Author Archives: Rick Lang

Feb 7, 2019
  • Comments Off on Pouring Emotion Into Your Song

Pouring Emotion Into Your Song

Posted: February 7, 2019

When I write, there are a few priorities I focus on that will have a major impact with the song. On the top of the list is “pouring emotion into your song”. I want the listener to “feel something” when they hear it.

If they do, I feel I have succeeded at some level. That emotion is transferred from the writer, to the singer, to the listener. I’m never really concerned all that much about song mechanics, perfect rhyming, being structurally correct and all that stuff. I want the song to be real and believable. That’s why I mostly write about what I know and familiar with. Real life dramas, real life experiences. Write the truth. Be conversational. Write as you speak!

One example of that was a song I wrote a few years back entitled “Looks Like Up To Me”. It’s based on a book I once ready by Mississippi author Eudora Welty. The story line is about the plight of the south after the Great Depression. Those were the hardest of times and folks were struggling just to survive. They basically had nothing, and things got so bad they could hardly get much worse. I was totally captivated and moved by what I read. That spawned the line “Been down so long, it looks like up to me”…..which became the battle cry of my song. I attempted to tell their story, pouring as much emotion and feeling into the song as I could muster.

It actually took me years to write, with several incarnations, before I felt I effectively captured the spirit of the song. Here are the lyrics, and if there was one thing I would want to impart to all writers, it would be: ‘Write what you feel, feel what you write”. 

Looks Like Up To Me
@Rick Lang

When it comes to troubles, Lord knows I’ve had my share got my share,
I can’t remember when I felt so low.
The crops have all been ruined by the flood this year,
And they’ve repossessed most everything I own.
I’m drowning in a sea of misery.
Been down so long it looks like up to me.

The more I try to get ahead, it seems the more I get behind.
And every day it’s just more of the same.
The front porch still needs fixin’, but the cost is much too high.
And that ol’ tin roof still leaks when it rains.
I’m doomed to live my life in poverty.
Been down on the bottom for so long…it looks like up to me.

They say to keep my chin up, look on the brighter side
But the situation’s hopeless as can be
From way down here everything I see….looks like up to me
….Looks like up to me

I’ve watched my life unravel, right down to the last thread.
All I’ve worked for vanish in thin air.
I feel just like a pebble you toss into a well.
I keep fallin’, but I ain’t hit bottom yet.
Here I am Lord on my bended knees.
Been down on the bottom for so long…it looks like up to me.

They say to keep my chin up, look on the brighter side
But the situation’s hopeless as can be
From way down here everything I see….looks like up to me
…Looks like up to me

Oct 17, 2018
  • Comments Off on Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout – First Single

Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout – First Single

Posted: October 17, 2018

I’m super excited to announce that the first single from my new Bluegrass Gospel album “Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout” was just released on the Billy Blue Records label. The song “Thinkin’ Outside The Box” is one I co-wrote with Jerry Salley for the project. It features the powerful vocals of Dave Adkins, who totally crushed it in the studio. Tammy King (Steeldrivers), along with Jerry Salley, complement Dave’s singing with spine tingling harmony parts. The supporting cast includes Jason Roller on guitar and fiddle, Justin Moses, dobro and mandolin, Aaron McDaris on banjo, and Mike Bub on Bass. I am very grateful to all the singers and musicians who contributed to this amazing song track. Think folks are going to really enjoy hearing it!

“Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout” (my 2nd all-original Gospel album release) was produced by good friend Jerry Salley and includes twelve new Gospel tunes I either wrote or co -wrote. The full album will be released on November 16th on Billy Blue Records, and features several of my all-time favorite vocalists including: High Road, Marty Raybon, The Whites, Claire Lynch, Bradley Walker, Cox Family, Kenny & Amanda Smith, Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley, Larry Stephenson, Brandon Rickman, Josh Swift and Maggie Salley. This is the album of a lifetime for me personally. I’m as happy as a little kid at Christmas!

“Thinkin’ Outside The Box” is available for download by Radio Programmers on Airplay Direct.

