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The story about “Ghostwriter,” and my performance tonight at the Acorn Songwriting Competition

2016 July 14
by Mike Vial

I’m proud that my song “Ghostwriter” made it to the 2016 Acorn Theater Singer Songwriter Competition! Art isn’t a competition, but it feels warm and fuzzy to receive some affirmation during the crazy roller-caster of giglife.

I’m performing the song tonight at the beautiful Acorn Theater, along side some wonderful songwriters from the area.

I wrote “Ghostwriter” after learning how to play Joni Mitchell tunes and exploring the open tunings she used on the guitar. (“Ghostwriter” is in open-D, for the curious guitarist.)

I was also binge listening to both Drake and Nick Drake (not joking). Last summer, I was contemplating the music news reports that Drake was using ghostwriters (remember that silly controversy?) and how Nick Drake died assuming he was musical failure; yet now more people like to Nick Drake on Spotify many months than Jim Croce, Cats Stevens and other songwriters from his era. The music industry doesn’t make any sense.

 I was also in a spiral of anxiety about my own challenges with the music industry and what decisions I needed to make for 2016 as a father, husband, and traveling musician. 

And then this song emerged: “You don’t need that ghostwriter, you’ve got something to say./Let the words spill out of you in a suicide note, or a long-form love letter…”

I’m going to sing it tonight, thinking of Nick Drake.

Thanks to Ryan Stanton for posting a video of me singing this song at the Yellow Barn in May:


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