Over the telephone, Dana Cooper has a voice smooth as chocolate, rich and mellow. It’s easy to imagine this veteran singer/songwriter with twenty-five albums to his credit performing in clubs and concert halls all over the world. His voice is just as satisfying in person; we met for lunch with his wife Linda Marks at Fido’s, near Vanderbilt.
Dana was two days home from a US solo tour through Wisconsin, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma; just the singer and his guitar, his harmonica, and his songs. Dana describes his music as Americana: pop and rock and blues and country. He and Linda moved to Nashville decades ago because, well, this is where Americana thrives.
Linda is a visual artist and graphic designer at Vanderbilt. “I have a secure job. I have a boss who thinks that print is dead, but we keep needing print graphics.” Linda has a remarkable Facebook page that mines culture and history. “There’s a world of stuff out there that no one knows about.”
Dana described how music’s evolution over the past fifty years. “Technology has changed how music is distributed and how we are paid. It also extends to who finds us. For instance, I like Soundhound, where you hear something and can find out what it is. But its difficult to get your music discovered even though it is more accessible Everyone can make their CD and have their website.” Without record labels keeping a reign on recording, the amount of music out there is overwhelming.
“The content has changed. There were more words and messages in the days of Top 40. Most of it didn’t have meaning, but some of it did. Now, everything is a niche.
“I make a living at music. It’s a subsistence kind of living. Most songwriters struggle, most more than me. I’m not out to create ditties. I keep musical sketches of ideas, and come back to them. I tend to find the musical idea first and the lyrics follow. But not always. Storytelling is important to me. My songs convey mortality, carpe diem. I got to a place of ‘do no harm.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“I’m a ‘be here now’ person. Aging terrifies me. Retiring terrifies me. Its something I want to do, but I’ll have to make my own life. I’ve always worked for someone else, been at the mercy of someone else’s opinion.” – Linda
“I vacillate between positive and negative, between a bleak view of the future and a cockeyed optimist view. I’d like lean toward the optimist. What will we leave behind? What will the next set of humans being have? Race will cease to be an issue. Maybe we’ll all be polka-dotted.” – Dana
“As someone who doesn’t have children, not having kids affects my view of the future. I’d be a mess if I had kids. The way they’d have to deal with religion. I worry about how religion colors our world.” – Linda
“It’s a madness, I was into religion as a kid. I was raised Catholic, I was going to be a priest. In the 1960’s, the Catholic Church was a place of discourse and inquiry. That’s gone.” – Dana