FINDING ZENITH - Inside A Songwriter's Psyche by Kelly Montgomery for Merion Publications - 12/18/09

photo by Bethany Joy

Singer/songwriter Jordan White hates himself for not realizing that he lived the best time of his life a little more than 10 years ago. "It was before my parents divorced and my family fell apart, before September 11th, before I lost some of my greatest childhood friends I'd ever had.  Nothing was expected of me and we were living in the moment," revealed the 20-something Lehigh Valley, PA musician. "But I was a kid, you know?" For White, dealing with change and fighting a relentless obsession with the past are what influences his songwriting. "I'm trying to decide if this is something common for people to do, to look back on periods of their lives by comparing and contrasting it with the present to such an extreme level," he explained. His song, 2004's "In Too Deep" was the beginning of this obsession.

White also credits studying psychology as a major influence. After six years, he finally obtained his bachelor's degree from East Stroudsburg University in May. "I found that the more I've learned about the field of psychology, the more diverse and complete my songs have become," he said. "Much of what I write about are things running around in my head, things that have intruded and won't leave, and other things that left long ago that I can't get back." In 2010, White will begin graduate school at Shippensburg University. "I feel like I've only brushed against the surface with the bachelor's."

White thinks most of the songs he wrote at 15 or 16 years old sucked. "I'm a late bloomer," he contended. He doesn't even remember the first song he wrote, but remembers the first "good" song was "Breathe." According to White, it's his official break-up song. "I thought I was above it [the break up]," he explained. But one day, White sifted through some contents in a box and found a five to six-page letter an ex-girlfriend had wrote to him after they split. "I poured over it for hours. To me it was kind of like taking a deep breath to remember it all one last time," he recalled. It also was the first song White recorded in a studio.

Another relationship song, "Crazy Girl," is one that White never intended to take anywhere. "This song is about getting involved with someone who is totally wrong for you and you know it. And you can't help it," he explained. It's one of the most requested songs at his shows--by women. "I thought that people, particularly women, would be offended by it," he said. "But the reaction was the exact opposite. They seem to really identify with it." White is quick to point out that he doesn't mean these women are crazy, but maybe had similar expereinces. "I know I have," he added. White has promised never to reveal the true identity of the "crazy girl" in his song, despite numerous requests by fans.

In addition to constantly being asked about her identity, White also receives e-mails asking for meanings of certain songs he's penned.  Knowing some musicians don't like to reveal the meanings of their songs, he doesn't mind. "I like divulging some of the inspirations behind the songs because it almost helps me understand them more myself," he explained. One of the best feelings, he revealed, is allowing fans to create their own interpretations. "It may mean something specific to me, but it can mean whatever you want it to mean for you." The song "Walking Clean," for example, exhibits trusting your instincts when something feels wrong. White sang in a popular East Coast cover band a few years ago, and admits to having some crazy times. But "I felt a little lost in the crowd," he admitted. "It didn't feel right. I felt people had the wrong impression of me." After a show, White met a girl who invited him back to her house. "We ended up sitting on her roof until the sun was coming up," he said. Jokingly, White told her he hadn't seen daylight in a while, so the sun may hurt his eyes. "She said something like, 'Well, you better stay off the roof if you gotta hide from the sky.'" He continued, "I couldn't stop thinking about it. It made all the sense in the world to me."

Since leaving the cover bands, White has continued his solo career, appearing in local bars, night clubs and festivals throughout  Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the eastern U.S. In 2008, he joined the band KineticBlu as their singer/keyboardist/rhythm guitarist. White and lead guitarist Brian Kibler also play together in an acoustic act named Foreplay. White's song "September" has become part of a digital compilation with other "hot bands on MySpace" from a new subsidiary of Sony Music/Red Distribution. Although a release date still is to be determined, downloads will be available for sale at all major retailers, such as iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, eMusic and more. Asked why "September" was chosen, White replied: "I think they picked that song out of the half dozen or so because it had the most plays on the webpages, but I'm not sure." But what he is sure of is the meaning behind the song: "When you're 12 years old, your house is the world, your block is the rest of the universe, and you know everything. Summer seems to last forever, but September is always around the corner. It's me telling myself you better appreciate who and what you have when you actually have it, not later when it's in a bunch of pieces."

Kelly Montgomery is the assistant editor for Merion Publications, Inc.