At the last CMN conference I met the GRAMMY nominated/singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Zak Morgan from Cincinnati Ohio. He not only shared songs with us, but also his PA system. Zak is a very imaginative lyricist with a great sense of humor and intelligent wordsmith. He is known for sophisticated lyrics and vocabulary builders that teachers love because they encourage reading, writing, and using imagination. He has successfully built his own niche in the last two decades. While visiting his website I found complete lesson plans and literature study guides. Zak shared with me he was encouraged to create study guides early on in his career, and they have evolved over time.
For Tuneful Tuesdays here is a beautiful and touching song by Zak Morgan titled Let Me In, which he shared at the CMN conference. One of the reasons I selected the song “Let Me In” is because it transcends age. It is as powerful for adults as it is for children. It has a moving melody as well as memorable lyrics. It sticks with the listener long after the song is over, and is a definite discussion opener for children regarding Social Emotional Learning topics such as self esteem, confidence, guilt, and love.
I had the opportunity to ask Zak about “Let Me In”. which is on The Barber of The Beasts CD.
Susan: What was the inspiration for “Let Me In”?
Zak: It ended up feeling very personal and it’s the only time I’ve ever had tears in my eyes while writing. I want the listener to be able to interpret the lyric in a variety of ways. When I was writing it, I was thinking back to an experience I had in the first grade. My cousin and I had been playing with a lighter in the woods behind his subdivision and I accidentally started a fire. A five alarm fire. Thank God no houses were damaged and no one was hurt. The weight of guilt and the fear of confessing was overwhelming. Finally, after a month that seemed like eternity, I woke my mom up before dawn and confessed. She hugged me and I can still remember weeping when I realized I was still loved. It was a tremendous sense of relief. She told me she had known all along. I still get teary eyed when I think about it. I hope the song might give a person carrying a similar burden of guilt or despair the courage to confide in a loved one.
I have very clear memories of my early childhood, more so than middle school or high school. That may be why I relate to young kids very naturally and empathize with them.
Susan: How did you go about writing this one? Was it melody driven? Did you hear it musically? Or was it the lyric that first came to you?
Zak: This song seemed to write itself. I had been playing with a melody that ended up being the intro and tag of the song. Once l started with the lyrics they came very quickly, almost as if I wasn’t the one doing the writing.They literally poured out of me. There wasn’t much process with this one, I just hung onto my hat. Or pen.
Susan: How did the video come about? It’s in a beautiful and artistic venue. How did you choose the venue?
Zak: The video was shot at The Monastery in Cincinnati. It’s an old church that has been turned into a recording studio and concert hall. (Sidenote * This recoding studio belongs to Ric Hordinski who is a long time collaborator with Zak.) …..Zak continued …..Bob Mills (millsfilms.com) made four great music videos for me and I will continue to work with him. He is a kind soul, very talented and a lot of fun to work with.
Susan: With the emotion of the song, It appears authentic and sincere with you simply sitting at the piano. It’s as if you are inviting the listener into your living room (minus couches and chairs) to share a message. Did you consider any story lines?
Zak: Initially I didn’t think of doing a video with a story line for Let Me In but it has crossed my mind recently that it might be fun to make a second video for the same song depicting my own personal story.
Susan: The song hits the theme of what I had thought about earlier……a good song transcends age. This is a song for all ages, kids and adults alike. Did you have an audience in mind when you wrote it?
Zak: I did want it to be for all ages. The narrator could be a parent talking to a child, or a spouse talking to a spouse, or God talking to a person. I really didn’t have an audience in mind, but I knew it was going to be on a children’s album.
Thanks Zak for sharing your song with us. I read in another interview that Zak did, “If you had one line to live by what would it be?” Zak said, “Follow the Golden Rule.” Many of his songs share this message. Zak Morgan has produced 4 Children’s CDs, 1 Adult Christmas CD, and 1 DVD. He has a packed calendar with performances at schools, libraries, and festivals throughout the country. We are fortunate to have talented Zak Morgan amidst our members….he’s a treasure, a wealth of knowledge, and a very kind human who has Let Us In.
Article by CMN Blog Team writer Susan Picking