Here’s the link:

The new single is also available for sale starting Friday Oct 11th:

Here’s the link:

More to come!

Jun 20, 2017
  • Comments Off on The Power Of Positive Thinking

The Power Of Positive Thinking

Posted: June 20, 2017

As a young boy, I never had much self – confidence or belief in myself. That was for good reason. I was a weakling, basically unhealthy with a severe asthmatic condition, not really very good at anything, including school, and things I enjoyed like sports, music etc. I was one of those kids everyone thought was unlikely to succeed in life. I heard it everywhere I went, right through my high school years, and began to believe it myself. Once that seed of doubt creeps in, it’s difficult to make go away. I would try hard but but never seemed get anywhere. My mom would do her best to pick up my spirits when I was feeling low, telling me that giving a strong effort is what counts the most to her. I think “Effort” was the only good grade I landed in school in those days.

When I was much older, I ran across a book about the life of Walt Disney, that stressed that you needed to develop a positive attitude and believe in yourself to realize your dreams and accomplish your life’s goals. Reading those pages inspired me to work even harder and set my sights higher. Walt never gave up chasing his dreams, and went on to archive great things in his lifetime revolutionizing the entertainment industry. He believed anything is possible with a positive attitude, and I started to adapt Walt’s philosophy to my own life. That’s when everything changed in my world, and my failures started turning into successes. By chance during a trip to Sedona Arizona a few years later I ran across another book entitled “The Path To Success Is Paved With Positive Thinking” by Wally Amos. Wally’s words of wisdom reinforced my new-found beliefs and inspired me even a greater level. It was like a new beginning. The door to the future opened up wide and I walked through with a confidence I never felt before!

Since then my life’s accomplishments have been far beyond anything I thought remotely possible. Through hard work, perseverance, and believing in my untapped potential I proceeded to start up my own lumber company (that just celebrated its 30th anniversary and won a business of the year award), became an innovator in the Forest Products industry, and am now an award winning songwriter, as well as a mentor to others. Having a positive attitude was the key element to these accomplishments.

I eventually decided to write down and share my thoughts/insights on Positive Thinking, how it changed my world, hoping it might help others as well. I even conducted a seminar at the IBMA World Of Bluegrass on the subject. Here are my notes, they have become the blueprint of my life.

Positive Thinking

Jan 30, 2017
  • Comments Off on Writing Bluegrass Gospel

Writing Bluegrass Gospel

Posted: January 30, 2017

Ever since I got the songwriting bug back in the mid 1980’s, writing Gospel music has been very important to me. I’ve always been a man of Faith, and became fascinated by some of the Bluegrass Gospel songs I’d hear on recordings and at festivals back in those days. Bands like Doyle Lawson and the Bluegrass Cardinals, among others, were putting out some great stuff and were a big influence on my early writing. It was that Southern Gospel sound that really did it for me, and inspired me to write in that style.

My approach to writing Spiritual Songs was to try and come up with new ideas/song concepts/musical settings that didn’t sound like every other Gospel song I’d heard before. Needed to be original and innovative to a certain degree. It took a great deal of patience and exploration to create my own unique style of writing Gospel….establish my own identity…..but the hard work paid off.

By 1988 I was pitching some of my songs to a few of my favorite Bluegrass bands, and caught a break when the Lonesome River Band recorded a bluesy Gospel number I wrote entitled “Listen To The Word Of God”. Dan Tyminski sang lead, and guest artist Alison Krauss played fiddle on that cut. Definitely a highlight for me as a songwriter. That album “Carrying The Tradition” went on to be awarded IBMA album of the year.
Since then I’ve kept writing Gospel songs, several of which have been recorded by various Bluegrass and Southern Gospel artists.
As my catalog of Gospel numbers grew over time I decided I’d like to record a Gospel album of my own, featuring songs that no one had recorded yet. It would be an opportunity to express my own Faith through the songs I’d written, and spread the Holy Word of God to the rest of the world.
Jesse Brock and John Miller agreed to produce the recording and we were fortunate to attract a cast of wonderful musicians and vocalists that included Russell Moore, Dale Ann Bradley, Jeff Parker, Barry Scott, and Junior Sisk among several others. The end result exceeded any expectation I had, and helped land my first record deal with Rural Rhythm Records who were pretty hot at the time. Titled “Look To The Light”, the album went on to be nominated for IBMA Gospel Event Of The Year as well as a GMA Dove Award. The album received a great deal of radio airplay, including SIRIUS XM, and folks all across the country wrote and e-mailed me heartwarming notes about how they were “moved” by listening to this collection of spiritual songs. That was very gratifying for me personally.

