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The Farmer and the Cowman should be friends

This is cool. I never write. My hand cramps up whenever I hold a pen and my back gets weird when I try to type for more than a minute. Songwriting has always been a thing I do entirely in my head. It seems safer there. I can trace it back to 8th grade. I wrote a story that featured some wildly inappropriate concepts in my 8th grade girlfriend’s yearbook. Sister Maureen happened to go snooping through our yearbooks while we were at recess. She was appalled. And then, So were my parents. And just like that, I learned to keep my thoughts off the page, and in my head. Safer.

There’s a wild world in there. All kinds of twisted, perverse notions mixed with sweet memories and imaginings of the future. We’ve all got it. As we age, it tends to get hidden under DMV renewal forms, 1099’s, fear, laundry. But it’s still there. Songwriting is my way of reconvening with it. It’s not a romantic thing. I don’t set aside time and light candles. It just taps me on my shoulder sometimes and I do my best to listen. It’s like a good friend that you texted last month and they never responded. When you do happen to cross paths, there’s no animosity. You just pick up the thread where you left it.

It was a high school production of ‘Oklahoma’ that first got me comfortable on a stage. At one point, I was supposed to pick up a girl who was twice my size. I remember telling my dad about the situation to which he replied his typical, “ Well son, do your best”. So I did. And when I set her down on the last beat of “the farmer and the cowman should be friends” and the lights cut to black, it occurred to me that I had just done the most difficult thing I’ll ever have to do on a stage. So why not keep at it?

- - Justin Farren

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