Songwriter Walt Hoagland of Laurens and Surfside Beach is rarely without pencil and paper.
“You might come across a turn of phrase or a sign or something that is the germination of a song,” Hoagland said. “One time, I came across this chalkboard sign in front of a bar during bike week in the Myrtle Beach area. The sign read: Live music. Free parking. Hot girls and ice cold beer. And I said, ‘There’s a song in that.’”
Hoagland recently released a CD of 11 original Christmas songs, all copyrighted. He describes the recording as a country/Americana album. It’s titled, “Christmas Songs are Christmas Stories”.
“The whole thing is fun,” Hoagland said, of telling stories through song. “That’s why I do it. And, I have written a lot of songs. ... It keeps me very happy and very busy.”
Hoagland, 72, was born in New Jersey and has lived all over the United States. Now, calls Laurens and Surfside Beach home.
Playing music has been a part of his working life, as well as radio broadcasting and journalism.
“Several years ago, I got serious about getting with a music publisher,” Hoagland said. “That’s my main interest these days. Let the publisher place the songs with the appropriate established artist.”
Part of Hoagland’s songwriting method is to determine the rhyming pattern at the end of song lyric lines and figure out how to make each line convey want he wants.
He said got his first guitar at age 9 and has played that instrument and others, since. Hoagland has been in several bands and got into songwriting after high school.
“After high school, I was in several folk-rock bands and managed to connect with, accidentally, a music house in New York that produced jingles for radio and TV ads,” Hoagland said, noting he also did work for documentary film tracks and other commercial endeavors.
In a release about the new album, Hoagland said songs are about times we are living and “the enduring story of the Christmas miracle and celebrations.”
Visit walthoagland.bandcamp.com to listen free or download songs. The album costs $10.
Hoagland plays guitar, drums, keyboard and sings vocals. Friend Ed Dennis helped him out on additional guitar work and outside musicians helped with keys and other instruments.
Don’t let the country category scare you. Hoagland’s songwriting style is very country-rock-esque, with an almost vintage Eagles feel and tempo.
Hoagland describes, “I Hope I Make It Through Another Christmas” and “Grown Up Christmas Toys For Me” as up-tempo humorous songs currently being played the most.
“I Hope I Make It Through Another Christmas” should get some listener laughs with lyrics about a buddy who’s in the doghouse after gifting his spouse with a vacuum cleaner.
“On A Cold And Snowy Christmas Eve” has a “Silent Night” hint of ancient teachings in our modern world. “The Best Christmas I Ever Had” is about school bullying and lessons learned. Other titles are: “We Need To Take Good Care Of Christmas,” “I Heard A Christmas Song I’ll Always Remember,” “The Christmas Cards” and “Let’s Have An Old Time Christmas.”
“I’ll Be Going Home For Christmas” tells a three-generation story of Christmas and war. “It Started Snowing In New Mexico” is a Christmas love story and the allure of the rodeo. “It Was The Night After Christmas” is a longing for a far away love.
“Every year,” Hoagland says, “I look for and listen to new Christmas music. In past years artists including Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Alabama, Mariah Carey, Kacey Musgraves and others have written and performed Christmas songs that became favorites.”
Songs for Hoagland can be about almost any subject, from relationships to making Christmas cards.
The new album was recorded in a small, private studio in North Myrtle Beach.
Hoagland began his songwriting in New York City co-writing commercial jingles, documentary film tracks and original songs in a folk-rock group with Columbia Records. He has written more than one hundred songs.