“If I don’t sing my songs who is going to? It comes down to; I have to do that. So I do. It didn’t start that way, but the songs are the things that sort of drove me to this. The power of those songs is the things that give me the strength to stand up on stage and perform.” Darrell Scott, poet, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and musician extraordinaire, stands on the FORT COLLINS ARMORY stage NOVEMBER 10, 2018.
Scott has written over 300 songs to date, and he started songwriting as a preteen and never stopped. As Darrell explains his relationship with a song, “You know, it’s the process of writing the song itself that I love. It’s incredibly focused and then contrasted with being extremely open to whatever comes in. The process is just a wild ride of unbelievable, honing in on something. At the same time, having a distance so that you’re open and free to the next rockets coming around about the song that you would have never expected.”
He adds, “So it’s not just grabbing a song and rustling it to the ground. It’s more like letting the song sort reveal itself. And I love that process because it has a mysterious quality to it, you can’t explain where it’s coming from. It runs the chance of being a sort of stiff kind of brain song versus something more creative and artistic and unexpected. I like unexpected things. If it gets too technical or too conscious of the rhyming and all that stuff, then you might just chase away the inspiration right out the door. The special songs are the ones that come along and surprise me.”
Darrell teaches songwriting workshops and guides others in the art and craft of songwriting. He led the Folk Fest Songwriting school at Planet Bluegrass this year. Scott has been nominated for four Grammy’s, and countless artists sing his songs. His most trusted advice is, “Songwriting is an opportunity to help our kind of inner workings, what’s going on with us how we feel about things. The best way to do that is to tell the absolute truth. And so that’s what I encourage my students and workshops to do is, to tell the truth, that we need that period the world needs truth-telling in song.”
Scott is working on two new albums. They’re both very different from each other. He grew up on Hank Williams and knew the entire catalog as his dad was a huge fan. So one of the projects is playing Hank, Darrell style. “I’ve chosen very obscure stuff, and I’m giving them an electric treatment. Not a country treatment, but more like a blues thing. These songs are just part of me, and the treatments I have for them are my own take on this kind of this stuff. My dad passed away a few years ago. He would love it. He’s the one who showed me what Hank Williams was. It was inescapable, growing up with my dad. It was Hank Williams and Johnny Cash and kind of nothing else. It’s also a great listening training ground for good roots music. You just can’t beat it. It’s not going to get any better than that.” The second project is original tunes played with his jazz and fusion band. So what to expect when he plays Colorado ought to be a bit bluesy, folk, country, fusion, if there is that sort of thing.
Darrell lives on a farm outside of Nashville and sits with the silence and spends his days keeping up his homeland. He has always been drawn to nature and the landscapes in Colorado. As he prepares to return in November, he reflects on what he treasures here, “Well, I was probably 13 or so, we went on vacation to Colorado, and it’s always just sparked my imagination. It’s the mountains that do that for me, and it’s the people who are drawn to the mountains. Coming to Colorado is always I wouldn’t say a homecoming because I never lived there, but it goes way back for me. love Colorado any time of year.”
Darrell has overcome his fear of the stage that was a big obstacle in his career, and he had to work very hard to be in the spotlight. He always loved music and the expression, he says, “I’ve had to work at being comfortable on stage where it’s just me, and I’m the one talking on one singing. Folks are listening and looking at me. That wasn’t a natural thing to do; I had to develop that.” How did he do it? He did it a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot, and that’s the only way he got over it. Scott makes the analogy, “it’s no different from making a loaf of bread. You know, the more loaves of bread you make, I think, the better you will get at making bread. You know, and you have to repeat it over and over, there’s nothing short of doing that will help the person who feels uncomfortable about it, you know, and then here’s the funny thing is you might still feel uncomfortable after doing it 25 years.”
The mystical poet practices his craft in writing and overcomes his fears because the song he shares needs a life and needs to be shared so someone else can experience it. The song isn’t for him to keep, “I don’t need to be the person that everyone’s looking at on stage, and I don’t have whatever that is that needs that to happen. But I do want people to know these songs, and so the songs take over for me.”