When living in Nashville, its more than likely you’ve come to experience A LOT of writer’s rounds, songwriter’s sets, house shows, and the like. Some are wonderful, others are trying to say the least, but in the end, it is an inevitability of living in “Music City, USA.”
These settings make for a fascinating study in the vast array of humanity, in the same sense that a county fair or parade would, but with creators and “dreamers.” Hit up any sort of songwriter’s round, and you’re bound to find every conceivable walk of life - some sing about vague champagne dreams, others, lurid and seemingly fictitious accounts of gonzo writing, and even still, others make genuine offertory appeals. All in all, songwriting is a three hundred and sixty degree experience, and it’s subsequent showcases are much of the same.
That being said, in attending an inordinate amount of songwriter’s rounds, house shows, sets, etc., the more perceptive among might begin to pick up on the similitude in leitmotifs and themes.
Sure, love or the lack thereof will forever be a cornerstone of songwriting at one point or another, but other recurrent (Nashville) themes include “not needing nobody” or some version of that sentiment, good time having, appeals to mother, and, my personal (least) favorite, the aforementioned “champagne dreaming.” The concept of champagne as an emblem of achieving one’s dreams has always struck me as one of the most laughable songwriting tropes in Nashville. If champagne is the only sensible barometer of contentment in one’s life journey, then your life’s journey is almost certainly askew.
Now, I’m aware that it might sound as though we’re diving head first into a diatribe against poor songwriting and the laughable vagaries of weak writing, but we’re not. These general songwriting cliches are brought up for a purpose that is twofold, first of which is the fact that most of those “champagne dreaming” writers are almost always the most insufferable members of any writer’s round (a little dramatic, I know, but still…).
Secondly, they’re typically the weakest of their respective lot, at least in terms of literary chops (otherwise, they’re almost always the most brawny), because again, champagne as an indicator of success is grossly overused - yes, it is an allegory for “you never thought I’d make it this far,” but goodness gracious, can’t we find some other sort of libation to waste when mocking our doubters?
Anyway, all this circuitous harping is to say that in the ever expanding and increasingly uniform world of songwriting, outliers of charm and written ingenuity are becoming fewer and further between. Or so it would seem. There is something decidedly cannibalistic when it comes to the sheer volume of bad songwriters out there, but in doing so, it clears a viable pathway for someone decidedly good, and ultimately deserving.
Someone like Thomas Csorba.
Hailing from Texas, Csorba made his way up to Nashville to open for the beloved (and equally gifted) songwriter, Charlie Whitten. Despite hailing from the Lone Star state, Csorba is not red dirt, in fact, he’s far from (refreshingly so). He’s disarmingly charming, and incredibly affable - to the point that the two women behind me took a moment to whisper just how “sweet” and “adorable” Csorba was after every song. Now, I’d like to redact those rather reductive descriptors in my view of Csorba, but there is something to such a fact.
Something I’ve always found to be increasingly important amongst songwriters is a sense of approachability. Writer’s rounds can be an intimidating endeavor for all parties involved, and the thought of the songwriter as a lone troubadour is a continually romanticized notion that in turn perpetuates this sense of unapproachability, but not with Csorba. Prior to finishing his opening set, he invited any and all to come and say hello, which isn’t necessarily a new practice in live music, however, with Csorba, you believe it to be true.
There’s plenty about Csorba that pushes against the grain of what we’ve established in earlier passages - he’s approachable, affable, and more than capable as a songwriter. In fact, his songwriting is something rather remarkable, as his banter offers insight into the origins of certain songs written about anime or featuring a line about spaghetti, not because they’re universal truths that needed to be written from a place of catharsis, but rather, from a place of sheer ability and entertainment.
That’s not to discount Csorba’s writing in general as a Madlibs initiative, but simply a manner of highlighting that not only does Csorba’s writing feature the connective soothsaying that escapes most young songwriters, but it also showcases an ability to inject some personality - a little charm - into the songs. In short, Csorba is a rare breed that has become increasingly absent among songwriters, much less Nashville. Texas is lucky to claim him, and we were fortunate to have him stop in town, if only for a day, but something tells me this won’t be this last time Csorba stops in to charm us again.