Confessions of a Serial Songwriter: On Grammy Night I'll Be Sending Dave Bassett "Ex's & Oh's"


"Algorithms can't make us feel," writes Kristi York Wooten in her recent piece about why we're all still watching that video of Aretha Franklin singing "Natural Woman" at the Kennedy Center. But what modern day songwriter won't admit they've been a bitch now and then to "melodic math" or a slave to the listening behavior of a Top 40 fanatic--in other words: chasing the hit? I'm no exception. But some people are: Carole King for instance and...

Dave colleague. Dave's been nominated for a Grammy for co-writing (and producing) Elle King's fresh and swampy "Ex's & Oh's." Have you heard it? I mean really heard it? The entire album is GOOD. Every song. Every line. Her vocals. The production (there are live instruments on there!) In fact, her whole vibe is pretty interesting (especially the detail that she's Rob Schneider's daughter).

Elle (anything-but-a-victim) King was first brought to my attention by a Facebook follower via a message in that tiny box at the bottom right of the interface. (Yes, I actually read those...especially if it's from someone who gives nutritious chat...not just a user who friends me so they can send me their video). But it wasn't until I received my Grammy voting ballot and scrolled the categories that I saw Dave's name next to Elle's song.

But I'm not here to review the record. I'm here to congratulate my friend, not just because he struck gold but because, well, in an industry filled with sharks and operators, egos and players, and sound-alike chasers...he's the nicest guy...and he never lost the plot.

See...Dave says he's not interested in getting creative with anyone who doesn't make his heart beat faster--well, those weren't his exact words, but I know what he means. An aspiring artist would have to have something that doesn't sound like everything else. Imagine that? I wish I could say I've stuck to that criterior.

And there's this: last week when we were arranging a time and place to catch up he requested early morning because he had a session with a band at 11:30 (a.m. that is). I was like what? A band agreeing to work at 11:30? And...he quits at 6. Time for family. 
There are cats who work 24/7. Whenever the call comes in. And the rest of the family eats alone. I understand--when you're starting out you take it when it comes. It's a jungle out there. The competition is fierce. Still. I relate. I recall a time when I employed a nanny from 9-4:30. If a collaborator couldn't work in that window I expressed my regrets. 

Oh and there's something else...recently, Dave co-penned a little ditty called "Fight Song" (with Rachel Platten) which reached #1 on iTunes and became the theme for a political convention and the soundtrack to a Ford commercial. Not a bad year.

Dave and I used to collaborate on occasion back in the day when 2 (or 3) writers got in a room just for fun and came up with a song to pitch to pop stars and A&Rs who were actively looking for material. There's not as much opportunity for that right now. But I'll see his friendly face at a Kobalt Music writers hang or the ASCAP Love Fest. Never comes at me with the humble brag--along with all the obvious subtext attached.

And one one more thing...he's been with the same manager (Bennett Kaufman), for 14 years. No jumping ship for either of them in leaner times.

So, on Monday February 15th, when the Grammys are aired and a small posse gathers in my TV room to fire up the flat-screen, my fingers will be crossed. Not only because I literally can't get "Ex's & Oh's" out of my head, (or "Fight Song" for that matter), but because Dave managed to choose winning numbers on a Powerball ticket by staying right where he his lane. In his words, "I didn't do anything different." Amen.

Thanks for reading, my friends. Please visit my Serial Songwriter Facebook Page and my Website.