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20 Nov 09 Greenville Doctor Also a Very Talented Songwriter

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(Editor’s note: Matt Koger will perform Saturday night at the Blue Armadillo Winery, in Greenville.)

Every songwriter’s journey is different. Some of us write songs very early in life. Others often stumble across the art in the midst of living their lives.  For Matt Koger, music did not happen immediately. First he became a doctor.

The Greenville native can be found in his doctor’s office during the week, and in various performing venues during the weekend. Between that, he has found time to record two CD’s.

“My interest was first in writing in general,” Koger said. “I have always enjoyed writing and good writers. I picked up a guitar at 30, with hopes of giving my children some musical influence. The writing was a natural progression that I had never considered. My first song was about a patient whose story touched me.”

Matt Koger

Matt Koger

Koger gets many of his song ideas from people he meets, things he sees and stories he’s gold. He believes there is a genuine inspiration behind 90% of his songs.

“I write when I’m inspired. The songs often seem to write themselves,” he said, adding that songwriting never intrudes on his other profession. “I’m not thinking of songs when I’m working as a doctor. The songs find their way in idle moments. It’s as Sinatra sang…sometime in the wee small hours of the morning.”

Koger loves north Texas. He often performs to raise money for various local causes. He also believes that living in Greenville has put him in touch with good musical influences. The history of the area is a big reason.

“Local history in Greenville is fascinating,” he said. “Lots of good stories are there if you listen. The flip side is, Greenville is not necessarily handy to a big music scene. But that’s OK with me, as a songwriter. I work best alone. I have only one co-write and I have never recorded it.”

Koger’s first CD is Blackland.  It provides the promise of creative writing and storytelling. In the first cut, “Nature of the Beast,” he says “Nothing makes a man hungry like the promise of a feast.”  “Ally’s Song” is a lullaby. He writes “This one’s for the sisters of the brothers who don’t know what it’s like to be Daddy’s little girl, and they don’t know what it’s like to bloom like a desert rose and be beautiful in spite of the world.”

His newest CD, The Coyote’s Call, is his favorite – at least, for now.koger cd cover

“I always think of the new CD as the good one,” Koger commented. “Then I’ll listen to the first one and think, ‘I forgot it was that good.’ The main difference is the level of production. The Coyote’s Call is the best I could afford to produce. I mean that in a financial sense, as well as in a pound of flesh sense.

“I love the songs on both discs. As opposed to Blackland, the Coyote songs were written with an audience in mind. I wrote most of the songs after Blackland had been released.”

One of those, “The Hangover Song’” is Koger’s attempt at a commercial song. It is a clever, foot tapping tune. I laughed at one line, in which he describes – after getting home from a night in the clubs – “scrubbing stamps off the back of my hand.” Anyone who has ever paid their way into a night club or honky tonk can appreciate that!

Another great song on the CD is “Black-Eyed Susan,” a song reminiscent of many of the Ray Stevens classics.   And “Monday Morning Blues” stands out for its musical excellence.

John Kent, a good friend to Koger, produced both CD’s.

“As a producer, John was instrumental in helping the songs find their voice,” said Koger. “Sometimes, I have a vision for the finished work, but John is very creative when it comes to the nuances of the song. He is also an accomplished musician who can play virtually any instrument that he puts his mind to.”

Like many songwriters, Matt Koger had a hard time believing that anyone would take him seriously.

“At first, I really didn’t believe the songs were that good,” he said. “I felt like people were humoring me. Now, I have received compliments from all over the world. I’m proud to play a song for anybody. I have never, however, claimed to be a great singer or guitar player. The best I can do is give a rough voice to these songs and that’s just what I’ll continue to do.”

Matt believes a good song allows the listener to interpret it to their own story, by letting them incorporate their vision into the song. Writing a song feels natural, but “I always tell my daughter – who likes to write stories – that I think good writing finds interesting ways to say ordinary things.”

So what does the doctor/songwriter foresee for the future?

“I hope to be a better guitar player and songwriter. I think the writing is getting better, but I’m biased!” he said. “I would love to see someone record some of my songs. I’m not motivated financially. But to me, it would be a wonderful validation to have another songwriter like my material enough to want to perform it. That being said, I have no five-year plan, other than being a good father, husband and physician. Those priorities will help keep my music in its proper place, and therefore preserve the reason I write. To paraphrase Townes, may I always just sing for the sake of the song.”
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