Bryan Harwell

I'm just an average joe…

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Old Maple Tree (Story Behind The Song)


Behind the house where I grew up, there were two maple trees. Under and between those trees, my brother and I played for our entire childhoods. The swingset was under these trees. The picnic table was under these trees. The basketball goal was set up between these trees. One of these trees was one that had a low branch that I climbed all the time. Many good times were had under these trees.

I wanted to write a song about a tree. It was a challenge that I had given myself as a songwriter. When I thought of the trees at my childhood home, the song practically wrote itself.

This song is about childhood memories, growing up, and growing old. All of these are things that everyone goes through. I hope you can relate.

On this song, you will hear two guitars, harmonica, and vocals. All performed by yours truly. Enjoy!

Click here to listen and download “Old Maple Tree.”

Posted January 20th, 2014.

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Here We Go Again (Story Behind The Song)


This song was written by my brother, Phil Harwell. He had given me a CD with some song demos on it. After listening to this song, I told him that he wrote a “Bryan Harwell” song. This song is similar to “Who Broke All The Crayons” (from my album “Work), as it repeats over and over.

I really like this song and this is the first time I’ve recorded and released one of Phil’s songs on one of my albums. I hope to do more of his songs in the future. He is a great songwriter.

The song itself is about getting into a rut. That kind of thing is what I’ve talked about in other songs I’ve written. We all get stuck in ruts in our lives. The only thing we can really do is try to cope with them and move along. Just take a break and play it again.

On this song, I’m on guitar, bass, and vocals.

This song is dedicated to my brother Phil Harwell. Thanks bro!

Click here to listen and download “Here We Go Again.”

Posted January 13th, 2014.

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I Love My Wife (Story Behind The Song)


A few years ago, I was trying to write a song, but didn’t really have the inspiration to write.  I was just trying to come up with a good idea.  My wife walked into my office at home and asked me what I was doing.  I told her that I was trying to come up with an idea for a song.  She said “Why don’t you write ‘I Love My Wife?'”  Well, that was just what I needed, a brilliant idea.

I wrote this song and recorded a demo version of it onto a CD, which I gave to my wife on Valentine’s Day that year.  She loved it!  I knew then that I needed to record a full version of this song for one of my albums.

The recording of the song was difficult, since I wanted a unique sound for the recording.  I had the guitar/vocal demo, but the song needed something special.  That’s when I thought of the keyboard.

There is a musical inspiration for this song.  The Monkees album “Headquarters” has a lot of stuff like this on it.  This could be a song Davy might have sung on that album.  You might put this song in the lineup of that album in place of “Mr. Webster.”  Or, maybe between “Mr. Webster” and “Sunny Girlfriend.”  If you’re not familiar with this album, you should be.  Go find it and listen to it.  It’s great!

On this song, you will hear me on guitar, keyboards, maracas, and vocals.  A typical arrangement that would make Douglas Farthing Hatlelid proud, as well as Mike, Micky, Davy, and Peter.

This song is dedicated to Holly Harwell (my wife) and the late great Davy Jones.

Click here to listen and download “I Love My Wife.”

Posted January 6th, 2014.

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What Happened (They Took It All Away) (Story Behind The Song)


In 2009, the powers that be turned off the analog television signals that had been on since 1946. I must say that it affected me. Most people were not affected, since they have been on cable since the 1980s. Cable television never came to my area. I was still using rabbit ears to watch television. In fact, it was three years later when I finally bought a digital rooftop antenna and brought television back into my home.

That’s the way it’s been with music, television and movies. The formats are always constantly changing. If you don’t keep up, you will be left behind with nothing. I finally had to get rid of all of my VHS tapes, because the quality of VCRs being produced was horrible. They are not holding up. Besides, the old tapes were deteriorating and I knew I needed to switch to DVD.

By the time I switched to DVD, investing a lot of money in old movies and shows, Blue-Ray came along. I’m not ready to switch formats again. In fact, I see no point in changing to another format after changing to this one. That’s when this whole format thing enters into the realm of the ridiculous.

I haven’t even talked about audio formats. We’ve went through LP’s, 8-tracks, cassettes, CD’s, and downloads. Arguably, the best sound comes from the vinyl LP. The worst format is the 8-track. Cassettes are great, but they tend to wear out. The most versatile format is the CD. Downloads are the most convenient for many people. Each format has its pros and cons, but why so many formats? It really doesn’t make a lot of sense.

