Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “Feels Good At First”

Train car

Last week, I interviewed Train frontman Pat Monahan. While we chatted a lot about songwriting and country music, he also touched upon the influence love has in his music. In fact, he admitted that most of the songs he writes are about love. “That’s all music is. That’s all movies are. That’s all anything is. When you look at all things in this world, everything is about love,” he told me.

One of my favorite tracks on their last album California 37 is a stripped down song called “Feels Good At First” which details the start of a relationship, when everything is going well. When I told him this, he confessed that it’s one of his songs that he really hopes to hear on the radio. Read a snippet of my interview below and for the rest visit

How did “Feels Good At First” come together?

I wrote that song with Allen Shamblin outside Nashville, Tennessee. Somehow Allen inspired that vibe in me. It’s a definite truth, that song. I sent it to my manager in New York and he was like, “How did you think of this? Actually, the better question is, how is this the first time anyone has thought of this?” He said, “It’s so simple. It’s so true. Love feels so good at first and then it starts to get funny and complex.” I don’t know why that song got written but it’s definitely a real place inside of me.

Is there any chance you’ll release “Feels Good At First” as a single?

That would be amazing. If you said to me, “Hey, is there a dream song?” That would be it. My manager is so a believer in that song that he had us do a video for it to put it out on YouTube and get wheels rolling. When we do that song in Europe I don’t even have to sing it, they sing every word. That’s my dream-come-true song if we can get that on the radio somehow.




53rd Annual Grammy Awards Tonight on CBS

The Grammy Awards air tonight on CBS at 8PM ET/PT and will feature live performances by Christina Aguilera,  Jennifer Hudson,  Bob Dylan, Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga,  Miranda Lambert, Katy Perry, Arcade Fire, B.o.B, Bruno Mars, Drake, Rihanna and many more.

For complete coverage, be sure to follow me on Twitter as I’ll be live tweeting the show. Over the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to interview numerous Grammy winners, so be sure to click on my Q&As with past winners below and stay tuned for new interviews in the upcoming weeks!

Colbie Caillat

Lady Antebellum

Martina McBride

Pat Benatar

Taylor Swift



Watch Train Perform Live In San Francisco!

Their most recent single, “Hey, Soul Sister” has exploded on the charts over the past few months. In fact, it seems as if every time I turn on the radio or TV it’s playing. Not that I mind.

In partnership with Walmart and Green Works, Train recently recorded a concert in San Francisco to kick-off Earth Month. Viewers can watch as the San Francisco natives play classics like “Calling All Angels” and “Meet Virginia” as well as newer tracks off their latest release, Save Me, San Francisco including “Hey, Soul Sister” and “If It’s Love.”

Watch a preview of the show below and for the complete six-song performance, click here.


Related Links:
Q&A; with Train
You Sing, I Write’s Top 5 Interviews of 2009
Poll of the Week: What Do You Want To Ask Train?
Saturday Song Addiction

Concert Reviews Features Q&A

So Long, 2009. Bring on 2010!

Earlier this week I compiled a list of my top five moments of 2009. Well, there were a few more than five in there, but I tried to keep it short. I figured I’d do the same today with my top five concerts and interviews. I’d love to know what you enjoyed reading most this year so I can amp up my coverage in 2010. Happy New Year!

You Sing, I Write’s Top 5 Concerts of 2009

There is nothing I enjoy more than that goosebumps feeling you get when an artist sings a song that particularly strikes you or tells a moving tale about the origin of the song. This year I attended more concerts than any year in my life and while it’s hard to narrow down my single favorite, I compiled five that stand out.

5. Mat Kearney — September 29 at The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza

I interviewed Mat Kearney back in May when he was on tour opening for Keane at Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey. I hopped on his tour bus and talked with him about his latest album, songwriting process and breaking into the University of Oregon to use their piano to write a song. As an opening band, your set is always cut short so I decided to attend his headlining performance a few months later at Irving Plaza and was blown away. Having had his album, City of Black and White, on rotation over the previous months the songs struck me personally and Kearney put on quite the show. Jumping into the audience mid-set he started his own dance party on the floor with fans. You can bet I’ll be seeing him next time he’s around.

