The little red line is what artist James Tealy loves the most about being a musician.
He remembers when he was a child watching Indiana Jones movies and being fascinated by the iconic travel scene at the beginning. That line always led to a new adventure, a new destination and a new challenge.
“My favorite part of all this is not being on stage or hearing one of my songs on the radio. The coolest part to me is the little red line – the sense of adventure,” Tealy said.
With a background in music and a master’s in Christian education, Tealy has been able to combine the two as a songwriter in Nashville, Tenn. He works for Centricity Music, an independent, family owned, full-service music company, as a staff writer during the weekday.
Tealy has learned that living in Music City means he has to recognize his own talent and find his own specific area of giftedness.
“Nashville is a unique town in that there are literally top-notch musicians bringing you pasta at Olive Garden and checking you out at the gas station,” he said. “Everyone who has come to this town is a stellar musician .… My focus has always been as a lyric writer.”
Inspiration is a key factor in the process of writing a song. Tealy is constantly searching for that one big key idea that is worth building a whole song around.
He uses an app called Evernote on his iPhone to record titles, hook-lines, lyrics and thoughts that pop into his head throughout the day to use when he arrives at a meeting.
“As a staff song writer, it means that I have to be ready to write, to do the disciplined act of crafting a song at any given point,” he said. “When somebody brings me in to co-write, they are bringing me in because they expect me to focus on finding a great way to say things.”
Tealy not only writes lyrics for musicians, but he also performs his own pieces on college campuses and at youth camps and concerts around the world.
His favorite memory of being on the road was playing in the Himalayas right after an earthquake.
The band set up on the side of the road outside of a college campus and within 30 minutes of playing, a crowd of a couple hundred had gathered around requesting songs like “Beat It” by Michael Jackson.
“There was a giant language barrier, but we were speaking this kind of international language of music,” he said.
“I’ve been to some really remarkable places to sing and write … strapping my guitar on my back to head to wherever. That’s my favorite part.”