I began writing songs in December, 1963, in my senior year of high school. While others were mulling over their algebra, I was struggling with lyrics and melodies. My music is a blend of different styles: country, rock, blues and pop. My lyrics are often personal, drawn from my own experiences. I enjoy working with females because it is a challenge to write from the female perspective and fun to go into the studio with pretty girls. Much of my material can be described as “rockabilly for women." There is a Shania influence, and I try to create girly images. Visuals are important in songwriting, and I dress mine in upbeat melodies.
I have felt driven to write and record. Maybe I had to pursue music to validate myself, to prove I can succeed in this field. I had the idea of going to Nashville at 19, but it took me a decade to get there because of college and the army. Once in Nashville, I befriended a music major with a studio in his back yard. We recorded song after song and produced an album. Expressing myself in this way was a catharsis.
I have had many influences. 1950s rock n' roll started it. From the moment I heard Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog," I wanted that record. An Elvis influence pervades my catalog, evident in songs like "Hard Earned Love." In the 1960s, it was The Beatles. In the 1970, it was Swedish ABBA. I traveled to Stockholm and wrote a book about ABBA.
Top 40 was a big deal. I would come home from school and throw myself on the bed with my radio. I bought records: 45s and LPs. I became interested in musicals like West Side Story and Gypsy.
I write what I want to hear. If other people like it, okay. I give vent to my emotions. Sometimes it starts with an idea. Sometimes it starts with strumming the guitar and playing chords. A melody comes and suddenly, I have a hook around which to write a song. Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes it is hard. 1997-2003 was a Renaissance! I wrote 200 songs and spent time in the studio. I worked with singers and musicians in Louisville and Nashville. Things slowed when Michael reached college age because I was helping him.
Good productions are essential, ones that stress the vocals. People want to hear the singers, and they want to understand the words. Instrumental tracks should support the vocals. Lead guitars and keyboards should stay true to the melodies while improvising enough to create interest. Bass and drums are the foundation, and other tracks sit on their shoulders. The record is the thing!
A friend told me I was going to "make it in old age." I want to pass along my best tunes, those that inspire constructive behavior. I think of my Christmas song and my wedding song: "I Promise." One bride-to-be chose "I Promise" from 400 songs.
There is no particular audience. I do what is in me, and the chips fall where they fall. If people like what I do, they let me know. I suppose my audience is people who appreciate honest songs and the work that goes into them.
I am still doing this at a time when people with more talent have given up. I am still moving in the direction of giving the world classic songs. I have mp3s on my site. People around the world hear my songs and make comments. Johnny Thompson put his vocal on "Save The Planet, my environmental song. I am not afraid to expose my material, and that has helped me get independent cuts.
1963-1972 - Early Years
I have written 1500 songs counting the lyrics 2013-16. It started as I was turning 18. I began hearing songs that did not exist, and that made me a songwriter. There was an old, beat-up guitar at my grandmother's house. Chords were easy to make, and I quickly learned to fit them into patterns. I could transpose from one key to another. The problem was, I had no rhythm. That came later! The neck on that old guitar was awful, and its strings dug into my fingertips. The pain in my fingers woke me in the night. Calluses formed! My first songs were about my girl friend and I drifting apart. That is true for most writers. Self-pity is a factor. Most songwriters are introverts, and schizophrenia and the creative process seem related. Creating music which no one else identifies with isolates a person. He finds himself cut off from society, misunderstanding and misunderstood. That is how it was. My mother bought me an electric guitar, a Gibson. I was no guitarist! I banged out chords and screamed, sweat pouring from me on hot summer days. My first songs were imitations of what I heard on radio. Coherent efforts were "Welcome Mat" and "Long Live Rock n' Roll." The culmination of my first period was the gospel songs I wrote after coming out of the army. My religious phase was tumultuous! As America rejected the Vietnam War, I began reading books of a spiritual nature. I delved into the writings of Aldous Huxley and hung out with "Jesus freaks." We went to a Pentecostal church, where the congregation danced in the aisles. We spoke in tongues! I threw away all my possessions except for my clothes, Bible and guitar. I went off the deep end and was admitted to the mental ward of the Veterans Hospital in Louisville. I was given 10 shock treatments. My gospel songs grew from the turmoil, "Jesus Paid My Debt" being the best. I recorded it with Kymberly Bryson 36 years after it was written. No problem because it sounded like it was a hundred years old when I wrote it! It reeked of old time religion!