To hear Mat talk about the new album, his writing process and stories behind his songs, click here. For his view on writing about personal relationships, being an opening act and advice to aspiring musicians, click here.

4. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band — September 30 at Giants Stadium

He is The Boss. Does much more need to be said? Being a Jersey girl, Bruce Springsteen’s songs are anthems to me. I actually have Mat Kearney to thank of how I came to cover his show at Giants Stadium. The night before Springsteen’s performance I was buying my friend a ticket at will call because Kearney’s show was due to sell out. I recognized a photographer I met earlier that year at Ray LaMontagne’s show and we chatted for a bit. Low and behold, the next day he needed a writer to cover Springsteen’s show for a Web site he shot for and thought of me. Wendy picked up the tickets for me and we headed to Giants Stadium to cover the show for Bumpershine. And, guess who was sitting a few rows in front of me? None other than Mat Kearney himself. A bit serendipitous, don’t you think? For my complete review, click here.

3. Tyrone Wells — October 7 at Highline Ballroom

I recently found Tyrone Wells CD Remain and have been listening non-stop the past few days. Previous album, Hold On is quite striking as well. While compiling my top five list I realized I have witnessed Wells in concert three times this year. I first interviewed him during South By Southwest and caught his showcase with Tori Amos. Later this year, Wells opened for Better Than Ezra where a couple got engaged mid-set before he dedicated and performed “Sea Breeze” for them. I was lucky enough to catch his headlining show at Highline Ballroom in October after interviewing his opening act, Matt Hires. Wells truly blew me away as he mixed his soulful and energetic tracks with his emotion-filled ballads. His onstage banter with the audience and tales behind his songs are always enjoyable and like no artist I have ever witnessed. If you have yet to see Wells live, I highly suggest doing so as I foresee him selling out bigger venues very soon.

2. Coldplay — August 2 at Liberty State Park

I’ve heard only praises about Coldplay’s concerts from friends who have witnessed them firsthand. I really don’t know why I haven’t seen them sooner. Luckily, I caught their phenomenal set at the always memorable All Points West festival this past August at Liberty State Park. The way I described APW to friends was it being Woodstock’s reincarnation if it were around in 2009. Mud wrestling, music and beer gardens was more like it. Sunday’s four-hour rain delay resulted in multiple canceled performances and scaled down sets, but Coldplay managed to save the day.

Always comical, after traipsing through the mud onto a stage in the middle of the field, frontman Chris Martin realized what festivalgoers dealt with the entire weekend. “We have infinite respect for you now that we had to walk through that shit. Wish we had backstage passes for all of you,” he said.

Witnessing Coldplay live and up so close, I have incredible respect for the band. While they played many of their hits, they also performed a moving tribute to Michael Jackson and the Beastie Boys, who had to cancel their performance due to member Adam Yauch’s cancer diagnosis. I couldn’t imagine a better band to close the three-day mudfest.

1. The Gaslight Anthem — October 15 at Terminal 5

I’ve been covering The Gaslight Anthem on You Sing, I Write, since last year when I flipped through Rolling Stone to notice drummer Benny Horowitz, former paginator of my college paper, featured as a breaking band. I did a double take and contacted all the people I knew who used to work for Rutgers’ The Daily Targum. Since then, I’ve been trying to cover a show and set up an interview to no avail. You’d think garnering an interview with a rock star you knew would be easy. Think again. After several failed attempts I d
ecided to purchase tickets to their show at Terminal 5 before it sold out. I’m so glad I did. I feel like I reverted back to my high school days of Warped Tour and crowd surfing. Then again, I think the 30-year-olds in the room did as well.

