ERIC LINDEN: Wordsmith extraordinaire
PERHAPS it’s his stints as an actor, director, and playwright, or that he earns his living as an English teacher that explains the extra focus Eric Linden places on his lyrics during the song writing process.
But whatever it is, he is without doubt one of the wordsmiths to watch this year as the release of ‘3,000 Pieces of Me’ and new accompanying video, clearly highlights.
“When I write songs, I usually start with an interesting guitar part,” said Minneapolis-based Linden. “Listening to that part creates a mood, and that mood usually creates a line. Often, it’s the first line and it’s interesting enough to make me want to find out the rest of the story.
“The line, “I’m not understanding why you’re out standing in the rain,” was really intriguing and the whole break-up story sprang up around it for the single, ‘3,000 Pieces of Me.’
“When I was younger almost all my songs were auto biographical, but that’s only one option now, but ‘3,000 Pieces of Me’ is not autobiographical. The “narrator” of that song is an entirely different person. But I know what it’s like to go through a break-up. And I was probably drawing on the emotions of breaking up with a band around that time. Writing that song in particular was like writing a play because I needed to get inside that character and write his truth.
“My first aim is often to tell a good story, and in a three-minute song that means I want to get as much out of every single line as I can. I keep working on the lyrics until they resonate with me emotionally. Until they tell a truth. That’s when I know a song is finished. Many of my favourite songwriters are masters of conveying emotions, and I’ve also learned a lot from poets and playwrights. And I’ve always felt a strong pull toward Minnesota songwriters like Bob Dylan, Paul Westerberg and Dan Wilson of Semisonic.
And in a nod towards those great writers – and many others – ‘3000 Pieces of Me’ has an intro, whether deliberate or not, ever so slightly reminiscent of the 1979 Squeeze classic, ‘Up The Junction.’
“At some point in college, I remember really hearing ‘Tempted’ and was blown away. I’m sure I’d heard it dozens of times before, but at one point it really hit me. For some reason, probably life circumstances, I actually heard the song instead of just the 80s production. And then suddenly Squeeze was in my heavy rotation for a while especially songs like ‘Black Coffee in Bed’ and ‘Is that Love?’
“Squeeze, like a lot of the new-wave and power-pop bands, had also been really influenced by the Beatles and Kinks. Music with those influences is always going to catch my ear, and if it’s backed up with really interesting lyrics then I’m all in.”
But moving away from songs of the heart, Linden’s album, ‘Burning Up The Marquee,’ scheduled for an April release, looks likely to take a somewhat heavier direction.
“Another song that came out similar to ‘3,000 pieces,’ was ‘Chasing You.’
“I had this straight-ahead rocker and this opening line about a woman spending her entire Saturday night swiping left on her phone.
“When I started releasing songs, I had five or six I wanted to release as singles. Because I was starting with no audience, I wanted to build one up before I started putting out a song like ‘3,000 Pieces.’ I’ve got two or three more singles lined up that I feel are on that same level.
‘Chasing You’ is pretty different from the other two singles, but there’s more rockers like that on the album.”
Many attempt – and fail – the mix of ‘soul baring’ and songwriting, but Linden appears to accomplish it with aplomb, learning from listening to not only the great American writers, but a couple of Brits too.
“Growing up I listened to a lot of the oldies stations and really liked a lot of the ‘British Invasion’ music, in particular The Beatles and especially the John Lennon songs. I’ve always loved that whole era of music. And I also got my first Telecaster right before I started writing this album. That guitar pushed me to explore some new-to-me sounds, so people might hear some overtones of Ray Davies or The Stones on some of the songs.
“But I’ve always been interested in British music. As a teenager I became interested in early punk music that influenced some of my favourite bands, so that got me into bands like The Jam and The Clash, and some more obscure bands like The Rezillos too.”
Linden will release two more singles in the build up to ‘Burning Up The Marquee.’
Visit Spotify — Eric Linden for further details.