“You ain’t a loser, ‘til you stop getting up” – Dean Miller
It has been seven years since Dean Miller released and album of new music. It’s not that it took all this time to write and record. It did, however, take that long to find his way back to the simple, true motivations that brought him to make music in the first place. “I’ve spent a long time being hard on myself,” Dean says. “After years of hard knocks and setbacks in the music industry, I think I quit myself for a while.”
Dean has made three previous albums on three separate music labels. Only two were released and none had any kind of large scale support. “What I came to discover, though, is that nobody can control your future but you. Life is too short not to go for your dreams.”
Dean has always found a way to make music for a living. He detoured into a successful songwriting career and began producing other musical artists. He was helping other artists succeed and teaching newcomers how to get past the obstacles that litter the landscape of the ever-changing music business. “I looked up, one day,” Dean says, “And said, ‘Hey, why am I not doing this for myself?’”
Miller grew up in a musical family, which both helped and hindered his success. “My Dad is the late Roger Miller. My Stepmom sang with Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. I was exposed to a lot, good and bad,” Dean says. “By the time I brought my songs to Nashville, I thought I had it all together. Boy, was I wrong!”
Dean developed his craft, signed and lost some record deals, had some hits with other artists, worked some day jobs and, eventually, developed a method of dog training (his other passion!). Making a career for himself was anything but easy. “When your Dad is one of the most revered songwriters in Country Music, people tend to sit back, fold their arms and say, ’You think you’re any good? Prove it!’”
“I finally stepped back, distanced myself from other people’s opinions and began writing music for myself,” Dean said. “I got that itch to record again and that’s what I’ve done. I’m a lot less ‘results oriented’ and mainly just writing songs that excite me. I hope they excite a few other people, too.”
The result is ‘Til You Stop Getting Up, an album that captures Miller’s unique balance of polar traits: optimism and sarcasm, confidence and vulnerability, musical aggression and analytical introspection.
“It’s just a reflection of where I am in my life,” Miller says. “I wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. I co-produced it with my friend Brian Eckert. Whatever you hear is my fault!”
Miller has created an extraordinarily honest album, one that grapples with relationships, identity, weakness, risk and emotional revenge. The album is practically a metaphor for Miller’s own life: just when you think you’ve pinned him down, you discover he’s a bit different than what you had expected.
However, not every song on ‘Til You Stop Getting Up represents Miller specifically. But he explores the issues the characters raise through his own viewpoint, an accumulation of experiences in a gritty, hard-knock world.
“Some artists,” he observes, “will say, ‘I don’t want to sing a song unless I’ve lived it’ or ‘I’ve lived everything I’ve sung.’ My view is that a songwriter is a storyteller, and you don’t always tell stories about everything you’ve lived. You don’t have to be Cinderella to read that story to somebody.”
“Some of these songs I’ve lived, and some of them I haven’t,” he continues. “I’ve never been an alcoholic—that I know of—but I’ve sure known some. So I can tell you that I’ve at least been around everything that’s in these songs.”
Miller blends honky-tonk, outlaw country and roots-rock influences in a manner that frames the material with an edge, but never quite overpowers the melodies or the messages. “I just trusted the people I worked with—I hired them because of their ability and quality. I wrote the songs and picked the songs that I wanted to go in with, and there was no over-thinking. I just went in and did it. It’s not rocket science, it’s just good country music.”
These days, I try to live by a quote I heard from Deepak Chopra,” Dean says. “He said, ‘In order to feel successful, you have to give up your attachment to the result.’ So if you’re a performer and you’re performing for four people or 4,000 people, you’re still just a guy holding a guitar and singing a song. People make the mistake of getting caught up in the result.”
“That,” he says, “is definitely my philosophy of life. You should never have a sense of entitlement about life. You should be grateful for it, because it can be taken away from you tomorrow.”
For today, Miller’s life and career have intersected in a meaningful way. All that slow learning has created a complex and powerful artist.