This John Maison dude got into modern country by way of classic rock
Published: November 30, 2011
"In classic country songs, the blues generally was a very strong recurring theme. In more contemporary country, that subject matter is there but it's definitely presented in a much different form. The way that country is now, it's kinda a double-edged sword. In many aspects, some people like to relate it to pop and some to rock, with good reason for both. A lot of people would be displeased with that because they don't want pop-country. That's a very good point, however the nice thing is, sometimes you get these songs that are crossover. A lot of pop songs could be country, like Taylor Swift. What's nice about those, when you have a song that has crossover appeal, you bring in a pop crowd who are now listening to this song, and later they might be listening to more hardcore country."
True enough. Some need to be gently pushed into challenging music. If they need Taylor Swift to get to old Willie, so be it. It's like listening to Blink 182 on route to the Stooges, or Puff Daddy before Public Enemy ... or, er, you get it. Maison knows this. But don't mistake his pop sensibilities for minimal authenticity.
See, Maison writes songs the right way.
"I try to write about life experiences," he says. "There are so many songs that are written every year, especially in Nashville — I do a lot of co-writing in Nashville — and everything's been written. You try to find a new angle to say the same thing. Let's say a girlfriend breaks up with you and you're heart's broken. How do you say this girl broke your heart in a way that's unique or different? It's been done so many times that if you don't do it in a way that's creative, your listener is probably going to be bored. I ask myself, what is it about this song that I absolutely have to write? Then you look for that hook or that one thing that makes the song and base it around there. Once I have that realism, it gives me something to write about and then I start to embellish."
Maison stops and thinks of an example, then comes back with a beaut'. "For example, there was a girl that I was dating and when I was 18. I used to sneak into her house and stay the night. I started to write a song about that but I thought, instead of sneaking in, what if I was sneaking out to get away with her? I wrote that song, called 'Sneaking Off with Lyndsey.'"
Saturday, Dec. 10, at the U Detroit Café, 1427 Randolph St., Detroit; 313-962-0660.
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