If you're a real music lover, then you know that every once in a while, a songwriter comes along whose very personal works form a direct link, or emotional connection to your own soul...
I got the chance to meet Ron in person at a gig he did in Chicago last Summer, while promoting his beautifully crafted, self-produced 3rd CD, "Truth Stained Lies". He's also a terrific live performer, paired simply with his guitar and a microphone, and I can report that he's just a sweet as the songs he writes.
Ron was kind enough to do a little Q&A with me for the blog, and I hope that after you've had a chance to read it, you'll begin a musical journey with him for yourself...
MPM: Let's start with songwriting. First, who has influenced you musically, and who are you listening to now?
RM: I am influenced by everything I hear. When I was a kid, we listened to a lot of country music. I think that's where I got my earliest lessons in songwriting. Simple, straight-forward, honest songs. Dolly Parton. Loretta Lynn. Johnny Cash. There's a lot of romance in that music. Heartbreak and celebration. I listened to a lot of pop music in my teen years. Top 40 music ruled my life. Cyndi Lauper, Cher, Madonna, Tears for Fears, Culture Club, you name it. I was a pop radio junkie!
As I moved into my adult years, my music tastes matured, and became more diverse. I discovered the powers of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, and other greats. I studied theatre in college, and, the story telling elements of that art form also seeped into my psyche. Sondheim, William Finn, Kander and Ebb. When I hit the road for a few years after college(and started teaching myself guitar), contemporary singer-songwriters were on heavy rotation in my truck. Ani Difranco, Indigo Girls, PJ Harvey, Tracy Chapman, to name just a few. That huge, crazy mix somehow melted into me. In my ears allot these days....The Weepies, Joshua Radin, Iron and Wine...to name just a few. My current pop fixation is Jason Mraz. I'm a little like a teenage girl when it comes to his music. Great stuff.
MPM: Every songwriter has their "process". What's yours?
RM: It varies. Sometimes I get a riff that I play with on the guitar and see where it takes me. Sometimes, it's a line I've heard that I know will make a great lyric base. Always in pursuit of truth. More often than not, I find myself sitting with the guitar trying to capture an emotional energy that's in the air. I am driven to write, generally, to highlight an emotional moment... to highlight a truth that is floating out there in the universe.
MPM: In sharing your stories through music, what do you hope the listener takes with them?
RM: An authentic experience. I approach music as a celebration in many ways. That doesn't mean it's all "happy" by any stretch. I feel all the moments we experience in this life are gifts. I'm so grateful to be able to experience every thing this life has to offer. I've experienced my fair share of sadness, anger, angst, you name it. My music often bathes in all of those emotions, but at the core is a positive energy. I hope that resonates with listeners. They are half the conversation after all. Music really is a conversation between the singer and the audience. What you, as a listener, bring to the experience really helps shape what the song is. In that moment. We've all had the experience of listening to a song at different points in our life and having it mean different things. That's the beauty of it.
MPM: You sat in the producers chair for the first time with Truth Stained Lies. What was it like to wear the producers hat this time, and do you wish to write and or produce for others?
RM: I loved sitting in the producer's chair. It allowed me to own the final sound of the album in a way I never had before. It was a completely new experience for me. Listening to what the song really wants to be, and having the tools to sculpt it. That's a tricky thing about recording. You have the ability to play with a song outside of the performance. The key is to still keep the immediacy and authenticity while using those tools. I look forward to continuing to hone those skills. I must say, Bill Pillmore, who engineered and mixed the album was a huge help. He has the technical knowledge, and the ability to translate my grunts, groans, and hand signals, while trying to define what I'm looking for. I'm not sure I'm at a place yet to produce for other artists. I do, however, enjoy having other folks sing my tunes. I look forward to continued work on music for others.
MPM: The song RISE has been very inspiring to me, where did your inspiration come from in writing it?
RM: RISE is one of those songs that really felt like it came from outside of me. My partner's mother gave me her guitar. It was an old Red Ovation. Rusty strings. It had this great moaning quality. I had just started playing around with alternate tunings. She gave me the guitar, I played around with the tuning and found that opening riff. The rattling of the strings, and the "stop and move" nature of the riff took me over. It seemed to capture that need to move. To change. To evolve. There was a longing that felt so of the moment, to me personally. The song came out, rather quickly as I remember. I love it when that happens. A very special experience. I never wrote anything else on that guitar. In my romantic mind, I believe that was the song waiting to be written inside that guitar. I am glad it is inspiring to you. It has helped me through many a dark night!
MPM: I know it's only been 8 months since the release of Truth Stained Lies, but I'm already craving more, more, MORE! What can we expect next from Ron Morris?
RM: Currently, I am working on a new musical with my Roadworm label mate(http://www.roadwormmusic.com/), Jess Pillmore (http://www.jesspillmore.com/) A musical parable about the struggle to live in the Now. It uses music that we have written separately (and collectively) to tell the story of 8 people living in a small urban apartment building. Each persons voice is present in every song, showing the collective nature of life, and how we're all inextricably connected. Some songs from past albums are present in the show. I'm very excited about the project. It's called "Fear of Falling". Sound familiar?
MPM: When the Bees get their TV show, will you be our first guest?
RM: I'm there! Can I hold you to it?
MPM: Get ready for your close-up Ron....
Ron's latest video, for his cover of We All Sleep Alone!