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I used to be the only songwriter I knew - Susan Gibson

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

I wrote my first song back in 1990~ my senior year of high school. My mom was organizing an empty-nester retreat for her United Methodist Women’s Group and she asked if I would write a song specifically for their program. Although I had learned to play about 25 songs, I had never written a song before and it never occurred to me that I could or couldn’t do it. So I did it.

I remember what a foreign concept it was. I didn’t know any other songwriters. I knew there were people that were out there writing songs, I just didn’t know any of them personally. I was learning to play songs from Shawn Colvin, Tracy Chapman and Suzanne Vega and they seemed so far away and so…out of reach. It was as if writing that first song changed something in my DNA.

There was such a relief in not having to try to sound like anyone else. I wanted to know other people who were doing this same thing. Taking what’s inside of them and putting it out there. Pretty quickly, I started ‘discovering’ other songwriters. We have some really great writers there in Amarillo (where I lived at the time). Mike Fuller, Andy Chase, Tennessee Tuckness were all folks who I knew played around town all the time but they were playing a lot of James Taylor and Jackson Brown and slipping their own songs in between. I didn’t even realize they were writing some of their own songs at the time. Like, as soon as I knew that’s what they were doing, I really started paying closer attention.

After that humble beginning, I spent 6 years in a band called the Groobees. We played about 90% original music. We were running into more and more folks that wrote their own songs. We were becoming part of a molecule instead of just all these free radicals flying around. Nowadays, and after 24 years of traveling and writing, it seems like most folks I know are songwriters. Whether they ever write a song or not.

People that come up to me after a show and offer me a line that they have had rolling around in their heads, people that hum to themselves while they are washing dishes, people who have told the same stories so many times that they know where the beats are…. Songwriters are everywhere.

I’ll be playing with 2 beautiful songwriters, Hardened and Tempered on February 8th at the Austin Acoustical Cafe. Meeting folks like Kristin and Carolyn make me glad I wrote that very first song.

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