Songwriter wins his way
The guitar hooks in El Camino sound like an engine firing. The song is heavy, pure rock – “as fast as the powerful Chevrolet muscle car that bears the same name.”
“El Camino is a song about self-empowerment and doing things your own way,” says Murray Atkinson, who penned it back in 2007.
El Camino helped Atkinson place first out of more than 500 acts in Vancouver rock radio station CFOX’s 2007 “Seeds” talent competition.
With his winnings from the Fox Seeds contest, Atkinson recorded an album titled Salt March under the band name Swan, which featured El Camino.
The song, however, is still winning the musician accolades and snagged the rock and alternative category in the 17th annual USA Songwriting Competition late last year.
“When I recorded it, I did what you are not supposed to do – run an acoustic guitar through an amp with distortion,” says Atkinson, who teaches at the Bergthorson academy.
Much like the ethos of El Camino.
“It’s like anything in life,” adds the musician, who splits his time between Ladysmith on Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver. “You take a risk and follow your instincts and try not to listen to all the voices that tell you, ‘you will fail.’ A lot of the biggest and greatest inventions are from people who think outside the box.”
Music has been Atkinson’s life even before he started taking piano lessons at age four. He taught himself acoustic guitar as a child by listening to classic rock records; was writing, playing and recording his own material by the time he was 15; studied music in college; and played in a variety of bands of different genres after graduating, including Chin Injeti and The Odds.
The USA Songwriting Competition bills itself as the world’s leading international songwriting event.
Now in its 18th year, the contest is open to all, regardless of nationality or country origin.
Winners are selected by a Blue Ribbon committee of music industry judges including record label publishers, producers, A&R from Universal Music, Warner, EMI, Sony Music and other distinguished professionals.
Thoroughly modest, Atkinson forgot about he had entered the competition until he received an email in December, announcing he was among the winners.
“It’s one of those songs that had a good vibe,” Atkinson said when asked why he chose to enter El Camino.
For him, winning is a feather in his cap.
“No publishers have come knocking, offering deals,” Atkinson says with a laugh.
“If you do anything in this industry to stand out, someone is more bound to pay attention. It’s all about having a unique stance on things.”