Songwriters tend to be expressive folks–after all, they can put into words thoughts and feelings most of us can’t verbalize, then set them to music. If they’ve done it right, the song finds its way into our hearts.
So it’s not that Chris Janson isn’t expressive–he most definitely is. It’s just that he’s not expressive when it comes to explaining certain things.
Like his love of music.
“It’s hard to explain from somebody who’s been born to do it–I just really feel like I was born to do it, therefore I’ve just never really given it that much thought.” he told me during the recording of the July episode of my podcast, Write You a Song.
Janson has been making music since he was nine, when, says, he learned to play guitar basically in about a week. That, despite the fact he doesn’t come from a musical family.
“I do not, nope. I just come from a product of listening to the radio and wantin’ to learn how to play music, so that’s what I did, on pawn shop instruments.”
When something comes that naturally, and runs that deep in your DNA, he says, it’s just a basic part of who you are.
“It’s like if somebody asks you, ‘why do you have black hair?’ I don’t know. I was just born that way.”
While that “Nature Takes Its Course” attitude certainly informs Janson as a writer and musician, he says it also influences his electrifying onstage performances.
“If you try to set me up a set list, I can’t go by it.” he says, referring to the list of songs most artists and their bands agree upon before playing so everyone’s literally on the same page. Not Janson.
“It’s in-the-moment art that you’re creating, right? So if I have a set list–here’s how I look at it: ‘Gosh, how boring is that?’ How in the world can people be entertained when you already know what you’re gonna be doing?”
Janson says it’s the same way with songwriting, too.
“You have no idea what’s gonna happen in a room to write songs. You can never imagine what you’re going to write before you get in there, because somebody might say something…that’s totally different from what you’ve been thinking about all week.”
Janson admits “it may seem like I’m talking jibberish, (and) I swear there’s a method to my madness but… you just can’t know what you’re gonna get, until you get there, and so that’s why I continue to do it and I think that’s why I continue to enjoy doing it.”
And it’s probably why we continue to enjoy what he does.
Chris Janson’s full interview on Write You a Song will be available June 29 across all podcast platforms (and it’s free!) so you can hear him talk more about the creative process, and share stories behind songs like “How I’ll Always Be”, “I Love This Life” and “Buy Me a Boat”, among others.
You can access the podcast (and all the back episodes) here