The New Song

“I wish he would have played…” – “I’m bummed they didn’t do…”! Yep. Understandable.

For a long list of reasons we fall in love with a song or a record full of ’em, etc.. We go out to see a band or solo artist and because we’ve loved a song or group of them we of course want to hear the artist/s play ’em live.

The quandry is that musicians sell their music online and live, and in a live setting the issue is how to create a set list for that particular show and setting.

Do I stick to the songs people know, love, were perhaps raised on, played at their wedding or wedding reception, during childbirth, what they heard and remember during that first date with their now-spouse… or not?!

What do I do after 47 years and some 35 records later people come out with a deep desire to hear “our song”?

And per the title of this blog- when to put one (or more??) new song/s into the set?

Trust me, I, the band and all my experience brought us to what we thought were sane and equitable conclusions, perhaps adding a couple, even three new, never released tunes into a set while keeping the oldies we knew from requests that peeps wanted to hear. Of course. And “Don’t obsess or overthink all this, just decide and go for it.” I get that too.

Then there’s the odd record like our Resurrection Band Lament project which was basically a full-on thematic story. We let promoters and fans know in advance that we would be doing a tour where that was the entire set on the given night. Ok.

Now I must admit, Glenn Kaiser Band is one thing, myself solo is a whole ‘nother. As you’d expect and what I also think is reasonable, bringing what I am most passionate about has it’s positives for both myself and the audience.

Then again, an electrified biker’s show at Sturgis, then a “blues/worship” set for a Christian biker’s church, then a more traditional set in a more trad. church on Sun. morning are all going to call for changes. In that I’ve recorded a somewhat eclectic load of songs over my lifetime in a number of styles and broad range of subjects you understand the complications of “doing what folks want to hear”.

All that is preface to the reality that all artists, management and record labels have their own favorite songs to bring to live sets at any given time and for many reasons. Some of the decisions are personal favorites, a particular crowd or “Our new record is available tonight at the merch table! Here’s a new one from LA-LA-LA- record!”

Between songs I’ve written for my sweet wife Wendi and recorded on REZ Band records, my solo albums and such, I’ve likely got a full length love song project if our label one day decides to put such out.

Meanwhile I’ve been so blessed to be doing a recent series of concerts in this pandemic era and the lion’s share of them are outdoors (which I have always loved best, personally!).

As I age I really love choosing 3 or 4 new and as-of-yet unreleased songs in what are often 60 or 90 minute sets.

At National Night Out last night in Chicago I played a song I’d written for Wendi for our 49th Anniversary (this past June 1st) called “She Smiled at Me”. I barely made it through when I played it for her as she broke down crying as did I. The intense grace of God in our shared lives has been remarkable and sooooo large!

So this was one of the new tunes I played last night, simply saying “My wife and I recently celebrated our 49th anniversary, this is a new song I wrote for her- She Smiled at Me”.

After the first verse I realized a lady was standing there with the biggest smile on her face… for the entire song. What a sweet moment for myself and it would seem, her.

She wasn’t around after the set so I never had chance to thank her for that and her applause, but I wonder if she was thinking about her husband, maybe late husband… or her son or daughter, or grandkid’s marriage, maybe a mix of those? Maybe she was just encouraged that a guy would write his wife a song closing in on 5 decades of loving marriage and sing it in public. I don’t know, but sometimes a new song is what fits an artist, an audience, maybe even both.

I create set lists based on many factors. Largely my thinking is “Who is this crowd, what do THEY perhaps need to hear via my lyrics, musical style, what can I bring with passion of old, new and even un-heard songs that might bring them something to take home?”

My Christian friends will often simply say “The Gospel” but that’s going to happen where ever I go regardless. I think we must go deeper as does The Bible itself.

A new song… now where did I read about that? 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

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