Category Archives: songwriting

Write a Song With Buzzie

buzzie-writewmeI don’t have any expectations that this experiment with get a huge response. BUT… If you don’t put these things out to the universe, you never know. Here goes:

I wrote a song progression yesterday. I’d like you to help me finish it. I have no expectations about what you send me, lyrics, recordings, your own videos. Whatever you have in mind, let’s collaborate. If we do end up joining forces on a song you will get songwriting credits and (heh heh) royalties when the track goes viral on Apple Music.

Let’s do this.

Feel free to send me your content here john.mcelhenney at gmail dot com, or post things in the comments here.


@jmacofearth on Twitter

On the Radio – A Radiohead Multi-Pak


The Head Radio Tribute CD has been a nice awakening of just how powerful the In Rainbows disc was to me during my recent divorce. The cover of Last Flowers was a less than hopeful play to get my leaving lover to reconsider her decision. I’m sure she heard it, once. She never commented on it.

As part of my Songwriter’s Notebook, Here are the tracks in progress.

1. Nude (vocal over existing RH tracks, will be re-recorded)

2. All I Need (draft w/ Ron Flynt)

3. Last Flowers (completed w/Ron Flynt)

4. Reckoner

5. Down Is the New Up

6. 4 Minute Warning



Inside You (lyrics video) by Buzzie / with 2 Alt Versions

This song was imagined as a love song sounding directly inside the head of my listener through their headphones. When I wrote it, the iPod didn’t exist yet. Now the song makes even more sense, as headphones are probably to the most common way that people listen to music. And now my idea is complete. Listen to this song with headphones. Let the chorus wash in the space between your ears.

Watch this video directly on YouTube: Inside You by Buzzie


As an example of songwriting in motion, here is the original version, I recorded in my home studio. The song was practically written by the lush reverb effect that bounces around in your head.

Watch this video directly on YouTube: Inside You by John McElhenney


And here is the Blue Cartoon version. Notice the subtle lyric changes.

Watch this video directly on YouTube: Inside You by Blue Cartoon

It is fun to hear all three versions again. Each one has it’s own vibe. Thanks to my mates in Blue Cartoon for allowing me to republish this song.


@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Here is the Buzzie Video Playlist on YouTube if you want more.

Other buzzie links of interest:

Buzzie Loves Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers – VAN SESSIONS (highly recommended)

I Can't Go For That - Hall & Oats cover, by Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers

Wow. Not very often you are blown away by a music video. Maybe it’s a crush on the lead singer, but I think it’s the whole presentation. A great song. (Just how I’m feeling right now.) Wonderful harmonies. And the sly joy of knowing they are doing something bad ass.

Watch directly on YouTube:  I Can’t Go For That (Hall & Oats Cover) Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers

And two more Van Sessions classics:Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy and Linda Ronstadt’s You’re No Good

And here’s an original, that really shows Nicki’s range and rocker/hippie chickness.

Watch directly on YouTube: Jetplane by Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Here is the Buzzie Video Playlist on YouTube if you want more.

Other buzzie links of interest:

Higher Than Anyone – songwriting in progress

This video features the famous Buzzie Reutimann. If you Google “buzzie” these days this race car driver and weekend motor gladiator comes up a lot. In my sincerest homage to my name sake and hero, Buzzie. Here is an unfinished song called, “Higher Than Anyone.”

Watch directly on YouTube: Higher Than Anyone by Buzzie

Peace Off!

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Here is the Buzzie Video Playlist on YouTube if you want more.

Other buzzie links of interest:

A Great Big Day for Buzzie

recording drums today, for Buzzie #4

(image is of iPad as control surface using Digital Performer, cool huh?)

Yesterday I bought my first drumkit. It’s the least satisfying thousand bucks I’ve ever spent, partially because I don’t play drums, and partially because I kinda dread setting them up… but…

I now have drums!

So today I’m recording drums with my old buddy from Blue Cartoon, Barry Simon. And a couple things I won’t have to worry about today.

  1. Mics for real drums
  2. Getting good drum sounds
  3. A drummer with an attitude

I picked up a set of Roland’s V-Drums, and man have they come a long way! Now I can record Barry’s performance in both sounds and midi. Then if I want to “collective soul up” my song I can simply replace the “wilco-trapkit” with the “heavier-things-kit.” Viola!

buzzie in the studio with Barry Simon

Barry can even run the recording session with the iPad.

Let me know if you want to hear some daylies. (grin)


Sometimes Things Conspire Against a New Song Being Written

Today was one of those days. I was looking for a song. I was full of it. I had an idea of where to start.

I got clear of my obligations around 6pm and headed home to get on with it. And then technology got in the way.

I really wanted to start with a drum pattern, a ROCK drum pattern and build the sound from there. So I opened my mac and started loading WIN7 under parallels so I could run Sony’s ACID PRO, where I store a lot of my drum loops. And nothing worked right. I could not get WIN7 to access the web so I could serialize and activate a new version of ACID PRO.

Okay. I moved on. I opened iDrum, a drum loop program for the Mac, no parallels and WIN7 needed. And also no inspiration.

All right, punt on the drum pattern, let’s go straight to the guitar. And jumping back from technology a bit further, let’s get the Taylor warmed up. No electronics just wood and steel. And… it literally took me 15 minutes to find a guitar pick. (I’ve just moved into a new house and my studio is not even close to being unpacked, but this was ridiculous!)

So I found the pick and tuned the Taylor, oh about an hour and a half after I started my tune quest, and I was finally strumming the first chords. It would’ve been easy enough to give up, move on, do something else. But when I put the capo into the 3rd position something connected. A tone, a feeling, the crisp cool air coming in from the open sliding glass door, the little dog at my side and the cat looking sulky at me from the carpet.

