Phil Norman Four Februarys

14 songs in 28 days. That's the challenge of February Album Writing Month, or FAWM, and that challenge has been good for me. Over the past eight Februarys I've written or co-written well over 100 songs, some favorites of which I've compiled for you in two volumes. These are all the original FAWM demos (with the exception of Your Love Is On My Mind on Vol 1), so forgive the rough edges. Thanks for listening, y'all.

Volume 2: 2011-2014 Volume 1: 2007-2010

Volume 2 2011-2014

1. Love In Carolina, 2011

"Brother, I need no reminder just how far love is from me." I sat down with the idea to write a song tied to a specific place, intending that to mean the south, Carolina and Tennessee. But I wound up even more specific, with a story told by a man in jail.

2. Easy, 2014

Sometimes your fingers find a little groove on the guitar and the song writes itself. But that'd be too easy.

3. My Love (On and On), 2011

All you need is three chords and the truth. This was the first one I wrote that February, a silly little pop song to get things going. But I like silly little pop songs.

4. I Would Never Tell You, 2012

I've written a handful of songs now as Too Bad No Robots with my friend Tyler, also know as Plat or the Cow Exchange, and his production skills enable me to work in styles that I wouldn't on my own.

5. Bottom of a Well, 2013

This is a great example of the magic of FAWM. I was struggling to come up with an idea for song, and I remembered that Scott had shared a collection of lyrics for anyone to use. These words jumped out at me, and the song idea came quickly. Then I broke a string on the guitar and recorded it with 5 strings.

6. Better Man (Hold On to Love), 2013

I tweeted a call for song/lyric ideas to #cowritewithphil and Laura Schneider responded with the opening line. Fun!

7. Old Chords, 2012

I caught lightning in bottle with this song and demo. It has voodoo. I love the guitar flub at the end after I sing that I've known these chords for so long.

8. One More Glass, 2014

Romance isn't dead, it's somewhere down here the bottom of this bottle.

9. Bottle of Whiskey, 2012

Speaking of the bottom of the bottle, this one is great fun to perform with Blue Moonshine.

10. Ghost of Days, 2013

A drinking song about not drinking.

11. Social Studies, 2011

FAWM participants occasionally organize "skirmishes," where a song title is given to the group and you have one hour to write and record a song. I swear this one was done start-to-finish in a hour with a little solid state amp in my kitchen. This is one of those songs that keeps me in love with the process and challenge of FAWM -- sometimes magic happens when you sit down to meet it.

12. Sleep with the Light On, 2012

I wanted to convey a sense of optimism in the face of mortality -- a light in the darkness and all that. I also wanted to be able to demo this with just the piano, but my keyboard skills do not care about my optimism without me actually practicing the instrument.

13. Great Beyond, 2013

I've never met Mike Debenham. He lives in Australia. But we write songs together in February. The internet is super cool. As for the lyric, mortality can be both overwhelming and enlightening for songwriters rapidly approaching 40.

14. Other Than That, 2014

Twin Quasars is the loud band I dreamt of being in as a teenager, heck, even now, but Scott McBride lives in Florida. So we're in a loud band together on the internet in February.

Volume 1 2007-2010

1. Cemeteries, 2010

The second of the Twin Quasars songs, I think. Sometimes, there's nothing to do but drive.

2. Your Love Is On My Mind, 2007

The first of eight-years-and-counting of Valentine's Day songs for my wife, and now a longtime staple of the Blue Moonshine show.

3. Old Brown Shoes, 2008

Can you keep a secret? Songwriters in a hurry sometimes loop guitar parts.

4. Millstone, 2008

It all comes true. What you don't deal with deals with you.

5. Abandoned, 2010

I was trying to find a balance between an upbeat melody and an angry lyric.

6. Red Nightgown, 2009

Every songwriter's got a murder ballad. This one is mine.

7. Changed My Name, 2009

My friend Nancy Rost shares lyrics with me most Februarys, and I try to do them musical justice.

8. Slow March, 2010

I had a conversation with the inimitable Isaac Quatorze about the movie Synecdoche, New York.

9. Wrap It Up, Mary, 2009

Wishing a long-winded co-worker would stop talking turned into a song about a unwanted junkie.

10. Under You, 2009

I remember being quite sick when I wrote and recorded this one, and I think some of that fragility comes through in the vocal.

11. Josephine's Waltz, 2008

A co-write with my great friend Will Farmer. We locked ourselves in his music room until this song came out.

12. Thistle and Crown, 2009

The saddest of all drinking songs, with the lonely ukulele and tenor of Mike Debenham.

13. Ash Wednesday, 2010

I meant to write a Mardis Gras tune, but came up a day late.

14. Frankly, I Don't Mind, 2010

The beginning of Too Bad No Robots. Plat turned a bad guitar-driven sketch of a song into something I absolutely love.

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