for David. I think David is just full of creativity and so much can flow from him over the years. I’m excited about David as singer songwriter, the new musicians he’ll be working with and whatever he wants to explore musically. Cannot wait to see what’s up ahead and as far as playing new instruments….sounds great to me if he wants to head in that direction too!
    Heck, I think I would pay a pretty penny to see David sing or play anything….even if he put on a straw hat and played the spoons. 🙂

  14. TOfan says:

    peppertara, “Heck, I think I would pay a pretty penny to see David sing or play anything….even if he put on a straw hat and played the spoons.” bahahahaha, me too! 😆

    …speaking of spoons 😯 … David wasn’t kidding about liking “mom & pop” restaurants! The owners of the Chilean restaurant David tweeted about, tweeted this cute pic:
    @pantrucas Last Friday we had David Archuleta at Pantrucas. He came with family members celebrating her mom (Lupe) birthday. Thanks Lupe, David and family; it was very nice to have you with us. You are a very humble and nice people. You truly honor us with your presence. Good luck to all of you!!!

    Pantrucas

  15. archangel48 says:

    Peppertara, HILARIOUS! This: “I would pay a pretty penny to see David sing or play anything….even if he put on a straw hat and played the spoons.”
    Hilarious, but ever so true! I’d be right along side you and numerous of us checking those “spoons” out! Seriously speaking though, I think David began making his career decisions while creating TOSOD. He told us this was his last album as a teenager. It’s like he had to say what he did through these gems, then he would work on “finding” his niche. I continue to go on with my daily life with giddy anticipation of what David has in store. Whatever, it will be the VOICE singing, and that’s music-to-my-ears! 😉

  16. emmegirl says:

    TOfan, love you for writing this and reminding us of his words. The words he wrote several years ago that mean so much more now. I keep reading those 4 paragraphs over and over.

    kizzi, thanks for those videos. David and improv ♥
    peppertara, lol!
    Lisa, loved that video.

    archangel, “I continue to go on with my daily life with giddy anticipation of what David has in store”… yessss! Whether it be jazzie soul or soulful jazz or somethin’ else, don’t care, I can’t wait to experience it. Because he has the voice to sing different genres but also understands the musicality (I guess that’s how you would say it) and HOW to sing many different genres, I think whatever it is it will be a style unique to him and not a clone of someone else…and this is one of the things that gets me most excited.

  17. jackryan4DA says:

    TOfan – Yessssss! More soul in his next offering. And considering he is not a “teen” anymore, the possibilities are both exhilarating and frightening. For the latter only because I don’t how we will handle it, bahahaha. Soulful David may become the death of me!

    Thanks for the write-up . Great reminder to brush up n COS 🙂

  18. jackryan4DA says:

    BTW, I just completed uploading my treasure trove of LIVE footage, RECAP videos/news, BTS and audio slideshows of David’s UT Homecoming. There are 42 HD/HQ videos in this playlist — [http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=5904F736626C1A2B]

    You may want to check am out cos there are plenty of videos there that have not been uploaded before and a whole lot not available online anymore. There are plenty of screen-cap worthy footage as well 😉 Perfect for an newbie archie and timely for those still completing their video collection on David 🙂

    For a quick reference, I also created the AI Utah Homecoming Page at TDC,
    http://www.thedavidchronicles.com/2008/05/das-day-ai-utah-homecoming-09-may-2008/

    Enjoy!

  19. TOfan says:

    Thanks, JR, you rock!!!

    Newsflash: Duffy’s Hope interviews!

    Just saw this on David Beyond Borders: D. will be doing a SKYPE interview on WBOC Channel 6 tomorrow (Wed.) morning (6:00 a.m. ET / http://www.wboc.com).

    Then, on Thursday morning (8 a.m. ET), he’ll be doing a local radio OC104 interview. You can listen online at: http://www.oc104.com (“Listen live” link).

    David? Doing interviews?? *tries to remember what that sounds like* 😆

  20. jackryan4DA says:

    @JamilaC tweeted today

    “Duffy’s Hope & OC104 is giving away 2 tickets every morning to celebrity basketball game!! Tune in to WIN a chance 2 meet @DavidArchie live”

    When was the last time you anticipated seeing someone play basketball for the mere prospect of seeing him in shorts? LOL

  21. TOfan says:

    hahahaha, no WAY will he wear shorts, JR … swishy pants FTW! 😆

    New post/thread!

    🙂

  22. jackryan4DA says:

    Dear TOfan,

    Sent you an email. Up to you if you want to post the subject matter 🙂

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