You might know him for his affinity for writing, or from seeing him around school, guitar case in hand—senior Dean Graham showcases his love for songwriting and music as much as he can.
Graham had played piano for almost 10 years before making the decision to switch to an instrument he enjoyed more. That decision was nearly three years ago, and he hasn’t regretted it once. Whether it be playing to records, surf picking, or just strumming, he prefers having the ability to play what he wants over being told what he needs to play out of a book. At the core of his desire to switch to guitar was also his admiration for The Doors, The Beatles, and other bands of the rock era. Psychedelic rock, specifically, is still a favored niche of Graham’s.
Syd Barret, a founding member of one of the world’s most renowned psychedelic rock bands, Pink Floyd, is one of Graham’s foremost musical inspirations.
“He was like the original guitar player and songwriter, and…singer,” Graham said. “And so he was really good at guitar and he pioneered a whole bunch of stuff, but then he kind of went crazy. But he’s really good and he’s a good songwriter, so I really look up to him.”
Graham began to write songs in addition to playing them last December. Since then, he has written over 200 songs in total. He describes his lyrical style as being much like his own music taste: folk, particularly inspired by singer-songwriter Donovan, and almost any type of rock you can think of. Only around 10 of those 200 songs have music created for them, but one of the improvements he wants to make in the future is focusing on music writing to go along with his songs.
In addition to learning with his guitar teacher, Graham also likes to get extra practice in during school hours.
“I have four study halls if…Flex Block [is] included and I don’t want to be doing nothing for all four of them, so I just bring it in and I go to a practice room in third period,” Graham said. “But I also just like playing my guitar, so I keep it with me.”
Graham also owns an electric Squier Strat and with it, he tries to make as much noise as he humanly can. However, his classical guitar, the one many are used to seeing him with, is his favorite. The guitar used to belong to his dad when he was first learning how to play in the 80s and 90s—even the strings are still the same.
His dad is part of the reason that Graham has put so much work into learning the guitar, and hard-work is exactly the advice that he gives to any beginners.
“Just do it a lot,” Graham said. “That’s all it is, really. The only reason I’m any good is because I play a ton and then I write a ton. Also, listen to a lot of music and listen to the words if you’re into words and read books and stuff. Because all the best people who write lyrics are inspired by stuff other than music too.”
Though Graham is not one for performing alone at the moment, he hopes that one day he may be able to play alongside a band.
Photo by Meliha Anthony.