One of a writer’s greatest fears is that some day, the ideas will just run out.
For Trevecca alumnus and singer/songwriter Michael Logen (Longenecker), every day is a chance to fight the battle against that fear.
“I grew up farming in Pennsylvania, and I think there are a lot of similarities between being a musician and farming,” Logen said. “It’s very seasonal; there is a time of planting and praying for rain. There is only so much you can do and there’s a lot that depends on the weather. But you can always get up every day and just work hard and pray for rain.”
The approach has worked for the Trevecca alum. Soon after graduation in 2003, Logen signed a publishing deal with Combustion Music, a deal he attributes directly to connections he made at Trevecca.
“I’d been writing songs throughout school and even took some songwriting classes at Trevecca,” Logen said. “I had lunch with Michael Porter [professor] after I graduated to ask for some advice.”
Logen said Porter recommended connecting with a performance rights organization, like BMI, SESAC or ASCAP. So, Logen went to an ASCAP event and ended up making the connections that led him to Combustion Music.
While there, Logen did a lot of songwriting and released his first album, Things I Forgot to Mention. Songs from the album have been on numerous TV shows and also won several songwriting awards, including some from the prestigious International Songwriting Competition and the Unisong International Songwriting Contest.
More publishing deals followed, including one with Nettwork/Moraine Music and Logan’s current deal with Secret Road, where he’s included on the roster with the likes of Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, Josh Ritter and The Daylights.
Much of Logen’s work involves writing with and for other artists. Kelly Clarkson included “Breaking Your Own Heart,” a song Logen wrote with Jennifer Hanson, on her 2013 Grammy®-award winning album Stronger. His songs have also been featured on several TV shows, including “Parenthood,” “One Tree Hill,” and most recently, “Nashville.”
Of all his song placements, Logen says the songs he’s had on “Nashville” are among his personal favorites.
“I love the cast and the songs I’ve had on there have so far been recorded by Scarlet and Gunnar,” Logen said, referring to the characters portrayed by Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen. “I love them both. I’ve gotten to write with Clare and kind of get to know them. They’re both really strong, brilliant artists on their own, so it’s been a unique thing to have them perform the songs.”
While Logen loves co-writing, most of the songs he includes on his own albums are written alone.
“I absolutely love co-writing and it’s an incredibly valuable experience to have,” Logen said. “But then sometimes, especially for my own stuff, it feels like it’s important to get away and isolate myself and just listen.”
To make listening easier, when Logen is working on material for himself, he often goes away to a secluded cabin, alone, for a few days. He takes down all the clocks in the cabin and turns off the TV, radio and phone. He brings along philosophy and poetry books and focuses on crafting songs, sometimes working through the night.
A music business major, Logen says his experience at Trevecca not only gave him important insight into the business side of the industry, but also inspired him.
“I was very influenced by Jim Fogelsong, Sam Green and my fellow student community of musicians and writers,” Logen said. “Just the atmosphere and having a studio on campus, there’s no doubt to me that had a massive impact on me.”
Logen’s next album, New Medicine, is expected to be released in late May.
Advice for Aspiring Singer/Songwriters:
- “Try to get into a pattern of consistent writing, whether it’s once a week or 10 minutes a day. Treat it as a class and set it aside. Deliberately creating a work schedule of songwriting is very important.”
- “Read books about what you want to do. Humbling yourself to learn from the masters is the first step to your own unique voice.” (Suggestions: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison)
- “Pay attention during internships and practicums. For me that was helpful in discerning what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do.”
- “Understand the value of joining a PRO (performance rights organization) and get to know the people there. There are resources—there are writer’s rooms where you can go and write. For me, that really helped to focus.”