I have never witnessed such an energetic (and frightening) mosh pit in my life. It was like Warped Tour for 30+. No more emo boys, these are grown men dancing in the pit and creating havoc. I’m not going to lie to you, I did fear for my life, but that was the beauty of the concert. From the looks of frontman Brian Fallon’s face, he was just as surprised. By far the most energetic show I’ve been to all year, there is no doubt in my mind that The Gaslight Anthem will be selling out Madison Square Garden. Hopefully, by then I’ll be able to get an interview!

You Sing, I Write’s Top 5 Interviews of 2009

I’ve been trying to cut down on long top 5 posts, but as evident from my concert list above I’ve been a bit verbose. I’ll try to keep it brief with my interviews and post the Q&A; so you can read it for yourselves and see just why I think they’re my top 5 of 2009.

5. Train

They’ve reached worldwide success and many of their songs garnered top spots on memorable songs of the decade. I spoke with guitarist Jimmy Stafford at the start of Train’s tour where he filled me in on Train’s latest release, embracing the Internet and a younger fan base and the reasons behind their longevity. Read it here.

4. Better Than Ezra

After catching BTE live earlier this year, the three-piece band was back in New York for press in August. Unfortunately, I was extremely sick and losing my voice during the interview but didn’t want to cancel. It was 90 degrees in New York and the interview was at a Starbucks that felt just as warm. You know when you’re nervous and feel like you’re sweating, but it’s probably just in your head? Well, it definitely wasn’t in my head…I was dripping wet. Remarkably, the interview turned out much better than I thought. But, I did learn no matter how important the interview, if you’re sick it might be best to postpone it for a later date. Read my interview here. Note my “hottest Starbucks” reference. Clever, huh?

3. Taylor Swift

There is no denying it, Taylor Swift conquered the music world this year. I was so excited to attend her press conference during the CMA Music Festival in Nashville and incredibly determined to get a question in. Luckily, I did. Note the “your music is like writing in a diary” question. I can honestly say, she is as nice and down to earth in real life as she seems onstage. There is no doubt in my mind that Taylor Swift will be around for decades to come. Read my interview here.

2. Joshua Radin

Joshua Radin has accomplished much as an independent artist. He bought himself out of his major label contract to go on to release one of the best selling folk albums of the year. Not to mention, he performed at Ellen DeGeneres’ wedding, toured the globe and remains so humble. Case and point: When asked how he feels about being called this generation’s Bob Dylan he responded, “That’s absolutely ludicrous. Bob Dylan invented music. I just feel like that’s putting a bull’s eye on the back of my head for everyone to be like, ‘No you’re not. You’re not really as good.’ And I’m like, ‘Of course I’m not as good, I wrote my first song four years ago!’ And I probably never will be as good. But, I bet you I’ll be much better at being Joshua Radin than Bob Dylan is. That’s all I can hope for.” Read more here.

1. Third Eye Blind

Not many know this, but Third Eye Blind is how I got my start writing for Marie Claire. I remember getting dinner with my friend and colleague Diana last year and venting to her how I had a great interview with 3eb frontman Stephan Jenkins, but no music publication seemed to care. I reached out to every music magazine and Web site you could think of and they all felt 3eb was a band of the past. Boy did 2009 prove them all wrong. Diana must have seen my frustration and thought they might be a good fit for the Marie Claire audience, being that much of the reader age group grew up listening to 3eb and Stephan Jenkins was always a heartthrob. 2009 proved to be a great year for the band who released their album independently and saw a surge in their fan base. Read my interview here.

What were some of your favorite interviews of 2009? 2010 will bring many more I’m sure. Happy New Year!



They’ve sold millions of records worldwide, achieved the ever-coveted Grammy for award-winning song “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” and have ridden to the top of the Billboard charts for notable singles including “Meet Virginia” and “Calling All Angels.” Just yesterday Train released their fifth album, Save Me, San Francisco, bound to acquire similar success. First single off the album, “Hey, Soul Sister” is already climbing the charts and seems to be a hit amid fans old and young.

I spoke with guitarist Jimmy Stafford at the start of Train’s 28-city tour. He filled me in on Train’s latest release, embracing the Internet and a younger fan base and the reasons behind their longevity.