1973-1985 - Comeback
I rose from the ashes! I began going to the Dipperwell, the restaurant where my mother worked. The Dipperwell was run by my mother's cousin, Thelma Lee, and she introduced me to a drummer in a local band. He helped me record "Long Live Rock n' Roll" in a Louisville studio. I did the vocal. We took it to Nashville and pressed 1000 45s. I mailed them to radio stations, publishers and record companies around the country. Doing a record was like a resurrection! Decent songs followed, the strongest of which was "Phoenix," based on the bird of Greek mythology. I was that bird, and I soon found myself in Nashville recording in a makeshift studio in a friend's back yard. I had a 4-channel Teac, and he had a Dokorder. We put the decks together, and our collaboration led to an album with students at Castle Heights Military Academy, where I worked. We called it "Rising from the Ashes." My renditions of "Belle Meade Blues" and "Leaving" were on it. They were comeback songs! Tim Morrison sang "Too Late For Love," and Lori Powell did "Losing Makes You Stronger." Naturally, it was a misadventure! Recording with Amy Plummer that summer, "Sailing Out" came out nice. Those first female songs were really male. I simply changed the pronouns. As things played out, I pressed the final cuts for Jim Colyer Records. My son's mother did "Somebody To Love," and I backed it with "I Am The Greatest" Silence! I realized the futility of making my own records. Years passed before I recorded again.
1989-1996 - Rewrite
After becoming a parent, I questioned music and my involvement in it. I had a son to take care of and had squandered my resources. My songs were second generation imitations of what I heard on radio. Few held up, and even those were mediocre. They reflected my life at a particular level. Entering middle age with a kid gave me a different perspective. I retreated to my parents' basement following a divorce. Nothing sounded good, and I spent my time writing a book about Sweden's ABBA. The rewrite began unconsciously. I wrote the lyrics for "Agnetha" and "Stockholm Lady" over old melodies. "When I Was A Boy" evolved lyrics relevant to my own boyhood. I wrote a jukebox musical called "Phoenix Rising," 30 songs pieced together with a story around them with characters and dialog. It dealt with an American soldier named Frank Logan who had a daughter in Sweden he had never seen. Frank was about to father a second child with a young British singer. The plot reflected my infatuation with younger women. I discarded "Phoenix Rising," knowing it was unstageable. The rewrite continued as fragments sprouted verses and bridges.
1997-2004 - Explosion
I thought "Save The Planet" could be an international hit and advertised in a Louisville music paper for a vocalist. It triggered a chain of events I could not have foreseen. A lady in Indiana recorded it, but it was no good. Shortly thereafter, a clerk in a video store told me about her cousin wanting to be a country singer. I gave out my phone number, and Ron Coogle called looking for songs for his daughter Rachel. I went to their house with one called "Satisfied." We took it to Doc Dockery's studio in Indiana and did a demo. Rachel performed the song on a TV show for songwriters. Doc then introduced me to Pam Ingold. Pam and I recorded 8 songs, including "Things Aren't Good At Home". Suddenly, I was back in Nashville writing songs on Music Row. I bought Doc's Takamine as songs poured from me. Many were female. I wrote "Always The First Time" for Donna Carter and "Songs About Angels" for the Gentry Cousins. My best work was coming in my 50s during the Shania Twain era. These girl songs were different from the early ones. There was female psychology in them. I was writing as if I were a woman! By now, women sang the way men used to. They were strong and independent, and they liked my tough girl lyrics and rockin' beat. I recorded with Kenny Royster at Direct Image in Nashville. I did "I Promise" with Veda, sub-titling it "Wedding Song", and I began to think it wise to identify my lyrics with entrenched institutions. "Feel So Country" was filled with patriotism and flag-waving! I wrote the lyrics for "Merry Christmas" over the track and promoted it in December. Good Christmas songs are hard to write as the best ones preceded the rock era. I played my songs for ascap writer reps and published them on the Internet. I started jimcolyer.com.
I have recorded with 35 women going back to Lori in 1978. Originally, I was singing everything myself. Finally, I started working with real singers, male and female. I did not care for the females of the Elvis and Beatles eras. It was in the 1970s after women became more assertive that I began paying attention. ABBA did it! I may have listened to Agnetha and Frida as much as any person alive. When Shania Twain appeared in the 1990s, my writing had reached a point where I wrote female without thinking about it. That would have bothered me had I been younger. By now, I thought it cool to write from the female point of view. I enjoyed talking to women about music and going into the studio with them. I cannot recall the girl's name who sang "How Did You Do That", but it has garnered praise from other writers.
Writing needs to flow naturally. It should not be based on artificial hooks or ideas someone carries around in a notebook. The best philosophy is to write only when you feel like it. Do not write for publishers, and do not write something you think people are going to buy. Write from yourself. Those songs will last.
