“Troubadour? Singer-songwriter? Artist? Hell, I’m just a storyteller with a four-minute attention span and nervous hands!”
Matt thinks that statement fits him the best. He is a singer-songwriter in Tucson, Arizona, transplanted recently from Texas and before that Atlanta, Georgia. He has been involved in music for many years, but with his move to Texas got started on my own music project. “I write and sing about what comes to me, and I don't try to stick myself in a particular style or genre. This might make Matt’s presentation seem a little less ”focused” than some artists who consciously limit themselves to a particular chart type or narrow genre. Most of his songs come from dreams, experiences and observations. A song may not be about him, but there is a strong personal element in there somewhere – his views, his aspirations or his morality.
Matt’s family enjoyed music, but was not particularly musical. Mother listened to Ray Coniff, Roger Williams, Liberace and movie soundtracks (particularly “Hatari” ) in the house. Dad listened to Buck Owens and Chet Atkins in the garage. Matt’s first personal musical memories are 45 RPM records his father would buy for him. “I would listen to the radio, and tell him what song I liked the best. Once every week or two, he would go to the record store during his lunch hour and buy the single for me. Some of my first singles (which I still have) were “Snoopy VS The Red Baron” by The Royal Guardsmen and “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” by Bob Seger.”
When Matt was twelve or thirteen, he started guitar lessons but quit after several months. The interest in being a rock guitar god was stronger than the interest in music theory. He started learning guitar by attending concerts and watching the players with binoculars. He was in a very successful high school dance band in the late seventies, and several bands after. Many times he tried singing, but the results were discouraging.
After nearly a decade away from music, Matt decided to take voice lessons. That led to singing at recitals. That led to singing for friends. That led to singing at a club. That led to writing songs again. That led to recording. “And here I am. When I was young, I had great ambitions. Now, older and wiser, I sing and play because I love doing it. Anything else that comes from it is a bonus.”
“The seed for a song usually comes easily. Often I wake in the morning with several lines of a song in my head, and the rest within minutes of pen hitting paper. Often a turn of a phrase, seeing people interact, or hearing a good story will trigger a song as well. Sometimes the song is finished just as easily: sometimes it takes some suffering to make it a complete thought. I record the songs mostly because it allows me to get them out of my head. Until a song is recorded, it haunts me. Once committed to “tape,” my mind is freed for other things.”
Matt’s influences are more of a rock, rather than folk or country background:
“When I was younger, I was a rocker. I am older now, and a little less aggressive. It is hard to pinpoint what artists have influenced my music. Some of my all-time favorite bands and artists are the Who, The Babys, UFO, Cheap Trick, Alter Bridge, Chuck Berry, Concrete Blonde, Flame, Aerosmith, Humble Pie, Joe Ely, The Georgia Satellites and Ian Hunter. Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams were always there, as well. I believe that all of these artists have a small piece in what I do. I guess every artist thinks that he or she is original, and I have difficulty deciding who I sound like. Some of the artists that are a better reflection of my music might be Joe Ely, Tom Petty, Warren Zevon or John Hiatt.”
Matt’s first CD, “Drive-In Sky” is a collection of stories, some true and some fiction.
“I took singing lessons at a music school in Atlanta. I was the old guy among a bunch of middle-school kids. At the recitals, all of the kids were worried about their show tunes, all of the parents were worried about their little snowflakes singing their show tunes. Then there was me singing old country or blues, and actually listening to the performances. One girl, Kristin, sang a killer version of a Norah Jones song, with her father playing guitar. It was a very emotional performance, but it seemed that no one but me was paying any attention. Kristin deserved better, so I wrote a song about her.”
Your Poster’s on His Wall (Bruner)
“’This is about my high school friends, and probably yours too!’ I am sure that God intervenes, and saves some people from themselves. Some of the verses are about people I knew, but the situations are pretty universal. If God has your poster on His wall, he must be a fan, so He is looking out for you.”
I Was There (Bruner)
“Our family Bible was in the house when my father was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in Wyoming. It was beside me when I did Dad’s memorial service. The song is about the events witnessed by family relics.”
Chief Falling Cloud (Bruner)
“Ira Hayes was an interesting person and uncomfortable with his fame, and I felt like the famous song did not tell his story with any justice. Great song, but it didn’t say enough about the man”
You and Me and Lonely (Bruner)
“A friend’s divorce inspired this song. He got the news one September afternoon when he returned from his 68th business trip for that year. I changed the situation dramatically, but I think it made a good story, and fills the bill for the obligatory cheating song. In this one, the woman knows the man is cheating on his wife, as if his loneliness were a third person at the table, pointing out the clues: tan lines on the ring finger, photos of the kids, etc.”
“A song about traveling, and hoping your loved ones will be cared for if you cannot return.”
Santa Rita Prickly Pear (Bruner)
“Along the roads in Arizona, there grows the cactus by that name. It is fun to say. We drove all over Arizona, saying the name when we saw one. We brought some cuttings home, but they would not grow at our house in Texas – apparently they are fragile as far as cacti go. Say it three times fast!”
Stars (Bruner- Mangum)
“A story about seeing an attractive girl at a highway rest stop on the way to Florida years ago, and musing about the moment that was never acknowledged.”
I Need a Horse (Bruner)
A young couple, a moment of indiscretion, a child on the way, and a family is forced to leave town – a new look at a very old story.”
Driving 95 on 75 (Bruner)
“This started as a story based on the phrase “a Triumph and a failure,” which suggested a story about a man (or woman?) who ran out of luck, did too many bad things, and was on a motorcycle being chased for probably the last time. What would you be thinking about if you were the subject of a high-speed chase, the police were gaining, and you had a pistol in your lap and the evidence in the car?”
Every morning, my faith and spirit is renewed because I live in freedom, health and prosperity, and I am surrounded by good friends and family. I have a body and brain that function, and allow me to navigate my day. You may take me today, God, because I have enjoyed more than I ever deserved.