ARTIST NAME: Shenendoah Thompson
SONG TITLE: Boy Who Cried Wolf
ALBUM TITLE: Elephant in the Room
GENRE: Acoustic Rock/Singer-Songwriter
Tell us how you build up this song.
“This song is about the boy who cried wolf… me.”
Tell us the best means of becoming a famous artist and selling more records.
By loving what you do, and never being afraid to share your soul honestly with your audience.
Tell us how fans are reacting to your music.
My first album “Under the Radar” was released to a very limited following, and I like to say now that I am music’s best-kept secret. I live proverbially “Under the Radar” and feel like every time a new fan finds my music, they show me a little piece of myself along the way.
Explain how to deal with fear on stage.
For me, the stage is the place where everything slows down… the hectic hubbub of life disappears and my anxieties about who I am and what I’m supposed to do all melt-away.
I feel like on stage is exactly where I was meant to be and love every second I get to be up there.
Tell us your point of view on the quality of production of today’s songs to old songs and point out what you think has changed.
I feel like the production quality in our recording capabilities has greatly improved throughout the years, though that has given rise to very distinct contrasting uses of various antiquated sounds.
I personally love the warmth of old 8-track and vinyl recordings, that faint audio hum from the reels. It gives rawness to the music that just cannot be imitated.
In the modern sounds of The 1975 and Bastille, synth-pop layers build out otherwise acoustic tunes that really somehow capture the digital-vibe of a technology-hungry society. The vocals still have a nice warmth to them, but the music overall has throwbacks to 80s rock and ballads, which I think creates a really unique experience for the listener, as a vague familiarity with each tone and note seeps through.
Tell us an interesting experience in your music career that is significant.
I’ve had the fortune to play at the Bitter End in NYC a handful of times, and each time I feel it’s a massive cause for celebration. The energy of the venue and the fact that so many great artists have graced that stage make it a must for every artist.
Tell us how you come across the lyrics of this song.
The lyrics in a lot of ways are how I like to perceive life’s obstacles. And I feel like as an artist I inhabit an idiom that is constantly shifting and not always easy for those in our lives to handle. “I had a dream we both were healed and still don’t talk.”
It’s also about self-perception, thinking of myself in terms of the wolf, in terms of the scared little pigs barricading themselves away from society, and the guilt for the decisions we make in how we overcome our fears.
Tell us your best means of expressing yourself.
I find words are magic, they convey just about anything and when paired with the right musical melody, they can elicit feelings beyond this plane. When a song truly bears a portion of our souls, I feel that we connect on a universal level, something truly indescribable.
Tell us your opinion on using music to deliberate on issues affecting people like corruption, immoralities, politics, and religion.
I believe that musicians are the voice that tackles these topics. In Bruce Cockburn’s “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” where he watches the genocide of nations, the murderous regimes that prey on innocent and unknowing civilians, he shouts that he wants to “make somebody pay” for all the evils.
Our best weapons are our words, and our steadfast commitment to a world that feels love over fear, compassion before jealousy, and forgiveness in the face of hate.
Bob Marley believed music was a holy experience, and I would be a fool to try and argue against that.
Discuss how you plan to create a piece of timeless music that your fans can cherish forever.
I just plan to be as honest with myself as I can be, and through that to share the songs that move me, or that I feel manage to convey the plethora of feelings that we are privileged to experience.
List the names of individuals you can point out as legends and state your reasons.
Dave Matthews: for his unique rhythmic style and collection of works, not to mention his stage presence and performance.
Bob Marley: for his catalog of work and songs, and again the sheer vitality of his stage presence.
David Byrne: for his work with Talking Heads, and with his poetic lyricism in his solo career.
I could go on forever about the legends and artists that influenced me, Hendrix, Zepplin, Beatles, The Who… but there are far too many to name them all and I’m sure I would forget at least one!
Tell us your viewpoint on discriminating.
