Photos courtesy of Nathaniel Smith

     I love to write, always have. It’s a medium that has been a cathartic God-send but sometimes the words just won’t flow. I can’t fight it, the struggle is REAL. When I’m feeling any kind of writer’s block I have to just walk away and wait for the words to find me. And in reflecting on this, it’s led me to the opinion that sometimes these words aren’t for me. They’re for you. I’m only the medium from which the words can be put on paper, beyond that, they belong to you.

This Behind The Music is a little different from what I usually do. This is a little more personal for me and probably you too. Chances are you know someone who was in someway affected by the Camp Fire catastrophe. I have numerous friends who lost their homes but were lucky enough to make it out with their lives. The horror stories of this event are paralleled with stories of heroism, resilience, and kindness.

While those who were displaced trudged on, Nathaniel Smith and Miykael Goodwin put pen to paper creating the song, One Of These Days. This heartfelt ballad has taken off with a whirlwind that has left the boys in awe. I was lucky when Nate carved out some time to talk with me about the experience.

So tell me a little about yourself

My name’s Nate Smith. I’m from Paradise, California. Grew up there. My family moved, we’ve been in Butte County since I was a little kid but we lived in Chico and Oroville. Then we settled in Paradise (when I was in 7th grade- the most awkward time in my life). We went up there and that town just means a lot to me. It’s been my

home. I went to high school there. In the song One Of These Days that me and my buddy wrote, I reference church on the corner in the chorus and that’s literally the church I was playing at every single week. It burned down. My brother was the youth pastor there and we were helping out with the kids there and just pouring life into them. They’re awesome.

     That town is really sentimental to me in so many ways. I was living there, working in Chico, and one of my friends was like ‘Why do you live in Paradise?’ And I was like, ‘I like it!’ I actually really like the town but basically what happened was, long story short, I lived in Nashville for a few years. I got signed as a song writer out there for a publishing deal. I did that for a few years and had a couple of cool things happen and stuff but nothing super-duper panned out. I think I was too immature, dumb and young. Honestly. I had a terrible work ethic and thought I was so cool. I came back and I’ve been working at Enloe Hospital in ICU Trauma.

Did you evacuate or where you at work in Chico?

When the fire happened I was very fortunate because I got out before the traffic got too bad. I had a doctors appointment in Chico at 9 am. I left my house and made it down there in time for it but realized that I wouldn’t be able to come back. So that was crazy but I was fortunate to have my life. My brother and his wife made it out barely. Everybody in my family’s safe, so I’m extremely thankful. I’m staying with my dad now, it’s a full house. Lots of weiner dogs everywhere. There’s like three weiner dogs, they’re like triplets because they’re all the same color. They bark and they are annoying but I love them. In case you can’t tell, I have ADHD.

     So, I lost my guitar that I had up there, it burned up in the fire. A buddy of mine plays in the band Florida Georgia Line. His name is Tom and he’s been a friend of mine, really supportive, and he posted my GoFundMe and someone from his sponsorship company called Kala Brand Music, saw the post and realized they wanted to help so within a week I had a small song writing guitar on my doorstep. No Joke. To be able to write songs again, it’s not like a live guitar- you can’t plug it in or anything but I had a guitar!   

     So my friend Miykael came over and was checking it out and we didn’t intend to write anything but we ended up writing this song. Just for the heck of it we put it up on Facebook and it was kinda weird because within a few hours it was at like 1,000 view and I’m like ‘Dude, I’ve never had anything over 16 views.’ And we’re like two fat dudes sitting on a couch, didn’t plan on anything and by the morning it was at 14 thousand, someone had streamed us on The Blaze country radio, I had a message from Fox San Franscico wanting to interview us. Within two weeks we were in Nashville, recorded it, had it up on iTunes, ended up playing for Winter Wonderland, we were on Fox, CBS, ABC, we got invited to Good Day Sacramento, and we’ve been on two country radio stations for live performances.

And you were invited to play at Gavin Newsom’s California Rises wildfire relief concert?

I actually played that with another friend of mine Skip Colton, who wrote a song for Paradise as well (it’s doing really well). He wrote Another Prayer For Paradise. And we played the Golden One Center with your boys- the X-Ambassadors!

Yeah! I read that Pitbull, the X-Ambassadors, and Common where going to be there. That’s awesome!

Right? So the best part about the story is we are giving 100% of the song writing royalties back to Camp Fire Relief Aide. We aren’t going to keep a dime. That even goes for my PROs, you probably know about that, but it’s like my ASCAP money. Anything that comes in- if there’s radio play or TV appearances, Spotify streaming- that’s all getting donated too, on my end for sure. So it’s very exciting and I hope it helps.

