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OceanlinerNotes Artist Interviews
We'd like to Welcome Singer Songwriter,
Jon Michaels,
of the famed "STONES,"
& his latest new celebrated CD Release "I HEAR A CLOCK!"
Jon Michaels,
a featured Performing Musician on the popular CHRISTINA COOKS TV Show on the Create Nationwide Network, comes on aboard the OL Oceanliner Notes Weekly as our invited Special Guest Artist!

Welcome Jon, and thank you for giving us and all of the OL Site Visitors, for what will be a 7-part Interview on the Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series, for the entire week of September 5, 2010. Once again,
thank you and welcome...  

Jon Michaels:
I'm honored.

Jon, as we talk about your songs and CDs throughout this Interview, let us first say that You are such a gifted Songwriter and the stories in your songs, really resonate with so many listeners, worldwide, in such a
down-to-earth way, in that people can naturally relate to a lot of the stories in your songs, taking it all in... When songwriting,
do You draw much from your own life's experiences and/or surroundings?

Jon Michaels:
Most definitely! I find the truth to be the best subject to write about. Whether funny or serious, whatever is on your mind is probably on others minds too.

For the most part, do You already have a concept or storyline in mind, or do you sometimes let the music take You to the lyrics of the story?

Jon Michaels:
All the above. Before moving to Nashville, when I wrote songs, I was flying by the seat of my pants. After Nashville, it became a "craft" and something I wanted to be
(and get) good at. I hear people talk about songs they wrote in 15mins.
For me, very rarely will that happen.

Jon Michaels:
If I get onto something, I want to work at it and make it as good as it can be. I rewrite a lot. Especially if it is a serious song, I want to put my heart and soul into.

We know that the great
Country Music Capital of the world...
Nashville, Tennessee,
has been home to You since, 1992, however you're actually from the L.A. Suburb of North Hollywood, California?

Jon Michaels:
Born and raised in LA. I used to scoff at Nashville until I took a week's vacation and realized it was Graduate School for songwriting. Every corner on every street you could find a guitar pull. Everybody sharing and writing songs. Nothing like it in L. A.
So, I left the city of angels and made
music city my home.  

Jon, we understand that Singer Songwriting Legends Jim Croce and Harry Chapin,
are true inspirations to You... with both being two of the great storytellers in a song, how much did You draw from that in your own original songwriting style?

Jon Michaels:
The first 45 I ever purchased was I'll have to say, "I Love You In A Song" by
Jim Croce.
I just loved the simplicity and the feel of that song. I use to fall asleep listening to those singers and pretend it was me up on stage singing those songs. The pride I felt in my dreams of writing and singing such sweet and moving songs. I was just a kid, but I really connected to those songs and performers.   

While honing your craft in music back on the L.A. scene, You were also a
Professional Investment Broker?

Jon Michaels:
I was not a top 40 singer or a session player, so I had many day jobs. In my late 20s,
I decided that if I was going to have a "day" gig, I would try to make as much $$ as
I could. I found a job in the classifieds for an investment broker.  I showed up for the interview and told them I could sell ice to an Eskimo. They believed me and sponsored me to get my investment license.

Jon Michaels:
After 12 weeks of training, I hit the streets finding people to buy what they wanted me to sell. So, that was the beginning of my investment career. That lasted till I moved to Nashville in the early 90s.

The road from L.A. Night Clubs to
The Row in Nashville,
must have been a defining moment in your life, Jon.
When did You know that music would be
your life's work and profession?

Jon Michaels:
I felt I had something to offer as early as my Jr. High School days. I remember entering my High School talent show and won! I was bitten from that moment on. I wrote a song called "I'm Gonna Miss You." I don't remember it now, but I know it was a real sappy piece of songwriting for a 16 year old.  My old High School year book was, "remember us when you get famous."
I guess you could say that was the
defining moment.

What type of music sets did You perform in your L.A. Night Clubs Shows?

Jon Michaels:
I was a singer songwriter... so you would find me at the Troubadour,
Madame Wongs,
At My Place, The Central,
Hennessey's Tavern in Hermosa Beach

and places like that.
I was always showcasing my own material,
so I frequented the
singer songwriter haunts.

When arriving in Nashville, what was your first club to play in and did your music set change when You started upon the
Nashville Night Club scene?

Jon Michaels:
The first club in Nashville was a place called Bogies - a hotel lounge. They hosted an "open mic" and that is how I got started.  When I actually moved to Nashville, I was 32, so I had some chops by that time.   People started hearing me and inviting me to other writer's nights and into other circles. 