I feel that as a creator you sometimes need to be selective in order to show or tell a particular story, and I believe that not everything fits together in every single idiom – but I feel that discrimination based on uncontrollable variables (i.e. race, gender, heritage, sexual orientation) is isolationist and dangerous.
I believe there is a side of discrimination that can be helpful if it is more used as a means of clarification, categorization, or a way to find where something can be included, but perhaps, like many words, it’s all in the usage.
Tell us your favorite books and state your reason.
I admittedly need to read more, but these are some of the types of books that I am inclined to pick up. My three most recently finished and loved books are:
A Higher Loyalty – James Comey
Last Words – George Carlin
Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy – a collection of essays compared to Lewis Carols’ writing.
I found that Higher Loyalty gave us a little more insight into who James Comey was when he took the position as director of FBI, and what proceeded and ultimately led to his dismissal. It was a poignant look at New York’s political history and what true integrity operates like.
Last Words is as funny as it is insightful, Carlin’s wit never rang truer than it does when musing on memories of childhood, spanning through his introduction into stand-up and the groundbreaking material that would turn him into the icon we all loved.
Lastly, philosophical essays are something that I have always found a way to surround or immerse myself in. Lewis Carol’s imagination lends itself to some wonderful analogies of social contracts, and whether or not we can trust certain facts of life: “Ferrets are ferrets” or if that depends on the time they arrived at the tea party.
Tell us what triggers your creativity.
Life triggers my creativity. If I hear a song, or someone says something with a quick turn of phrase, my brain rambles through thousands of verses with little care as per what I’m supposed to be paying attention to. I find myself with dozens of notebooks on me, hundreds of pages full of word associations and rhymes, and the occasional doodle. Nothing is off-limits. My rule is: create, create, create…
Tell us how you generate musical ideas for your composition.
I really just tap on the guitar, move the capo, and gently strum a chord; pick over notes. Maybe I’ll play a riff from an old familiar tune – it’s never the same and I can’t say I have one singular approach when it comes to writing the music.
The chords or the rhythm have to feel fresh, and they have to resonate within my chest – I like it when the idea of trying to play or say something vulnerable, bearing fully my soul’s belly; occasionally I weep. But these moments are the currency I have to trade for my time here, for that I can feel nothing but gratitude.
Tell us your greatest song and state the reason.
I don’t think I’ve yet written my greatest song. I have a few that mean a lot to me, Boy Who Cried Wolf is very personal, and I try to sing it in mind to my son; so that he can know it is absolutely imperative that we follow our dreams and our passions.
Tell us how you compose your song.
Lyrics usually come second, so almost always I start with just finding a new note or chord progression on the guitar. And since I’ve had limited opportunity to play with electric or pedals to modulate the sounds, I like to challenge myself to create unique tones simply using mutes or rhythm style.
Elaborate on the song.
‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ is definitely a song of healing for me. It gets me stomping and pulls a visceral cry from deep within. I wrap up my messy feelings and lay the box on a doorstep – probably one I’m proverbially knocking on – and beg for understanding.
The first verse is about feeling lost, feeling confused, and staring in the mirror at an identity crisis. Randomly walking about, staring at feet – barely interacting with oneself or the world around.
The chorus is a cry for forgiveness – For acceptance.
The second verse battles with guilt, and wondering if you did the best you could, and was your best good enough, and was it all in vain? Is there more that can be done still, and shall, and will?
The last verse is my atonement to my hometown – the monstrous public displays of my wolf-like hide. We must remember it’s easy to become a wolf in response to the woods around you… the challenge is to stay the pup – to dream and to chase.
“Listen to me my son, there can be only one, place my heartbeats from – it’s you & I.”
By the end, I’m pleading with myself, the universe, and the audience – I didn’t mean to cry wolf… but I did – Ha!
Elaborate on your artist name and the title of the album.
I use my given name as a performer: Shenendoah Thompson, the title of this new album is The Elephant in the Room.