Friendly Advice on Just About Anything from the Hill Country’s Happiest Songwriter

By Al Barlow

(March/April 2012/vol. 5 – Issue 2)

Dear Al,
Have you done much co-writing over the years? Every time I’ve tried to co-write with someone, I feel like my ideas always get squashed, or we end up wasting the whole day talking about anything but the song and end up with nothing. I have no idea how people do it. Is there a secret, or at least any tips you could share? Or are some people just not cut out for that kind of collaboration?
— Nicole, San Marcos

Hey, Nicole!
Thanks for writing! No, I haven’t done a lot of co-writing over the years, but I’ve co-written a few. Terri Hendrix called me up on the phone one day a while back and invited me to come “help her out” with a song she was in the process of writing. (As if she really needed any help!) We got together and co-wrote a song she later recorded, called “Wind Me Up.” Honestly, I didn’t contribute very much to that song, but we sure had fun writing it together. That’s the main thing about getting together and co-writing songs with a friend: have fun.

Dear Al,
It’s been a while (too long!) since you put a new record out, but I assume you write new songs all the time. Just curious — how do you record your own demos? Do you have a home studio, or use any of the newfangled tools of the trade (Garageband, iPhones, etc.), or do you still kick it old-school with a four-track or cassette boom box?
— Mitchell, Canyon Lake

Dear Mitchell,
How’s everything going up at Canyon Lake?

In the old days, I had a little cassette recorder, and I’d record my new songs, mainly to help me remember the tune. Now days, I simply write the words to the song down on paper, along with the chord notations, and try my best to remember the song. I’m still trying to figure out how to use the computer to do it!

I’ve got enough material to come out with a new CD, I suppose, but I’m hoping to write a couple more good ones before I take that step. Take care!

Dear Al,
I know this isn’t music related, but I’d like your advice anyway. I’m a single dad, and my teenage daughter (well, she’s 15 going on 21 — in her own mind!) wants to start dating. I know I’ve had 15 years to prepare myself for this but you know, it just kind of snuck up on me. God help me when she wants to start driving next year. Anyway … you’ve got a daughter (or daughters), right? Do you have any tips on how to cope with this crisis? Both my ex-wife and my current girlfriend both tell me I’m just being paranoid, but I remember what I was like as a horny teenage boy and the thought of THOSE having designs on my baby girl is driving me nuts. Help!
— Worried Rob, New Braunfels

Dear Worried Rob,
Having raised two beautiful daughters, I realized that being a father is hard work. A man who loves his daughter is always looking out for her best interest. I’d always told my girls that they couldn’t date until they turned 16 — period! I swore that I wouldn’t ever budge from that edict, either. But, as my oldest became a young woman, I realized that I had raised a very smart, disciplined little woman. About three months before her 16th birthday, she asked me if she could go out with her boyfriend, Justin. At first, I simply went over the rules with her and said absolutely not! But after sleeping on it a couple of days, I thought that it would be silly of me to prevent my precious, mature-acting daughter from going on this date. So, I put all my trust in her — after spending an hour in educational negotiations with her — and told her she could go. It was one of my best decisions, I think. Today, she is 35 years old and married to Justin. And the two of them gave me a handsome, precious grandson, too, named Ty!

Dear Al,
Do women still write your name on restroom walls?
— Gleason, San Antonio

Dear Gleason,
I certainly hope not. Although I appreciate the sentiment, there must be some better way to say “I Love Al Barlow” than writing it on a nasty old bathroom wall!