Wednesday, November 1, 2006
A month ago, Brad Goodwin was waiting for his turn at an open mic night in Baton Rouge. The 21-year-old was ready. He had been playing music since he was 3 years old. His old band, the Shreveport-based metal/rock band Soul Spiral, had almost been signed when he was in high school. And his new folkier, singer-songwriter tunes were solid.
But as Goodwin—who now lives in Jackson—listened to two sets, he started to get nervous. What if his songs weren't good enough?
"My ultimate goal is not to be 'that guy' who thinks he is good and runs everyone off by playing crappy stuff," Goodwin says. "Respect is what I'm after, not necessarily just from a listener, but mainly from other musicians who do the same thing that I do."
Goodwin has no need to worry. His songs are gorgeously embroidered, soft tunes made for rainy Sunday mornings or post-heartbreak rotations. Goodwin's high school roots may be in heavy metal, but his voice was made for the softer sounds of acoustic.
"I've played a lot of places and done a lot of side projects here and there, but what I'm doing right now feels right. It flows with being me," Goodwin says.
Goodwin is a psychology major at Millsaps College, and this spills into his songwriting. Some of his best songs are analyses of his friends' unravellings. But he's also part anthropologist.
"I'd much rather sit in a corner and watch how people interact with each other," he says.
This watching often sparks a new song. A car horn might sound. A conversation may move in just the right way. Suddenly, he hears the world in melody and has a hook for a new song. The melody always comes first for Goodwin. The lyrics, which all fit just right into Goodwin's crafted chords, come last.
Music doesn't always have to be understood, he says: Sometimes, it simply needs to be felt. Sometimes, he says, "It's a heart and soul thing, not necessarily a mind thing."
That isn't to say his lyrics aren't good. "Thinking" is an introspective song that is both beautiful and catchy.
"I took a train far away / just to clear my head," he sings. "I got no reason / other than I just wanted to be by myself / No one else around to hear what I'm thinking."
But Goodwin's songs need to be felt, not read.
During "Better Days," a song Goodwin wrote after nearly dying in a car crash, he moves his athletic fingers delicately over the strings, producing chords that sound almost like a lullaby. The song glides and lilts smoothly. He tucks his feet into each other as the song picks up. Then he starts to sing.
Listening to him talk, you'd never expect his voice. When he speaks, he's joyful. He's originally from Shreveport, La., but his voice has a touch of California to it. But when he begins to sing, he's a new man, with a voice that sounds like an aching heart that most certainly feels beauty. His voice is all his own, though at times he sounds a little like Damian Rice with the best parts of Luther Vandross dripping through.
Other songs, like "What I Need," rock a little harder. He pushes the blues and country together and sings like a man 20 years older than he is. The song pushes, then slows to a hush, only to pick back up again. His guitar rings through the air. His voice fills in at just the right places, and you can feel this all in your chest.
Music doesn't always have to be understood. Sometimes, it simply needs to be felt.
It rocks to see Casey Parks' name on a JFP byline again! :o) Cheers, TH
- Tom Head
Indeed it does. Much more to come from Casey, Tom. ;-D
hey Tom! I'm going to be doing more stuff with the JFP these days. music, blogs, news. miss my home.