After 15 years together, Train continues to make their mark on the music scene. “We love this band. We’re like brothers. We have common goals and interests. We created this band and it’s our lives,” Stafford said. Read on to find out more.

How is Save Me, San Francisco different from your previous albums? Did taking time off help with the writing process?
I think it helped with a lot of things. We were pounding pretty hard for 10 years just going from album and then tour, right back into another album and another tour. I think we all needed a break. Sometimes you need to take a step back to realize what you’ve got. I think we did that. We all went and did our own thing for a few years. And, I think by doing that we all realized what we have here and what this band means to us and to our fans. I think we came back re-energized and feeling stronger about this than ever before. I think we recorded, in my opinion, our best album as a result. We’re all super fired up about everything right now.

What’s your songwriting process like? Did you go about it differently on Save Me, San Francisco?
Yeah, it actually was. It’s always a little bit different. The producers you work with, where the band’s at. This album, we worked with a lot of outside writers for the first time, which I think was a good thing. We ended up with a batch of really great songs to choose from and we also wrote as a band a lot. We just had so much material to choose from at the end of the day that we had to bring in some people to help go through it all and pick the best stuff. When you write a song it’s kind of like it’s your baby, you love them all and you don’t have the perspective of what’s good. So we brought in some great people, our A&R; guy and our management to help us go through everything. That way there are no egos involved. “Well, not enough of my songs made the record.” There was none of that. We wanted to make the best record we possibly could and I think we did that.

Tell me about latest single, “Hey, Soul Sister.”
Pat wrote that with a couple other guys. The story lyrically, I’ve heard Pat talk about this in interviews. He’s always heard of Burning Man. Somewhere in the Californian desert, they do it every year. It’s this whole city in the desert that gets built for a festival that happens every year. They build a huge man out of wood and at the end of the festival they burn it. Pat had never been to Burning Man, but he had an image in his head of what it must be like. All these beautiful women dancing around the fire. That was the imagery he conjured up when he was writing the lyrics to, “Hey, Soul Sister.” It’s a pretty big deal. Thousands and thousands of people go to it every year. People run around naked and I guess it’s a total crazy deal.

Are there any songs you’ve written over the years that hold more meaning to you now than when you first had written it?
That’s an interesting question. There’s a song off our first album called “I Am.” When we wrote it, it was probably one of the first songs we ever wrote together as band and it just seemed like a nice, cool song at the time. We don’t play it live every night, maybe once out of every 30 shows do we do that song, but we did it last night in Seattle. Every time we play that song, as I get older and have spent more years with this band, the lyrics in that song, “Am I the son I think I am/Am I the man I think I want to be,” there are some really nice lyrics that you can’t help . . . I find myself being a little introspective when we play that song.

In a previous interview Pat was talking about the album and said that the lyrics in many of the songs are, “about love in every way you can think about it.” Do you feel you have to be in love to write a love song? Does a song come out better when you’ve experienced it yourself?
I don’t think you have to be in love. As a matter of fact, I think probably some of the best love songs are breakup songs, songs that were written when people were going through really hard times in their life. Pat just happens to be in a really good, happy place in his life and it makes for some very positive songs with positive messages. I think it’s a good thing. We’ve always been a hopeful sort of band. Our lyrics always had a bit of hope into them.

It’s funny, Pat is the type of lyricist that writes lyrics that might mean something to him, and they might mean something completely different to you and I. His lyrics are very open to interpretation. A lot of times I’ll be playing a song every night live and I’ll think it means whatever I think it means to me and then Pat will tell me what it’s about and I’ll be like, “Really? You just ruined it for me!” That’s why I’m not really a big fan of music videos. I think they force a message on the viewer. They’re like, “Oh, I really didn’t want the song to be about that.”