And just as the first verse was coming together my phone went off. And magic of the universe it was the person I was *sort of* writing the song about. And I just kept on writing and texting and writing and singing. And though this person was 20 or so miles away, and couldn’t know that they were in the middle of a songwriting session, there was something inspiring about the interconnectedness of it all.


the same thing : buzzie lyrics : are you feeling anything yet


wake up baby, I can’t sleep
must be the ghosts I keep
everywhere I go, they’re around again
when I think i know, here I go again

i’m in a tailspin
i’m in a daydream
i’m falling again
fallin for the same thing

kiss me baby i’m all right
as long as you’ll be here each night
every time I go, you’ll be round again
and when I don’t know, you can pull me in

when all the life i’ve left behind me
trips me up from time to time
i reach for you when the pain is blinding
i’m getting closer all the time

john mcelhenney ©2001 all rights reserved
(ascap) happy mac tunes

< back to lyrics index page


studio becomes space as buzzie enters the studio in 2010

No Time by the Guess Who: Trying To Catch That Movin-On-Song Vibe

no time by the guess who - for AC - buzzie 2010

I used to sing this NO TIME by the Guess Who at the top of my lungs back in middle school days. I’m not sure who I was leavin or where I was going. I most distinctly recall, a pool party, at the end of a six week summer camp excursion in New Mexico, and this entire album was playing. It was a boys and girls at the pool mixer. And this song always reminds me of that feeling. I guess I was saying goodbye to all the cuties, in my mind. Or being the rockstar, in my mind. Either way, this song IS SUMMER and LONGING for me.

Picking up the guitar, clipping the fingernails, and figuring out how to record again. All to give this song as a gift to a friend who’s birthday is TODAY. While he won’t want you to say hello directly, if you are a blipper, you can find him under the alias @adamofdallas.

The next video you see, or mp3 file depending on the day’s work, will be for you and your son. Have a great day today AC!


A few more shots of the studio space in the waining moments of a Sunday afternoon.

2010 Buzzie returns to the studio

buzzie 2010 - a recording moment on a Sunday afternoon

And with props to my friends on @adamofdallas and @ladypn for continuing to push me back into creation mode. Thank you!

And an inspirational song I heard last week during #sxsw. I could not recall the name of the band or the song. But today I found it, thanks to a blip from someone else. Not the correct song, but the name of the band. The THERMALS. Here’s the song Let It Go.

Buzzie – On the Inside

There are three parts to songwriting. (Of course as I write that I am challenged to keep it to three, so here goes.)

  1. The music (tune, harmony, instruments, players)
  2. The words (idea for the song, an image, a story, a title, a chorus that won’t let go.)
  3. The recording (is the gear ready to go? I just spent 4 weeks trying to get the shock mount for my vocal mic fixed.)

But there’s a whole additional series of sub-texts for actually WRITING the song.

  1. The emotional idea (something has triggered an idea in your mind, a word, a tune, a memory, a desire)
  2. The energy to actually do it (oh crap, I’ve only got 10 minutes until the kids get home)
  3. The courage to write a crappy song (what if it sucks?)
  4. Some goal for the creation of the song (or why are you writing and recording music anyway?)

And then there are some pieces of the equation that are even more intangible:

  1. What am I trying to reveal about myself?
  2. Is this for fun or healing?
  3. Am I singing to someone?
  4. Am I performing this song to get something in return?
  5. Am I full filling something by the creation of this song?

And last, as I am trying to understand, there is the BIGGER vision that pulls us along like a sail on our creative boats.

  1. Am I creating a project, does it have a vision, a name, an image?
  2. Do I want to perform this song, as a band, as a singer songwriter?
  3. Will I get something by creating this song? How can I be loved more? Will this bring me love?

Because where I used to think it was about FAME, I now know it is more about love for me. I don’t really want to have to guard my family from pop-rock predators. And a few years back I learned that I didn’t want to be away from my family without good reason, and that included playing a pop-rock festival in LA.

But I know I (we) seek love. To be seen and acknowledged for the full spectrum of our creativity. And there is a side that thinks that self-promotion is not artistic, or that it is self-centered braggardry. And while there is some substance to that argument (and certainly there are examples of pure hype and self-first celebrity) the harder part is to allow yourself to be seen. To WANT out into that dream of being loved as a muscian, as an artist.

The Artist’s Way talks about the fragility of our creative drive. We have all been told so many times, that “artists don’t make money.” And for many years, maybe even still, my mom is worried about my music and the bad influence of sex and drugs.

But when my daughter is banging away on the RockBand drums and her 6-year-old head is bopping along to the beat, I am proud. And I can assure you SHE is SEEN. And not for a pop star, not for bringing fame and fortune to the family, but as someone who is experiencing their creative self. And she is proud of herself when she gets it right and tireless in the persuit of practice. And then she’s gone from it, for weeks at a time we don’t play RockBand together. But I can still see her head moving to the music.

Like this weekend when we went to a friend’s house concert. And the band was 3 women and 2 guys. And my daughter could not get enough of it. When asked which player she liked the best, she pointed to the a woman who was almost 6 feet tall with long brown hair, plunking away on a huge acoustic bass guitar. And everyone in the band was so HAPPY. When their harmonies soared, so did our hearts. All of us in the room were feeling it, grooving to it, and inside my daughter there was just a little bit of foot tapping that was connected to the understanding that she too could create music.

The other kids in the house ran and invited my daughter to go outside, but she stayed with me. Even a game of Capture the Flag wasn’t enough to pull her away.

That’s the connection.