In recent years I’ve done more collaborating with other writers all over the country, and ironically many of the resulting songs have been Gospel tunes. I can’t help but feel I was meant to write Gospel music, that it is my calling. Last fall Larry Stephenson cut “Best Laid Plans”, a Gospel song that I wrote with Troy Engle (our very first co-write). That was a real treat as I’ve always been a big fan of Larry’s singing.

Don’t know what the future holds, but will keep writing Gospel music as long as I can hold a pen in my hand.
God willing, I hope to record another Gospel album as a follow up to Look To The Light someday. As my mom would say: ” If it was meant to be, it will happen”.

Jan 20, 2017
  • Comments Off on GoodStuff PR

GoodStuff PR

Posted: January 20, 2017

More good news! In May of this year I reached an agreement with Shari Lacy of GoodStuff PR in Franklin TN to handle the promotion of my new Christmas album “That’s What I Love About Christmas”. Shari has vast experience in publicity and is well respected in the field. We first met back in 2003 when she was on the staff at IBMA. Shari gave me lots of good advice regarding promotion of my 1st Christmas album “The Season Of My Heart”.

Shari is a great resource and has been a big help preparing for the upcoming release.GoodStuffPR

Jan 17, 2017
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New Website

Posted: January 17, 2017

As you might have noticed, we’ve got us a brand new website and music identity: Thanks to my good friends at CatchFire Creative for the great work on the new design and look. Much simpler and easier to navigate. Added several new features, which I hope you find to your liking. Will be updating more frequently, hoping you come back to visit more often.

Nov 28, 2016
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2016 Christmas Concert Tour

Posted: November 28, 2016

The Holiday Season is right around the corner, that means preparing for our annual Christmas Concert Tour. Now in its 13th year, we will be playing five concerts in three states. The show features The Blackstone Valley Bluegrass Band, Amy Gallatin & Roger Williams, and Rick Lang & Friends (featuring Karen Lincoln Wilber). All the shows are held in churches and have pretty much played to packed houses the last few years. We spend most of November rehearsing, and working in new material to keep the show fresh.
The tours beginnings go back to 2003 when I released my first Christmas CD “The Season Of My Heart”. The material consisted of all original Christmas/Seasonal songs I had written over the previous eight years. Bob Dick produced the album, who two years earlier had released his own solo Bluegrass Christmas CD “Tidings Of Comfort And Joy”. We decided we should put together a show to promote our respective releases. The initial concert featured The Blackstone Valley Bluegrass Band and Rick Lang & Friends (Bob Dick, Dave Dick, Roger Williams, Karen Lincoln and myself). We played at the Northbridge High School in Northbridge MA, and the Performing Arts Center in Stratham NH that first season.
After two years both venues ended and we needed to find a new place to bring our show. Bob made an arrangement to try it out in his church (Rockdale Congregational Church) in Northbridge MA, and it went over very well. I tried the same approach with my church in Brentwood NH with similar success. Meanwhile Amy Gallatin joined the show, expanding it to three acts. This helped broaden out the scope of material we could perform and things really took off from there. I continued to write new Christmas/Seasonal material to keep my part of the show fresh. This in turn led to the recording of my new Holiday album “That’s What I Love About Christmas”. Over time, interest in our Christmas Concert Tour continued to grow, and we added new venues in Glastonbury CT, Boxborough MA, and most recently Newburyport MA. The key the increased popularity of the Christmas Concert Tour is putting on a quality show year after year, which is why we spend the entire month of November rehearsing and working up new material. It is really a lot of fun and hope we can keep it going!