The music industry has changed since you began 15 years ago. Bands can talk directly to fans on Twitter, have their music featured in TV shows. Do you feel it would have been easier if Train came out today?
I think it is easier in a lot of ways for people to reach out to a bigger fan base through MySpace and Facebook and Twitter. It’s been weird a little bit, being in the middle of that. We were a band before all that stuff was around and have had to adjust and crossover into that world. If you don’t change with the times you’re going to get left behind and I think we’re doing a pretty good job of it. Our record company and our management have really helped us move into that arena really nicely. They’ve redone our Web site, which looks great and they have gotten us into Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.

We’re much more in touch with our fans than we were five years ago. It seems to be getting us a wider age range as well. It seems like a lot more kids, and I don’t know if it’s just the nature of the new single “Hey, Soul Sister.” I’m sure it’s partly that and partly that kids are all computer savvy these days. Everybody’s on MySpace and Facebook and if you’re not you’re not really hip as a band. You’ve got to be there. It’s just too big of a deal and there are too many people that can be reached through the Internet. I think it’s a really good, positive thing for us, and for new up-and-coming bands. You have to take advantage of that.

What do you feel is the reason to Train’s longevity?
I don’t know that there’s a secret to it. We just love doing what we do. We love this band and we love each other. Pat, Scott and I have been together for 15 years now. We all have the same goals and we want this band to succeed. It’s all about the music. We enjoy the music that we play, we love recording it and we love going out and playing it live. As long as our fans keep loving it too and keep coming out to see us play live, I don’t see why we’d ever stop doing it because it’s a pretty good job. We’re really fortunate to be able to do this, to do something that we love to do and have other people love it too. We just keep stretching, we keep trying to grow as human beings, as musicians and as songwriters and we keep trying to do what we love to do and people know that. People get the positive message that we’re trying to put out there and it has kept us around.

Is there one thing you wish you were told about the music industry when you started?
I don’t know about that. The music industry has been pretty good to us along the way. It’s a business. I think when we first started out it took us a while to learn that. Record companies . . . it’s a business if you’re not doing your job you’re going to get fired. We’ve been with Columbia Records for every record from the beginning. They’re our family and I think they think of us as family too. We’ve had a really good ride with them. It’s worked out well for everybody I think.

Do you have a favorite track on Save Me, San Francisco?
That changes every day. I really like a song called “Breakfast In Bed.” That’s my favorite track today. That song is sexy. There’s a certain sexiness to it. “Marry Me,” the album closer, I can just see that song being played at everybody’s wedding next year. The new wedding song. I like them all, I feel like we’ve made our best album. There’s not a song on the record that I would take off.


Poll of the Week: What Do You Want To Ask Train?

I’m psyched to be interviewing Train later this week for I haven’t stopped listening to their latest single, “Hey, Soul Sister” since my friend Ally recommended it a few weeks ago. (Watch it below). Train has been around for 15 years and their hit songs range from the quirky “Meet Virginia” to the emotive “When I Look To the Sky.” Not to mention, they’ve sold over 4 million albums in the US alone. My bet is you’re more familiar with their music than you think.

When interviewing such a notable act, there is so much to ask. Often, too much for a mere 20-minute phoner. So, I want to know what you’re interested in reading. Obviously, their upcoming release, Save Me, San Francisco, is one of the topics, but I want to know what you want to learn. I’ll post a few subjects below, but feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments. Can’t wait to read some of your questions!

My question for this week is: What do you want to ask Train?

The story behind their latest album.
Their longevity as a band.
Inspiration behind the music.
Typical writing process.

Watch their latest music video for single, “Hey, Soul Sister” below.

Features Videos

Saturday Song Addiction

Obviously, if you’ve read this blog even once you know I love music. And, when I really like a song I tend to listen to it continuously on repeat or make it my ringtone for months (sometimes years, to the chagrin of my close friends and family!)

This weekend I present to you four songs I cannot stop listening to. (Better four then just one, right?) Love to know your thoughts and what songs you can’t get out of your head!

“Hey, Soul Sister” by Train

“Fireflies” by Owl City

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“Save You” by Matthew Perryman Jones


“Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys

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