Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Interview with John Schwarzman, Creator of "I'm an American"

 Pundit Press is proud to present its twelfth interview in our ongoing interview series. Today we are interviewing John Schwarzman, the author and singer of the conservative song "I'm an American." We thank him for his time and ask you to check out his cool song.
1. When and why did you decide to write "I'm an American?" 
I have a small business and have for many years. We have taken a bit of a beating in this economy. My partner and her son, who is a truck driver, were talking in the early part of the summer. He said "With everything that's going on, someone needs to write a song. Someone needs to say what everyone is feeling!" I thought it was a great idea, but didn't know any bands or songwriters. But I thought it was something worth doing, so I decided to take a whack at it myself.

I am what you might call a "spare bedroom" guitar player, and other than fiddling around, I have never written a song before. I thought "Well, if I try it and it's terrible, I'll just put it in a drawer and no one will ever know." I worked on it for about a week, tapping lyrics into my iPhone and trying to make them rhyme. When I finished, I knew I had something that expressed what I was feeling, and maybe what many others were, too. 

So I had the song and decided to make a recording. But I knew no one would want to hear me fumbling around playing it.  I got some help from some local (Washington area) musicians and a wonderful singer. I booked studio time and got everyone together. I scratched up just enough to play the guitar solo. 

I liked the recording a lot and over a week or so, played it for some friends. They really responded. One woman welled up. Someone else got goose bumps. I thought that, since I had something that seemed to touch people and this would probably never happen again in my life, I should "go for it" and make a video. I also felt having the video was really the only way the song could get "out there."

After a frantic couple of weeks of selecting images and video clips, scheduling studio time, shooting and editing, I had the video. I uploaded it to You Tube to see what would happen. I also sent out CDs to conservative talk radio hosts around the country to try to catch their attention, which ain't easy. And just in the off-chance, I put it up at iTunes and Amazon.

Bear in mind that I have never done anything like this before. I had just spent a lot of time and a lot of money out of my own pocket, and I had no idea whether anyone outside of family and a few friends would notice or care. It was really a pretty big risk.

2. What has been the response so far?
The response has been incredible. After I uploaded the video, I did a little checking to see how many views most videos really get. I wondered what to expect. Apparently only about 10% of all videos get more than 1,000 views in the first month. Most get many fewer. This video has been viewed over 4,000 times in the first ten days. For a non-celebrity, I think that's pretty rare. No band, no web site, no nothing. Just me, a song and a video. Plus, the comments have been so moving... so personal. It's hard to describe. This song means something to people. It is beyond all my expectations, and I feel like I have done something really worthwhile. 

As I mentioned, I did get an hour-long interview with a conservative radio talk show host in York, PA. People called in to talk about what the lyrics meant to them. One woman said the song made the hairs on her arms stand up. 

Another host wants to use the song to close out his weekly show on a station in Manhattan Kansas. He's going to plug it on iTunes (every little bit helps!).

A number of bloggers like you have also been enthusiastic. We're all doing what we do because we love it. 

So I'm getting some traction.  One of my ultimate goals is to get this on talk radio shows in markets around the country so people can really hear it, so if you know anybody... 

3. Has President Obama been better or worse than you expected?
Obama is about what I expected, which is bad. People like me saw this coming, especially with super majorities in both houses. He gave us plenty of clues, it's just that many people weren't listening. I think that's changed. Now people everywhere are doing their bit. Like me...

4. Do you consider yourself more conservative or libertarian?
I would consider myself more of a conservative. 

5. Any favorites for 2012 yet?
Not yet. Things have to play out a bit. Everyone in the apparent field has their strengths and weaknesses.
6. Any plans for more music?
Honestly, Matt, I want to be a one-hit wonder if this can be my hit! That's really what I want. I want people to hear this song and be inspired by it.

7. Anything else you would like to add?
I have taken enough of your time, and you have been very generous by posting the video to your site. I really appreciate it! Please share it "liberally."  :-)

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