Jon, your solo acoustic performances on the TV Show 'Christina Cooks' are really so special and heartwarming. When doing 'live' shows with your band, whether on the TV Show or in a performance venue, where's that special place that You go to in keeping that overall intimacy in your performances for your Audiences?

Jon Michaels:
You know,  It really depends on the energy of the room. Believe me, it is very hard to win over a crowd doing nothing but original material. If the crowd is with me, and I am feeling the love, I go to that place where
I went in my childhood dreams. 

Jon Michaels:
That place where you could hear a pin drop and you know the crowd is hanging on every word.  When the magic is happening, there's no holding back. I like to connect with my audience, tell them stories and make them feel what I am feeling as I am singing the songs. Other times, I have found myself thinking about making a tuna fish sandwich and not really into the moment.  I once heard Billy Joel say that he sometimes thinks about what he is going to eat after the show while singing songs. So, I knew I was not crazy.

Ha ha, a tunafish sandwich?... that's a good one, Jon... and from afar to the great Billy Joel is sharing his culinary moments, too!  Okay, let's start with your "Stones" CD, Jon. Seeing You perform your song,
 "The Gift of Forgiveness"
on the
'Christina Cooks' TV Show...

we've seen You perform many a witty, humorous and beautiful songs on this show, and so it was this song, that spoke volumes to many. What inspired You to write a great song like this?

Jon Michaels:
Thank you for your kind words about that song. In my opinion,  "Stones" is the "crown jewel"  in my crown of jewels. To be more specific, I remember I was offered an opportunity to co-write with one of Nashville's most successful tunes smith-
Gary Burr.
  I was so excited and wanted to have an idea that was worthy of his time
and our talents.
Jon Michaels:
I truly believed in my heart Gary and I would write a great song.  One morning, while taking a shower, I was thinking of ideas and "Stones" popped into my head.  Specifically, the line "From the cradle to the grave, our lives are paved with stones."  I remember jumping out of the shower and writing that down and listing all the stones we encounter. Birth stones, grave stones, mile stones you name it. I was so excited and could not wait till our writing appointment.  The night before we were to meet, Gary called me very apologetic that he was not feeling well and wanted to reschedule our writing appointment. He said he wanted to be at his best to write with me.  Well, that reschedule would not be for another year.  

Jon Michaels:
I remember having another appointment with another very successful writer named
Kim Tribble
and I called Kim and ran the idea by him. He was very excited to write that idea with me. I also decided that I wanted to invite another wonderful writer
into the song by the name of
Jimbeau Hinson.
is a wonderful lyricist and I felt he
would bring a certain magic to the song.

Jon Michaels:
Well, we all got together a few days later and talked about the magic, it was a session I will never forget. In hindsight, Gary's not feeling well was the best thing to happen for that song, as the magic came from other sources. Still Gary and I wrote what has become my biggest requested song of all time,
"I Hear A Clock."
Everything turned out
 as it should have.  

Thank you very much Jon, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist. Is there any music commentary you'd like to share with the viewers, in concluding this OL Interview
1&2 of 7 segment?

Jon Michaels:
Feel free to listen to my music and contact me directly at to share any questions you might have.
I would be happy to hear from you.

We look forward tomorrow in Parts 3&4 of this 7 part Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series, where  we highlight Singer Songwriter Jon Michaels'... celebrated songs from his CDs & feature his latest CD "I Hear A Clock!"

Thank you very much Jon, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist! We'll see you tomorrow! And thank you all for visiting
OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!

Welcome Back, Jon. It's nice to have You on again, this being Part 3 of our 7 day Interview for OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series. We're at the segment Interview feature, where we highlight the stories behind some of your hit songs!

The title track song "I Hear A Clock,"
 of your latest CD... which You co-wrote with Songwriter Gary Burr... there's a great line in the chorus hook of your lyrics, saying... "It's not just the woman who runs out of time, I hear a clock ticking, too." from a Gentleman's perspective, you're simply saying that time waits for no one?  

Jon Michaels:
 Well, not necessarily... time waits for no
one; more men have desires about having children, too. At least the ones that are willing to admit it.  "I hear a Clock" is having a problem getting recorded. A lot of men, especially in country music, have issues with making that kind of statement.

Jon Michaels:
I think they're missing the boat on this subject. I believe  a lot of people would relate. It's just finding that someone who can pull it off. If the attention I get is any indication on how that song will be received, it will be a big hit with both sexes.   

