David Wilcox has been called a songwriter’s songwriter. That may be true but I firmly believe that he’s much more than that. He’s everyone’s songwriter. I’ve never written a song in my life and I’ve discovered that the combination of simple words and wonderful melodies that David sings are magical. The ease with which he presents his music to his audience is elegant. When you see him in concert, it’s as though he is a master chef who has prepared a banquet of luscious food and one by one, piece by piece, he offers you a taste. But these tastes are invitations into his soul and they’re all put into some of the nicest music you’ll ever want to hear.
If someone asked you to describe your music in one sentence, what would you say?
My music is my way of feeling more alive. My songs give me back my vision and my heart and hold me accountable to the best glimpses of adventurous life.
One thing that is very unique about your website is that you have actually compiled your songs into a topical “table of contents” in which you list the songs that have to do with actual human emotions: falling in love, getting through tough times, dealing the with the loss of a loved one, and other such keystone events in one’s life. You call it “musical medicine.” I like the notion of a musician as a doctor so what you’ve got here are your own personal prescriptions to help your listeners through the day. Have you had fans relate stories to you about how your music has helped them? Can you recall any interesting tales in this regard?
There are songs of mine that saved people’s lives. I mean literally. It’s happened many times that people have told me they have been ready to commit suicide and then heard one of my songs that cut through the darkness and changed their mind.
There are other examples of songs that have helped people decide to be courageous and take a job they were guided to, or to leave a relationship that they knew was wrong, or to set out on some adventure that required some boldness. I love how the right song at the right time can be a catalyst for change.
Your first CD was released in 1987. How have things changed and stayed the same in the recording process since then?
A couple records back, I made an analog recording again. Big 2 inch 16 track Studer machine in a gorgeous studio in California. But, other than that, I have been recording digitally ever since it was available. I love how technology has empowered musicians to be able to learn the tools to bring the sound that we hear in our hearts and minds out to people more easily.
In my home studio I have everything on one switch. I turn on the computer and then click one power strip that powers up all the preamps and Mics and compressors and I’m ready to record in five minutes.
You’ve said that playing the guitar is a portal into your own personal bliss. Did you know the moment you picked up the guitar that it would become so important to your livelihood?
I knew right away that guitar made me feel more alive. The surprise was that I could make my living from it. This kind of music was not very popular when I fell in love with it, and it seemed revolutionary to not just buy the pre-packaged music from the industry and the big labels, but to take it back into my own hands and sing the songs that kept me sane.
You have a very special connection to your fans. Tell us a bit about the Wilcox Weekend. How did it come about? How long have you been doing it?
Part of what this music is for is finding my tribe. When you reveal your true heart and not just some constructed personae then the music introduces you to the people who like you for who you really are. It’s fun to celebrate the fact that music makes friends long-distance. I’ve done cruises and weekend gatherings near where I live, but next week I’m meeting with 30 fans in Mexico at a beautiful hacienda for a week of music and conversation and workshops, hiking, horseback riding and great food.
I understand that you have your own studio at your home in Asheville. Has the proximity and availability of a studio changed your mindset about how and when to release new music?
The biggest difference with the new recording technology is that you can skip the lag time. It used to be that after you’d finished a recording it took months for the graphics and distribution until you could get some feedback and hear from people how the songs move them. Now, once a song is as good as you want it to sound, you uploaded it, send out an email notice, and within 15 minutes you’re hearing feedback from people who have already listened to your new song.
Do you do most of your songwriting at home or on the road? Do you have a regular writing routine?
I do have a regular writing routine. I like the early morning. Usually 4:30 AM until about nine or 10. I get a lot of ideas while I’m traveling but I tend to finish songs when I’m at home.
To learn more about David Wilcox, check out his website.
Here’s David singing one of his finest songs, “Language of the Heart.”
David will be appearing at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA on Friday, March 15.