Gavin DeGraw Looks Back and To The Future
"When I put that [Chariot] out, what we called a singer-songwriter was a very safe sound," he told Radio.com. "Even artists who were really gifted had sounds that if we categorized it now we would call it safe. At this point, I never would have been able to get away with the production that's on my album now 10 years ago and been called 'singer-songwriter.' They would have said, 'Oh, it's too all over the place.' Or, 'Some of the songs are too edgy.'"
He added: "Something beautiful happened with the landscape of music in that we're able to take much bigger risks with the production within every genre."
While the music world continues to evolve, the power a song has on listeners hasn't changed. "I Don't Want To Be," a song that DeGraw wrote over a decade ago, has survived the test of time due to its honesty and relatability. When Radio.com sat down with DeGraw during record release week for his fifth studio album Make A Move, the singer talked of embracing co-writers on his new LP and the story behind that infamous hit. The New York native split his time between Los Angeles and Nashville to write and record the album, but reminisced on beginning his career in the Big Apple.
"I still love New York. There are elements of it that I still romanticize," he confessed. "Those bits of the struggle that were so tough because there is something beautiful about having to claw your way through it if you can do it. I look back on it and go, 'Wow, I can't believe it was so difficult.'"
DeGraw says the reality of not having to do a "typical" job is amazing to him. He explained how knowing what he didn't want to do helped push him to a career in music.
"What I didn't want to do was all those other jobs that I had done. I don't want to be someone's dog walker and I don't want to bartend and I don't want be a waiter and I don't want to be bellhop or work at a newsstand anymore, or any of those jobs that I was doing. Knowing what I didn't want to do was enough fuel for me to keep pursuing what I wanted to do."
Not unlike his pursuit for a full-time career in music, DeGraw took cues from the world around him when he sat down to write "I Don't Want To Be."
"When I wrote 'I Don't Want To Be' I was hearing so many of the songs that were coming out at the time and so many of the new artists that were coming out in different genres. Essentially they would say, 'My name is… I'm from some place, all my homies or all my people or all my friends are like such and such and I represent this.' I thought, 'It seems like such a simple way to approach it, but realistically it's so smart to just write a song that is essentially stating your identity.'"
DeGraw said he wanted to write a song to share with the world what his identity was, where he was from and what he represented. "To share my perspective in hopes that people would connect and go, 'Oh, wow. That's like me.' Or, 'Even if it isn't about me, I like where he's coming from,'" he said. "I think that is essentially the reason that the song has provided some long-term success, because it was so honest and people really just want something that they can say, 'That's real. I'm not embarrassed to like that. I feel like that is legitimate.'"
It also didn't hurt that the song became One Tree Hill's theme song. "By there being the affiliation with the show, with something affiliated with TV that fortunately became a bit of a phenomenon at the time, it really just helped me get my foot in the door in order to get another opportunity to follow it up at some point." more on this story
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