Now on the tail-end of a series of shows which brought the Des Moines-based musician out to the east coast, Dan Tedesco will be returning to Iowa for a performance this weekend at the Village Theatre in Davenport. For this edition of “Singled Out,” Dan checked in from the road to discuss his recent singled titled, “You Want Me To Stay (But I Have To Go).” Releasing an alternate version of the track this week, the song takes inspiration from watching his children grow, letting go of one stage of life while at the same time grabbing a hold of the next, all in support of painting a visual scene ripe with push and pull contradiction. This is where the discussion began, digging further into the concept of drawing creative inspiration from non-musical sources.
villin: In speaking with Tony Dehner of Iowa Public Radio earlier this year, you said, “These days, I probably pull more from film and other art media, like painters or photography, even food and cooking. Those things almost inspire me to write more than listening to other music.” How do those kinds of influences affect your music, and are there any relevant non-musical sources that inspired “You Want Me To Stay (But I Have To Go)”?
Dan Tedesco: Often times I find myself relating screenplays to songwriting. In that sense, the music acts almost like a score. Ultimately, I want to do more than present and melody and a set of words. I want to actually put the listener inside of a particular world. My work tends to have a very cinematic quality, as a result. I strive for musical textures that develop and grow like a storyboard, and have depth/dimension. Again, it goes back to the idea of placing the listener in a place with the music and characters. If I’ve accomplished that, I’ve done my job.
villin: Lyrically, the song reveals a push and pull, reflecting a stubborn necessity for change to play out. What was in your mind when constructing the idea around contrasting wanting to stay, or wanting another to stay, but not being able to do so?
Dan Tedesco: I think that contradiction is a major foundation of life, itself. My direct motivation for the song was the process of watching my kids grow up. They are constantly moving through stages of development, saying goodbye and hello to new phases of life. We are all going through those kinds of transitions, whether it’s within ourselves or within each other. The arrow of time points in one direction and you try and absorb as much of the moment as you can before it passes. And, I think, more importantly, we try to stay excited and curious for the unknown adventures of the new day.
villin: Did you write and record the track on your own, and are there any trends you find when thinking about whether a song might be better served by incorporating performance or production from outside collaborators?
Dan Tedesco: I did write and record this particular track entirely on my own. I’ve collaborated plenty in the past with regard to recording and production, and have done so even fairly recently, but I had a very clear idea of what I was after with this track — so I just knocked it out.
villin: The song was released as a stand-alone track, as several others have over the course of this past year. Is there any thought about releasing this song as part of a larger album or collection, be it through standard channels or something like your DTMC (the Dan Tedesco Music Channel)?
Dan Tedesco: At one time, I did think this could be a part of a larger record. I do have a project in the works that matches the tone and vibe, but ultimately I felt this song is very complete in its story and production. For me it serves as a wonderful stand-alone single. I am releasing an alternate acoustic version, and have plans to put out a solo piano take on the song. The DTMC has given me an opportunity to go even deeper into the inspirations behind the song, as well as the production process of putting it all together in the studio.