Despite the chilly autumn air, the comforting serenades of an acoustic guitar warmed The Journal house.
Jeremy Keyton, ArtSci ’24, performed an original song and three covers at the Journal house on Oct. 23. Along with his performance was a deep dive into the musician’s musical background and why he loves to play.
With what appeared to be an absence of nerves, Keyton began his set with John Mayer’s difficult fingerpicking tune, “Stop This Train”, featured on his album Continuum.
Keyton noted his love for the song came from the message behind Mayer’s lyrics, where Mayer reflects on growing older and wishes for the ability to stop time to appreciate life in the moment.
“I love that idea because it’s very grounding that whenever I do hear it, I think maybe I’m rushing through life and [I] need to slow it down and appreciate the moment,” Keyton said.
The next song on his repertoire was a groovy Keyton original titled “Rolling Stone.”
Inspired by legendary Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” Keyton’s “Rolling Stone” was released in 2020, as Keyton’s first published single. While Dylan’s song was about a traveling musician, Keyton said he wrote “Rolling Stone” as his own take on musical hero Dylan’s song.-writing
“The idea of a Rolling Stone is someone who’s like—at least in the context of that song [Dylan’s song]—a traveling musician. Never in one place at the same time, and always bouncing around. And I thought about what would it be like to be in a relationship with someone like that,” he said.
Both Keyton’s track and live performance featured consistent instrumental soft rock sounds accompanied by punchy lyrics about knowing you won’t be able to tie down a girl who’s unwilling to stay in one place.
The song isn’t based on Keyton’s personal experience. As a 15-year-old, he felt uninspired from a lack of personal life experience.
“That was an attempt to not take personal experience, but write songs that are fiction. It’s freeing to write songs to create a story about someone that isn’t you and you can decide their feelings and their lives,” Keyton said.
Given his experience, Keyton has a surprising absence of musical background from his upbringing. Keyton’s love for music and development as an artist took place at Four Winds * Westward Ho music camp.
“In my family, nobody played music. It was a bit of an unconventional journey,” he said. “My family wasn’t involved in music, I had to find music elsewhere. When I found it, it really got a hold of me.”
Keyton’s next song was a cover of country singer Zach Bryan’s hit, “Something in the Orange.”. Afterwards, he spoke about the emotional impact music has had on his life. According to Keyton, he loves music because it’s always been a constant in his life.
“Music is a consistent thing. If you’re happy, you can play music. If you’re sad, you can feel your emotions through the music. The idea that things can come and go, but music will always be something that’s a part of my identity, and what makes me happy.”
To close the repertoire, Keyton brought childhood nostalgia with his cover of Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down,” most popularly known from Curious George.
Keyton said he loves performing live and highlighted the Tea Room’s open mic night as quite memorable. He said the event was full of individuals interested in music, with their own unique passions, journeys, and stories. The experience brought a group of students together who all shared the same love for music and performing.
Keyton found confidence through performing live after being thrust in front of 400 people as a 13-year-old to perform at summer camp. He said it made him who he is today, and that live performances should continue to be cherished.
“Part of music is something that needs to be shared. I think [the] live experience is especially important for musicians because you can get that personal experience and you can see the expressions on people’s faces if you know you’re playing something that’s meaningful to them,” Keyton said.
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