George Hartner grew up a Beatles fan and a Dylan disciple in the turbulent 1960's and 70's. Admittedly a bit too easily distracted to become the guitar god he hoped he'd be, he starting writing lyrics back in high school and that became his primary focus from that point on. He loved the biting, sarcastic wit of John Lennon and Bob Dylan but was also enamored with the lush melodies of the Beatles and the Beach Boys. One of his favorite bands growing up was the UK-based group Squeeze (Tempted, Cool For Cats, Black Coffee In Bed). 'Squeeze hit all the right notes for me. The witty lyricism, the catchy melodies with minor/major chord and key changes, and the one-two punch of the songwriting team of Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford.' Interestingly enough, Hartner would go on to collaborate on a song with Glenn Tilbrook called, There For Her which was on Tilbrook's 2004 release, 'Transatlantic Ping Pong'. On Hartner's first official release titled, 'Contradictions', those influences can be heard and felt throughout. 'It all starts with the lyric for me. Since I write a whole lot, most of my songs end up in a notebook in my desk filed away forever. They just don't go anywhere. Then, when I hit on a theme or a lyric I like, I follow it wherever it takes me. Most times it just comes pouring out and then I know I've got one.' Those journeys take Hartner and the listener to places that explore fame, like the songs Run Run Run and Pretty Name Like That; organized religion on Which Way Into the Kingdom; and politics on A Little Peace/Piece and Tea For Two. One of the heavier tracks on the album (lyrically speaking) is the song War (Shade It Black). 'It's based on two different books I read about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The first by Sebastian Junger and the second by Jessica Goodell and John Hearn. Most people have no idea what we're asking these kids to do when we ask them to fight. If they did I think they'd slow down this whole process. These aren't games we're asking these kids to play. Even the ones who make it home carry burdens around that we'll never understand. I just wanted to capture some of that in a song and that's when I wrote, War (Shade It Black).' Hartner credits the song structuring on the release to his producer and multi-instrumentalist, Madison Bunting who owns Madman Studios in Wilmington, NC. 'I would write the songs and record a demo but he would bring them to life. He's incredibly talented and you can hear it in some of his amazing solos on this album. I'm not a big fan of my voice so I enjoy listening to Madison shredding away to make up for it.' Hartner was recognized by American Songwriter Magazine for the lyrics to the song, A Little Peace/Piece. 'It was a true honor. My wife read the lyrics and said, 'Wow, this is the best song you've ever written.' So I figured I'd send it in to see if she was right and sure enough she was.' As to more songs in the future Hartner says, 'I'm enjoying being finished with this one for right now. But the lyrics never stop coming. And when they come the paper and guitar are never far out of reach.'
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