Since early childhood, I was proud to be writing my own songs.  For one thing, I figured, listeners couldn't really compare them with anything else.  It was easier in some ways to play a song no one had ever heard of than it was to try to play a respectable version of a song they'd heard over and over on the radio.  

That said, it's fun to perform just the right cover song at the perfect moment.  There's an art to it - trying to match a song to an occasion, or maybe just to the vibe of the moment.  Or perhaps pull a song out of the hat that we all love but haven't heard for many years.

For me, on the piano, I've always tried to learn and perform songs that you don't often hear other pianists play.  That's why I get such a kick out of listeners' reaction when I play songs by Pink Floyd, The Rollin' Stones, or The Grateful Dead on the piano.  When timed and done just right, it can be like a breath of fresh air.

Not to mention some of my other favorite artists whose songs I play on piano:  Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt, Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and a whole host of others.  My guess is that you don't hear songs by those artists played on the piano very often.  Which makes it all the more fun, of course.  

It can be a surprising treat when you're out listening to live music and the performers really nail a perfectly chosen song.  Sure, writing your own songs is an important skill to try and develop.  But so is having a knack for choosing a song that you didn't write: the right song at the right place for the right moment.

Music.  What a wonderful universe of variety it is for us all.


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Jim Hudak

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