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Interview:
Hit songwriter Dan Wilson saying busy, creative during quarantine
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Quarantine and isolation do not seem to be interfering with Dan Wilson's creativity.



The hitmaking songwriter -- for Adele, the Dixie Chicks and Oakland County natives Mike Posner and Yoshi Flower, among others -- and frontman for the band Semisonic ("Closing Time"), Wilson has been nothing but busy during the past month and a half at home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He recently released a new song, "The Real Question," and is dropping regular episodes of his "Words & Music in 6 Seconds" songwriting series, including a live session on April 24. He's also continuing work on a new Semisonic album -- the group's first since 2001 -- and on a collection of ambient music inspired by a trip to Alaska last year.



"I'm writing a lot of songs and I'm just as into msuic as I've always been, and that's a huge comfort to me," Wilson, 58, says by phone. "But I'm also trying to make sure that I don't fall into a trap of feeling like I ought to somehow be more productive or capitalize on this time.



"A lot of artists I know are thinking, 'Here's my chance. I'm gonna be isolated, with no demands on me, so now I have to make my masterpiece!' I think that's fine, as long as it's something that's not perceived as a responsibility. You want to do good work, but you want it to be natural."



Wilson wrote "The Real Question" during mid-April and says it "came out without al ot of coaxing." It's definitely a song of its time, too.



"We had been in quarantine for a couple weeks, maybe, and one member of our family is medically fragile," Wilson explains. "As those couple of weeks passed I suddenly had several ideas for songs, and one of them was 'The Real Question.' The first line is, 'We've never been tested,' and it took awhile but it really has a double meaning. I didn't intend the medical test, but I didn't try to avoid it, either.



"The whole thing just came out quickly and I wrote it down as fast as I could."



As the pandemic quarantines continue, Wilson plans to remain as prolific as possible. He haas a track slated for the Dixie Chicks upcoming album "Gaslighter," whose release date has been moved from its originally scheduled May 1. And he's particularly enjoying the "Words & Music..." series, which he started in 2014 to share nuggets of knowledge about his craft.



"It's just short bursts of advice for songwriters, and it's something I care about a lot," says Wilson, who posts one or two episodes per week via social media. "A lot of my job is to tell people to free themselves of the rules that attach themselves to an artist for no reason and give them some principles for how to be active and alive and engaged in the world -- which is where the best songs come from.



"I think there's a lot of songwriting being done now, professional and amateur. I just want to help people write good songs that give them joy -- and maybe other people, too."

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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