That’s so cool man. So did you like make some calls to have the Nashville thing happen? 

That was crazy. So, I used to write songs with a guy named Chuck Butler and he’s a producer out there. He’s signed with  Sony Provident as a producer and writer. He’s got some hit songs that actually have a couple of Grammys now and he reached out and said, ‘If you guys can make it to Nashville- I’ll do it for free.’ We posted on Facebook ‘Help get us to Nashville! We want to do this!’ and within a few hours Miykael’s aunt and uncle offered to pay for the entire trip- flight, hotel, car, all of it. I could not believe it. It was an amazing offer. So we went and did it. We recorded it with Chuck, he engineered it and recorded us and then my buddy Tom from Florida Georgia Line hooked us up with this guy named Joël Bruyere who actually mix it and mastered it. And when he did that, we were just really stoked on the final product. And then we put it up on iTunes.

I know for me writing can be cathartic, I’m sure you were just doing this for you, did you have any idea it would take off like it did?

No, not even a clue whatsoever. Honestly. I thought that a few of my friends would support the music, they know Miykael and they know me and stuff, I’ve written songs in the past so I figured some of my friends would like it you know? And I was hoping it would touch some people but it was a way of expressing how I felt and how Miykael felt about the town. But would I have known we’d be in Nashville in two weeks? Or this Golden One Center thing?- Not in my wildest dreams. Like I’m freaking out basically. I mean what an honor, you know? We are totally fan-girling.

A couple of other things just to throw at you too, this guy named Beiron Anderson, he was one of the first male super-models in the world and he’s an amazing photographer, he reached out and offered to do photos for free. They turned out incredible. It’s insane. He was able to fix some of the fat and he fixed some spots in my beard. So he’s helping out with that, we’ve had someone else help out with social media. This whole thing could not have happened if people didn’t hear the song, feel connected to it and be willing to help. If I could count how many people it’s taken including, news and stuff, it’s hundreds of people who made this happen. I can not take the credit for anything other than writing the song with my buddy. Because everyone else has helped us do this- from the producers, to tv shows, you name it. Even you, you’re now part of this. It takes a village. Like seriously.

Where can people go to follow you? Do you have a Facebook or Instagram?

You can find me on Facebook- Nathaniel Smith. There’s also an Instagram for Cold Weather Sons and that’s probably the best way to connect and stay up with what’s going on. But the number one thing, more than following me or checking out those sites, is just to purchase the song because we aren’t keeping the money. We literally just want to do something great for our community. So the number one thing that anybody can do would be to go to iTunes, search Cold Weather Sons and buy the song, One Of These Days. It’s on Amazon, it’s on Spotify. Buy it. Have all your friends Buy it. It’s like a $1.00 you know?

That’s so cool buddy. Is there anything you want to add that I might have forgotten?

Just the main thing is how thankful I am for everyone setting up and helping and I hope that the song makes a bunch of money to help other people. It’s not for it and that’s probably the number one thing I learned this season. It’s the first time in my life where, truly, truly I realized ‘Oh my God, it’s not about music’ Music is the platform for greater change, music is what can help you, it’s what can give you the ability to do something great. I look at this song as a platform to raise money for Camp Fire victims and I have another song that I wrote with Miykael that hopefully can be recorded sometime soon and it’s about broken marriages, broken relationships. And I’m thinking, what if we built a campaign around that to help restore families in America. Thinking like that vs. let’s just write a cool song that people like. I’m thinking what can we do to affect our communities and our world. That’s where I’m at and it’s weird to even say those things, I know it’s a big vision but that’s where my head’s at and that’s kinda the way I’m thinking and it’s changed my whole perception on what music is, what it can do, and what the purpose of it is. *

     As I reflected on the conversation I’d just had with Nate, it reminded me of a story my co-worker Missy  told me once. She explained that she was a shy kid and didn’t really like to be put in the limelight and one teacher she had, told her that keeping her writing hidden was a crime. “You not sharing your writing makes you as guilty as the guy who burns down the library.”

Missy’s words, my words, Nate and Miykael’s words, they are all for you. Maybe it’s to help you feel like you’re not alone out there, maybe it’s to help you feel like someone else cares, maybe it’s just to make you smile. Either way, I know I’m grateful for the songs, poetry, and other writings out there that have come to me when I needed them. I hope that One Of These Days can be what you need it to be.

Go. Download it. And know that in doing so, you are helping.