Oct 17, 2016
  • Comments Off on Song Pitching

Song Pitching

Posted: October 17, 2016

With autumn at hand, comes heightened song pitching activity. For the most part, late fall/early winter is when a lot of Bluegrass bands and artists choose to record new projects. Accordingly this is the time of year when bands are looking for and sorting through material. October/November is when I check around to see who is still looking, and put my song pitching hat on. That being said, in the last decade or so it had been increasingly difficult to get song cuts. Many of today’s bands write a lot of their own material, which in turn lessens the need for outside sources. Also the number of writers pitching their catalog has grown over time. It is a very competitive process, and most of the top bands sort through hundreds of songs to select the few they will actually record. What that means is that your own songs need to be really good, as well as being appropriate for the artist you have in mind. As for me, this is motivation to write the very best songs you can.
For the most part I pitch songs to bands/artists I know and have a relationship with. You have to be patient, as this can be a very slow process. Even if a band likes one of your songs, it might not be a good fit for their current project. However there is always the possibility they might consider it for a future recording….you just never know. I think a lot of us tend to be pitching our newest songs, but we should never give up on some of our earlier compositions. A good example of this is that I just got an album title cut “Nightbird” by The Bankesters. This is a song I actually wrote 23 years ago. This is validation that you should never give up on a song if you really believe in it. Persistence rules!
Song pitching is sort of like fishing. Got to have your bait on the hook and your line in the water to have a chance of landing one!

Sep 16, 2016
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IBMA Songwriter Committee

Posted: September 16, 2016

I’ve been fortunate to be on the IBMA Songwriter Committee for the last few years. It’s been a very rewarding experience for me personally, as we have accomplished a great deal to the benefit of our songwriter constituency. One of the most noteworthy was establishing an IBMA Songwriter Of The Year Award which is presented each year at the IBMA World Of Bluegrass. We also created the Songwriter Mentor Program. This is an opportunity for songwriters to be mentored by some of the most seasoned and accomplished songwriters in the Bluegrass genre.
The IBMA Songwriter Committee, over time, has significantly increased its presence at the IBMA World Of Bluegrass. At this year’s WOB we have nine Songwriter-Centric seminars/ events that will benefit songwriters, a breakdown as follows:

Publishing 101
Creating Well With Others
Turning Writers Block Into A Steppingstone
Musical Theatre For Bluegrass Songwriters
Song Critique Session
Getting Cuts And Getting Paid
Songwriter Showcase

Jul 16, 2016
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Preparing for Podunk

Posted: July 16, 2016

This August will be my first opportunity to teach songwriting at the Podunk Bluegrass Festival in Hebron CT, and am really looking forward to it. I had never actually been able to attend the festival previously as each year it conflicted with an annual summer family event. Back in February at the Joe Val Indoor Bluegrass Festival Roger Moss approached me about conducting a two day Songwriting Workshop at Podunk this summer and the idea really appealed to me. I have held workshops at music festivals in the past including Thomas Point Beach and Joe Val among others, but I never really had ample time to cover everything I had hoped to discuss. At Podunk I would teach two 1 1/2 hour workshops (on consecutive days), allowing me to cover a wide range of songwriter related topics.
Accordingly, I have been spending a little time each week game planning and preparing for Podunk. That includes writing an agenda for both days, creating handouts, choosing and rehearsing songs to play, making a list of things to bring etc. As always my goal first and foremost is to share important elements of songwriting I have learned over the years. As there will be some writers who are new at it, as well as some more experienced, I need to offer something to both.
The first day will be more covering some of the fundamentals like identifying the elements of a good song, developing good songwriting habits, saving your ideas, making time to write etc.
The second day we will focus on taking your songwriting skills to the next level, including re-writing, discipline, the value of co-writing, developing your own unique songwriting style, song demos, pitching songs and more. At both I will play a few songs, or pats if songs, that connect with the particular topic we’re discussing.
I really enjoy meeting and interacting with other writers at the workshops. In addition to the rewards of helping others, I always learn some new things along the way. Only wish workshops like this were available when I first became interested in songwriting some 30 years ago.