Interview: Michael Logen

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I have to confess—I’m not a crier; some have questioned whether or not I even have tear ducts. However, when I saw the Folgers Coffee television commercial entitled “Coach”, which premiered during the Opening Ceremony of this year’s Olympic Games and featured the song “Couldn’t Ask For A Better Friend” by Nashville songwriter Michael Logen, I was a blubbering mess.

“I am honored. That’s the highest compliment a songwriter can get!” exclaims Logen, whose songs have been recorded by Mat Kearney, Jonny Lang, Will Hoge, Sister Hazel, and Kelly Clarkson, to name a few. “I wrote the song with a good friend of mine; there are so many love songs out there, it’s hard to capture the sentiment of friendship without it being super cheesy, so we decided to write a song about friendship, it was our quest.”

Logen, whose mother is a lifelong Folgers drinker, was ecstatic to learn that “Couldn’t Ask For A Better Friend” was going to be used in the commercial, and was even more surprised the see it air during the Olympics—icing on the cake.

Interestingly enough, watching television had been a foreign concept for Logen, who grew up in a Mennonite household in northern Pennsylvania helping his grandparents farm their land. “My mom was one of 19 children, and my dad was one of 8. Our extended family is enormous, and a very beautiful one to be part of,” he says. “Music was always there; my dad would play Johnny Cash songs and Merle Haggard songs. Music was a gateway to the outside world for me, and I was very grateful for it.”

In some Mennonite circles, even owning a guitar would have been frowned upon, but Logen’s earliest memories are of learning to play so he could join in on family jam sessions. “We didn’t have a t.v., so what else was there to do?” he laughs. “We had a car and electricity, we had a radio, but we didn’t have a television. I’d say my parents were progressive, and were very open. My dad encouraged us to travel to see the world, to see how other people do things.”

While earning his college degree in Nashville, Logen learned that it was possible to earn a living by making music. “When I graduated, I worked in the ticket booth at a parking garage; I would bring my guitar with me, and write songs in the booth when it was slow,” he recalls. His hard work paid off, he signed a publishing deal, and the rest is history.

“Most of the songs I sing, I write alone,” he continues. “Sometimes it just feels like the song is meant for someone else. Pretty early on, I realized that sometimes I want to say something from a perspective that isn’t necessarily my perspective, it might even be from a female perspective. I’ll get an idea for a song and think, ‘Oh my gosh, I can hear Alison Krauss singing this one,’ It’s a really fun creative thing I get to do.”

Logan released his latest album, New Medicine, this June, which features collaborations with Kim Richey, Liz Longley, and Ruby Amanfu. “I had been receiving messages and emails from people about how my songs helped them through a tough time, or soothed them, and I began to realize the healing power of music,” Logen explains of the album’s title. Now Logen, who proudly owns a 47-inch television, is playing shows around Nashville, preparing to tour in Europe this fall, and everyday, he surrenders himself to the muse. “I have to write music every day,” he says. “I’m already working on the next record.”

Purchase New Medicinehttp://michaellogen.bandcamp.com/album/new-medicine

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Susan Hubbard

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