This song is about trying to cope with all of these format changes. It isn’t easy, but we can manage. The ultimate question asked in this song is “What Happened?” I still don’t understand it. I’m just trying to keep my collection of old movies and old music. It’s difficult when I have to keep buying them over and over again.

On this song, you will hear me on guitar, bass, drums, harmonica, and vocals. Enjoy!

Click here to listen and download “What Happened (They Took It All Away).”

Posted December 30th, 2013.

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Midnight Special (Story Behind The Song)


I like old blues songs. This is one that I have heard covered by several artists. The version that I’m most familiar with is the one by Leadbelly. I also have this song sung by Andy Griffith. Those two versions are miles apart. I think mine falls somewhere between them.

I was going for something more on the acoustic side. You might imagine three or four guys sitting on the front porch singing this song. That was the inspiration for the musical side of this recording.

I started to get a little more innovative with my music. I wanted to try different things, as I’m always searching for new and different sounds. That’s where the banjo part came in.

I was watching “Saturday Night Live” a while back and I saw Paul McCartney performing with Nirvana. While that’s monumental enough, I noticed something interesting. Paul McCartney was playing a cigar box guitar and using a slide. After thinking about that, I decided that I could do the same thing on my banjo. And the slide banjo was born!

I really enjoyed playing this song and I hope to do more songs like this in the future. I hope you enjoy listening to it, as much as I enjoyed playing it.

On this recording, that’s me on 12-string guitar, the aforementioned slide banjo, harmonica, and vocals. Enjoy!

Click here to listen and download “Midnight Special.”

Posted December 23rd, 2013.

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It Happened Once (Story Behind The Song)


The idea for this song is an ongoing problem. In our world, we all get busy and forget to follow up on things. Many times we get caught up and forget to continue things. This even happened to me a few times.

Several years ago, before I started dating the woman who would become my wife, I dated a few girls that I only took out one time. There was nothing wrong with them. I never sat down and said “I’ll never date her again.” It was nothing like that. It was just me not following up and asking them out again. Sometimes, I was so busy that I just forgot all about them.

I suppose it was insensitivity on my part, but I never gave it much thought until several years later. That was when I wrote this song. The point of the song is a reminder for us to take the time to stop and smell the roses. Take a little extra time in your life to consider other people’s feelings.

I wanted a good, clean, crisp sound on the recording. I was going for a perfect pop/rock song about lost love. I suppose I pulled that off to a certain degree. Anyway, if you can relate to this song, then my mission is accomplished.

On this song, I play guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. Enjoy!

Click here to listen and download “It Happened Once.”

Posted December 16th, 2013.

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Black Days (Story Behind The Song)


The idea for the song “Black Days” came from something my Daddy used to do. Every time he got a new calendar for a year, he would black out certain days. I asked him about this one time and he told me that they were black days. I never really understood it until later on, when I was in high school, I actually had some really bad days and I blacked them out on my own calendar. But I eventually got over that and went on with my life.

A few years ago, I was working for a major corporation that, due to the “buddy system” had, in fact, promoted someone ahead of me that was very much less qualified than me. But he was best friends with the boss. Some of this was reflected in my song “Average Joe.” I took it one step further with this song. I had some really bad days (black days) working at that place and that’s what this song is all about.

My reaction to what was going on around me really affected me to the point that I had completely lost myself. I lost who I was. I felt like I was losing my identity, as well as my religion (I missed several worship services due to having to work every Sunday.). In deep despair, I wrote down the lyrics to this song.

A few years later, I returned to these lyrics and tried to make a song out of them. After a few attempts, I got something that I’m very happy with. In fact, the title was just too good to pass up for the album title. So, here is my title track.

The techniques used on this recording make it sound like an old cassette. Yes, it’s like an old 1988 rock song from the original cassette. Cassettes were the first way I learned to listen to music. I eventually abandoned them in favor of the LP and, to a certain degree, the CD. Perhaps I’m 25 years too late on this song, but that doesn’t matter if you like it right now.

I hope you will enjoy this song time and time again. Everyone has “Black Days,” but this song will help you cope with them. Hey, it helped me to cope with them.

Oh, and that’s me on guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. Enjoy!

Click here to listen and download the song “Black Days.”

Posted December 9th, 2013.

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