Songwriting in Sedona

Last winter, I was set to fly to New York City to record a Coffee House Live session at SiriusXM headquarters—but best-laid plans fail. A storm blanketed the northeast and my flight was canceled. My session had to be rescheduled and an airline voucher was issued as consolation.

Man, time flew by. I was reminded of my airline credit with only about 10 days left to claim it. So I had to make a quick decision on how to use it. I wanted the west coast; I wanted a non-stop flight; I wanted sun; I wanted peace and quiet (so I could do some writing).

After asking around and auditing against my criteria, the decision was made to fly to Phoenix and make the short drive to Sedona.

Songwriting in Sedona: It had a ring to it.

Songwriting in Sedona – DAY 1

After a refreshingly effortless flight and rental car experience, I hit the highway, northbound to Sedona. Road trips always do it for me: My brain was already cranking and a to-do list was established.

Tyler Stenson songwriting in Sedona

This was always intended to be a songwriter’s retreat, but the twist was that I was not intending to create anything brand new. In fact, I only wanted to complete songs that had been lingering in my mind for waaay too long—songs from as far back as 2005. Hence the reason most of these probably look familiar.

After checking into my hotel, I made the short hike to the viewpoint at Airport Mesa. Apparently, it’s the best place to view the sunset and experience the stars.

Tyler Stenson songwriting in Sedona

I can’t say I disagree; the dusk was heavenly. I sat. I did a free write. I drank some Flagstaff beers above the glow of the valley.

Tyler Stenson songwriting in Sedona

Honestly, it was amazing. At the top of the vista, I watched the sun go down. I watched hiker after hiker vacate until I was all alone. I just sat with my writing book and beer(s), outlasting everyone. I stayed until it was pitch black—until only stars and the Milky Way remained with me. It was really quite spiritual.

After a profound silence, I made the short hike back down the mountain in the pitch black. I couldn’t help but hum That Moon along the way (for who knows what “evil thing” was lurking in the dark?).

I capped the night with dinner and a beer(s).

Songwriting in Sedona – DAY TWO

The next day was my only full day in Sedona, so I made sure to make the most of it. I started bright and early by visiting the Chapel of the Holy Cross. What a simple structure made magnificent by its surroundings! It’s just a box, but somehow it becomes so much more among the red rocks.

Tyler Stenson songwriting in Sedona

The building itself is really nothing to speak of, but sitting silently in the pews, writing about old things, and peering out from the highest vantage point of an ancient ocean was inspiring. Finally, Clementine was finalized. A song I’ve been writing for 10 years and 10 people, finished!

Next stop: Bell Rock—a masculine energy vortext and my primary target for the weekend.

Tyler Stenson songwriting in Sedona

There, perched midway up the bell-shaped mound, but high above the world, I wrote for hours. Literally, just me and my books, sitting on stone, channeling the history of the distant plateaus, and the energy of Bell Rock for hours on end.

Tyler Stenson songwriting in Sedona

Here, I did the most work. I put a dent in/completed Ghost, A Single Cloud on a Beautiful Day (Somewhere In Eastern Oregon), The Burn, Old Things, and Drinking & Thinking. You can get a lot done when you’re sitting in total mental and physical isolation.

As I did the night before, I capped the second day with happy hour at one restaurant (where I met a nice local musician!), dinner at another establishment, and of course, local beers at my favorite place of them all.

Songwriting in Sedona – DAY THREE

I gave everything I had to the muse in the first two days, so day three was really just administrative: wake, check out, drive back to Phoenix, airport, touchdown, and home at last.

Looking back at the trip, it’s exactly what I needed. Life is hectic these days, and the silence of Sedona was just what the soul ordered. It cleared my head, restored my energy, and allowed me to finally cross a few long-lingering songs off of the list in my head.

I can’t say the vortexes ever leaped out and grabbed me in any overt manner, but I can say new life was breathed into me … and new songs will surely be exhaled into the world.

Thank you, Sedona.

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