In an insightful interview with A&R Factory, Phil Coomer delved into the creative process behind his latest single, “All the Medicine I Need.” The song, born from a personal moment of realisation, transcends into a universal anthem about love’s healing power. Coomer shares how an injury and his girlfriend’s return sparked the song’s conception, highlighting love as the ultimate panacea. The interview also touches on influences like John Prine, the joy of songwriting, and themes in his upcoming album, offering a glimpse into Coomer’s artistic journey and the profound impact of relationships in his music.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest single, All the Medicine I Need?
“I tend to write about how I feel or how others feel and All The Medicine I Need does not vary from that methodology. Because I had done a good job of injuring my left arm in the fall of 2023, I was looking for some kind of medicine that would help relieve the pain I was having in my arm. I wasn’t having much luck but about that time my girlfriend came home from an extended trip abroad. Her attention and caring made me forget all about the pain I was having. I realized that she was all the medicine I needed. When I was working on songs again, I thought that because I felt that way maybe others did too. So, I started working on the song and it turned into being about the normal day in a regular person’s life and the restoration that tends to come when we are with our person our significant other.”
It’s such a great extension of the ‘love is a drug’ adage; was it difficult to transform the lyrics from a personal feeling to a universal sentiment?
“Very quickly I realized that I could easily change the song from being about her and me to being for everyone. The song is about any healing or restorative relationship. He-her, her-her, him-him, parent-child, child-parent it always works no matter who sings to who. It was as simple as changing “the girl” to “the one.” I did talk to her about the change, and she said I should definitely change the lyrics so the song could speak to everyone’s feelings. But she knows it’s her song.”
We love that the song started from a soulful epiphany and built from there; is that usually how your music comes to fruition?
“Yes, and I wish I could have epiphanies more often. I said earlier that I usually write about my feelings or the feelings of others. I don’t know why I’m wired that way. Maybe others are too. I was working on a song from a recent trip to NYC to the World Trade Center Memorial and to Strawberry Fields in Central Park the John Lennon Memorial and was just getting nowhere I was writing junk. Finally, I decided to write from the perspective of a woman who had lost someone and to let her tell the story and It just flew out my mouth and onto the paper. It became, easy and natural yet different, wicked and soulful. That song is called “Still Lives.”
Were there any particular artists who inspired the sound and style of the single?
“Yes, I think so. Musically to me it is very akin to a John Prine song in simplicity and matter of fact-ness. There’s even a little Prine humor in the 1st verse line “and I guess elevators too”
What is the most rewarding aspect of the songwriting process for you?
“There is always some euphoria when you’ve framed in a new song and think it’s complete enough to play for someone else. But I think a few months out when you’ve played the song in front of hundreds of people and it’s actually now part of you and there some sustained affection for the song that’s pretty nice too.”
How has your approach to songwriting evolved over the years, leading up to this release?
“I’d say that I moved more from writing the ballad or story of what occurred to the feeling or the impact the notion had on who is there or who found out and what it did to them. It seems more endearing to me to show the effect of impact to us.”
You mentioned All the Medicine I Need will feature on your upcoming album; what other themes does the album explore?
“All The Medicine I Need is the first recording of the next project and a couple of the other songs are “Kissing Lessons” – written after seeing a bulletin board ad I came across at college. Another song is called “Different Ride” which is what occurred to me when I’ve come across people who are still alive yet their fate is already written.”
Watch the official music video for Phil Coomer’s latest single, All the Medicine I Need, on YouTube.
Interview by Amelia Vandergast