On the credits listed in this song,
"I Hear A Clock," [Produced by Yourself, Wayne Baird and Bob McGilpin],

it's interesting that You concentrated on just your vocals on this track and let the other equally distinguished Musicians support Your vocal performance. Does this approach allow You to look at your vocal performance from a different angle?  

Jon Michaels:
I am not sure what you mean by that.
 I played 90% of all the acoustic tracks. I like to take a lot of time to get the vocals just right. The right time of the day, the right lighting, the right mic and the right take.

Jon Michaels:
It sounds crazy, but you're looking for the "magic" in each line.  Sometimes I will sing a certain line several times and take
the best one.

Your recording sessions on the
 "I Hear A Clock" CD... Can you tell us about working with the Musicians on this Production?

Jon Michaels:
Lots of great people on the "I Hear A Clock" project. Bob McGilpin played no role on this project. Ray Herndon and Wayne Baird were my main co-producers.  Ray (besides being one of my closest friends) flew in from Phoenix to help me produce the music part of the CD.

Jon Michaels:
We worked together on the "Acoustic" direction. Ray Herndon was one of the lead players in the band McBride and the Ride and also is a member  of the Lyle Lovett Band.  Wayne was a wonderful vocal coach as well as a great editor and mixer.
Some of the great players included: 
Kim Parent
(bg vocalist for Faith Hill), Jonathan Yudkin (played and arranged all the strings and has played with
Beth Nielson Chapman, SHeDAISY,
Rascal Flatts,
just to name a few)
Jelly Roll Johnson,
who played harmonica on "Lonely Man," who has performed with hundreds of artists, from Kenny Rogers
to Peter Cetera of Chicago.
So, the quality was all "A" Players.

On many of your compositions, Jon, it's clear that your love of Family Life is a big part of the real magic that goes into your music. That's always a wonderful thing.
Do You feel, Jon, that we need more of these storylines in today's music in general,
no matter the type of music?

Jon Michaels:
I wouldn't say that however, Personally,
I feel music today is less than what it was when I was growing up and what it could be.  I don't feel there are too many Billy Joels, Harry Chapins & Lennon, and McCartney's out there.

Jon Michaels:
With the advent of reality TV and Youtube;  becoming a "household name," isn't what it used to be.  I strongly believe the true "timeless" songs were written  in the
20th century.

When You're in the recording studio, what's your preferred process? Do You like to record your vocals and guitar tracks 'live' with the entire band, or lay down the instrumental tracks and record your vocals separately?

Jon Michaels:
I've done it several ways. My "Stones" CD was recorded totally "Live" from the down beat to the last "thank you and good night"   ..."I hear a Clock" was recorded in the studio virtually one track at a time. I like the "live feel," but there is way to much pressure to get it right on the first take.
 If there is "Magic" in the room,
there is no duplicating it in the studio.
Still, you can do so much in the studio and experiment with different instruments, productions and that has its advantages.
I think every musician worth his weight should record a project live. It will separate the men from the boys. 

We also love the track "Fallen" on the
"I Hear A Clock" CD,
that we're also featuring during this Interview.
The arrangement on this track has a nice poignant feel, with an additional touch of strings, which makes for a great wedding song favorite. While producing this track, did You already have a set instrumentation in mind? 

Jon Michaels:
I wanted a vintage J.T. feel and wanted simplicity. I think I got that with the track.
I played the opening and just let the others compliment it and not over do it. It happens to be one of my favorites as well.

Your chord changes in general are always refreshing to listen to, especially in the bridge of "Fallen." Do You concentrate more on the melody or the chord changes,
when writing your music?

Jon Michaels:
I concentrate on both. I personally believe that if you have magnificent lyric and a boring melody, you have a boring song. Whereas, if you have a tremendous melody (or groove) and have a mediocre lyric, you can still have a hit.

Jon Michaels:
I defy any of your readers to tell me the lyrics to "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress."  
I rest my case.  So, yes, for my taste, my melodies need to be as strong, if not stronger than the lyrics. 

What would be your favorite track, or top favorite tracks from your
 "I Hear A Clock" CD?

Jon Michaels:
That is asking someone to acknowledge their favorite children.  But since you asked;  "Lonely Man,"...
"New Shade of Blue,"...
  "Clock,"...  "Fallen,"...
 "Until We Meet Again"...
and "I'll Be There For You,"...
 to name a few.

Thank you very much Jon, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist. Is there any music commentary you'd like to share with the viewers, in concluding this OL Interview
3&4 of 7 segment?

Jon Michaels:
Can you tell me about your readers
and subscribers?

