Mark Cutler, Songwriter-in-Residence
Mark Cutler is a Rhode Island resident, New England music legend, and founder of The Same Thing Project, one of the first organizations in the United States dedicated to community songwriting. The Project believes everyone is a songwriter, and that music is at the root of some of life’s best emotions, especially when experienced together. Its workshops include people from all walks of life - musicians, non-musicians, artists, retired folks, people with disabilities, and blue and white collar workers. The same joy, laughter, and tears are experienced by all, with each contribution from each songwriter, however small, having the same importance...as former strangers create community and co-write an original song.
Mark is an inductee in the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame for his work with the bands The Schemers and Raindogs and his solo work. The Schemers received national exposure on MTV after winning WBCN-Boston’s legendary Rock & Roll Rumble. Mark’s work with Raindogs included experimental collaborations with Iggy Pop and the actor Harry Dean Stanton and Raindogs toured nationally with the likes of Bob Dylan, Don Henley, and Warren Zevon. In 2014, Mark wrote the soundtrack for a PBS documentary about George Washington and Gilbert Stuart.
What are the benefits of collaborating?
I love when the “third thing” happens. For me, it occurs in songwriting when two or more people collaborate on a lyric, a song or an idea and something new is made, something that wouldn’t have happened if these folks didn’t get together.
I’m not a religious person but I like to describe that third thing as the place where “Goddess” or “God” resides. When two or more people collaborate on a song, things get really interesting. A question triggers a word which leads to a place where a line to a verse is waiting for a song.
Collaborating isn’t easy for some folks. It wasn’t easy for me for the longest time. It was hard to set aside what my ego needed. But if you go into a situation with a clear and open mind and accept ideas as part of conversations, you’d be surprised at what you can accomplish. It’s committing to the outcome without getting too attached to your specific input. It takes practice but you can develop that collaborative muscle in less time than you’d think. I still need to write some songs alone but the collaborative exercise has given me insight on how to get to the fishing spot where the songs are swimming.