Having written 1500 songs in 50-plus years, it behooves me to critique my catalog. I am 70. From this point, I am content to reject self-pity songs for those that communicate positive emotions. I want to be identified with songs that inspire people, especially young people. My Christmas song does that. So do the Shania-type songs that tend to encourage young women. There was a time when all I wanted was to get songs out. Now, I am sensitive to the effect lyrics have on listeners. We are affected by the movies we see, the books we read and the music we hear.
2016-2025 - Making It
The time came to quit losing money because of music. My catalog must generate income. Music is a luxury, not a necessity. It is egocentric, the songwriter's favorite word being "I." John Lennon could stretch the word "I" over several seconds. From my own list of 200 titles, 70 began with the word "I." Music people care about themselves and their families. They want money, and when they get it, they are gone. Each generation produces its music and rarely relates to that of previous generations. It is like language, tied to the sexual mores of the people making it. Everybody writes, and writers tout their own songs. It is money and self! Radio hits are recorded using state-of-the-art technology, and production cannot be overestimated. Listeners respond first and foremost to sound. Songs are intellectual things. A bad song with a good production can be a hit. A good song with a bad production cannot. The ideal situation is to have both a good song and a good production. I publish on the web! If people like my tunes, they can use their own resources to record them. I am conscientious about what I pitch, being interested in songs with positive messages.
J.K Coltrain owned Colt Records. One Night Stand was on the label and put "I Looked Twice!" on their CD. There was a release party at the Nashville Palace, March 28, 2009, and Michael went with me.
Donna Ray was on Colt Records and recorded "Old Time Country Song". It was very traditional and went to #3 on the SoundClick Country and Western chart.
LaDonna Kay in Kentucky did "Feel So Country" for myspace.
Katrina Lynn from Pennsylvania recorded "Feel So Country" with David Walker in Lavergne, Tennessee, and put it on youtube.
I did a CD called "God Given Talent" with Kymberly Bryson. We recorded at Direct Image and got airplay across northern Europe.
Victoria Eman in The Netherlands put "Love Me Just A Little" on her album.
Josh Oldaker in West Virginia put "Jesus Paid My Debt" on youtube and on his gospel CD. Josh has pressed 4000 copies and paid me 9.1 cents per copy as required by federal law.
It is my strongest demos that are getting the attention of independent artists.
Annie Bushmeyer is from Quincy, Illinois. She said she did not know a soul in Nashville and sat in her apartment the first night thinking, "What have I done?" She soon found a waitress job and started meeting people.
I met Annie in a karaoke bar in Nashville the night of April 1, 2014, and was immediately drawn to her! Really, I was looking for a girl to sing over pre-recorded tracks so I could get on youtube. One thing led to another, and I showed Annie "Born To Sing," re-writing the first two lines to suit her. I showed her "Hard Earned Love," and we went in the demo studio at ascap, finally doing 6 vocals. "I Looked Twice!" was number 6. Then, came the crossroads. It was either quit or take Annie to Direct Image and Kenny Royster. I opted for the latter. We laid 3 tracks on September, 30, 2014. It was a rough ride! Kenny had raised his rates, and the approaching winter was to be a hard one. A redeeming factor was that Kenny's musicians had shed all pretense of "old" country. They offered a mix of country, rock and blues with Annie's vocals topping it off! By February, 2015, we had completed 6 songs: "Live My Dreams," "I Looked Twice!," "Born To Sing," "Hard Earned Love," "All Roads Lead To You," & "Love Me Just A Little." We were headed in the direction of an EP. I was sending songs to Internet Radio, and Annie and Johnny Thompson planned a showcase. Annie performed "Live My Dreams" with a band at the Vanderbilt student center. I got the idea of starting an ascap publishing company called "Colyer Bushmeyer Music," and that is what I did. I met with Ryan O'Grady in Membership Services on February 20, 2015, and founded the company.
The 6 Annie and I recorded at Direct Image are the best I have done. They were played worldwide on Internet Radio. I have a list of stations I submitted them to. Georgetown Masters on Music Row did the mastering, and Annie and Johnny pressed 1000 EPs at Disc Makers.
Annie did the Get It Girl showcase with Drew Haley @ SOUTH, 524 Demonbreun St., June 3, 2015. She performed "Live My Dreams," "Born To Sing" & "Love Me Just A Little." Annie Bushmeyer on The Stars of Tomorrow, July 2, 2015
She did a TV show at KMA Studios in Nashville. After an interview with J.K. Coltrain, she performed "Live My Dreams" & "I Looked Twice!" Annie Bushmeyer on NECAT television, Aug 26, 2015
I set it up for Annie to be on public access TV in Nashville. Jesse Goldberg, whom I knew from the Songwriters Guild, had a show, and Annie performed 3 songs from our EP. Her performance is on youtube.
My goal is for my songs to be on major labels with world-class publishing companies like Sony/ATV and Warner-Chappell Music.