Passenger Profile: John Linscott

By Kenny Kerner
Taxi Member Success Rate Linscott
This month's profile is about songwriter John Linscott who is 76 years young. John wrote his first song when he was 16 and never stopped. His idols, Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin, are among the true songwriting icons in America. Here's John's story:

Did you come from a musical family?

JL: My mother was a collector/author, having written a book on New England folk music—Folk Songs of Old New England. She played piano and could transcribe music. I play sax, clarinet, and keyboards.

Did your parents like it when you became more and more into music?

JL: I had always considered music as a career, however, my parents did not allow me to proceed in that field until I had "wasted" two years of liberal college education. After being discharged from the Navy (as a musician), I considered it as a career, but family commitments made it economically unsound. I have continued it as a part-time career throughout my lifetime.

Do you remember the first original song you wrote?

JL: My first original song was "The Fellow From My Town," written at age 16. It was musically correct, but would have had limited acceptance commercially, very limited!

How would you describe your music? What genre do you write in?

JL: I write in the jazz field. I best describe my music in the style of the Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter—harmonically and lyrically. I often wish I had been born some 30 years earlier as my music would have been more commercially acceptable at that time.

What is it that inspires you to write songs these days?

JL: Many things inspire me to write, and with some I can directly trace the origin. One tune on my CD, "Passing Through a Forest in Maine," I wrote after coming home from a winter's cross-country ski one cold Sunday afternoon. The song almost wrote itself. Sometimes a lyric will emerge before the melody, other times it is the opposite creative experience. All come from an emotional stimulus. I have often felt that the music is already there in the ether and I am only a conduit to bring it to life. I hope that is not too philosophical for this interview.

How did you first hear about TAXI?

JL: I originally heard of TAXI during a summer course a few years ago. It was an ad in a recording magazine that stimulated me to join. As I have only submitted a few songs, I cannot fairly judge the results. My genre is not in great demand and I have been limited as to what I might submit.

Would you recommend TAXI to other writers?

JL: Yes, I would recommend TAXI to others. If one wishes to catch fish, one should put many lines in the water.

Have you ever attended the TAXI Road Rally and if so, what did you think of it?

JL: I was at the TAXI Road Rally in 2004. It was truly one of the most emotional experiences of my musical life. To be with some 2,000 kindred souls was great enough, but to perform before them with a "standing O" was validation that maybe somewhere within me there is some talent. Everyone was kind and supportive of each other. I will be back!

Have you negotiated any deals through TAXI yet?

JL: No deals as of yet. Many of the advertised listings are for composers/performers. While I can certainly perform, I am not seeking success as a performer, only as a composer. If Tony Bennett chose to sing my songs—that would be the success I seek.

Can you tell us what you've been up to lately?

JL: I am presently working on a musical that incorporates tunes already written with new music to fit the story. As well as having talent in the music arena, I am also blessed with ability in the literary field.

Well, if this isn't inspirational, what is? Seventy-six years old, still writing new music, and still getting his music out there through TAXI. I guess this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that TAXI IS for everyone—young or old! I mean young or older! Keep rockin' John!

See How TAXI Works

"I just want a shot, and I feel that TAXI has given that to me."
— Roger Yeardley,
TAXI Member

"Getting all these critques in the mail is encouraging and instructive as well. Thanks for your help!"
— Lisa Knouse,
TAXI Member

"One of my tunes, "Rumba Azul," was licensed to a TV show, and I'm expecting a check very soon."
— Wayne Wesley Johnson,
TAXI Member

"We appreciate all that you do and try to do to help us struggling songwriters!"
— Pat Harris,
TAXI Member