Thanks for asking Jon. We're happy to share that not only do we have thousands of
OL Viewers, worldwide,
who visit the
OL Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series
everyday, but we also have our OL Associates like the NY Worthies Magazine [<>], tuning in on our invited Guest Artists Interviews. ...And here's Owner and Publisher of Worthies Magazine, Mike Macagnone...

Mike Macagnone:
Gezzzz...with Harry, Cat, and a few others out of the mix, it is refreshing to hear a new voice in the grove.  Don't get me wrong,
I have always been a fan of the two mentioned as well as the likes of
James Taylor, Don Mclean
and always waiting to hear form them with a new song
to sing with.

Mike Macagnone:
Our music from the late 60's through the 70's has been the basic fabric for shaping our thoughts through the path we follow in our lives. So refreshing to hear a new voice in the few that are active today, Jon...
In particular the lyrics you sing are relevant to someone like myself.  The music is the way I am conformable with. In a way that brings things home for a moment or two.  

Mike Macagnone:
In particular your voice and character shine in the lines of... "It's not just a woman who runs out of time, I hear a clock ticking too!"
 So very, very true for so many of us Jon.
Thanks again, Jon, I have enjoyed listening to you and your music, sir.  I wish you much success in all your music endeavors Jon,
and I am looking forward to hearing more. 
 Michael Macagnone...Publisher
Worthies Magazine

Thank You very much Mike and Jon. We look forward tomorrow in Parts 5&6 of this 7 of our Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series, where  we highlight
Singer Songwriter Jon Michaels'...

favorite moments performing on the 'Christina Cooks' TV Show & more...

Thank you very much Jon, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist! We'll see you tomorrow! And thank you all for visiting
OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!

Welcome Back, Jon. It's nice to have You on again, this  being Part 5 of  our 7 day Interview for OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series. In  this segment,  let's cover some of your special highlighted performances and  moments on the 'Christina Cooks' TV Show!

What was your first song and performance like on  the 'Christina Cooks' TV  Show?

Jon Michaels:
 Nervous. PBS is a staple for all of us and with all the camera crew and the 'live' (don't mess it up attitude) you can say I was tightly wound up.  My first song I believed was "Stones," but honestly, I can't remember.
 I know that as the series progressed, I got more relaxed and the songs came off more
at ease.

Where is the television show filmed?   

Jon Michaels:
Philadelphia and New Jersey.
The first season was at someone's home and the 2nd was at a warehouse.  I did one season for Christina Cooks at Whole Foods in Princeton, NJ. That series only airs on the Comcast Network. 

Thank you very much Jon, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist! We'll see you tomorrow on Part 7 of 7! And thank you all for visiting OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!

Welcome Back, Jon. It's nice to have You on again, this  being Part 7 of our 7 day Interview for OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series. As  we have come
to the closing segment of this Interview feature, OL would first  like to thank You, Jon, for being super cool and
very informative at the same  time. Your natural gift of Song is truly a gift to us All!

Jon Michaels:
I appreciate your reaching out to me for this opportunity.

As we're sure that our OL Viewers will be following more or your successful Career, Mr. Michaels... For this  Interview, if you will, please give us your closing liner note thoughts on where  true Songwriting is to today, and your closing music commentary quote?  Thank you.

Jon Michaels:
Personally I feel  a real affection with the songs of the 50s, 60s 70s.  Those were some amazing eras for songs.  The newer stuff,  not so much.  If a song can be sung with just a guitar, vocal, or piano vocal and move you, it's a great song. Remember that!

Jon Michaels:
Again, thank you for this wonderful opportunity to share my thoughts with your audience.

They say that there's nothing like a ticking clock to tell us what time it is, but a great song, coming from a gifted Songwriter like Jon Michaels, can do just the same, if not even more...

In today's recording world where sounding great is only a button away, it's nice to know that the simple act of singing, performing and writing a song that has some of life's real lessons in the lyrics and the uncluttered melodies that can make even a new-born smile, can still exist. Thanks Jon Michaels, for hearing that clock ticking, too...  

And thank you All for visiting OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!

Playlist samples:
Singer Songwriter

1. I Hear A Clock
2. Gift of Forgiveness
3. Fallen
4. I Am Who I Am
Special Guest Artist Online Interview Feature...
Original  OL Records Artist Interview: 9/5/10 - 9/11/10

OL Quote Pick of the Guest Artist's Interview!

Personally I feel  a real affection with the songs of the 50s, 60s 70s.  Those were some amazing eras for songs.  The newer stuff,  not so much. If a song can be sung just guitar vocal or piano vocal and move you, it's a great song.
Remember that!"

...Jon Michaels