Writing songs is often an emotional experience. A song doesn’t necessarily have to happen to you firsthand to make a good song, but Matt Nathanson says it helps.
“It has to have fundamental elements of truth,” Nathanson said. “The story can be somebody elses’ story but you have to find the anchor points for you.”
His latest radio single, “Room At the End of the World” keeps this idea in mind. A song Nathanson calls “a Springsteen-y love song,” he explained how the track developed.
“‘Room at the End of the World’ started out as a love song. This idea that when you’re really in love with somebody and you’re really aligned with them, the rest of the world seems foreign. You feel like an alien,” he said. “It’s just you and this other person in this world that doesn’t make sense and you make your way through it with this person.”
“It’s navigating the crazy, stupid, weird, amazing things that life hands you that may make you feel like you don’t relate at all. That’s what that songs about. It’s about the bubble of a relationship and moving your way through.”
Nathanson admits that he is afraid to reveal too much in a song.
“I used to think that I was this wide-open book, but I think I am [afraid] to a point. The new songs that I’ve been writing, I start to realize if you really peel down to the honest truth of it, it gets to be unnerving,” he said. “I’m making a pilgrimage to honesty, that’s what records are. I’ve made nine of them and every one of them gets closer and closer to this idea.”
Nathanson said an artist’s job in the most crucial way is to be straight up and present things that might be ugly, scary or weird to people.
“It’s hard because we live in a time now where artists are more about spectacle and entertainment . . . they’re not really artists, they’re like fireworks,” he said. “There’s not a lot of support for that kind of honesty. Then you see something like the Adele record or Mumford and Sons’ record do well on a commercial level and you see radio start to take notice and the machine shift. It’s a nice feeling.”