Only in retrospect
Knowing the darkest hour

When do we know it’s the darkest hour?

Answer: See the title of this post.

If you can hang in there through the night, a new dawn is headed your way

We only know in retrospect. Let’s face it. The darkness can overwhelm us, and creep in slowly, to the point that we not only lose track of how dark it is, but that light — a new dawn — is possible at all. That’s when off on the distant horizon you catch a glimpse of a new ray of sun, or maybe a dull glow, ever so faint at first, but slowly starting to overtake the night sky. Or in other words, morning.

More about this song: I wrote it as an anthem to Candidate Burt Silver, almost on lark. Who is Burt Silver? He’s a politician in a book I co-wrote and a character I gave a second life (i.e. outside of the book) on the Campfire Park website. All politicians have mottos, and Burt Silver’s is this: “It’s a new dawn with Burt Silver … because he stayed up all night to see it.” That’s perhaps the most interesting — and paradoxical — aspect of this song. On the one hand, it is written as a personal triumph over darkness when it’s least expected. On the other hand, I wrote it on a humorous note to capture the essence of a fictitious politician who stays up all night. Or maybe the most incredible thing is that I wrote the song at all.

Moral of the story: Whenever and wherever inspiration strikes, go with it. In the end its the only thing that delivers us from the darkness closing in.

Art of the campfire shanty
And knowing where you fit in

What’s the secret

Behind a good campfire shanty?

Bobby Angel talks Nature Folk Movement (NFM)

Answer: It all starts with the night sky, a campfire and a guitar. Oh, and you’ll need a good singer/songwriter, too. That’s where Bobby Angel fits in. Not that there aren’t other equally qualified campfire composers out there. There’s lots, actually. That’s the beautiful thing. My point is this: You probably won’t see me fill up a stadium arena anytime soon, or be invited to the Philharmonic to perform with a quartet of virtuoso violinists. (Actually, that sounds fun.) But really the place I fit best is around the campfire. A few chords, the crackle and my songs and story telling. I’m not saying I’m the perfect campfire troubadour, but the campfire is probably the place that I find my best fit.

The best thing about the campfire? Probably the copious crackling, as it goes a long way to covering up my many mistakes. Campfires are very forgiving in that way. It’s a lesson I’ve learned one campfire at a time.

Bobby Angel Principle
And why songs are like old friends

What’s the most important principle in writing a song?

Answer: Not to let it slip by.

Listen to Not Sure

Songs may not always click. But if you dwell on them too long, they never see the light of day. That’s why my philosophy is to go with what you got. Figure out the words, play it, play it again, change around the chords and add more words. Forty-eight hours later you have a song. I’m not saying it’s perfect, and you can always revisit the song down the road, and most of all with repeat playings to yourself and others. How do you know when to quick tweaking? The surest sign of that is the song is finally talking to you, like an old friend, to the point that you’re not sure whether you wrote the song at all, or if it was always out there waiting to be found.