Hey, what’s going on here?

My name is Joe. I’m a regular guy. I have an amazing wife, two dogs, a job. I have car trouble, watch football games, sleep too late, forget to take the garbage out. The usual.

I also write songs. This February I participated in a songwriting challenge in which I wrote and recorded 14 songs in one month.  Here are the songs:

Thanks for listening, you can read more at my About page, or check out the blog posts on individual songs.


“I hate a song …

I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you. I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think you’ve not any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I’d starve to death before I’d sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow.

– Woody Guthrie

“Joseph Scala wanted to write an album – and he wrote one.”


My friend Matt Manning wrote about my experience with FAWM this year. It’s an interesting article, it reveals something honest about what I accomplished, what anyone who attempts FAWM is feeling. You should read the whole article, but here are some interesting quotes, and my reactions:

“It is right about here that I should start talking about the magic that happened in the room that day, or about the way that there’s more to him than meets the eye.  But this is not a fantasy story.” – FAWM is not about magic… it’s about work.

“Somewhere between Joe’s brain and the record button is a mile of self-doubt and neuroses… This is not the contrived tension of the “tortured artist” that I am so used to yawning at.  It’s real, and it comes from a place that I don’t understand… He has respect for the process.  He yields to it…” – I appreciate this. And I try to get out of the way of what is happening.

“We’re so accustomed to the sprawling Rolling Stones editorials that we have come to expect musicians to create absurd rationalizations for their musical choices.  We neglect the more reliable experience of our own subjective creative process…” -nuf said.

Joseph Scala wanted to write an album – and he wrote one.” -yup did.

“It’s all about the music Joe.  This is your moment.” -It is, honestly. This is probably the height of satisfaction, the reward, I will get for the work I did. I will enjoy playing some of these songs once in a while. If and when I get an album printed there may be another resurgence of that feeling, but even then it will not be the same.

‘Til next time.

A playthrough…

I played and sang all of my songs, acoustic, for Katie. After that experience, I’ve picked these songs as candidates for American Prisons:

  • Bring it On
  • Grounded (this was her favorite)
  • Can’t Go Straight (she really liked this one)
  • Take a Photograph
  • Against the Mountains
  • Brilliance of the Moment

These are questionable:

  • Must Be You
  • Come Back Down
  • When it all Goes Down

Also up in the air is whether I include a few of my more recent songs, not FAWM related:

  • No Man
  • Waters Running

A six song disc is perfectly acceptable to me, and it reduces the stress of having to revise, edit, produce 10 or 12 songs. I would be satisfied with five or more for a release.

What to do, what to do?

I gave my friend Matt Manning the assignment of naming the ‘album’ I wrote this Feb. He came up with:

American Prisons

I like it. A lot.

I didn’t do anything with the stuff I wrote last year. I’d like to be able to create a finished product from this year’s stuff. I could select a subset of songs, edit them, re-record, etc. I think the heart of this work is strong enough to do that. I don’t want to let it drag out either – keep the momentum going. I could print some copies; it would be nice to have something to offer at showcases, etc.

The prospect of this excites me. To have a bunch of mp3s on a SoundCloud page is one thing. To have a physical disc of songs is quite another. I haven’t had one in 10(!) years.

In 99 Words

My songwriting improved this month. There is much room for improvement. I am not intimidated by this.

My greatest fear is that I have nothing more to say. After this project, I know I have more to say.

I should think bigger, both at the individual song level and with my music as a whole.

The process consumes me. Finding the right level of self-critique is brutally difficult. I don’t know if it must be that way.

Collaboration is essential for growth.

My instincts can be trusted.

I need support, encouragement and feedback.

I love to do this.