November 15, 2014 by Tommy Link
One of the hardest things about this project is (and will continue to be) attempting to bring up songs from the earliest stages of my songwriting “career”. Though I cringe looking through some of the early attempts, it’s an important exercise to go back not only to see from where I’ve come as an artist, but to understand that reviving these songs is not as impossible or implausible as it might seem. A song is never really set in stone as far as what it means to the listener and the writer, and therefore it should not have to seem like it’s set in stone even on paper. Lyrics can be removed or added, chord progressions can be altered, etc.
I wrote “What it Means to Me” after the first time I felt I was publicly upstaged by another musician (playing a ukulele of all things). Predictably, with a opening description like that, the song is a bit dark. In my defense, I was in college, and in the mind of most college boys, dark means deep. Being new to performing for others is tricky business if you don’t get some thick skin quick. It’s all fun and admiration playing for your close friends who would never tell you that you sound anything but great. Then you play somewhere a little more out of your comfort zone and watch a veteran steal the scene. Immediately, the battle of negative emotions occurs: do I hate the competing musician more for taking the audience, or do I hate the audience more for betraying me like this!?
It’s a dangerous business comparing yourself to others, wondering if this person with more talent and more of a following has the same kind of passion that you do. Are they just doing it for the chicks? To be cool? Do they really want to create something original in order to tell their story like you do? And if it turns out they do, does that make it better or worse?